For blog items from previous years [2005-13], see links on home page.
Broadchurch Back Again ... And Again
The region's most popular screen drama in years (set and part-shot in W. Dorset), ITV's Broadchurch, is back for Series 2 on Jan 5th. Series 1 (see our blog item here) has been rerun on ITV's Encore channel, and then Broadchurch 2 begins. There was speculation it might be called Broadchurch 2: The End Is Where It Begins, since this was the Twitter hashtag shown on the teaser trailers.
But this would imply closure of major storylines, and it seems a "Broadchurch 3" is in the works. (How the two washed-up cops pictured at left are going to carry on has been kept a secret.) Normally, US tv milks a franchise to death; but the US remake, Gracepoint, made with the same writer-producer, co-director and co-star, which began on Fox cable in the US in October, has in fact been cancelled. Reportedly, ratings were not what was hoped for, even though the identity of the culprit was changed. This may be because Broadchurch S1 had already been shown on US TV, on BBC America, in summer 2013, and released on DVD in the US in April 2014. Broadchurch S2 will still be shown on BBC America as soon as the UK run finishes, in March 2015. The 10 x 44 mins US series Gracepoint will itself now air on an ITV channel here in the UK as soon as the deal is signed. Next year at this time, we may be looking at the hashtag #The-End-Is-Nowhere-In-Sight.
Update: After a less popular S2, the end finally arrived with the conclusion of S3 in April 2017.
The On-Air Airshow
The Airshow is now in its 7th iteration. In previous years, our blog posts have dwelt on the
exasperating lack of advance info in the media on what is flying when. The problem is still
ongoing, the underlying problem being that the main local news outlet, the Echo, abetted by
the Council (though I've been asked not to mention the discreet public-subsidy aspect) wants
to sell you a ‘programme’. This is really a glossy souvenir booklet but allegedly
contains the 'programme' in the sense of the actual timetable of events ... except that what
you get is merely the planned running order (soon out of date due to unplanned event changes),
subdivided into vague time blocs such as 2.30-5pm. So if you're a visitor who wants to time
your meal, bathroom or other breaks without missing a favourite 'turn' you've come to see,
well, good luck. I've mentioned before that all airshow organisers have a minute-by-minute
schedule which is made available to mainstream media outlets but not the public.
Having a tight schedule of national commitments, the Red Arrows always appear on time, at a well-advertised time. However this is not the case with other flying events.
Since online digital media has come to dominate print in the last few years, that would seem to offer a solution; but evidently not. The problem of notifying the public in advance of the inevitable last-minute schedule changes due to weather and mechanical failures could be solved by a central online page showing the amended schedule. But as the mad controller said in Airplane, 'Oh no - that would make it too easy for them'. (In 2009, an annoyed punter posted the detailed listing to the Echo's 'what's on' page - which then got deep-sixed into the archive via a change of URL.) The Echo publishes the official breakdown of events for that day on the day, but it’s still just the running order in 2-3 hour blocs, and is not itself updated in the event of cancellations or delays, this being relegated to a page which carries mainly Twitter posts. When you buy the souvenir programme, you get access to a code which allows you to log in to the website showing the timetable. Last year, there were limitations placed on this, as the screenshot from the Council's airshow page shows:
As I haven’t been able to find anyone who used this, I can’t say if they keep it
up to date. The schedule needs constant updates as only the Red Arrows, who often have shows
elsewhere on the same day, seem to appear at the advertised time. Despite there being a dedicated
official ‘BournemouthAir’ site and Facebook
page, it seems you have to keep checking several media feeds to keep up to date. (For example,
the unscheduled 2nd appearance of the Vulcan ‘by popular demand’, on the Sunday,
was announced on the live video channel just after its scheduled Saturday appearance as if
it was an impromptu arrangement - which in itself is unlikely.)
Technically, the video coverage
worked well enough its first year of full operation, ie last year, and we included a link to
it in our 2013 blog post. This year, whatever new tech features were added seem to have made
it top-heavy for a standard BT home-broadband connection (never mind wifi). The live feed would
get stuck in a buffering loop, or drop the connection completely.
The site’s own error screen when the live feed fails points up an interesting aspect
of the setup. Notice in
the error message how the live feed is treated as a video-play process. Using the Retry button
would take you back to the start of the day’s coverage, which would repeat every time
the page was refreshed to try to re-establish the live feed. This is a byproduct of the coverage’s
‘duplex’ approach, one of its most useful aspects: both live and replay coverage
are available by switching modes. In effect, the live feed is accompanied by a video playback
function which allows you to roll back the viewing moment from 'live' to 'replay'. (BBC’s
iPlayer does the same in live-viewing mode.) The ‘DVR’ button takes you into this
catchup mode, which is very handy for such a lengthy event.
Bournemouth Air Festival 2014 on Livestream
There was also a link bottom-right in the video window to a similar setup on Livestream, the big US company which provides the tech backbone for many such web-tv channels. Trying to reload this prompts a browser clickjacking warning, perhaps due again to the switchable live/replay setup on the LiveStream Player (the ‘swf’ extension is ‘ShockWave for Flash’):
The same video stream was also
carried on the official airshow site bournemouthair.co.uk.
This proved subject to the same stalling. It may be the servers got overloaded due to a bandwidth
restriction or a miscalculation about the amount of traffic, but numbers should have been more
predictable here, than say, with the Scottish independence debate live on STV earlier this
month. (STV suffered server-overload failure, leading to so many complaints STV actually emailed
an apology to all registered site users.) On Day 4, it was announced that around 20,000-30,000
people were watching the event on the internet, which is well under 10% of the ‘live’
audience of attendees (slightly up again this year, estimated at 450,000 on the day and 1.2
million over the 4 days). The sponsors’ commercials worked fine, not having the complexity
of the live/replay setup.
