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Archives for December 2009

Aled Turns You On - photos!

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Matt Fincham | 12:00 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Aled sent us these photos this morning, when he was going around Belfast turning on people's lights atyo-photo1.jpg atyo-photo2.jpg atyo-photo3.jpg atyo-photo4.jpg

Comedy Dave on Mastermind!

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Matt Fincham | 10:44 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Remember a while back Dave was talking about his recording of Celebrity Mastermind (when his specialist subject was British Motorways).  Well it's on over Christmas!  We've got hold of a special backstage trail, and there's loads of other clips of him doing his revision as well.  Celebrity Mastermind stats on 27 Dec, but you can watch Dave's episode on Tuesday 29th December at 7pm on BBC One.


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Matt Fincham | 10:45 UK time, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Chris - is seeing Paul O' Grady later and he might also be seeing him tomorrow as well; he's also keen to make some minced pies this evening

Dave - is continuing his list for Santa and then checking it again

Dom - is presenting the 12.45 Newsbeat programme and then he'll be researching Christmas presents for people later

Rach - will be attempting exercise (either going for a run or doing pilates)

Aled - will be flying to a secret location

Carrie - is going to wrap her presents today, now that her Christmas cards are done

It's Monday - and it's nearly Christmas. Yay!

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Matt Fincham | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 14 December 2009

Chris - is recoding some bits with the team and then he'll be prepping for his TV show wrap party which is tonight; he also has some Christmas shopping to do!

Dave - will be making a list of who he needs to buy Christmas presents for (it's not going to be long)

Carrie - will be finishing off her Christmas shopping and wrapping everything - she also has a couple of Christmas cards to write and then she's all done!

Aled - intends to start on his Christmas shopping today and then he's going to support a friend who's written a play in London

Rach - will also be attempting some Christmas shopping (if she can be bothered) and also attempting some exercise (if she can be bothered)

Dom - maybe going to the gym (at Robert Downey Junior's insistence); he also will be doing some Christmas shopping

Chris Moyles, Pink, Belfast and Aled....

Aled | 15:55 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hi everyone hope you're having a good day..... There are big things happening on the Chris Moyles Show.....

Tomorrow....Chris will be joined by Pink. She's in the UK as part of her tour.

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This week she's played at the O2 in London and from 9am tomorrow you'll be able to hear an hour from her gig which was recorded last Tuesday.

Read the rest of this entry

Later than scheduled...

Matt Fincham | 16:02 UK time, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Chris is doing an interview with Dan from News Of The World he's then off to do something quite secretive (and quite cool), Chris is then going to the annual Radio 1 Christmas photo and then having an unofficial drink with Dave

Dave will be making an order of kerosene for his log fire before going to Radio 1's Christmas photo

Dom is doing lots of Dad's stuff today - school pick up and stuff

Carrie is going for lunch with a very pregnant friend so that they can compare bumps, Carrie's then going to baby yoga

Rachel will be going for a run with Aled

Aled will be going for a run with Rachel

Chris is back from Uganda

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Matt Fincham | 12:21 UK time, Monday, 7 December 2009

Chris is meeting an old friend for coffee and then going home and maybe doing some Christmas shopping.

Carrie is having a fairly quiet day. She will be doing some research for Tom's Christmas present. She'll also be catching up on Flash Forward.

Dave is going to be thinking about Christmas shopping and shaking hands with the beginning of the week.

Aled is going to start his Christmas shopping today by visiting Victoria in Online

Dom is also researching what presents he can buy today.

Rachel will be attempting a run at lunchtime and also thinking about doing some Christmas shopping.

Team movements this weekend

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Matt Fincham | 10:40 UK time, Friday, 4 December 2009

Vernon - is chillaxing this afternoon, before heading to Belfast for a gig and then he's back on his Saturday show tomorrow

Dave and Dom - are heading to Rock City in Spalding for a hi-octane gig - be there or be square

Carrie - is going for a nice chilled weekend with her husband to do very little, they might do a little Christmas shopping

Rachel - is going to a festive wedding tomorrow in Milton Keynes

Executive Producer Piers - is also going to a wedding where he's best man

To A Lesser Extent Matt Fincham - is going to Germany for his mate James' army ball

Day 5 in Uganda - The Hospital

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Matt Fincham | 17:55 UK time, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Day 5: The Hospital

The fact that there was a baby that had just passed away lying wrapped in cloth on a trolley with one of it's wheels missing in the open air outside the hospital indicated that my trip to the children's hospital was going to be upsetting.

