Tonight, on BBC1 at 8.00pm, there is the DIY SOS Children in Need special. I should declare straightaway that my wife, Gabrielle is the interior designer on the show, and that I therefore hope that you will tune in and enjoy the amazing transformation that the local building community and the DIY SOS team effect on The Yard, Edinburgh.
I can say this because though I haven’t seen the show, I have had access to some before and after photos, and it’s a quite incredible difference. However, even without sight of the final edit of the show, I reckon I’m on pretty firm ground when I say that there will be some amusing banter between Gabrielle and Nick, Mark, Chris & Jules and especially Billy, as they seek to deliver the best possible solution in terms of design and build against a very tight deadline (and virtually zero budget). Things will no doubt go wrong. Tension will mount. Tempers will fray. Toys will be thrown out of metaphorical prams before it all comes right.
But I don’t think that these are the reasons for the continuing and growing success of the show. Plenty of TV shows that go on to fail have conflict and jeopardy at their heart. Many of them pit female against male characters / presenters. Even more have time / budget constraints in place to create tension. Here’s four reasons why I think the show is a success:
1. It’s real TV, not reality TV. The people featured every week have genuine reasons for being in need of help. These have been rigorously checked by the BBC - yes, despite what you might think post Newsnight, this is still something that the BBC does extremely well, with great thoroughness and rigour.
2. The team works. Everyone on the production has an active, involved role in the design and build. Noone stands to one side, in the manner of Kevin McCloud, with an air of detached amusement. Everyone on the team works - and very hard at that. It’s clear, I think, to the viewer that Nick, Mark, Billy, Chris & Jules, and yes, of course Gabrielle, know what they are talking about, and what they are doing. Yes there is conflict of opinion - but it’s between professionals, and there’s no predictability as to who will be right. It’s a real build, and that’s what happens on real builds - the team works, and that requires teamwork.
3. A few good men. It is perhaps, in my view, the most positive depiction of men currently on TV. I’ll qualify that - it is perhaps the only depiction of a very traditional form of masculinity on TV. So, as men are murdering everyone in dramas, or being by turns inspiring and infuriating in sport, pouring forth their feelings in soaps or on the interview sofa, on DIY SOS they are being, in a quiet, undemonstrative way, noble and good. Yes, many of the local people who help in each build are women, and I don’t want to detract from their support and contribution. But it is the way that hundreds of electricians, plumbers, roofers, carpenters and other men turn up and work long, unforgiving hours for free, that gives the show its unique appeal. The show celebrates craft, and graft.
4. What can I do? It’s how many men deal with crisis or times of trouble. You might rephrase it ‘As I have trouble being emotional at this time of distress or need, what is there that I can do to show that I care, and that helps me to help you?’ The genius of DIY SOS is not in its sentimentality, but in its matter of fact, bluff stoicism. In a TV world where X Factor contestants never stop crying; when seemingly the first question asked of all our Olympians was ‘how do you feel?’; when sometimes TV entertainment seems to be a huge all engulfing wave of tears and emotion, there is something very affecting about watching grown men do their level best to absolutely not cry in front of the camera.
So that’s what I think lies behind the success of DIY SOS. I think you should tune in - and enjoy a very peculiar form of British entertainment. Where gruff, taciturn men perform amazing acts of goodwill but would punch you in the face if you tried to hug or kiss them thank you. Oh, and my wife’s in it, and she’s very good. Did I mention that already?Random tagged by Peter Blackman
I spend a lot of time on social media. I kid myself that it is for professional reasons, but if that were really true I would only ever visit Linkedin, and the thought of being logged in there 24/7 brings me out in a cold sweat and a hot fret. So OK, I’m really on social media way too much because it’s fun, stimulating, interesting and often surprising. But, and it’s a big BUT - it’s default state appears to be cynical, knowing and negative. Got something to complain about? To campaign for? To ridicule? Log on!
Which brings me to the London Olympics. At the moment of writing, the opening ceremony is just over two hours away. It’s very easy to be cynical about ‘the games’. About Locog. About brand police. About 4SG. About Seb Coe. About everything about it. But I won’t be signing up to that.
1. Cece, 9, was given homework recently which asked her to research all the locations of the games since 1968. Without stopping her doing the necessary research, I found that I could remember each and every one. Even the ones when I wasn’t alive or was an infant. My life is measured out in games. Moscow and a growing awareness of politics and nations but oh look at Alan Wells GO. Los Angeles and sun, jetpacks, and Daley. Seoul, and that 100 metres. Barcelona and Linford and watching it at Rachel’s parents house and God rest her in peace. Atlanta and Ali and Rob volunteering and saying it was shit. Sydney and boy that looks fun. Athens and how much did that investment cause their problems now? Beijing and all that cycling glory. I bought a bike then, and ride it every day now.
2. Cece, 9, mad about swimming and asking when are the women on? When is Rebecca on? About her not wanting to miss a minute in the pool, because she’s good, and at present, at 9, and with nothing to discourage her, not results, or talent, or commitment, she firmly believes that she is going to the games in a few years.
3. My Godfathers daughter is rowing for Team GB. Sounds tenuous doesn’t it? Maybe it is. But growing up, my godfather was a dude. He wasn’t married. Had no kids. So when we went to see him on holiday in Cornwall he was so impossibly cool - I mean he had his own dartboard at home! I broke it. But let’s not go there. He couldn’t make my wedding in 2000 because he was taking his daughter to a meet. Her commitment came first. At the time? A little miffed. I mean, I know I’d broken his dartboard, but surely he didn’t bear a grudge? Of course not. It’s commitment. to his daughter. And now look. Rowing for GB. How cool is that?!
4. Because there will be stories. Oh such stories. A friend, Boris Starling, today wrote an amazing piece on Matthias Steiner. Unfortunately, Boris did it as a facebook post, so I don’t have his permission, yet, to cut and paste it in here. But if I get it, I will. It brought me to tears. In the meantime, Google him, Herr Steiner, and read about his weightlifting exploits and how he accepted his gold medal in floods of tears and clutching a photo of his recently deceased wife. Heart rending and life affirming all at the same time. There will be similar stories from London 2012.
5. It’s the Olympics. It’s not an athletics event. It’s not a sporting event. At it’s best - it’s us, at our best.Culture, Strategy tagged by Peter Blackman
Michael Odell is the 37,563 most popular person on Badoo. Or at least he was when the June edition of Esquire magazine went to press. Michael is a journalist and a friend of mine. In an article in Esquire he explored the ‘future of phone sex’ through geo social apps. It’s a very funny piece and well worth reading. I can’t link to it at the moment as it’s not available online.
From a digital brand strategy point of view the most interesting part was where the marketing director of Badoo, Jessica Powell, was quoted as follows: