Archive for January 24th, 2009

Production of “The Bill” to be halved

Some sad news from Britain. Budget cuts at ITV have forced the halving of the number of episodes to be produced of The Bill.

Later this year, ITV will move the show from its twice-weekly 8pm timeslot to a once-weekly 9pm timeslot, something which they claim will allow the show to become “grittier and more action-packed”.

The reasoning behind the halving of production appears to be entirely financial, as the show is a solid performer for ITV, albeit with too many regular cast members to fit in to any given episode, winning the ratings in its timeslot week after week, averaging around 5 million viewers. It is also a fairly solid performer for the ABC here in Australia, with the two episodes being shown back-to-back on a Saturday night rating well for ABC1. Last Saturday, The Bill was the 7th most watched show with 686,000 viewers in Sydney, bumping the ABC ahead of Seven in to third place for the night.

Over the last four weeks The Bill has been the 64th, 44th, 28th and 32nd most watched show nationwide for the respective weeks.

An ITV source for Britain’s Sun newspaper claims that the cut in production will result in some redundancies, although what that means for cast is still unclear. “Mass exit” storylines such as another station fire (like the one which killed six characters in 2002 and the one which killed three characters in 2005) have been ruled out.

ITV insist that the per-episode budget will be increased, which will probably be a good thing considering some of the dodgy editing which has been apparent in episodes to air on ABC1 in recent weeks (especially the botched noise reduction in one of the interview scenes which made everyone sound like they were talking through a decaying pillow), although I am concerned about the increase in “edgy” and “dramatic” content which the 9pm timeslot will apparently allow ITV to screen…I can only hope that ITV don’t intend on returning The Bill to the soap opera formula they used earlier this decade when Paul Marquess was producing the show.

At this stage it is unclear what the ABC will do when ITV halve production. The most likely thing for them to do will be to keep running dual Saturday night episodes until they reach the episodes which ITV will screen at a rate of one per week (theoretically this should happen towards the end of the year) and then start screening only one episode each Saturday, although it would be nice if the ABC would keep screening dual episodes until sometime early next year when they would only be a few weeks behind ITV rather than a few months.

Regardless of what happens, all I can really hope for is that the show’s quality doesn’t suffer, as it has been doing very well (for the most part) lately, and a drop in quality would be a shame for a show with a proud 25-year history like The Bill.


January 24th, 2009 at 04:25pm

They used to work together…

Remember these two gentlemen?
Paul Blunt and Leighton Archer

It’s Paul Blunt and Leighton Archer hosting 2CA’s breakfast show, on the day of 2CA’s 75th birthday in 2006. At the end of 2006 the duo split with Paul leaving the station and Leighton staying on at 2CA and doing a number of jobs. Leighton left in October last year.

The reason that I bring all of this up is that I was tempted to write this article midway through last week when I noticed that Paul Blunt had returned to Canberra from Light FM in Melbourne, taking on the Drive (2pm-6pm) shift and the Acting Music Director role at Mix 106.3. Leighton returned a couple weeks ago and has been 2CC’s and 2CA’s traffic reporter.

On that basis alone it makes for a somewhat interesting story, but there is a new twist to it which has come to light in the last day which makes the whole thing even more interesting. 2CA have announced a change to their lineup for 2009…Ilija Dugandzic (afternoons 1pm-4pm and Music Director) has resigned, and will be replaced by, you guessed it, Leighton Archer. Leighton returns to 2CA in February.

In terms of playlists, I think it’s fair to say that 2CA’s immediate rival is Mix 106.3, so it’s rather interesting that the former “Breakfast Boys” are now “Afternoon Adversaries”. It’s such a pity that I don’t have access to the raw ratings figures as it would be interesting to see how the trend lines go on this particular battle.

I suppose this means that ATN will be looking for another traffic reporter…pity in some ways, Leighton sounded quite excited by the chaos of the traffic on many occasions, and I haven’t heard many Australian traffic reporters who sound excited about what they’re reporting.

Anyway, a belated “welcome back” to both Paul and Leighton, it’s good to have you both back on Canberra’s airwaves.


4 comments January 24th, 2009 at 09:50am

Dead Air

I tuned in to 2CC at 2:30 to listen to Murray Wilton filling in for John Kerr, but all I got was dead air. Upon checking the 2UE webstream I discovered that they were in the middle of an ad break, so it was quite possible that the break hadn’t been fired off locally for one reason or another, however when 2UE returned from their break, 2CC were still out.

Satellite issues perhaps? Check the 2AY webstream…Murray Wilton, half a second behind the 2UE stream. We did just have a storm pass through Canberra and it’s possible that it confused the satellite decoder, but normally that only affects the audio and not the pulses.

I wonder if I’ll hear the news at 3am? It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Fairfax Syndication somehow managed to kill 2CC’s feed for the hour, although I would expect 2AY to be affected as well if that were to happen. If there’s no news at 3am then I might be interested enough to leave a radio on and see how long it takes for some audio to grace the 2CC frequency…even the emergency tape would be nice.

On the bright side, the one station in Canberra that I can resuscitate is on-air, so I don’t need to leave the house.

Update 3am: Time pips, news intro and the news. Well done Fairfax, I assume that you fed silence to 2CC for the entire 2am hour. End Update

Further Update: It has been brought to my attention that this was probably caused by heavy rain corrupting the signal, causing the satellite receive at 2CC’s end to change channel. The receiver would have then changed back to the correct channel just before 3am when control signals told it to do so. End Update


January 24th, 2009 at 02:56am

How many more people have to die?

How long will it take for people to get the message that boats, night and waterways with trees in them just don’t mix?

You might recall that, about a month ago, 18-year-old Casey Hardman died when the boat she was travelling in struck a tree on Lake Eildon at about 1:30am. The 16-year-old boy who was driving the boat has subsequently been charged with manslaughter, and had the charge withdrawn pending further forensic evidence.

Sadly, it’s happened again, albeit this time a bit north of the New South Wales/Victoria border:

A 13-YEAR-old girl has died after being impaled on part of a tree during a night-time joy ride on the Murray River.
NSW Maritime says the girl was riding on an inflatable tube towed by a jetski on the Murray at Moama, on the NSW-Victoria border, when the accident occurred about 8.30pm (AEDT) yesterday.

The tragedy has prompted authorities to issue a water safety appeal for the Australia Day long weekend.

With sunset at 8:37pm over there, it would have been pretty dark, probably not dark enough to completely lose sight of the trees, but arguably too dark to use jetskis to tow people with any degree of safety.

One can only wonder how long it will take for the message to get through.


January 24th, 2009 at 01:51am


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