How to undermine a successful Ad campaign Sunday, Jan 19 2014 

Many years ago Marmite broke all the rules of advertising.

They suggested that some people don’t like their product.

The world of advertising were incredulous (except, I assume, the agency that came up with this idea).  They thought the company was mad.

“Are you mad?” they said (see, told you). “You can’t suggest someone doesn’t like your product, you’ll put people off.”

However their PR men had spotted something.  Marmite – you either love it or you hate it, and this went on to form the basis of one of the most successful campaigns in British TV history.

Now obviously Marmite is the Devil’s smegma.  However my brother (aged 41 and 6 months) becomes inappropriately excited by Twiglets (which I maintain are real twigs, covered in tarmac, though the packet assures us they are Marmite covered breadsticks)- to wit, upon  finding we had had them for the Christmas Evening buffet had him running round like a 5 year old at a party.

My Dad’s response?

“I’m not really that keen on Marmite.”

NOT THAT KEEN.  NO ONE IS NEUTRAL ABOUT MARMITE. You can’t be ‘not that keen’.

Millions of pounds worth of advertising undermined in one sentence.

Dr S-Who-se Thursday, Oct 25 2012 

I have a Cat in a Hat now.  Cats in Hats are cool.

I’m The Doctor, but don’t ask Who

Just meet my old girl, dressed in blue

You may find me a wily old fox

And not a madman in a box.


Travel through time, and travel through space

To anywhen, and anyplace.

From Big Bang to Big Crunch

To farthest star then back for lunch.


Remember, I never ever use a gun.

So when danger comes I’ll just shout RUN

I sonic open the strongest locks

But I am not a madman in a box


I’ll wear a scarf, or fez or suit

And piece of salad, or Converse boot.

Destroyer of Worlds, the Bringer of Darkness

The Oncoming Storm (All me, not Harkness)


You’ll see pits and quarries that all look the same

Monsters of ice, beasts of flame

There may be homicidal pepperpots

Who are scared of a madman in a box


Fixed points in time cannot be changed,

For reasons mad, weird or deranged,

There’s one more thing, now let me think,

Ah yes, you must never ever blink.


So as I travel through time and space

With Sarah-Jane, the Ponds and Ace,

Through the thrills, the spills and shocks,

I most definitely am a madman in a box!

Red or Black – What a load of crap Sunday, Sep 4 2011 

Ant and Dec’s latest vehicle is “Red or Black” – a ‘game’ (in the loosest sense of the word) show that has just started on ITV in Britain.  It definately suffers from “LOOK AT THIS – THIS IS AWESOME!”  Hint- No it isn’t.

Take 256 audience members, and have them guess red or black in a series of contests that are 50/50 between the ‘red’ option and the ‘black’ (although the need to lose exactly half every time means those at the back of the queue get no choice).  The last contestent then guesses Red or Black on a giant proto roulette wheel to win “ONE MILLION POUNDS”!  There is no skill – each challenge is as close to 50/50 as the producers can get (One show included jousting on top of cars, tightrope walker race, top golfers Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood trying to hit a gong in a lake, and picking a place at a table set for 32. Each had a hidden jelly/jello, and on the word they all lifted the cloches to reveal if it was red or black). 

Yet each round is turned into an Olympian contest – the winning colour jelly was revealed by the colour of the table top.  The cloth was removed by ATTACHING IT TO A MOTORBIKE AND PULLING! AWESOME!  Cue interviews with tearful members of the losing half, people upset at being knocked out in round two – you’d think they had just lost their life savings, and then asking the survivors what their strategy is in the next round.  And do these epic contests take place in a normal studio? NO, THIS IS AWESOME, so it starts in Wembley arena (USians – think Madison Square Gardens) before the remaining 128 are bussed to a Stately Home for games in the grounds. 

