Brownlegg at Large: January 2002 

1 January 2002

Well, it’s nice to welcome those members of the Assembly For Middle England who decided that loyalty to the cause – well, actually, MY cause – was more important than eating dead flesh and vegetables in front of the Queen. Welcome to my study, which as you can see, has a number of my hunting trophies on the walls: there’s a lion, over there a Bengali tiger, and to the left of that you’ll see Lord Kimsley-Windsock, from the great Franchise Hunt held in 1955 by the Indefensible Television Authority. Mind you, the last one was no challenge at all – he was dead anyway, as his relatives shot him instead.

You can see a number of my favourite books on the shelves too, like “Lorry Ride To Shame” by Nick Triang, and my complete set of books for those with wanderlust, or who like wandering, or just like lust, in the series “Brownlegg’s Travels”. Titles include “The Himalayas on a Diners’ Card”, “With Sandwich Box and Spirit Level” (for those on a tight budget) and “The Beverley Sisters – A Life On The Road”.

How do I find the time to write them all, you may ask? Well, it’s difficult to keep throwing lamb chops into Spencer-Wells’ study as an incentive for him to write them, and the stench from that garden shed is getting uncontrollable. Not only that, but he’s invented his own religion based on a vague memory of the play “The Royal Hunt of the Sun”.

He worships at an obelisk lit by a single spotlamp, dressed in roughly fashioned cowhide. Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite realised that it’s a police speed camera, and they’ve arrested him on seven occasions for doing 31 miles per hour without a car. But they’re sympathetic to him, even when he asks for 5″ by 8″ glossy prints of his photos in a presentation envelope, and give him free lollipops, which he tries to entice Gloria with. She’s not taken in, as she prefers Pendleton’s Ice Cream on A Stick (and if that isn’t available, whatever else Mr. Pendleton can offer on a stick will do).

As I look into the flames of my Sunhouse Electro-Coal fire, I see shapes form that remind me of the year that has passed. Shapes that look like digital TV boxes or fighting bulls, or little spiky suns, or one-legged shrews that wear polka-dot long johns. Take a glass of something strong with me – or depending on rank, some of that weak Cremola Foam – and let us drift back into the recent past. It’s been a year, and have we learned anything new? Or for that matter, has anyone in broadcasting?

For one thing, we all thought Craptown was our sworn enema – I mean enemy. Hold on, I was right the first time. As I once said, today another ITV company to buy – tomorrow, they’ll annex the Sudetenland. It’s amazing that a company so small owns most films and film libraries, yet doesn’t really make any. It’s also an odd sight to see that the company’s owner has started doing the Charleston and smoking a large cigar. He now really reminds me of someone, but I can’t quite remember who.

And now we find Grandad Television, instead of eating tripe and onions and reciting lines from “The Crowthers of Balham”, taking over companies with efficiency Joseph Stalin would have been proud of, and using blank cheques where ice picks once guaranteed unlimited credit facilities at the local Martins Bank. But – and like Gloria’s, this is a big but – theirs is a pyrrhic victory. After establishing their names as world players, the main channel will be called ITV 1.

No more little arrows or dainty little shapes, just a big block with that name on it. And you know, I spotted a very interesting coincidence while Gloria was adjusting the contrast knob the other day: there are now less companies than there used to be, and less variety, with fewer programmes, like “Who Wants To Be A Millipede?”, “Consternation Street” and “The Biggest Shame in Town”. Ah well, I suppose they will save a few bob, as they say up north, and it won’t confuse the viewers, but I think the companies’ staff members will only know who they work for when they receive their redundancy cheques!

ITV Digital was one of the most interesting stories of the year, giving away free stuffed monkeys with their set top boxes (although for one irate viewer, this was found to be highly dissatisfactory when they got Micky Dolenz instead of Davy Jones, and they demanded a refund). Unfortunately, that was as good a choice as some of the viewers got, and some of them felt that the monkey wasn’t the only thing that had been stuffed.

I decided to start my own digital empire, as they say, and Associated-Radiation Digital launched with my offer of a free concubine, only because Spencer-Wells had meant to write “porcupine” and his hand slipped. A fact-finding trip to Amsterdam yielded sufficient stocks luckily. My media mogul reputation was sealed with the launch of the “Huntin’ Shootin’ and Fishin'” Channel, its sister channel “Hunt ’em, Cook ’em and Eat ’em”, BBC 1 – 4 (Brownlegg Bullfighting Channels) which are going interactive next year – when you try to run away from the set, it runs towards you, trying to butt you. A red cloth, plus a language primer (e.g. “Toro! Toro!”) will be included in the package.

Time to Obey Parents Silently (TOPS) has been successful also, showing controversial videos by the Sandpipers (“Guantamamera”, indeed: it makes my blood positively boil), and Spencer-Wells has found a niche, showing how to collect interesting paving slabs.

Gloria has been doing her Glamourpuss feature, showing the youngsters how to apply make-up: the ITA have been on to me, saying that they would rather have Ms. Gaumont apply make-up to her face on youth TV, but they don’t mind if she nips around to Brompton Road later on, after hours, just so they can check if it’s suitable for viewing.

