February, 2019

Undercover Advertising

In the UK, we have some really tight restriction on what and how we are able to advertise. Ofcom has a Broadcasting Code. The Advertising Standards Authority has both Broadcast and Non-Broadcast Codes. Beyond these, there are EU wide codes, and industry codes.

But frankly, the internet still appears to be the wild west. Panorama aired a recent edition highlighting a number of the challenges. There wasn’t anything too surprising: Instagram “influencers” promoting gambling to an audience that is largely under the legal age for gambling; a popular DJ promoting alcohol to an audience that includes large numbers of people under the legal drinking age.

What the episode did show was that regulators are fighting a losing battle. If I’m based in a non-UK country but have a global following, where should the regulation sit? Different countries have different laws. Social media is global, but advertising regulation has been built on older geographic boundaries.

Recently the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority got a formal commitment from 16 celebrities agreeing that they would make clear anything they post commercially. But this is a drop in the ocean. There are probably millions of people including “paid promotion” in their output.

I do question whether adding “#ad” amidst a deluge of other hashtags is enough.

Interestingly, the CMA itself says in a guide to influencers that it’s not. But has anyone told the influencers?

The ASA also has its own guide but these are both UK rules, and influencers are global. It still feels that nobody is truly making allowances for global advertising differences.

Consider broadcast TV. Within the EU, it’s illegal to sponsor the news or current affairs programming. So a service like CNN might have to operate slightly differently inside the EU compared to how in might in North America or Africa. And what can be legally advertised varies a lot too.

When I worked in commercial radio, I would be asked by our sales team to provide research that showed how few children listened to particular shows. Advertisers (and their agencies) had a duty not to do promotional activity in shows with significant child audiences if they were advertising alcohol. They behaved responsibly, and according to Ofcom rules about advertising alcohol brands. Yet that same company was featured in that Panorama sponsoring someone with lots of followers across all demographics to promote an alcohol brand.

Vox just published a really interesting piece about healthcare influencers. The US is one of the few places in the world where prescription drugs can be freely advertised. Most of the world does not allow this, relying instead on doctors to prescribe the correct drugs rather than getting patients to “ask their doctor” about a particular medication that they heard about while watching an episode of NCIS. Only advertising for drugs available in pharmacies without prescriptions is permitted in most of the world.

Now pushing medication in Instagram is troubling enough – not being able to provide details surrounding side effects or the fact that a particular drug may not be right for you. But even with appropriate labelling and explanations, such paid promotions are illegal in most countries. (I note that Instagram is said to be testing such geofencing capabilities, but they’ve yet to rollout such functionality to all users.)

But if there’s one thing that really annoys me, it’s the fact that there isn’t a consistent way of labelling posts that contain paid promotion. This is surely the easiest thing to fix?

To be clear, some platforms like YouTube do have that functionality – see the image at the top of this post. But users are inconsistent in how they label their videos. Some use these tools – others do, or don’t do, their own thing to alert viewers or followers to the presence of paid promotion or sponsorship.

It seems to me that there should be a requirement for all users to use a consistent way of clearly marking their posts as including paid promotion of any sort.

Some platforms like Instagram don’t seem to roll out these kinds of tools especially widely. Some users may have them, but most don’t. To be clear, even Instagram’s own advertising labelling leaves much to be desired – a small “Sponsored” label below the name of the company posting is about the only thing that alerts you to it being an ad. That and the fact that they’re nearly always videos. (NB. I turn on “Use Less Data” buried in Settings > Account > Mobile Data to minimise the number of pre-loaded videos I see in Instagram.)

Brands love the lack of clarity about whether or not there is paid promotion taking place, and this can result in the advertising working better. People who wouldn’t for a moment spend time on a shopping TV channel, will devour their favourite influencer’s latest sponsored post, even if it only exists to promote a brand. And we are much more able to zone out of advertising we see on posters or on television compared to hidden advertising within people we follow’s posts.


It feels to me that there are two critical issues that social networks need to solve, and frankly I’m amazed that regulators haven’t clamped down more on the social networks, because if either of these things happened in “old media” then there would be fines, sanctions or licences being pulled.

