Arts and Entertainment

Mr Memory, who was brought on Monday’s Newsnight to memorise the title sequence and couldn’t even remember that Jeremy bloke with the beard’s name. Gosh I love telly. 

A CRITICAL GUIDE / Long Runners: No 20: That's Life

Age: 20. Although, since plans to axe it were announced last July, the media have tended to settle for the more headline-friendly age of 21.

TELEVISION / Long Runners: No 15: What the Papers Say

Age: Thirty-seven. The longest runner on television first went out in November 1956, the week of Suez and the uprising in Hungary.

Media: A good year for Birt (and his taxman): In his first 12 months, the new BBC director-general raised lots of questions. Michael Leapman provides the answers

Can it really be only a year since John Birt took over as director-general of the BBC?

TELEVISION / A case for cameras in camera

THE MOST bizarre thing I saw all year was in a New York hotel room where I had 37 channels at my fingertips. The dedication ceremony of the Dan Quayle Museum ('He lived our dreams for us') did not detain me long, nor the cosmic advice of one Aurora Borealis ('Arnold, I sense you have a big mind out there, am I right?'). The scrawny, Jewish guy who had paid to yell all day that Israelis were fokkin' Nazis was tedious, the naked, pimply one splaying his buttocks on the porn station sadly unremarkable. Just another asshole. It took a discussion on NBC to induce true stupefaction: TV executives were talking about the threat posed by a telecom company. As their voices grew shrill, the dime suddenly dropped: they thought their television was worth protecting, they thought it could get worse.

Media: Talk of the trade: More BBC bravery

THE BBC has decided to start making drama documentaries again, after seeing the success that Yorkshire and Granada have had, most recently with Fighting for Gemma. Charles Denton, the new head of drama, and Paul Hamann, head of documentaries, have set up a group to identify 'Page 1' topics: the research would be handled by documentary experts. Paul Hamann says: 'There is a climate in the BBC to do brave broadcasting, something that is shared by both channel controllers, Alan Yentob and Michael Jackson, and goes right up to the top, to John Birt.' Hamann is also starting the BBC's first series of television biographies.

Dear Alan Yentob: Sue Lawley could save Question Time, says our media editor

I have been wondering what you intend to do about Question Time. Or rather, who will be picked to chair it now that Peter Sissons is going back to prime-time newsreading.

Dear Prince Edward: One of the men who made Have 'I Got News For You' has got news for him

With all due respect, Your Highness, has one gone off one's royal chump?

William Donaldson's Week: Justin Judd's clever question

IT'S SNUBS, as it happens, to all those people (in fact, only my wife and Terence Blackler) who have complained that I've been banging on too much in recent weeks about the frightful Cornish

CINEMA / Overheard

Pure heaven for Alan is to be watching a TV programme for which he was responsible, in mixed company, while on the phone to other people, all of whom are watching it too. Nigel Williams, Omnibus editor, on Alan Yentob, controller BBC1, in Two and a Half Men in a Boat (Hodder, pounds 16.99)

Thatcher leads BBC 1 schedule: A series on the former PM has proved provocative, writes Michael Leapman

AN OUTSPOKEN series of interviews with and about Baroness Thatcher, to be screened on BBC 1 in October, will reopen wounds in the Conservative Party, its producers predicted yesterday.

Media: Still looking for the right light touch: Michael Leapman on an unfunny truth for the BBC: its mass audience for mainstream comedy has vanished

THE BBC has officially taken the 'light' out of light entertainment. On Monday it announced the appointment of David Liddiment as head of the Entertainment Group for Television, replacing Jim Moir, head of the Light Entertainment Group.

Morale is low at the BBC, Birt says

JOHN BIRT, the Director-General of the BBC, conceded yesterday that 'morale is low' inside the corporation. He said a survey into staff attitudes towards recent changes, due to be published today, would reveal 'a deep level of concern'.

Firm backing for all-news radio

THE BBC is determined to go ahead with its proposed all-news radio network, Mr Birt said yesterday. In his speech in Birmingham, he reaffirmed his strong commitment to the service, although it is now accepted that it may not occupy Radio 4's long-wave frequency as originally planned, writes Michael Leapman.

TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Of romance and skulduggery

The ELDORADO (7pm BBC1) feeding frenzy has finished; the media sharks will now have to swim off and find a new prey thrashing around invitingly in the ratings shallows. Rarely has a television programme been given such a sustained and vicious savaging. In its fleeting 158-episode life, it has provided enough material to keep stand-ups in gags for years to come. Despite - or maybe because of - this, the Costa del Soap has inspired a doughty 'Save Eldorado' campaign, matched in vociferousness only by the 'Bring Back Dr Who' brigade. Gwen Lamb, one of its leading lights, daily bombards BBC1 controller Alan Yentob with calls, and stoutly defends the programme's oft-derided sense of drama. 'It transports you for half an hour into a dream world of romance and skulduggery,' she told this newspaper last month. Tonight's final episode, written by Tony McHale and featuring the fate of Marcus (Jesse Birdsall), certainly has the air of a dream world, with the sort of revelations and twists a vintage episode of Dallas would have been proud of. What's the betting Eldorado turns up within six months labelled a 'classic' on the UK Gold channel?

Bong, bong, bong - goodnight, goodbye

LONG-RUNNING television programmes, it has always seemed to me, are rather like long-running politicians. There are almost no examples of one giving up the limelight voluntarily.
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