The children's building consisted of two main rooms absolutely rammed with children. Most in metal cots on their own, some in the arms of a parent. We had been warned the images were going to be upsetting, but people cope with the this in different ways. My instinct was to notice ridiculous things, anything but face up to what I was looking at. I'd count (the first room had 21 cots, the second 28 - I didn't get a chance to count how many infants were lying on mattresses or sheets on the floor with a parent but it must have been close to a further 15).

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I also wanted to look for signs that things weren't as bad as it looked - no one was crying. No one. Not a child, not an adult, in fact the noise was just hussle and bussle, surely if things were this bad then someone would be crying? The place was quite well painted. The drip bags looked very western. Why was there a need to number the cots in large black ink on the walls - it felt a very cold thing to do.

The truth was, it was as bad as what I was looking at. That in 2009 an entire children's ward in the only hospital in this entire district of North West Uganda was made up of two rooms. Three quarters of the children were there because of malaria. An entirely treatable and preventable disease - but only if caught early enough. Some of the parents had travelled for up to two days to get there. For some that was too long.

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I turned up three hours after some of the others. In that time three children had died. One of them was the baby I'd seen on my way in.

The sad thing is that just getting to the hospital isn't the only struggle. They must bring their own clothes and sheets. The must bring their own food and water. They must pay for their own medicine. All from money they barely have. If the parents are here, they're not working, so imagine if they have 6 or 8 kids, how many of them will get ill from malaria, sometimes more than once. Think how disruptive that is to the family, to their income, to the economy - all because of malaria - a preventable disease with the help of a £5 net. Let alone the personal loss of losing their baby or small child to it.

When you consider that by the first half of this year in the UK, (a country of 61 million people) up to 20 people had died of swine flu - the panic we all felt, the money that was spent and the publicity it had caused, Uganda with a population of just under half of 32 million have an estimated 320 people die of malaria - EVERY DAY.

That is why Comic Relief are spending your money in the way they do. By funding the work of the malaria consortium here in Uganda and using the money that you donated because Chris, Fearne and the other 7 celebs climbed Mount Kilimanjaro they hope to make a real dent in the malaria rates here in the North West of Uganda. Hopefully their work will be successful, and with more money that will come in from next year's Sport Relief they can extend the distribution of blue mosquito nets across Uganda.

Hopefully then, by the time this 4 year project comes to an end, the two rooms in this children's hospital can be almost empty.

It's a hope.

Aled

Day 5 - Uganda videos

Matt Fincham | 15:48 UK time, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Some more video highlights from the team out in Uganda...

Day 5 - Uganda

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Matt Fincham | 11:55 UK time, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Day 5

The team are split today, for Fearne, Kimberley and myself we've come to another mosquito net distribution. We've continued an evening of laughs with more fun today.

To welcome us and celebrate the nets a team of Ugandan dancers have performed a courtship dance where the best male dancer gets the best female dancer and they marry. They tried to drag Fearne and Kimberley in to the dance but both got very shy and made their excuses. I was at hand with my routine of Biology but oddly they didn't want to know!

Last night was hilarious because yesterday afternoon Chris and Kimberley went to a tv studio to film a segment into a health programme about how to assemble the malaria nets the villagers will have received.

Being one of the most watched programmes in the area everyone envisaged a This Morning style show with a 6 minute piece on how to set up the nets, in fact it was more of an Apprentice task at a shopping channel as they had HALF AN HOUR to fill an interview and a demonstration of assembling a net!

We found a tv that showed the channel in an office last night and piled in to watch. EASILY the funniest half an hour of the year for most of us as Chris (Chris Girls according to the host) replied taxing questions from Allan (Uganda's Jeremy Paxman), such as "why are the nets blue?" "it's a universal colour" - according to Chris (that, and that the Malaria Consortium can track where their nets end up) and "can mosquitos drill through the holes?", Chris: "have you got one and we'll give it a go!". Allan didn't laugh.

