Posts Tagged ‘BBCi’

BBC iPlayer

October 17, 2007

2 pint overload 

Since broadband was available for a reasonable price throughout the UK, people have been downloading films over it. My friend downloaded a wobbly copy of Episode 1 of Star Wars months before it came out over here and got to discover that Jar-Jar Binks was shit way before anyone else. That was in 1999. I’m saying this so that you can get an idea of how behind the times ‘Auntie’ is in launching a program downloading service.

The BBC have realised the internet exists and now let you watch shows through BBC iPlayer. The sign up process is confusing, but provided you have at least a PhD in Computing and the sort of relentless optimism that got Haig through the Somme, you should be able to manage it. Your computer will be filled with a bilious slob of a program that will swallow up resources and works very slowly.

I bet at this point you’re thinking ‘well at least I’ll be able to watch my favourite programs whenever I want’. Well, no, you can’t. You can watch a tiny selection of programs for about seven days and then they are gone forever. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you don’t get to watch the programs you have already paid for whenever you like because the production companies have realised this might dent their sales of compilation DVDs at Christmas. So all the programs are limited.

The searching is clunky and slow, you can’t download a series in one go, or even a few episodes from a series. You have to find a program, click the first one on the list, go into the item of it and click download. Then you have to go back to the menu, find the program again and click the second one on the list and then go into it’s page to download it.

It doesn’t even realise that if you always download Mock the Week, you might want to be able to ‘subscribe’ to it and get it whenever a new one comes out, as Podcasts have done for a while. Is that too much to ask?

Oh and it’s just full of crap at the moment, the image above is an actual screen shot from their ‘comedy’ selection. Provided you like watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps you will be delighted. What makes this worse is that there are naughty websites on the internet who provide this service illegally and they do it much better. You can be sat at your desk at work at watch classic episodes of Dr Who or the second season of Heroes with only the occasional danger of adverts for ‘hot girls in Slough’ flashing up.

The BBC does some things brilliantly. In my head the license fee I pay is split between Radio 4, the BBC website and the cast of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

Flight of the Conchords

October 10, 2007

Flight of the Conchords 

I like Flight of the Conchords. I first saw them at the Edinburgh Festival around 2002 (or maybe 2003) and laughed a lot out of my mush, so I was glad to see they’d made a splash in America and had, as a result, put together a series with HBO, a channel that usually come up with some pretty good programming. That very series is now on BBC4 and is, as hoped, very amusing. My problem’s not with Flight of the Conchords. My problem is with the BBC’s relentless advertising campaign for the series, which is about as subtle as a ram raid on a fluorescent klaxon and puts me off my dinner.

I’m glad the boys are being pushed and making lots of money, but when it comes at the expense of my sanity I feel I must do something about it. Exactly what I should do about it I’m not sure. Shout at the television perhaps, or write an ineffectual blog about my annoyance that will barely be read by anyone. Yes, that’ll do it.

I fire up BBCi to catch up with the news, read a bit of football gossip and maybe copy myself a nice Last of the Summer Wine wallpaper for my monitor and the first thing I see upon hitting their site (and it’s been like this on and off for weeks) is an advert for Flight of the Conchords – a programme which I watched last night, along with all the other fans of the show I’d assume. So the advert is pointless.

It doesn’t stop there though, obviously. There are some bloody awful inserts between shows where the Conchords themselves are forced in front of the camera without a script and made to ad lib about why you should see their show. The viewer is made to feel as uncomfortable as the performers as the desperate crap that comes out of their mouths is clearly the result of a contractual obligation. The bits of you that don’t squirm start to wince as they drop unfunny clangers, actually turning you off the idea of watching the bloody thing.

Just to curl your toes that little bit more, the announcer for BBC4, bless her, introduces it as ‘cult show Flight of the Conchords’. You can’t market it as a cult, can you? Not this soon – surely? It’s only been on for three weeks. Hardly enough time to form an obsessive fan base – in the UK anyway…

That’s not enough for the BBC. Oh Christ no! In this age of viral marketing and online teasers, BBCi want to further get in on the act, like a grandad showing off a new pound-shop walkie talkie when his grandkids have already got mobiles. I was made aware of this last night when, at the end of the show this continuity woman invites you, the viewer, to go online to the ‘Flight of the Conchords microsite’ to view clips from next week’s show. Y’what? ‘Clips’? Not the whole thing? What’s the point of watching clips of it? I want to watch the whole show. It’s only 25 minutes long to start with! If I’m looking forward to chicken kievs and chips for dinner, I don’t go eating the kievs at lunch time, do I? It’d ruin the point of dinner!

So, BBC, stop trying to ruin my dinner, or there’ll be hell to pay.