Media Monkey’s festive gongs

December 21st, 2011

✒Most memorable song: Music Week magazine surprised readers with its top 10 rundown of the most popular Beatles one-track downloads of 2011. At No 4 was “Here Comes the Rain”, which is either a previously unreleased track by the Fab Four or an unfortunate take on Abbey Road’s Here Comes the Sun. Forecast: stormy.

✒Breaking news award: the Daily Mail was not alone in getting the verdict wrong in Amanda Knox’s successful appeal against her murder conviction. but it trumped its rivals with an online report that attributed quotes to the prosecutors apparently reacting to the (non-existent) guilty verdict and a vivid (entirely imaginary) description of the courtroom reaction as Knox “sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears”. Which was presumably the response in the MailOnline newsroom as they realised they had pressed the wrong button.

✒Proprietor of the year: Richard Desmond, who along with the Daily Star and Daily Express is about to complete his first full year in charge of Channel 5. Desmond, who took a big gamble by buying Big Brother after it was axed by Channel 4, said he wanted the show to get 20 million viewers. “Anything less is, you know, we beat people up.” the Big Brother live final was watched by … 2 million people.

✒Straight talker of the year (1) goes to the BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden, after she was confronted by staff on BBC1’s regional current affairs show inside out, which is facing a £2m budget cut and the loss of 40 (out of 100) jobs. “I think we all need to grow up,” she told them. “We could have killed you off.”

✒Cattiest remark: “The last time I read Grazia”. Asked to say when he was last embarrassed, snooty Condé Nast boss Nicholas Coleridge disses the Bauer weekly that steals fashion-lovers from his glossies.

✒Special award for looking on the bright side of life: after his GMTV replacement, Daybreak, singularly failed to take off, ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham, had nothing but praise for the show’s two (now former) presenters Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. “They leave the show at a point when ratings have recently seen their biggest year on year increase,” said Fincham. At this point Daybreak had been on the air for … 14 months.

✒Unfortunate mental image of the year: “Like a tortoise without a shell on” – Ricky Gervais’s sidekick Karl Pilkington imagines Rupert Murdoch naked.

✒Best book: Sky News presenter Kay Burley’s debut, er, novel, first Ladies. Principally so we can repeat this memorable passage. “At that exact moment, Julian was expertly using his silver tongue to offer intense gratification to Sally as he held on firmly to her taut, tanned thighs, tightly gripped around his handsome face.”

✒Champagne moment: when the Only Way Is Essex won the audience prize at the Bafta Television awards. the expression on the faces of Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman left – like a vajazzle – a lasting impression.

✒Innovation: the Daily Mail’s corrections and clarifications column, which offered up this early gem. “Commentary articles on 5 and 16 August referred to six individuals apprehended in France who were attempting to enter Britain in wheelie bins on a lorry as asylum seekers when they should have been described as illegal immigrants. we are happy to set the record straight.” you couldn’t make it up.

✒Top pseud: “I really love…a beautifully constructed villanelle; a glass of vintage port; a cherry tree in full flower; walking through woods on a snowy morning; the scent of ambergris; performing (on stage or off); raucous and uninhibited sex (preferably with me as a participant)”. Magazine magnate and poet Felix Dennis in Campaign’s annual A-List survey.

✒Phone-in of the year is awarded to TalkSport’s late-night host Matt Forde, who was on the receiving end of this call, if that’s the right word, from Jonathan in Swansea. “On behalf of 90%, maybe more, 99% of the listeners of TalkSport I’d just like to tell you that we don’t like you, we don’t want you and we never wanted you to come back. you are the worst presenter on radio ever, you make [5 Live presenter] Stephen Nolan look like Orson Welles. you are a talentless liar, a shameless sycophantic sell-out with a jelly spine and a mush mind … you are the John Pienaar of TalkSport and I don’t mean that as a compliment.”

✒Long-distance trip of the year: the Archers’s Nigel Pargetter, who plunged to his death from the roof of the ancestral home, Lower Loxley Hall. Subsequent calculations suggested the length of his blood-curdling scream as he fell from the roof – some 3.5 seconds – meant his home was 20 storeys high … the equivalent of York Minster.

✒Quote of the year – six years ago: “Popular journalism is at the very heart of our society,” said the then News of the World managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, after accepting the Newspaper of the Year prize at the British Press awards in 2005. “Snooty, sneering editors with circulations they should be ashamed of could learn a great deal from the News of the World. I have spent much of my life in Fleet Street. Of course we are not perfect, but the team which comprises this newspaper is in my view the most skilled, tenacious and professional band in the whole of the industry.”

✒Straight talker of the year (2): Denise Van Outen, reflecting on her short-lived reunion with Johnny Vaughan on the Capital Radio breakfast show. “It wasn’t a comfortable environment to be in. I think he wasn’t happy that I joined in the first place. He made it quite clear. I think at the time in his defence he was used to doing the show on his own. I think it was taking him time to get used to the fact that somebody else was in the mix and it wasn’t just him. we haven’t spoken since.”

✒Top scoop: ITV launched its new current affairs show Exposure with a bang, featuring exclusive footage of the IRA shooting down a helicopter with weapons supplied by Muammar Gaddafi. Eat your heart out, World in Action! Alas any resemblance to a sequence from computer shoot-em-up Arma 2 was entirely uncoincidental, it turned out, because the footage was indeed a clip from the 2009 videogame set in the fictional east European nation of Chernarus. we hear Chernarus’s got Talent, hosted by Sonic the Hedgehog, is absolutely massive.

✒Best (and most topical) style guide advice comes from Simon Heffer, formerly of the Daily Telegraph and now of Mail Online’s RightMinds. “The style book also reminds us that our readers tend to eat Christmas lunch, not Christmas dinner; this is not the Daily Star.”

Media Monkey’s festive gongs

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