World of Chig   

Friday's musical treat

I know what you're thinking. 'What I really need to cheer myself up on this dull Friday is to watch the winner of Bulgaria's Music Idol singing Dolly and Whitney's finest moment in a Mariachi 'stroke' Serbian wedding band stylee with full brass band accompaniment'.

Wait no longer.

Not even Rhydian could carry this off. Sheer genius. No wonder she won. When do we get oompah band week on The X Factor?

I give you....Nevena Coneva!

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Auf Wiedersehen / Hej!

As of 19:00 tonight, Chig has finished working for his employer of the last five years.

There will now be a long weekend off.

On Tuesday, Chig will go back to the same office, with the same people, to do the same job, for the same salary...BUT WITHOUT THE MOBILE PHONE BENEFITS AND THE UNLIMITED, FREE MOBILE INTERNET! Waaaaaah! Sob, sob.

And relax.

For we have been TUPEed. Sold off. Sub-contracted en masse. Instead of working for the UK arm of a German-owned multinational, we will now be working for the UK arm of a Swedish multinational, contracting our services back to the UK arm of the German multinational. Without the phone benefits.

Time will tell whether or not this proves to be a good move.


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Countdown nearly finished

See, she really did do it live...

The woman who did the 'mind the gap' announcements on the tube (an underground transportation system in that there London) has been sacked.

According to this BBC article, she "has worked for the Underground since 1999". You thought she just popped into a recording studio eight years ago and said three words, didn't you? But no, she has been doing it live all that time, and it hasn't been without its consequences. The story says she is 36, but as you can see from the BBC's picture (left), the pressure of saying that line over and over again for eight years has turned her into a 60 year-old. How sad.

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Countdown continues

That X Factor mistake

I wasn't seeing things. Here's the caption which must have annoyed the whole of Wearside on Saturday's X Factor:

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England's A to Z of football

From Andorra La Vella to Zagreb, via Astana, Kyiv and Minsk. These are the travels that await the England football team after this afternoon's draw for the qualifying groups for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. No one will want to be the England manager after this, unless they are keen on collecting Air Miles. With Croatia and Ukraine in England's group, it's going to be a struggle on the field anyway.

My guess is that, with the exception of Zagreb, most of the England football team don't have a clue where these places are. (They probably won't go to Andorra La Vella anyway, as the last Andorran 'home' match against England was played in Barcelona, to allow for a bigger crowd.)

None of these travels to the East look easy, either because of distance or the quality of the teams. Whether England will relish drawing Croatia again, just four days after they put us out of Euro 2008, remains to be seen. (Andorra were also with Croatia and England in the Euro qualifying group, so there's a certain air of familiarity with Europe Group 6, as drawn in Durban today.)

Compare this with Scotland's group, which features nothing further East than FYR Macedonia, their other opponents being Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands.

None of the five teams from the UK and Ireland have been drawn together, and the six countries who previously made up Yugoslavia have also been drawn into six different groups. What are the chances of those two things happening? It almost looks suspicious...

Grudge matches

Looking further afield, today's World Cup draw has thrown up the local derby to end all local derbies; North Korea and South Korea are in the same group! Blimey! This puts Sweden v. Denmark in Europe Group 1 and the aforementioned Iceland v. Norway in Europe Group 9 into perspective.

I've decided that Europe Group 3 should be named 'The Group of Geographical Confusion' as the Czech Republic and Slovakia are forced together again. Not only that, but Slovenia are also in this group with Slovakia, which will confuse the people who think they are the same country. (Even the Slovenian tourist authority's website used to acknowledge this confusion.)

In Europe Group 4, it will surely be expected that Germany and Russia will win all their games against the other four countries (Azerbaijan, Finland, Liechtenstein and Wales). The group winner will probably be decided on the two results between Germany and Russia themselves, but it matters in this competition, as it's only the group winners who go to South Africa automatically. The best eight (of nine) European runners-up will then play four play-offs to claim the last four European places.

On a personal level, I'm quite pleased with one of the countries that England have drawn, as I'm going there in a couple of weeks. It will give me something to talk about with the locals (language permitting). I wonder if you can guess where I'm going on holiday? (There won't be any lounging on any beaches.)