Depending on this, they may have to ask her around again, and the Paul Raymond Revue Bar may hold a big meeting for all of the ITA to see what the problem is.

A-R Digital has beaten ITV Digital by 5 to 1! Well, we’ve sold 10 set-top boxes, and we’re going to buy ITV Digital out too! Actually, Spencer-Wells is getting my cash box out from under the creaky stair so we can count how much we need for a take-over bid.

I’ve got my little bag of foreign coins out as a makeweight, so let’s see…

Do those pinkish individuals at the BBC know they actually are working for? Their output is obviously full of political bias, and the way their digital service is going makes me think that they’re not broadcasting using Intelsat or whatever that loose tin of transistors is called, they’re using Sputnik. They want to get rid of the balloons, according to that Lorraine Haggety, but I feel there’s more hot air in her rather than the balloons. So, what to use? No answers yet, but I think the words “BBC” and “One” will definitely be a part of it…watch this space.

BBC-2 has a funny little logo, that “2” bouncing around all over the place like a puppy. Unfortunately, I got a nasty nip from it once, but shooting at the TV to eradicate it proved pointless, earning me the nickname Elvis Brownlegg. So much for that relaunch. My prediction is – I’m going to sue the BBC for pinching my channel names, and if I win,

Television Centre will be mine, I tell you, all mine. Haaaaaa Haaaaaaa Haaaaa! [Note to self: what’s in this sherry?]

And yet the BBC are winning the ratings game. Is it because of better programming? Is it because of more variety? No, it’s because they have pots of money from the licence fee. So, therefore, let’s give OURSELVES a pat on the back, as we pay that. Now we own it, shall we have a meeting to vote the governors out?

But the year has definitely brought a tear to my eye, with the launch of our Save Carlton Appeal. After my generous donation of 4/3d, you’ve all been digging deep. Keep going, we may yet come up with enough to keep them in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. Some interesting objects have been submitted and even some rather arcane and disgusting ones, for Gloria and I thank you, but we wish you’d left the batteries in.

The Save Carlton Appeal - hand over your cash or television will get better

Total money raised so far…

4 shillings and 3d!

towards our goal of £250million

Donations to date:

Captain Tom Brownlegg
£0 4s 3d
Gloria Gaumont
Negligee (not accepted)
John Spencer-Wells
My milk bottle top collection
Russ J Graham
Shoelaces (worn)
Kif Bowden-Smith
Unwanted carpet
Dafydd Hancock
A bucket (missing handle and bottom)
Andrew Bowden
One plastic toy sheep
Phil Paterson
A discount voucher (expired)
Andrew Hesford-Booth
A piece of wet string to act as an aerial (as they are losing ITV Digital)
Kirk Northrop
Unwanted ITV Digital digibox
Ian Beaumont
3 dead batteries
Jon Bufton
ITV Telethon ’90 badge (pin missing)
Jim Johnson
A BSB Squarial (previously used as a coaster)

The search for the Adastral, glorious symbol of Associated-Radiation, has petered out, though it was not without some success. I had my confederates looking under rocks, their cushions and even in the airing cupboard. Victor Lewisham-Smythe is our prime suspect. I vote that we go for the water torture plan – threaten to wash his dreadlocks! He’ll have to give in then, or we’ll just take it anyway.

What will next year bring? Here’s a look into Madame Gaumont’s crystal ball…

  • Even more choice on analogue television – with an appeal to save the Yagi Array Aerial.
  • Digital broadcasting reaches Wicklow, with the Mayor bestowing the Freedom of the City on Fred Tidball, 36-year old installation engineer. He later loses this in a card game.
  • New quiz shows take to the air, but ITV 1 is determined to make you watch them, so all soaps, features and news are shown at 4am in the morning, with the new quizzes on all day and evening.
  • ITV3 is launched, but you can’t receive this unless the letter “Z” appears in your name or you agree to unlicensed surgery of the spleen. As a result the channel is successful, but the audience dies, except for Zachary Pizazz, 62, a retired tattoo artist and one-time acquaintance of Gloria Gaumont.
  • The BBC, not to be outdone, revives “Match Of The Day”, but as the Premier League games are sewn up, gets exclusive rights to the Bolton Methodist Sunday League games played on the muddy ground behind Mercer Heights from Liam Sparks, caretaker of B Block for £20 and a Party Seven can.
  • Broadband internet connections prove popular, but no date is set yet for the switch off of the old internet.

Well, that’s the year, and I’ve enjoyed going over it with you. I must remind you all that the email address is still active for your suggestions, although I did not approve of some of the suggestions made to Gloria last time. She received three obscene letters, and is upset, as it’s normally ten she gets. And I managed to get “on the web” too!

As I said earlier, Spencer-Wells has been counting my cash, and with all the foreign coins we have seventy pounds, eight shillings and twelve pence and two Dirham Ryal. So we can now buy ITV Digital completely but the scart splitter box will cost twice as much again.

We will meet once more in the New Year, providing that the old Internet system is still in place and hasn’t been switched off. Happy New Year, and watch out for that tall dark handsome stranger, he may be a digital viewer!

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