  1. Clarity of advertising – Is this an ad or isn’t it? Why isn’t every post taking some element of paid promotion clearly labelled as such? Why don’t the social networks make a requirement within their T&Cs that everyone uses a built-in tool to identify these posts as containing advertising? Why isn’t there a consistent approach to labelling posts or videos as advertising, the same way that we know when we’re watching a TV ad? #ad isn’t enough.
  2. Adhering to local regulations – Platforms need to work with influencers to make sure that their posts adhere to global advertising rules. If someone is posting an advert in a category that is illegal in a particular territory, then there needs to be functionality to restrict that posting geographically. Social networks as well as the influencers need to take responsibility for posts. There are many different rules in different territories and these are really hard to stay on top of. But tough. Laws are laws.

The platforms, of course, mostly put the onus for all of this on the users. If I include an advert in a post I make on Instagram (Ha – the idea!) then I don’t actually pay Instagram a share of that revenue. Instagram instead makes money from selling ads that surround my post. But I’m responsible for what I post, and it’s me that gets in trouble and not Instagram.

But that surely isn’t sustainable if users are constantly breaking the law using a platform, whether or not users are aware of rules or local laws.

I always go back to how good the likes of YouTube and Instagram are at keeping porn or nudity off their platforms. If they really want to do something, then they find a way to do it.

Das Boot

I first saw the original 1981 Wolfgang Petersen version of Das Boot on TV sometime in the late 80s. But it wasn’t until a 1998 re-release of the extended director’s cut of the film, that I saw in a cinema on Lower Regent Street, that I can honestly say that I saw it properly. That version ran to 207 minutes of often great intensity – as though you were trapped inside the cramped confines of a U-boat alongside the forty or so men aboard the vessel. Petersen also produced a TV mini-series version of the film.

There’s a whole genre of submarine films that have come and gone over the years that include notable entries: John McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October and Kathryn Bigelow’s K19: The Widow Maker and probably the two of the better titles. But Das Boot stands alone at the top. So what should be made of a new version of the story coming from Sky Deutschland?

The first thing to say is that this is more of a sequel than a remake. We follow the crew of a different boat, U-612, although it too is based in La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast. U-612 is fresh from the factory and Captain Hoffman is given his first command with the boat. It’s late 1942, and things aren’t going so well, with more U-boats being lost at sea. In fact, by this point in the war, crypt-analysts at Bletchley Park were fairly reliably breaking the Enigma code that was being used by the German navy.

To expand out the series a little, this new version of Das Boot has two simultaneous storylines. The U-boat itself is fairly quickly diverted into carrying out a secret mission – not something that everyone aboard appreciates doing. Meanwhile on land, there is a story based around a cell of communist resistance fighters trying to disrupt the German war effort.

The key link between the two stories is provided by Simone Strasser (Vicky Krieps), who has just arrived in La Rochelle as a translator for at first the German navy and later the Gestapo, and her brother Frank (Leonard Schleicher) who has at the last minute been brought aboard U-612 as the radio operator.

Frank has become a father with a local barmaid who happens to be Jewish, and has started providing information to the resistance led by Carla (Lizzy Caplan), a former fighter from the Spanish Civil War.

This is a production that has had millions spent on it. It’s hard to tell where physical life-size U-boat replicas stop and CGI effects begin – I note that they shot in Malta which has the world’s largest water tanks for filming any productions of a nautical theme. The real La Rochelle U-boat base is used, as it was in the 1981 feature, and a variety of French towns and villages provide a great sense of wartime atmosphere.

There is a single director across the entire series – Andreas Prochaska – something that doesn’t always happen with TV series. But it means that you end up with a very consistent tone across the whole piece.

And the music is superb, with Klaus Doldinger’s original memorable theme being reused to great effect by Matthias Weber who has scored this TV series.

There are similarities with the 1981 film – both versions beginning with the U-boat crews spending a final night in the local brothel before they embark on what might become a months long voyage. And the cramped quarters and differences between the officers and men are the same as you always get. But then to do anything else would be unrealistic.

Sky Deutschland really is on a roll at the moment, with first Babylon Berlin and now this. The good news is that both series are returning, and I personally can’t wait!

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

A twisted thriller about a couple who are not all they seem. 

The set-up for My Lovely Wife is intriguing and it’s hard to avoid giving away too much in the way of spoilers. ‘Tobias’ narrates this story. He’s married to Millicent and they live together in an idyllic gated community in Florida with their two kids Jenna and Rory.  