Photo (c) BBC News.

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No X for Xmas?

Dermot O'Leary made a surprising announcement tonight at the start of The X Factor. If it's true, it looks like the winner of this series won't be aiming for the Christmas Number One this year. He said the final takes place in four weeks' time, making it the 22nd of December and not the 15th; the date which would be necessary in order to register shop sales for the Christmas chart. (I thought there would be a double eviction soon, or the return of the three-act final, in order to cater for this.)

With Christmas Day on Tuesday 25th, the Christmas Number One will be announced on Sunday 23rd, meaning that an X Factor final on Saturday 22nd would have no impact at all, unless... unless...

Are they planning to take a massive gamble and release the winner's song as a download immediately after the programme? This would give two hours at the most for the song to outsell everything else from the last seven days before the midnight cut-off point for the chart week. However, if it sold at the same rate as Leona's download did in its first hour, it would be more than enough to top the charts.

Leona's single was released as a download after midnight last year, but it didn't matter because last year's final was on Saturday 16th December, giving a whole week of sales before she easily claimed the Christmas Number One on Christmas Eve.

If Dermot was right, this will add another twist to the annual race for the Christmas Number One, but he may be wrong. After all, last week he said the theme of today's show would be Motown, but that's been ditched in favour of love songs. Perhaps the X Factor people just don't know what they're doing?

This feeling will be heightened by the bemusing caption they put on screen tonight during Hope's travels back home. Did it really say, 'Sunderland, County of Durham'? For a start, it's called 'County Durham', not 'County of Durham'. More importantly, Sunderland isn't in it. It remains in the county called Tyne & Wear, unless I missed an announcement somewhere. A shocking mistake to make.

While I'm here... Rhydian gave a series-winning performance tonight, of one of my favourite songs ('Somewhere' from West Side Story), while Niki struggled with a few notes, especially near the start. I think Hope are in danger again tonight, after performing an unknown song (unless you're a Christina Aguilera fan), with some wavering vocals, despite what the judges said. (They can't hear a thing in the studio; we are in a much better position to hear the vocals on TV.) Surely Hope will be in the bottom two? However, it will probably be with Leon, in which case he may go, thereby keeping the girls in with a chance of winning, which is what some of the former contestants believe the programme-makers have wanted all along. (Ooh, it's a World of Chig exclusive!)

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Well done Australia!

WARNING: Contains material which may be offensive to people called Kevin.

Spot the difference.

At last, Australia has woken up and voted out Prime Minister John 'Penfold' Howard after an inexplicable eleven years and four (four!) terms. So far so good, but they have evicted the shrewish, whining accountant in favour of Prime Minister Kev. There's something about being called Kevin which just doesn't go with the words 'Prime Minister', isn't there? (I've realised that I have four friends and a relative called Kevin. I am now running for cover.)

As an aside, what does it say about the Commonwealth's opinion of Australia that they decided to continue with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, currently taking place in Uganda, on the same day as the Australian election? Who is representing Australia at the conference? The Governor General?

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The TV appearance that never was

Starting on BBC Two tonight at 20:00 is a series called Arrange Me A Marriage. The regular reader (that's probably you) may remember that, back on 17 April this year, I asked here if anyone had watched the pilot. I also mentioned that I'd been "having an in-depth conversation with a television production company".

Four days later, on 21 April, I wrote this:

"Chig is away on location, filming with the BBC on a hush-hush TV project. (I'm making it sound more exotic than it really is, but it's absolutely true. If it goes any further, believe me you'll hear about it.)"

It can now be revealed that the programme we were filming was in fact Arrange Me A Marriage. It wasn't for my benefit though. (Maybe next series?!) It was my sister who had made it down to the last handful of subjects for the programme, in which an Asian marriage arranger, Aneela Rahman, uses friends, family and existing social networks in order to arrange a few dates and a possible relationship, to see if the arranged methods are any more successful than the random ways we often use to make these decisions in our real lives. That's the idea anyway.