Kimberley meanwhile found that the word "basically" can be inserted into the english language as often as "and" and took on the role of fixer assembling the net and working out where all 8 corners went. She had to because Chris backed away at the complexity. Chris explained it was because there were 'too many cooks' and it had nothing to do with the difficulty of the net itself!

Unfortunately Kimberley has threatened our budding friendship and Chris has simply promised me a castration if the video finds itself on YouTube so bar a few pics floating around Twitter (see @fearnecotton for details) I have no evidence of this visual delight.

Chris' day however isn't going to be as much fun. Today Comic Relief have taken him to a hospital where children with malaria are being taken.

Following my seriousness on yesterday's blog it's nice to have laughed so much since then and to feel much more positive today, but I'll be catching up with Chris in a couple of hours so it's possible this positivity won't last long.

Aled
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Uganda Day 4 - Videos

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Aled | 18:59 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Here are some more videos for you from Day 4 in Uganda




Uganda Day 4 - Aled's update

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Aled | 18:21 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The beauty of Uganda and the strange contrast of life in the towns to the standard of living in the villages is starting to not shock me anymore. It's no longer shocking to see 5 year olds walking along the main roads holding hands with their 3 year old brothers or sisters and carrying either large oversized planks of wood or large cartons of water on their heads.

I'm actually seeing that it no longer shocks me as a positive. It means I can see past the immediate pity or sadness you want to feel for them as you compare them to your niece or nephew back home who probably at the age of 3 was being rewarded for stringing a few sentences together with a toy phone or pram. It means you get to understand more about why they are doing this. If they're in school they need to walk miles to get there - for some this morning that meant anything up to 6 miles. If they're too young for school then they need to learn how to carry the precious water from the local watering hole or local shop miles away. They need to because their parents are busy harvesting their farm or working in a local coffee / tea / sugar cane / tobacco field.

Ugandans tend to have so many children because the mortality rate of children is so high -about a third don't get to make it to adulthood. The average life expectancy is just over 50. If they live to be old they need looking after. Doctors and hospitals are more than likely miles away so they need enough of their children to grow old to look after them.

As Chris mentioned this morning everyone has a mobile. As odd as that sounds for a country that has running water in only a third of houses it's actually essential. Mobiles mean that you can bypass expensive landlines and they can supply not only a way of communicating to each other but basic healthcare help and advice to those cut off from the towns. Some African countries even lead the way in mobile banking - not paying your bill online like we do, but actually sending digital money to your handset so that you can take your phone to buy things.

Similarly that contrast is evident as I sit here in my car looking out ahead of me. I am overlooking the most beautiful scene of lush Ugandan meadows with mountains lining the distance. Amongst the greenery are two clusters of huts for houses. Some made from earth some from brick. But then in one of the central houses not so far away is a blackboard advertising that the next Premiership match game is happening soon and you can watch it on their tv.

These are some of the wealthier villagers because all around them are fields of tea. These are harvested for sending around the world. Unfortunately the (relative) wealth amongst these fields also brings disease as people travel across country for this work bringing with them disease. For this reason there are high infection rates of HIV as well as Malaria here. Something that could be easily avoided with some simple education, condoms and mosquito nets.

Thankfully there is light at the end of that tunnel for both HIV and malaria. Uganda is being praised for it's work in awareness of how you catch HIV, and with the help of your money and Comic Relief there is hope that we are about to put a very healthy dent in the malaria rates too.

From the primary school this morning of 1,100 pupils 3/4 of them have had malaria. Some of them more than once. Only the fact that they are close enough to the main town has saved them from suffering the fate of their classmates who've died of the disease. As of today every student in that school has a malaria net.

This is a 4 year project that Comic Relief are embarking on. Enough money has been raised to buy 600,000 nets for the families in this area of Uganda. The malaria statistics will be monitored to see what kind of effect that has in this area. As more money is raised with Sport Relief they will extend the plan to other areas of Uganda and hopefully save even more lives.

Stamping out malaria won't solve all the 'problems' for the people of Uganda (if I can be as self-righteous as to call their life style as such). I'm realising that to get the people of Uganda a better standard of living is going to involve much more than money and mosquito nets - but it's an excellent place to start.

