Tuesday 8 April 2014, 15:34
Thirty odd years on from the birth of breakfast TV in this country, the media are still talking about it – perhaps because from time to time, they still can’t get the programming right. Witness what’s been going on for the past few years at ITV. Well, tonight there’s yet another programme all about those early months. It's on BBC 2 tonight (“The Battle for Britain’s Breakfast” at 9pm) which claims to expose some of the skulduggery that went on behind the scenes. Just thought – when me and Nick (Owen) started on TVam all of those years ago, he was a fan and lifelong follower of Luton Town Football Club. Now, all these years later, he’s chairman and the club is more successful than ever. Who’d have thought? Certainly not him!
Tuesday 1 April 2014, 15:41
To journalistic legend Chapman Pincher, who I was thrilled to meet the other day as he prepared for his landmark birthday. What was his top tip for wannabe journalists? "Don’t drink with your sources" he said. The reason he got so many exclusives was because he was more than happy to take his victims and contacts for slap-up meals in top restaurants, and let them get drunk whilst he remained stone cold sober. Nothing better, he said, than to stroll back to Fleet Street knowing you’d got a great scoop. Mr Pincher is writing his latest book and has several more in the pipeline. Still a workaholic, he says, at 100!
Monday 3 March 2014, 11:51
The Great British Breakfast Merry-Go-Round starts all over again. After yet another abortive attempt to produce a blockbuster breakfast show, ITV have now announced another relaunch. What really annoys me is they’re going to call it Good Morning Britain, which was my old show on TVam, and historically still the single most popular breakfast show on British TV. Then came GMTV which made few changes, and was still very successful. The decision to replace GMTV with Daybreak followed the full takeover of GMTV by ITV plc but it never really worked.
What do they keep getting so wrong? I reckon that the breakfast TV audience doesn’t like to have highly paid stars foist upon them – they seem to like to grow their own ‘family’. That, though, needs patience and time – neither of which can be afforded nowadays by an impatient, fast and furious commercial station. Pity. I wish the new cast well and I really truly hope they take care of the much-loved title, Good Morning Britain. I’d hate to see it tarnished.
Thursday 27 February 2014, 12:55
Today we’ve been celebrating the part Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory took in nourishing the troops on the front line and in the trenches of World War One. They made a special military biscuit, called the ‘Number Four’, designed to be filling, but not necessarily tasty. In fact, one disgusted Tommy sent his home, attached to a label that read: ‘Have gone on hunger strike, reason attached, mind your toes!’. It’s now in Reading Museum, which starts a new WW1 exhibition on April 4.
Wednesday 26 February 2014, 15:33
Had a great, influential architect and a hydrologist on the radio programme this morning, both talking about the recent flooding, the demand for new houses and how climate change is affecting our environment – particularly as the subject came up in PMQs today. But producer John and I were just thinking that if we kidnapped them both and put them to work, we could have a lovely sunroom extension on the studio, complete with elaborate water feature.
Tuesday 25 February 2014, 15:06
Just a few weeks ago, I was doing my bit to protect the endangered apostrophe, and campaign against its misuse. It’s a saga that goes on and on. Some wonderful examples came to light today. We posted a picture on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Facebook page of a road sign on the Playhatch Road approaching Sonning Bridge. It said “Road Closed Due To It’s Structural Instability”. Grrr! But a sign in a cake shop absolutely appalled Nellie Williams who Facebooked thus: “Fresh Cream Gateaux’s - £4.50”. “This blew my mind,” she said.
Monday 24 February 2014, 15:13
It was absolutely how a big teddy should be, if a big teddy bear came to life. I know some people labelled it the Nightmare Bear, but I thought the great animatronic Sochi mascot was brilliant. And how he cried at the end.
Wednesday 5 February 2014, 14:04
Nothing annoys me more than a misplaced apostrophe. Well, perhaps I may be more upset by a world where the apostrophe was outlawed – because I think it’s important. Don’t you? Not so, according to the councils in Britain who are considering dropping the apostrophe from their new road signs. It has happened already in Birmingham, East Staffordshire, East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. No sign so far of it being debated in Berkshire, but I reckon we should all prepare a pre-emptive strike before what the National Apostrophe Protection Society calls “greengrocers’ English” takes over...
Tuesday 4 February 2014, 15:22
Please don’t fret about those dramatic headlines about the rats that are going to grow into the size of sheep (or in one newspaper, cows!). Today I interviewed the man in charge of all of that research, Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester. He says, yes, it COULD happen (but so could almost anything else) and it won’t happen anyway for several more million years. Phew. You get the facts, not the sensation, here on BBC Radio Berkshire.
Tuesday 4 February 2014, 15:22
David Beckham says that playing with Lego helps to de-stress him after a day full of anxiety and pressure. He gets home, sits down with the boys and builds, and can feel himself calming down. The last thing he says he built was Tower Bridge. At last I have something in common with David Beckham, for I, too, am a Lego fan and I used to love spending hours in the middle of the playroom floor helping my boys construct weird and wonderful models. And yes, it is remarkably de-stressing. I pine for those days, as my boys have all grown up and have other things to do. There’s a ton of Lego in the loft...