But the book opens up with Tobias claiming to be deaf and trying to pick up a woman in a bar. He’s scouting out a potential victim. And his wife is in on it. 

This a dark page-turner, with young married couple who have some seriously unusual tendencies. Tobias is a tennis coach in the local country club. Millicent is a real estate agent who has sold numerous properties in and around their exclusive community.  

But murder isn’t straightforward, and although Tobias and Millicent are in it together, they have their own separate roles – not always asking precisely what the other is doing. Things begin to unravel when to cover their tracks, they decide to construct a way to cover their tracks and keep investigators away from what’s really happening. Inevitably, this has unintended consequences.  

The obvious comparison here would be the Dexter novels, but unlike those, the victims are mostly blameless. These are clearly twisted people. 

The book is a rip-roaring read, and while I suspect that you could poke holes at some elements of the plot, the story is tightly constructed and makes internal sense. You’re certainly never sure how things will resolve themselves by the end, and the final act is tense as a consequence. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin-UK Michael Joseph for my ARC. My Lovely Wife is published on 2 May 2019 in hardback and 26 March 2019 on the Kindle. 

Tangerine by Christine Langan

The cover of the paperback edition of Tangerine has a quote from The Times claiming that the book is like a cross between Girl on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley.

This was one of those books that I absolutely did pick up based on the cover – but that strapline also sold it to me. Tangerine is Waterstones’ fiction book of the month, and it was in my local branch that I picked up a copy, finding the premise intriguing.

Alice Shipley has moved to Tangiers to be with her new husband John. But Alice is crippled with a kind of agoraphobia that means that she spends most of her time in her flat, and really has only the vaguest notion of what her husband does.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy and Alice went to a female-only college in the US, where something happened. Lucy showing up is not something Alice expected.

The book flips the narrative back and forth from each of the two women’s perspectives and we begin to learn more about what has happened, and what is now happening.

The comparisons with Patricia Highsmith’s most famed character are fair, although there aren’t quite the shocks and surprises that Tom Ripley gave us.

The book definitely gives us a sense of place – with its 1950s Moroccan setting, and the characters’ motivations are definitely well drawn. I suppose I thought it was just missing that extra bit.

One thing I would say is that Abacus share slightly too much of the plot on the back of the book, revealing something that doesn’t happen until close to the novel’s denouement. This same publisher’s blurb appears on the Amazon website, so I would avoid reading any more about the plot than I have already given here.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

When a book receives as much hype as Sally Rooney’s Booker longlisted, Costa winning and Waterstones winning novel, it can have a reverse reaction for me. The book sounds like it’s being over-hyped. I begin to think that it can’t possibly live up to expectations. I tend to actively avoid such titles.

But then, I heard an interview with Rooney, and thought I should give it a go. I picked up a copy over Christmas to add to my teetering pile(s) of unread books, and this week settled down to it.

I confess that I really enjoyed it.

The novel is the story of Connell and Marianne, following them from their school days in a small Irish town, through to their time in Trinity College Dublin.

Connell is one of the cool kids – centre forward for his school’s football team and hanging out with the similar types. He’s also smart, doing well in his exams. He has been brought up by his single mother who earns a living as a cleaner at Marianne’s house. Marianne goes to the same school as Connell and is also very smart. But she’s not one of the cool kids. She’s alone at school – perhaps even aloof. Her family has money, but that doesn’t matter – and she’s not part of scene.

Connell and Marianne develop a secret relationship; a relationship that Connell is unwilling to make public for fear of humiliation in front of his peers.

Later, when they’re at university, the tables are turned. Marianne is much more in her element, and it’s Connell who has become more of an outsider.

The novel is told is short fragmentary pieces; we jump a few weeks here – a few months there. Marianne and Connell’s relationship is complex, and their intentions don’t always make sense. But that’s real life, and their story does feel “real.”

I’ve seen some reviews suggest more of this tale

Is the book over-hyped? Quite probably. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good book. I enjoyed it enormously, and it had a very satisfactory conclusion.

Turbulence by David Szalay

This is essentially a book of short stories with a clever over-arching mechanic that links them. Each chapter tells a different story about someone who is somehow travelling between airports.