A producer and a camerawoman from the production company came to my Mum's house on that lovely sunny day in April and filmed us at the kitchen table talking about my sister and her relationships. They also travelled quite a distance to other locations to film other friends and relatives. It was a strange experience, but it seemed to work quite well and we had a few ideas for what to do when the filming started on the real thing. However, the production company at that point was doing pre-filming with a few possible subjects, before showing the results to the BBC for them to decide which ones to proceed with for the series. We were optimistic, but in the end it came to a choice between my sister and someone else for the last slot and they went for someone else. An opportunity missed, for all of us. And you, dear reader, have been denied the opportunity of seeing my fizzog in horrible detail on your plasma screens and hearing my sinusitis-riddled mumblings about someone you don't even know.

Obviously I'd be interested to see how the series turned out without us when it starts tonight, but sadly it clashes with I'm A Celebrity. C'est la vie.

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Wanted: one football tournament

Group E: Final table

P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Croatia 12 9 2 1 28 8 20 29
2 Russia 12 7 3 2 18 7 11 24
3 England 12 7 2 3 24 7 17 23
4 Israel 12 7 2 3 20 12 8 23
5 FYR Macedonia 12 4 2 6 12 12 0 14
6 Estonia 12 2 1 9 5 21 -16 7
7 Andorra 12 0 0 12 2 42 -40 0

Next June, the footballers of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have nothing to do.

Bring back the home internationals! (With the Republic of Ireland also included this time.) The campaign starts here.

PS. Out of eleven people in our office, not one person predicted a 2-3 win for Croatia tonight. This has saved our manager from having to buy a bottle of champagne.

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Children In Need's fundraising challenge

It's Children In Need day and no doubt you've been glued to Celebrity Scissorhands like I have (or perhaps you have a life). I've found it very entertaining and as the whole point of the programme is to make money for charity, here's Friday's Celebrity Scissorhands challenge. Even though it's for charidee, it's really all about me, me, me of course. (It's my blog, so there.) So the question is...

Which three trainees in this year's Celebrity Scissorhands academy have I met before?
(When I say met, I mean actually had a conversation with, as there's one other who I've seen in the flesh but not spoken to.)

If anyone guesses the correct three before the Children In Need programme ends tonight, I'll give a tenner to the appeal via this page here. That may not seem a lot, but it's ten quid more than I've ever given them before. Actually, I take that back. I've probably bought every bloody Children In Need single that's ever been released, although I may have to draw the line at this year's snoozefest from the Spice Girls.

So, which three? No, I'm not giving you a list of all the trainees. Do your own research. :-)

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Jungle J

Welcome back, Mr Brown. I wondered what you were up to.

I think I know what I'm doing for the next four weeks...
My second favourite boybander ever, ever, ever is in the jungle. Two friends are out in Oz, working on the programme. I'm hooked!

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Birmingham Remembers

Nice to see the Council House done up tastefully for Remembrance Day today.

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Last week's surprise rejects from The X Factor realised this morning that they will struggle as a five-piece, so they recruited an extra member. Futureproof become Futurepoof.

"Okay lads, here's the deal. One sixth of all future royalties and I'm all yours."

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Iceland, send this!

And we were doing so well.

I mean, the self-imposed 'no mention of the E word until December' rule was being strictly observed. It's usually Albania who set the ball rolling by choosing their Eu*ov*si*n song in their late December song festival. (It had been running for over forty years anyway, so when they joined Eu*ov*si*n in 2004, they decided to use the contest to pick their song and leave it in December. Who could blame them?)

This year though, we have been trying to ignore the fact that Iceland, for reasons best known to a handful of TV execs in Reykjavic, are already five weeks into their weekend heats to choose their song for Beograd/Belgrade.

Until this weekend, when this appeared. Welcome to 'Ho, ho, ho, we say hey, hey, hey' by Barði Jóhannsson. For some reason, this cannot be ignored. Brace yourself for the first World of Chig featured song of the (very long) Eurovision 2008 season. It's all downhill after this...

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Happy 25th Birthday, Channel 4

Some Channel 4 shows in which Chig has featured:

The Word
Sticky Moments with Julian Clary
Queer As Folk
Big Brother's Big Mouth

Actually, one of these is a lie. But which one?

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