This all takes an hour, to whittle down from 256 to 8.  That is 5 rounds.  There is then a half hour break while they show another programme, then we return for THE GRAND FINALE!!1!11 (more…)

Doctor Who LIVE! Sunday, Oct 10 2010 

Vorgenson, a travelling interstellar showman- part PT Barnum, part Ripley’s believe it of not, has come to Earth to show his collection of some of the scariest beings collected from across the universe – Judoon, Weeping Angels and Cybermen among them.  However there is one exhibit he would dearly love to have, which places his audience in mortal danger!

Vorgenson, played by Nigel Planer, brings his show to a number of locations around the UK.  I saw it with my family on the 9 October at Wembly Arena.  It is basically a ‘soft rock’ concert  – the music being from ‘NuWho’ – with a Doctor Who plot linking it together.  Matt Smith appears via specially recorded video clips, and as long as Planer doesn’t fluff his lines (he didn’t) they ‘converse’.  Various Who monsters are brought out, much as the beared lady or pig faced man may have been paraded in a 19th century circus, which we are assured are all under Vortgensons control (he has never had an audience killed yet- at least not an entire one!), and stomp through the aisles among the the audience, with the occasion sneering at little children, before being forced back into the ‘Minimiser’ by their new master.  In between the band play music from the series, while the big screen shows specially edited sequences from the 5 new series, scripted to be part of Vorgenson’s show.  One sequence was all the regenerations, with Tennant’s arrival as the 10th Doctor getting a huge cheer, slightly louder than the one where he became Smith.

The arena was full – this is one to take the kids to, rather than something for the purist fan.  It was similar to the BBC’s “Doctor Who Proms” – on it’s own the plot was a little thin to be a ‘proper episode’, though don’t be surprised if somthing similar turns up as an episode at some point.  Steven Moffet, the new head of the ‘Whoniverse’ had a hand in the production. Similarly you probably wouldn’t want to sit in the audience just to listen to the music.  However it works well as an excuse to see the costumes getting an airing in a sort of ‘living history’ way, and inthe context of the video, I found some of the music raising goosebumps.  There is something pretty cool about watching half a dozen cybermen stomp down the aisle 8 feet away.  Plus there are pyrotechniques which we could feel the heat of 10 rows back.

All in all a enjoyable family day out.

Official site

Elitest Bastard (aka Hussar goes off on one) Tuesday, Mar 10 2009 

See that blue button with Richard Dawkins on it?  Click on it (not yet- I haven’t finished ranting at you) and you will go to the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards.  Who?  A bunch of bloggers generally pissed off with everything being so damn stupid.

Why am I proud to be an elitist?  The question should be why are you so unconcerned not to be?

We are people who are just annoyed that there is a movement against intellectualism.  I am sick and tired of being clever being seen as somehow a bad thing.  Someone who can kick, throw or hit a ball gets paid millions of pounds, while those who actually work worry about the recession.

People revel in not being good at maths.It’s seen as something funny.  I know I’m good at day to day maths, but I am amazed how many people don’t understand basic principles.

“How does this affect you?”  you say “why should you care?” Because a dumbed down population affects the economy and the planet.

People who don’t understand basic maths GET TO VOTE, often based on what they think will be best for the economy.  They can’t do percentages, for FSM’s sake, how are they supposed to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a Keynsian solution?

It is a fact that people, all of us, even Stephen Hawkins, are stupid to one degree or another.   We are very good at ignoring evidence that doesn’t back up our personal beliefs.  Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t like the fact that cars are contributing to destroying the planet. Solution? Insult environmentalists.  Republicans don’t like the fact that Neo-Con ideas have screwed up the market. Call Obama a socialist. The Religious Right don’t like the fact that science shows the Bible isn’t literally true. Solution? Attack anyone who relies on evidence rather than 4000 year old fairy-stories.

And where does it leave us? Click on the break, and I’ll tell you. Forcefully. (more…)

Stephen Fry for Dr Who Thursday, Oct 30 2008 

Exactly what it says on the tin.

Now Tennant has signalled he wishes to move on, who would be better than the sublime Mr Fry.