Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Water Board

There was something perversely comforting about the clocks going back, even if it means the nights now start drawing in and the weather on Sunday, with its leaden skies gave a sterling indication of what’s in store in the months to come. Summer, after all, appeared to be over long before the time change. The suddenly empty flowerbeds in St John’s Wood Church Gardens, previously awash with bright colour, were evidence that it was time for change.

Autumn always seems a good time to take a breath and pause, however briefly, before we hurtle towards year’s end and before everything gets draped in the sickeningly shiny festive accoutrements. In that brief moment, if we pay enough attention, nature burns around us in russets and burnished golds beneath the blazing sunsets. Of course I’d probably have change my tune if I’d come back home sodden and chilled to the bone that has been falling this evening.

Of course the largest benefit autumn brings is that, after the dry spell in the television summer schedules, finally licence fee money put to good use begins to appear on our screens. The shows proffered seem to be all the more remarkable in when compared to the seriously disappointing programming that has arrived in the US in the recent months. It kicked off in splendid style on Sunday evening with the adaptation of Dickens’ Little Dorrit, which was then followed the next night with the new series of Spooks.

When Spooks first appeared in early 2002 it was probably closer in tone to Yorkshire Television’s excellent spy drama The Sandbaggers. As it gradually evolved, by the fifth year the show was veering more towards 24 with bigger bangs and crashes and the odd bonkers plot. This certainly wasn’t a bad thing, and in most instances the episodes had such a breathless pace that they made other contemporary British dramas look like they were standing still.

With the drama returning for a seventh year, Spooks appears to have taken another leaf out of 24’s book by upping the ante in terms of torture. At some point in the new series a flashback with show Richard Armitage’s new character, Lucas North, being interrogated by his Russian captors. Rather than the simple feet in a bucket and electrodes to the genitals route, the sequence will involve waterboarding.

This process involves the detainee being placed on their back with their head lowered and a cloth placed over their airways that is gradually soaked with water. As the cloth becomes saturated it makes breathing impossible without inhaling the water impossible, simulating drowning. The technique is so barbaric that governments around the world actively condemn this method of torture, except in America.

Earlier this year during a congressional testimony, CIA director Michael Hayden, confirmed that the procedure on a trio of al-Qaeda suspects between 2002 and 2003. After Democratic senators demanded an investigation into where the interrogators had broken the law the US Attorney-General refused to define the practice as illegal torture. When Congress moved to outlaw its use they were vetoed by President Bush who claimed it was vital on the war in terror. So that puts the Bush Administration up there with the Spanish Inquisition and the Khmer Rouge as practitioners of waterboarding.

Not to trivialise something this horrific, but with the current furore over the continued boorish, brattish and vulgar behaviour of media goatboys Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, if the BBC doesn’t finally terminate their contracts then this is what they should get a taste of in the bowels of Television Centre.


At 3:21 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

Don't you get the impression with Ross and Brand that those guys would gladly face waterboarding rather than lose their place in the schedules?

Watching the news tonight, some of the talking heads seemed to think the public reaction was a bit OTT. And in a strict sense maybe it was.

But the Beeb and the whole industry have been caught treating viewers with absolute contempt too many times recently. There's been one scandal after another - some of them criminal frauds that should have been prosecuted.

So every vestige of public goodwill has been exhausted.

The scale and intensity of the response isn't because of one misjudgement, it's because of a relentless accumulation of them. And it's deserved.

There is, though, one gratifying thought in all of this.

If this incident kills the careers of Ross and Brand, Andrew Sachs will go to his grave having made two landmark contributions to British comedy, thirty years apart.

At 11:29 am, Blogger potdoll said...

Will Ross and Brand be catapulted to legends after this? That's what usually happens, isn't it?

At 6:16 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

The reaction probably is a bit over the top, but then the BBC is probably to blame for not censuring them earlier. This shows that the upper management haven’t a goddamn clue what is going on.

When it comes to the two idiots themselves the fourth estate and the public is probably going for them in such a ferocious way because it’s the accumulation of their continuing contemptuous behaviour. Even on the Film 2008 Bond special last night the buffoon was going on about how Quantum of Solace should have been called “Thunder Pussy.”

That’s terribly juvenile behaviour from a BBC presenter. Given that Ross previously remarked that he was worth “1,000 BBC journalists,” those journos must now be basking in schadenfreude.

The pair still obviously have their fans but most of us have had enough. It’s not even funny any more. If you were in a pub and a couple of twats were carry on like that you’d either leave or threaten to glass them if they didn’t shut it.

Picking on Sachs, who seems to be a pretty decent chap is just nasty. I doubt Ross would like it if listeners phoned into his radio show and said, “play us a song while we spit roast your daughters.”

Anyway, I’ve just seen on the news that the two were suspended and now Brand has quit the Corporation.

Dolly, hopefully they’ll just fade into obscurity.

At 7:54 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Or fall face-first into the rotating blades...

At 9:45 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I hope you’ve got the camera ready for that!

Having read these ass-clowns’ apology statements on the BBC’s website, while Brand’s is the usual piffle, it’s the ego and arrogance of the jumped up East End barrow boy that staggers me:

I have not issued a statement previously because it was my intention and desire to offer an apology to all those offended on my Friday night programme.

Which suggests it was simply going to be business as far as he was concerned as usual, and he’d have a home field advantage by doing it in front of the studio audience who would chuckle along thinking no harm, no foul.

At 7:57 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


I should point out that a condensed version of my last post was used as a comment on another blog. It got a somewhat facetious reply that ended by saying that it’s wrong to “glass” people.

As I replied there, I obviously used the wrong analogy. Having only been to a pub twice this year*, both times of which were in the afternoon, I’m clearly not au fait with current drinking etiquette. I always thought that smacking people with pint glasses is how things kick off after a bad football result on Sky Sports or if the bar staffer forgets the pork scratchings.

Maybe I should have placed the analogy in a restaurant, with annoyed patrons waving their napkins at the maître d' (or, if wet, the sommelier). Showing my ignorance of the less than violent habits of the hoi polloi, I apologise unreservedly.

* The first was for birthday drinks in central London, the second instance was with H in Harrow where the pub food was exceptional. Other than that, during the last ten months I’ve met friends in hotel bars for drinkies and a natter. Much more civilised, don’t you know.


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