World of Chig   

It's a ballad - 'My Time'

Thank goodness for that. The UK's Eurovision song is a ballad, called 'My Time'. I'm thinking Martine McCutcheon singing, "this is my moment". The contestants are rehearsing it now in the BBC studio, in preparation for tomorrow's final. There's a key change and no sign of any fire/higher/desire rhyme, as Diane Warren isn't familiar with Eurovision custom.

Good. It should be a straight fight between Mark and Jade, even with Jade coming third or fourth last week. Hopefully, a ballad will expose the twins as being not very good, but with the public voting them into the top two last week, I remain concerned.

In other Eurovision news, the Russians revealed the logo today. That's it on the left. I think it's pretty. They also revealed that there will be no slogan this year, blowing the chance to reference the heart in the repeating logo by having 'From Russia with love'. I guess it's been done...

The draw also took place today to decide who is in which semi-final, and when the Big 4 and the hosts vote. This is not the running order, which will be drawn in March. This year, we get to vote in the first semi-final, which presents a challenge to the BBC. They'll have to make sure people know there's something happening as early as Tuesday night, so that enough people watch and vote. For the first time, three of the Big 4 will vote in the same semi-final. Last year, they were split 2+2, with hosts Serbia joining one of the pairs. This year, hosts Russia vote with France and no other Big 4 country.

Don't ask me how Greece and Cyprus have ended up in the same semi-final. I thought the whole point of the seeded draw was to keep apart countries who are statistically more likely to vote for each other. Obviously it can't do it all the time, with only two shows, but I would have thought that Greece and Cyprus were the first ones put into separate pots. UK viewers will be unable to vote for Ireland, like last year.

Tuesday's semi-final:

Czech Republic
FYR Macedonia

Also voting:

Thursday's semi-final:

The Netherlands

Also voting:

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Birmingham to become national centre of illiteracy

Because one idiot councillor is too stupid to know how to use apostrophes, our city's signs are not going to have them any more (or so he thinks). Well done Martin Mullaney, just what we need, the whole world thinking that Birmingham people are thick. As if we don't have enough people who believe that already. Your 'reasons' for making signs with mistakes on are fatuous; not one of them stands up to examination.

Thankfully, white paint and black marker pens are in good supply here in Birmingham, so the signmakers may be forced to look stupid, but many of us won't let this illiteracy blight our city for long. I feel a very visible direct action campaign coming on.

In the name of the goddess Lynne Truss, this is war!

Coming soon from Birmingham City Council:
Maths - it's "a bit difficult" for some people, so Birmingham's schools are dropping it.

Speed limits - some drivers find it "a bit confusing" that they change, so we won't bother having them.

Save us from the idiots. They are taking over.

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Mini shocker

Verne has only come fourth in CBB! It looks like he was such a certainty to win that not enough people bothered to vote. The bookies will be laughing. All that money and no payouts.

Oh hell, with Coolio, Terry and Ulrika left, I fear that Coolio will win.
Still time to vote for Terry...

[Later] Phew! It's okay. Coolio's third. I should have had more faith in C4 viewers. The people who voted for Shilpa Shetty to win were never going to let the nasty man win.

Ulrika and Terry left. Happy with that. I hope Terry Christian has won though. He has entertained me and kept my attention because he has ensured that this run has had something which was completely absent from last Summer's Big Brother: conversation. His journalistic background and his love of music have made me feel like I'm watching a kindred spirit.

Note to producers: If you have people in the Big Brother house who have enquiring minds, you will find that they ask questions. Questions equal conversations equal absorbing telly. Please bear this in mind as you continue the casting process for BB10.

[Even later] I'm stunned. Not that I have anything against Ulrika, but I didn't think she was popular enough to win and she has spent a fair amount of on-screen time being miserable. Good on her.

Eurovision 1998 Host Wins Celebrity Big Brother!

There's always a Eurovision connection...


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It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life...

...and I'm feelin' good.