So the first chapter starts with a flight from London to Madrid. The next story will take us from Madrid to Dakar. And so we will keep travelling until eventually we arrive back in London.

Each story stands alone, but a character met in the last story will feature in the following one. The stories are very readable little sketches. For the most part nothing too life changing happens, yet the sketch is enough that we get a flavour of the lives of the characters. And just as you’re getting comfortable, the story moves on to the next destination and the next character.

It’s a clever construction and while the book is slight, some of the stories will stay with you.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Ghost Wall was a book that seemed to come up in quite a few of Best of 2018 blogs and articles that I read over Christmas, so I was eager to read this.

It’s an incredibly slim volume, running to around 150 pages, but in packs an absolute punch. I read it across a single day.

Silvie has been dragged along by her father to take part in an archaeological re-enactment in a remote bit of Northumbrian countryside one summer. Her domineering father is a bus-driver by trade, but a man who loves ancient British history to the point that Silvie’s true name is Sulevia, after an ancient British goddess.

Silvie’s mother has also been dragged into spending the time living as an iron-age family might have done, hunting and gathering their own food, living in a period-appropriate hut.

The project is being overseen by a local professor who has also brought a handful of students along for the summer too. But none of them are being forced to endure the full hardship that Silvie’s father is insisting on.

While he’s undoubtedly a fan of iron age history, he is not a nice man. The family have no choice about taking part in the re-enactment.

There’s inherent sexism going on. Silvie’s and her mother are expected to do domestic things while others get to do the more interesting stuff. Her father is slightly distrusting of the students. And more importantly, everything is becoming a little unhinged as the professor and Silvie’s father plot and scheme about some of the less pleasant aspects of iron age society.

Highly recommended.

Man at the Helm and Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe

When Love Nina came out a few years ago, I thought it was one of the funniest books I’d ever read. Nina Stibbe was a young girl from Leicester who’d come down to London to become a nanny. The book is made up of letters sent home describing the goings on the Gloucester Place household. Stibbe was working in the household of Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books, and she had a plethora of interesting guests and goings on, as Stibbe becomes to become more aware of the world around her. “Faux naif” would be the wrong way to describe it, because Stibbe absolutely isn’t “faux.”

The book was something of a sensation, and there was even a pretty decent BBC One version made with Faye Marsay and Helena Bonham Carter. Stibbe’s writing career took off and she’s since had a few books published.

Now I have to make an admission. I can be a little like a butterfly when it comes to books, and even something I’m enjoying can be cast aside because there’s something else even more urgent that I simply have to read this instant.

For some reason, that became the case with Man at the Helm, Stibbe’s follow-up novel. Ahead of an upcoming new novel, I picked this back up recently and started afresh. Indeed, I fairly raced through it.

Although this time the book was fiction, I suspect that there are more than one elements of truth in this book. Lizzie is our narrator, and she lives with her sister and younger brother with their mother in a small Leicester village. Her mother is newly divorced, with their father having recently decided he was gay, and a split subsequently happening. The family has moved into a large house in the village, but they are not immediately accepted. A single mother is not someone to move in polite society.

The two daughters decide that the solution is to find a man to take the helm of the household. They draw up a shortlist of suitable nearby men, and begin their matchmaking process.

The book is shot through with humour, with the girls often landing themselves in trouble. The seventies setting is beautifully drawn and certainly feel accurate and of its time. Stibbe has a wicked ear – capturing the kinds of things that sound frankly ridiculous to 21st century ears. Did she keep a diary in her younger years too?

The girls’ mother is a great character. There are scattered excerpt of “plays” that she keeps writing as an outlet of her frustrations – the plays invariably featuring Roderick and Adele discussing the most menial of things.

Paradise Lodge is a direct sequel to Man at the Helm, although you can happily read one without the other. Lizzie is a little older now, having reached her teenage years. She’s not doing fantastically at school to the dismay of her teachers, but she decides to take a job with her best friend at the local old people’s home, Paradise Lodge.

The home seems to be something of a ramshackle affair, run by a man who’s singularly unsuitable to be running such a place. But this also means that the cast of characters who inhabit the place are enormous fun.

The book is great fun, and the naivety of our heroine is again deliciously served.