Uganda Day 4

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Aled | 17:17 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Hello everyone!

Right so we've got more photographs from the gang in Uganda so you can keep up to date with how they are all doing...

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Aled with the school children from the visit to the school today

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Chris, Fearne and Kimberley film at the school for Comic Relief

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Some of the school kids at the school

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There are signs around the school with positive messages to educate the school children

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A typical Ugandan classroom

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An ACTUAL Ugandan car wash for cars, bikes and coaches for money

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A beautiful Ugandan scene of tea fields

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Very young kids working

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Aled shows the locals some BBC wildlife programmes. The first time they've ever seen the ocean, sharks and a shot of the planet

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Aled with the celebs

Chris is in Uganda....so this is what the rest of the team is up to...

Aled | 11:25 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Vernon - will be going go-karting; he had a sleepless night yesterday though, so will be spending the evening with his children

Dave - will be going go-karting and then he has a festive carol evening (he'll be recording the Everton game)

Rach - has lots of work to do and then she'll be attempting to go to the gym and then seeing her friend Rachel tonight

Carrie - will have a little nap and then this afternoon she's recording an interview with Lewis Hamilton

Dom - will be reading the news and then he'll be logging as well

To A Lesser Extent Matt Fincham - will be also attending the go-karting, then he has a playlist meeting

Wednesday team movements

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Matt Fincham | 10:32 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Vernon - will be going go-karting; he had a sleepless night yesterday though, so will be spending the evening with his children

Dave - will be going go-karting and then he has a festive carol evening (he'll be recording the Everton game)

Rach - has lots of work to do and then she'll be attempting to go to the gym and then seeing her friend Rachel tonight

Carrie - will have a little nap and then this afternoon she's recording an interview with Lewis Hamilton

Dom - will be reading the news and then he'll be logging as well

To A Lesser Extent Matt Fincham - will be also attending the go-karting, then he has a playlist meeting

Some more videos for your perusal...

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Matt Fincham | 17:47 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hi guys,

Aled has sent some more videos of the guys out in Uganda. Have a look here:

There's more to come!

Matt

Uganda - Day 3

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Matt Fincham | 17:09 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Day 3 -

It is currently 4:25pm Ugandan time, I'm sat in a rickety jeep in what is, I kid you not, a scene from Lost! This is one of the greatest misconceptions of Africa. It is beautiful. If it's just me being ignorant I apologise, but I expected miles and miles of desert with African huts clustered together trying to find water. But this isn't like those films of the Ethiopian famine that we've all seen. Uganda is a central African country which has two 'great lakes' the sizes of oceans - but with fresh water so having access to water isn't the issue (it's the money to distribute it). The country is top to toe green. The most lush countryside with sugar cane plants taller than we are, it also has breathtaking mountains that makes the rain worse for this country.

In front of me is a square hut (reminiscent of Lost's Jacob's house - both Chris and I said it together when we saw it!), there are huge mango and banana trees all around surrounded by high grass. Behind me are two houses, one circular hut made out of mud with straw for a roof, and a second house also made of mud but with corrugated iron for a roof.

Chris is inside talking to it's owner who works as a local health officer. If anyone from the cluster of houses near here falls ill then they travel to him for a diagnosis. He then determines whether it's worth the many many mile's walk to Hoima (the nearest town) either by foot or bike to see a doctor and perhaps a hospital.

The other thing Lost-like was the rain. As I was filming a little video for back home of me with some new friends I made (couldn't speak English except "Hello" and "Bye!" - but they were all transfixed by the new Lady GaGa video on my phone) someone shouted "look" at a dark cloud approaching and we all legged it for our vehicles while the sound of torrential rain closed in like the wall from 'Hole In The Wall'. I made it to the car on my own while the others legged it to the man's house. The poor man had all six of his children, his wife, friends, Chris, someone from Comic Relief and a camera crew in his living room!

That is why I'm sat here writing this blog, waiting for the heavens to close up and Chris is in the man's house trying to convince him that his Manchester Utd clock is wrong and that he should really swap to Leeds!