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Michelle, ma belle

The clearout of the women from Celebrity Big Brother continues, with the eviction of Michelle Heaton tonight. That's four women gone, with Lucy, Tina and Michelle evicted and Mutya walking on Friday night, while the male cohort remains intact.

I must say I really, really like Michelle and would happily spend a night up the Bigg Market with her if she asked nicely. I've met her ex-husband twice, and had a meal with him and Michelle's ex-father-in-law, so we'd have plenty to chat about. I would have preferred 'Eureka' Jonsson to go at this point, as would Ulrika herself. Michelle seemed to be enjoying herself and she clearly watches and understands Big Brother. She has been such good fun when she hasn't been crying and I think she restrained herself very well with irritating Coolio and his almost relentless teasing. I've particularly enjoyed Michelle's late night conversations with Ben, as they both lay in their (separate) beds. They've made me laugh a lot.

Farewell, Michelle. Here's a picture I took of her at another or her farewells; the billed 'final' Liberty X performance, at Birmingham's Nightingale club in May 2007 (except it wasn't). She won't thank me for this or the lack of red eye reduction (click on it to see the full devil's eyes), but she was on the other side of the stage from me for most of the performance and, inexplicably, most of my photos of the group that night seem to feature Tony and Kevin. Bewildering.

The lines have now opened for us to decide who wins Celebrity Big Brother. It seems so obvious that it will be Verne Troyer, that my plans to remortgage the house voting for Ben are in need of revision. It seems a little pointless now. Oh well, he's my winner anyway.

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Oh dear

Is this the most unfortunately named contestant ever on University Challenge? The poor woman.

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He's going down

Boy George is spending the next fifteen months in the company of men being held against their will, with a plentiful supply of bumsex and hard drugs.

No, he's not having another house party. He's going to prison.

Judge David Radford told George it would be fifteen, but it'll probably turn out to be seven and a half. George should be used to that by now.


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Clubbed - film review

The film we went to see on Tuesday was Clubbed. It’s the first feature film written by Geoff Thompson, originally from Coventry. He used to be a factory worker and a bouncer, as did the main character in the film (who is also shown keeping a diary), so there is clearly an autobiographical element to the film. Clubbed was filmed around various parts of Birmingham and Halesowen, including Sparkbrook where I live and Daisy Road and Leslie Road near Edgbaston reservoir, which are easily identifiable because you can see the street signs! Despite this, the characters never say where they are, or what year it is, so it’s fun to guess where the generic Midlands town is, and use the music and fashions to guess the year, but the focus is on the story.

Lead character Danny (brilliantly played by Mel Raido) takes us back twelve years to a time when his marriage had fallen apart and he was looking for some focus in his life, to distract himself from his boring job and his frustration at being a distant father to his two girls, who live with his ex-wife (played brilliantly by Maxine Peake who was Twinkle in dinnerladies and Veronica in Shameless).

After he is randomly beaten up (in an attack shown in all its bone-crunching horror), Danny takes up boxing (hence the presence of James DeGale and other boxers at Tuesday’s premiere). He later becomes a bouncer and inevitably gets caught up in the drug dealing and its associated violence. There are a couple of scenes that are very difficult to watch because they are so violent, but it has to be said that they are very well done. It’s not comedy violence; it’s genuinely horrible. There are also moments of humour and genuine sadness too. (Colin Salmon, who plays a major part in the film, talks about the violence in this Metro interview. The Metro has also unfortunately merged the writer Geoff Thompson and the unrelated director Neil Thompson into one person. It was bound to happen with the coincidence of surnames.)

To say any more about the storyline would ruin the film, so I’ll just say I highly recommend seeing this latest Britflick after it opens tomorrow and making up your own mind. For Birmingham people, the location spotting is great fun, but the story is good, the photography and art direction are fantastic and the overall film is gritty and highly watchable. And the music is fantastic.

As an aside, look out for one small scene featuring sexy Ciaran Griffiths, better known to fans of The Bill as Gary Best and viewers of Shameless (again!) as gay chav Mickey Maguire. In Clubbed, he appears in one scene with his girlfriend, who I didn’t recognise until the credits rolled. It’s only Birmingham’s own Hayley Evetts, one of the final ten from the first series of Pop Idol and former TV presenter. The funny thing is, I vaguely know her Mum! Hayley is also good friends with Jessica Garlick, our 2002 Eurovision singer. You see, there’s always a Eurovision connection…

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The Boxer

It's not every night you get to walk the red carpet at a film première, watch a really good new film and then get to meet one of our Olympic gold medallists, but that's exactly what happened to me last night. I've been in a really good mood today because of it all. (Well, I was until we were all told at work today that we're not getting any pay rise this year, but that's another matter.)

I'm still getting over the thrill of shaking the hand of boxer James DeGale (above), who won team GB's final gold medal in Beijing. I'm pretty sure I've never shaken the hand of an Olympic gold winner, let alone one as powerful as his. (He didn't have the vice-like handshake that I was expecting; it was all quite normal.) I watched his final rounds from Beijing last Summer, so it was good to have a little chat with him as well.

Anyone who follows sport, or watched the Olympics, or listens to Five Live, knows already what a friendly and polite young man James DeGale is, but it still took two bottles of Sol before I plucked up the courage to speak to him at the party we attended last night, and he was chatty and charming. I was in Bed at Gatecrasher with my friend Sarah, which sounds saucy, but that's the name of the club within a club! We had both attended the Midlands première at Cineworld next door of a film called Clubbed, thanks to my friend Phil who is doing the PR for the film. We were gatecrashers at Gatecrasher. Clubbed hits screens across the country this Friday. I'll review the film tomorrow, as it's well worth a few words and worth seeking out, if you get chance. You'll have to see it in the next few days though. This ain't no Mamma Mia - it won't be around as long and it requires a stronger stomach.

Have a look at the trailer below, or the official Clubbed website here. I'll tell you more tomorrow.

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Title's out for the lads

Pet Shop Boys have decided to keep it simple and name their new album after the most revered/reviled prog rock band of the 1970s, Yes.


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Ooh, controversial!

My scores in tonight's Your Country Needs You:
(Out of 25, as determined by Jon, whose scores are here.)

16.5 Emperors of Soul
21.5 Mark
14 Charlotte
19 Damien
16 The Twins
20.5 Jade

In other words, my rankings were:

1 Mark
2 Jade
3 Damien
4 Emperors of Soul
5 The Twins
6 Charlotte

The highlighted two ended up as the bottom two after the televote, so who does Andrew Lloyd Webber decide to dump? The one I had as third and Jon had as second. The one with the stronger voice and a lot of performance experience. Instead, he keeps the one we both had in last place and the youngest in the competition, saying she has the potential to go on a journey, while admitting that Damien would have been a safe pair of hands for Moscow. I'd like Charlotte to go on a journey. A journey home.

Have I misunderstood the whole thing? I thought we were looking for the safe pair of hands? This isn't 'potentially talented teenager' night. It looks like ALW wants Eurovision in Moscow to be amateur night. (Charlotte won't win though. She'll be gone sooner, rather than later.)

It's all about Jade or Mark now. No one else will do. Do you hear me, UK public? NO ONE ELSE, OKAY?

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Does your country really need you? Are you absolutely sure?

"This means everything to me."

"I've been on a journey and I don't want it to end now."

"Singing for the UK in Eurovision is all I've ever dreamed of."

"My life will be meaningless if I don't get through tonight."

"Singing is my life. I don't know what else I could do."

"My dog died this week and so did my grandma. Please vote for me."

Ah yes, Chig is bracing himself for anything from slight optimism to crushing despair from 18:40 tonight, as we reach the first live show and elimination from our Eurovision search, Your Country Needs You. After last week's preview show did a fine job in lowering expectations, before coming up with six acts that ended up looking like The X Factor on the cheap, with none of them looking brilliant and none with any experience of TV or huge halls, things can only get better tonight. At least we have Lulu on hand, which makes a change from John Omnipresent Barrowman.

It will also be interesting to see if anyone has told Andrew Lloyd Webber the difference between the UK (which enters Eurovision every year) and 'Britain' which never has, but which he mentioned at every opportunity in last week's filmed show. Similarly, has anyone asked his 'Miss Moneypenny' assistant where 'The Ukraine' is? I've never heard of it, but that's what she called Ukraine last week. (What was it those Russian fans said about us not taking it seriously? Our national broadcaster not knowing the names of the countries taking part rather proves their point, does it not?)

My preparations have not been as extensive as my friend Jon's. I highly recommend watching this. (Stick with it - it's not just him sitting down and talking.)

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Benefits of being in Celebrity Big Brother, part 1.

Last night's iTunes chart:

Up from #59 to #48: Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio

Strangely, there's no sign yet of the collected works of Liberty/Liberty X, Mutya Buena, Ben Adams or a1. Give it time.

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Eurovision Contestants Revealed

Could it be?

No! It's Matt Smith. Who he?!

He's been in The Ruby In The Smoke and The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, both with Billie Piper - obvious Doctor Who connections. He was in 2007 series Party Animals, plus Moses Jones and The Shadow In The North. I've never heard of those three, let alone watched them. He is so unknown that he's only the 9th Matt Smith to come up on IMDB and only has two (yes, two!) photos on his profile. One of them is below. He looks good though, despite the A Flock Of Seagulls haircut in today's BBC One programme. Who knows what he will look like when he appears on our screens as the eleventh Doctor Who in 2010? I like his apparent quirkiness and the fact that he's slightly posh. What do you think?

Funny how the Northampton Chronicle & Echo decided to do a feature on the Northampton-born new Doctor Who today, for no apparent reason, isn't it? Hmmm.


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Your Country Needs You

Stand by for Wogan-free UK Eurovision action.
Report for duty at 19:10 tonight, BBC One.

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Double Treble Bubble!

The regular reader will be aware that legislation was passed at the start of last year which made it compulsory for producers of all reality TV programmes to make sure that at least one contestant is someone who I have either met or photographed (or both).

To that end, we saw the following previous encounters of Chig in these 2008 TV shows;

Amy Lamé in CelebAir
Heather Small in Strictly Come Dancing
Austin Drage in The X Factor
Simon Webbe in I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!
Steve Strange in Celebrity Scissorhands

You'll be delighted to know that I have now upped the ante and demanded that Celebrity Big Brother, which starts in about 15 minutes as I write this, will feature not one but TWO of my celebrity encounters. Hurrah! So, if the rumours are true, you'll be seeing someone who I rubbed bums with on national television in the early 1990s. Not this clip, but this person, on this programme. Yes, it's Terry Christian:

We'll hopefully also be seeing someone who I'd very much like to rub bums with now who I had a very cheeky, amusing conversation with in the dressing room of G-A-Y in 2002, before they performed on the same bill as Jessica Garlick's pre-Eurovision appearance. He's absolutely bloody lovely and I can't wait for this CBB to start. If it kick-starts his solo career once again, so much the better. We've waited three and a half years already for a follow-up hit to his #18 début single. It's about time we heard more from him than his tracks on Myspace. Welcome back, Ben Adams:

Happy New Year, by the way. I hope you made the most of that extra second of 2008.

UPDATE: Scrap all that. It's THREE! And I've had a meal with her ex-husband and ex-father-in-law too!


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Regeneration X

So that's why BBC One has a documentary on tomorrow about the ten Doctor Whos! They're revealing who's going to play the next one. Whoop! Whoop!

Finish your shopping early, as Brucie would say...

The Ten Doctors, BBC One, 17:35 tomorrow (Saturday).

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