Books, Books, Books

Tsundoku Canvas Bags

If you’re a reader of this blog via an RSS reader like Feedly then two things are of note:

  • You are very sensible. RSS readers are still excellent ways to stay on top of numerous websites.
  • You are going to see a deluge of book reviews sometime around about now. Read on to discover why.

The reason for the latter is that I’ve been trying to get myself to read a bit more, and so far this year, I’ve been doing a fairly decent job of it.

Partly that’s a consequence of me actually going to get an eye test towards the latter part of last year, and getting some reading glasses. I really hadn’t clocked how uncomfortable it had become reading. As a result, I wasn’t doing as much as I should.

And partly it’s a consequence of me signing up with Netgalley.

Now to be clear, the last thing on earth I need is more books. I think that if I was bed-bound and had no access to the internet or television, I could happily survive on existing unread books for many months and quite possible a year or two. And that’s based on reading voraciously! But Netgalley is something that I was aware of but hadn’t really followed up on until recently. Essentially it’s a way for publishers to get early feedback on new books and to seed some buzz about new titles in a busy publishing environment.

The deal is that users get free access to new books, assuming the publishers provide it, and in return readers offer unbiased and honest reviews which publishers also ask to be posted in places like Amazon. Netgalley is aimed at reviewers, bloggers, librarians and so on. I’ll let you work out how I fit into the mix.

I will always point out when I’ve been provided with a free copy of a book. If I don’t then you can safely assumed that I bought the title myself. The books you get through Netgalley are invariably digital copies, so I read them on a Kindle. You have to request titles on Netgalley, and publishers make their own decisions about whether or not to offer titles. While I’ve been reasonably successful in being given access to most of the titles I’ve requested, that hasn’t been the case 100% of the time. In any event, I only request access to titles that I’d be likely to read anyway.

The one thing I do try to do, is read the book ahead of the title’s publication date. And that “pressure” has definitely seen me read a lot more as a result. That said, the next book I’ll be reading from Netgalley is actually published today so I might miss my target on at least one title. Often, titles are made available on Netgalley months before their publication. I tend to publish here when I’ve read the book, although my cross-posted reviews on Amazon tend to wait until publication day.

Interestingly, all this reading activity means that I’m reading more than just on my commute. In any event, my commute has me battling between choosing to read or listen to podcasts. So much to do and so little time. I carve out reading time elsewhere.

All titles I read on Netgalley will be reviewed here, and usually on Amazon and Goodreads. Feel free to read or scroll past them as you choose. But rest assured that blog is not becoming a book site. It will as always continue to be somewhere where I write about media, post photos and videos, annotated Radio Times pages and anything else I feel like writing about.

In the recent past, I’ve not been so good about logging everything I’m reading, and I’m trying to do more of this now. So you are likely to see more book reviews appearing. In particular, shortly after I post this, there’s likely to be a fair deluge of reviews of other books I’ve read in the first six weeks or so of this year, beyond those already published. For a variety of reasons they’ve been stacking up in draft form, and I need to get them out there. I’ll let you, dear reader, decide whether that’s a threat or a promise!

The Not-Live BAFTA Awards

In 2002, Ant and Dec remade the famous “No Hiding Place” episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads. This was a classic episode of the sitcom where the “lads” tried to avoid learning the result of an away England game, before highlights were shown later that evening on TV.

Something that made some sense when the original version aired in 1974, and when there would have been no live TV options for such a game, made less sense in 2002 when if you didn’t subscribe to the right channel at home, you could just pop around to your local pub to catch the game.

In 2019, there are still those who stay oblivious to the day’s football results until Match of the Day is on, but that means not watching Soccer Saturday or Final Score, not listening to Sports Report or 606, not watching the news, avoiding mobile alerts on your phone, and definitely staying away from social media.

We live in an information obsessed society, where the young especially want to know what’s happening now.

So it’s good to know that there’s still a real throwback to a bygone age that eschews the need to share information instantly. Instead, it’s something that takes a much more lackadaisical attitude to audiences.

I’m talking about The British Academy Film Awards.

Last night saw this annual event, these days coming not live from the Royal Albert Hall. As ever, the actual awards in the RAH start at around 7.00pm, but the TV transmission doesn’t start until 9.00pm.

