Friday, December 23, 2011

How the Vampires ruined Easter

The story about Tim Minchin having a song about Jesus cut from an ITV show reminds me of a time, long ago, when I was launching a BBC website about Vampires one Easter.

It had been live 15 minutes before I got bollocked. I got bollocked for everything, but this bollocking was from someone very high up in who'd been on a management training course I can only imagine was called the "Deep fried chocolate shit sandwich". The phone call went like this:

iBOSS: "Hey! Love the design of your vampires site.... but I need you to take it down immediately."

ME: "What?"

iBOSS: "It's a lovely design and great content, but it just seems inappropriate and culturally insensitive. We can't have content about Vampires going out at this time of year."

ME: "Sorry?"

iBOSS: "It's great to see such innovation, but I'm afraid Easter is the wrong time for the subject matter of Vampires. In fact, if it was done by someone else, I could call them deliberately offensive to Christians."

ME: "What? Wait. Jesus wasn't a vampire!"

iBOSS: "You're a very clever person, but I must say that you are now twisting my words. But yes, we just cannot cause any offence through the association between Jesus and Vampires."

ME: "What association?"

iBOSS: "Your association. It's very clear. The BBC just cannot broadcast anything to do with Vampires at Easter. It's a rule."

ME: "Is it?"

iBOSS: "Well of course it is, obviously."

ME: *thumbing through the Radio Times* "Then why is BBC Two showing a season of Hammer films over the Bank Holiday weekend?" I list the titles of the films, ending with "...and Taste the Blood of Dracula on Easter Monday."

iBOSS: "oh. Well, perhaps I was mistaken. But anyway, just thought I should call and say what a lovely design it was. Well done."



Last night we went to David Hoyle's thing at the RVT - which was kind of amazing, ish. He ranted about the arms race while dressed as a christmas tree. Then a fat drag queen stapled tinsel to her arm.

"Don't look," said the boyfriend. "There's so much blood." I didn't look.

There was to be a special performance by an ex-porn star. The ex-porn star has now got fat, which probably means he's happy. He's relaunching himself as an actor. He stood around doing appalling mime for ten minutes, ate some cold baked beans, and then rammed some fairy lights up his bum.

"It's no way into the National Youth Theatre" sighed the boyfriend.

A drunk man put his coat on to go home. But didn't. He just stood for an hour, slightly to the right of the stage, staring at us, frozen. It was like the sign language interpreter got stage fright. Odd.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ridiculous Development Projects #1: Blake's 7 2000

I figure I can now tell the story. Since the department I worked for, the department after that, and then the whole building are all long since shut down.

A long time ago, a department I worked in was doing a lot of development work. By which I mean "not making anything". (They actually managed to make one television pilot - it was a CGI game show with punters bombing cities in planes. Sadly, they handed in the first show the week of September 11th and little more was heard from it...).

Anyway, at the time, this department was full of telly people (who didn't get to make any television) and online people (who made an awful lot of websites). You can guess the pecking order. Every now and then online people were summoned by the telly people to discuss "future projects". As I was running a science fiction website at the time, I got the summons fairly regularly.

I sat down at a meeting.

BOSS #1: "So. We're going to do Blake's 7!"

ME: "Uh, but..." (I was never any good at brainstorming. Never say "but-"). "You don't own the rights."

BOSS #1: "We'll get them. Where's Jason?" (Jason was Boss#2 - whose name has been changed.)

JASON arrived late (Company tactic - always arrive late to a meeting. You prove you're most important if you then ask for a summary of what you've missed.)

JASON: "So kids, what've I missed?"

BOSS #1: "We're going to remake Blake's 7."

JASON: "Amazing. I'm just off to the loo."

JASON is gone a while. There is a reason for this. JASON had a massive drugs habit. Everyone knew about it. I later found out who his dealer was - he was one of those people in the department of who you thought "well yes, but what do you do?".

JASON comes back five minutes later, glassy eyed and sniffing and sits down.

BOSS #1 launches into a passionate pitch for why he wants to do Blake's 7.

JASON nods for a bit, then...

JASON: "Yeah yeah yeah. But I'm thinking.... what it's missing is Gambling! and Lesbians!"

BOSS #1 fears JASON. We all do. I often vomit before meetings with him. We both nod nervously.

JASON: "Come on, yeah! Let's mix it up! Blake's 7! Gambling! Lesbians! But let's make it Century 21 and 360!"

BOSS #1 falls silent. His dreams aren't yet shattered, but they've tipped off the tabletop of ambition and are heading towards the hard wooden flooring of despair.

JASON then glares at me. His nostils flare - revealing bushels of flecked white nasal hair. He is clearly giving me ten more seconds to come up with something before the shouting begins.

So I come up with my big idea. My big "oh fuck it, he's so off his tits, he won't remember this meeting."

As a matter of fact, I'm wrong. S-Club Blake's 7 is in development for several months. Then they realise they don't own the rights.