The camera coverage followed the
aerial action with a closeup camera intercut with one or two others for master shots, including
crowd shots, and handheld cameras on the beach [above]. Below, the closeup camera gives a detailed
enough view to see the open bomb-bay doors of the Vulcan flying at a thousand feet.
The Airshow’s basic go-to
link setup was confusing. It was changed from last year's [here]
and you had to search for it from the homepage; it wasn't, as you might think, under 'Wave-TV'
on the navi-bar (which takes you only to http://www.wave105.com/tv/),
but in the sidebar, buried in a lengthy obscure URL [here]:
However this page had a large
graphic for Fonix (Fonix provide those big LED screens you see at sporting events to help the
spectators see the event better.) This also showed a redirect link to www.wave105.com/BAF -
which in fact merely bounced you back to the page you just left. The audio now heard as this
page loads is the only clue the video coverage is there; to see the video, you needed to scroll
down past the large Fonix graphic.
As soon as the event ended, the video feeds sadly went dead too, giving no time for the crowds stuck in the lengthy exodus traffic jam to get home and watch replays. The LiveStream screen reverted to the preshow title card as if there was more to come, but viewers would have a long wait. BournemouthAir also promptly went dead. (There was no follow-on 'NightAir' evening event Sunday as on the other 3 nights to allow visitors time to get home.) You can go to the PlanesTV link, where there are some clips of flying but it’s a subscription channel and not local. BournemouthTourismTV's channel on YouTube only has a few clips. BournemouthAir’s own YouTube linked ‘channel’ just takes you to interviews, while a general search on YouTube now at least brings up a variety of material from private sources, here. The Echo has its own (not Wave-FM/Fonix footage) 11-minute video montage of highlights from Day 4, with the full cacophony of tannoy, aircraft and crowd sounds, here. Livestream now also has some highlights on its Fonix account page, here. Presumably an official souvenir DVD will appear on the horizon soon.
No Such Thing As A Free
On a related note, the Council announced on the Airshow’s first day the 'world's fastest free outdoor Wifi' being made available in the pierhead area by a ‘collaboration with FusionWiFi and CityFibre’. The latter is an airshow sponsor and has some history in the town as an internet cable provider, being formerly known as FibreCity [see our 2013 review here. FusionWiFi offers ‘socialwifi’, meaning you only get it by offering them inside access to your social-media accounts like Facebook so they can harvest [see screenshot below] and sell your details so you can be hit by targeted advertising and emails.
I gather this is not prohibited by consumer protection laws, though many users may not be aware of the fine print; the involvement of the Council as a public body with a duty of care under the Data Protection Act is disturbing. Why the Council considers it ‘a major step forward in enhancing digital services and building a prosperous and connected town’ suggests a certain lack of tech savvy, as anyone with a smartphone already has wifi they’re paying for anyway. It would only be useful for portable ‘outdoor’ devices without built-in access, meaning laptops; even there, the owner can go online by ‘tethering’ their smartphone to it as a mobile access point. Some have complained their own wifi no longer works downtown, perhaps swamped by a more powerful new signal (I had such an experience myself on the Friday, unable for the first time to access Vodafone’s data link, which I’ve used for years to run a netbook, including in two-hour meetings at the library). However re such boasts of speeds of up to 1 gigabit/sec, the key phrase is always “up to”, which is the standard corporate get-out when the ASA pursues them for misleading ads.
The ‘Free Trial’ aspect suggests people will soon have to pay for their personal data being harvested while online, and this seems a dubious business proposition. Where the user has a smartphone or a mobile number listed online, the ‘targeted advertising’ can mean they get advertising texts on their phones, something that is more difficult to block than email spam because of the more primitive SMS technology. The latest wrinkle is to use the smartphone's GPS to target people as they walk past the business premises with a text message in the hope they will enter and spend money. Of course, once the companies (and perhaps the Council too) have your phone number and email address with the setup’s ‘implied consent’, they can contact you whenever they want about anything they want wherever you are. As the American expression puts it, TANSTAAFL – There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
Building Our Cultural Capital
several overlapping local-news strands have appeared which involve listing famous persons associated
with the area. This began in early January with competing “civic pride” lists which inevitably
include listing celebrities of one kind or another. The process was kick-started non-locally,
by a Birmingham documentary filmmaker’s putting together a “100 Reasons To Love Birmingham”
film. Co-funded by Film Birmingham and the Birmingham Civic Society, Steve Rainbow’s 'More
Canals Than Venice' was designed to combat the stereotyping and generally negative image of
the city and its residents in national media, by citing surprising facts to make people “aware
of how important Birmingham's role has been in British life.” This was picked up by BBC News
online, who suggested
people contact them with suggestions for similar “reasons for civic pride” lists re 15 other
cities around England (presumably cities where they have local news stations). There would
be no film but an online compilation.
People rather than buildings are the most important component in building our cultural capital.
Bournemouth at any given time, there is always some gigantic central leisure-complex building
project on the cards, inevitably involving more 1980s-style multiplex cinemas and chain restaurants.
Most of these collapse in the end, after years of re-negotiated promises. The most recent example
is the Nautilus complex - though some of these projects also rise again from the undead in
mutated form, like a reincarnated monster in a horror story.