Some of the consequences of this include:

  • ITV News broadcast the major award winners in their 10pm bulletin, ahead of those awards being shown on BBC One.
  • Ditto Sky News.
  • Anyone with a non-BBC news app installed on their phone could get alerts ahead of those awards being seen on TV. (The BBC’s own news outlets were “self-censoring” the news to avoid spoilers. You could still get the results in real time from the website and app however.)
  • Anyone with any kind of social media account could get the results. It’s not exactly unheard of for someone to open up Twitter when they settle in to an awards show on their sofa, perhaps to critique speeches or outfits with their friends. If you opened Twitter at 9pm last night, most of the results were there.

It’s not as though those in entertainment television don’t understand the importance of live. Series like Strictly, The Voice, X-Factor and many others all have their finals live. Yes – they need viewer votes to work, but they also understand the importance of social media. They want you to share hashtags and keep the conversation going with your friends. If you’re not watching, and your friends are, there can be a FOMO effect. The hosts repeatedly remind the audience that they are LIVE.

I bang on about this every year, and I genuinely don’t understand why changes aren’t made. Not because I moan about it, but because the audience itself moans about it.

I continue to note that in the US, The Oscars, Emmys and Grammys are live. Even the BRITs with all their bad-boys and girls are live on ITV.

I’d love to understand the reasoning for holding out on the whole live thing. Is it:

  • The BBC only wanting a show no earlier than 9pm (Call the Midlife is a ratings hit after all)?
  • BAFTA not being willing to start the show any later than 7pm?
  • Stars not wanting to go to after-parties as late as 11pm? (Have you tried getting home late at night on a Sunday?)
  • Everyone scared that the talent will say something that simply must be edited out?
  • Concern that the show will run long, bumping the news back to 11.30pm?
  • All of the above?

For what it’s worth, the overnight ratings for last night’s BAFTA awards are the lowest ever, with just 3.53m watching. This is despite inheriting an audience of close to 7m from Call the Midlife. Over on ITV, over 5m watched the first episode of a new series of Endeavour.

To put this in context, the audience for these awards has been slipping year after year since around 2013. Could the growth of social media and smartphone app usage negate the need to watch a non-live results show?

I wouldn’t pretend that some of the reasons for the low numbers aren’t related to larger TV audience issues, and this year the big winners were a non-English language film (Roma) and a strange comedy of manners about one of our lesser-known monarchs (The Favourite). But it’s not like big film stars didn’t turn out.

My solution for making the BAFTAs relevant again?

  • Live. Live. Live.
  • Start the show at 7pm and then go live on TV into the main awards at 8pm. You can still show an edited reel of the “lesser” award winners handed out in the 7-8pm hour at a break point later in the show. The Oscars manages to do this.
  • Keep the show simple. No need for elaborate and unfunny sketches. Get straight into handing out awards.
  • Beyond a few nominated songs, and an RIP reel, strip back most of the rest.
  • Turn the Rising Star award into a phone vote. It’s an audience vote anyway, so you may as well galvanise the audience to vote on the evening rather than ahead of time. The award is sponsored by a phone company after all! This seems to work fine with things like Sports Personality of the Year.
  • The presenter’s job should really just be to keep things moving. Comedians tend to work well because they can think on their feet.
  • Plan for a tight two-hour TV show. The UK TV industry should not be short of execs who can work within the constraints of live television.
  • Work with any recipients of lifetime achievement awards in advance to ensure their speeches are the right length.

Otherwise, just remove the thing from TV, and hand out all the awards on a weekday lunchtime at a restaurant somewhere, sending out a press release with all the winners afterwards.

[A Bit Later] The Guardian publishes a very similar article to this one.

“The time delay meant viewers could not tweet along with a live broadcast and feel like they were taking part in the show, something that has helped other live events.”

And from their Winners and Losers page:

“Everybody moans about it, but nothing seems to change: the baffling practice of the Bafta telecast running two and a quarter hours later than real-world events sucks almost every scrap of excitement out of watching the thing. In the age of spoiler-tastic social media, everyone knows the results, so why bother? Presumably the BBC don’t want to give up a prime piece of early Sunday evening TV real estate, and the Baftas want to catch the morning papers’ first editions, but something has got to change. Watching the tuxed and gowned beautiful people spout sententious truisms while thanking their agents is only bearable if there’s actual excitement to be had; the Baftas appear to doing their level best to avoid anything like that happening.”