Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Sir" Terry threatens to bow out


Terry Wogan (who is presumably not officially entitled to use the honorary title) last night threatened to bow out after British entry, Andy Abraham, came joint bottom of the heap in Belgrade. I think the time has come for Terry's resignation to be accepted.
He has kept interest high in the Eurovision for at least two decades and should be recognised for that. But now he is ruining it - literally, in the case of Andy Abraham. We supposedly had a viewer vote system for selecting the British entry. Nobody on the night thought Andy Abraham's Even If was up to the mark; the popular vote was for Michelle Gayle with a catchy, well-performed up-tempo tune - but Terry insisted on a wild card for the final viewer vote, which told Terry fans what to vote for.
The truth, however, is that Andy Abraham is a gifted singer with zero broadcast charisma. Even If was instantly forgettable. Even if we had MOR charts, this wouldn't top them. His performance is Belgrade was old-fashioned - more Northern club than stadium extravaganza. Everybody knew he had no chance. Terry blames this on "political" voting - but political voting didn't stop Katrina and the Waves winning in 1997 and which bloc does he suppose voted for Dana International the following year? These were the best songs and the best song, overall, won this year. The Russian won on his second attempt, with a song produced by the world's most sought-after producer of the moment (Timberland) and with the world champion ice dancer as his backing act. And he had to win through the semi finals.
Everybody I spoke to after the semis fancied either Russia, Greece or Ukraine (my own favourite), with Turkey or Armenia as an outside bet. And sure enough, these five topped the international vote.
Unfortunately, Terry is no longer in tune with what the Eurovision is about. Time to step aside and let Paddy O'Connell take over.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to craft a research grant application

HOW TO CRAFT A GRANT APPLICATION
PREPARATION
- Clear your diary for a month
- Review colleagues' applications
- Agree responsibilities with collaborators
- Do a risk assessment and plan for all events
- Apply to several funding bodies at once
- Be able to explain why a funding body should want to pay for your research
- Be able to explain how the world would be different if your research were funded
WRITING
- Make every word count
- Use a positive tone; remove negative words and conditionals
- Emphasise challenges and opportunities rather than problems and difficulties
- Keep sentences short
- Try draft on your mum
IF UNSUCCESSFUL
- Examine the reviewers' criticisms. If they have misinterpreted the research or the work to be done, ask yourself why
- Remember that the success rate is about 25 per cent.

From the Times Higher Education Supplement, May 15 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What happened to ... Channel 4's credibility?

Amy Winehouse: What Really Happened. C4 May 6 2008

'Investigative reporter' Jacques Peretti really pulled out all the stops this week. He spoke to a bloke who (briefly) worked with Amy when she was 16, an alleged music critic who saw her perform once, and a woman who - as best I could tell - saw her on the telly. On that basis, he might as well have interviewed me. In fairness he spoke to Blake's dad (who left the family when Blake was a child) and the ever self-serving Sylvia Young (let's be absolutely clear - it's not her fault all her pupils end up in rehab!). Otherwise, it was great chunks of a promo film made by Island Records. Inexcusable and a new low in C4 actuality programming.