We're not even half way through the day and it's a struggle to balance the poverty that we're witnessing in the villages with the relative comfort of the cities and towns. That's even before you start relating things to your life back home in the UK!

The strange thing, and one that I doubt I'll be able to convey accurately home is that there isn't a sense of morbidity or sadness among the people you're with. It's hard to be upset as you would if you were sat at home watching the appeal through your tv because all around you is laughter. Maybe it's because we're funny looking white people with funny looking clothes and music videos or photos on their phones, or maybe this is their life, this is all they've known and they have ups as well as the downs just like the rest of us.

The sadness comes for them and us when you talk of disease and death and for Chris and myself we've yet to see the worst examples of this. Tomorrow we're going to a school to meet some kids who have inevitably lost their classmates to Malaria and Thursday we're visiting a hospital. Kimberley went to a hospital on Monday and spoke about how hard it was, but she was actually angry with herself for crying. As she put it, when you walk in and see a room with children all lying on the floor with malaria fighting for their lives with simple drips attached to their arms the last thing they or they parents want are people coming in and crying at the sight of them.

Aled

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Mosquito Nets in Uganda

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Matt Fincham | 14:28 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

This video is of Gary meeting some of the locals before he and the other celebs hand out 8,000 mosquito nets.

Look out for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance from Fearne...

Uganda - Day 2 video

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Matt Fincham | 13:24 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Here is another video from the team out in Uganda:

Day 2 in Uganda

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Matt Fincham | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

This blog is from Aled...

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday Gary, Fearne, Ben and Kimberley saw a warehouse full of 200,000 mosquito nets (bought with the money you donated to Comic Relief). And today they took 14,000 of those nets and distributed them at two places near Hoima (which is where we're based in Uganda).

Despite it being a happy occasion it was obviously tinged with real sadness, because in front of us were thousands of people who had walked miles - some of them with babies in their arms - to pick up a net costing around £5.

Kimberley asked the crowd in front of her how many people already had a net in the house - out of a few hundred only 3 or 4 put their hands up. Which means thousands of people in front of us were sleeping with no nets and mosquitos flying around biting them. Some of which will be carrying the malaria disease.

These centres were positioned among the poorest of the villages, so we travelled through many poor villages to get there, and this is when I got to see the side to Africa that we've heard so much about.

Extended families were living in simple huts for houses. People, who had done nothing wrong and deserved it no more than you or me, were living as a family in simple one / two bedroom houses made out of mud or in some lucky cases brick, with either straw for roofs or if they are lucky corrugated iron weighed down by bricks to stop the wind blowing them off. Around them would be a few farmyard animals to obviously feed them and then there would be just soil.

Sometimes the road was difficult to distinguish from the land around the houses so when the torrential rain started (which Uganda is currently experiencing) entire villages became flooded in seconds. Even the road itself became a river and our car handled like it was on ice.

Despite this, not one person has shown us anything but the largest smiles.

There was not a hint of any loss of pride or self-pity as the thousands who turned up wore their best Sunday clothes, women in dresses (locally made and very colourful) and men in shirts sometimes in full suits. Several turned up wearing either Manchester Utd or Arsenal t-shirts, one guy even turned up with the coolest ski-glasses I've ever witnessed. But all too poor to be able to afford £5 to save their lives.

We then returned to our hotel. By no means a luxury one, but it has a tv, running water, lighting and marlaria nets. That part of things plays on your mind as you know there are hundreds of thousands if not millions in Uganda, tens of millions if you count the rest of Africa living in those very conditions this evening.

It's been a big day!

Aled

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It's the 1st December - yay!

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Matt Fincham | 10:27 UK time, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Vernon - has an important meeting with someone important and he may or may not be having dinner with Bill Clinton*

Dave - experienced a power cut yesterday so couldn't go to the tip - that's where he's bound today

Carrie - is going to the cinema today for the first time in months but she's not sure what to see; please reply to the blog to give her some suggestions

Dom - also has a meeting today and he's presenting the Christmas Oddbox specials

Rach - has another busy day today and then she has pilates this evening

To A Lesser Extent Matt Fincham - will be tucking into the turkey that the team have been sent today and then tonight he's got his string quartet rehearsal

* this may not actually be happening

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