Tweets of the Week: From White City to Sin City

Tweets of the WeekLast week’s column took in Nashville, New York and LA. This week I’m taking another trip, this time ending in Las Vegas (both past and present) but setting out from the rather less glamorous setting of White City, West London. Here’s what Twitter had to say to accompany me on this epic journey during the week ending 17th February 2013.

Farewell TVC

The last few BBC staff move out of the iconic BBC Television Centre in White City at the end of next month, with the site due to be redeveloped into a hotel/office/apartment complex. It’s a sad moment for one of the most instantly recognisable workplaces in the UK. I first ventured into TVC at the age of 11 – I was appearing on a kids’ quiz show called Finders Keepers – and later worked for the BBC for a couple of years, not actually in TVC but I did pop in occasionally and walked past it every morning.

Anyhow, it’s not just me who’s feeling more than a little wistful. Actor and writer Mark Gatiss tweeted this on Sunday evening:

This elicited some rather poignant responses which pretty much summed up how I (and I suspect many others) feel:

Parts of TV Centre such as the main ‘doughnut’ are listed buildings, so at least the familiar fascia will remain. But it will never be the same again. A key part of our TV heritage will be no more.

The making of Vegas

Vegas (not to be confused with the 2003-8 series Las Vegas) was the latest import to premiere on Sky Atlantic last week. Set in the 1960s, the show is a ‘cops and mobsters’ piece centred around a time when the city was just starting to develop into the Vegas we know today. Hmm. A burgeoning city built around human vices which has a pivotal role in 20th century American culture? It sounded a bit too much like CBS were trying to replicate a certain smash hit of HBO’s. Others drew the same comparison, in a positive way:

For me, however, it was a bit of a turn-off so I didn’t bother tuning in, despite a heavyweight cast which includes Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis and Carrie-Anne Moss. Comments like this one didn’t encourage me to change my mind:

Apparently the ratings for this first episode were pretty good – 106,000 viewers, close to treble the average for the time-slot –  but if the near-total absence of buzz (either positive or negative) on Twitter was anything to go by, I’m not holding out any great hopes. Did anyone watch it? What did you think?

Vegas, the maker of Idols

American Idol update time. 50-something years on, modern-day Las Vegas has become an annual destination for Idol. Last week it was the turn of the girls to endure Hollywood Week for the chance to get to Sin City and one step closer to the live stages of the competition.

After five consecutive male winners – and not just boys, but all WGWGs (White Guys With Guitar) – the producers have been laying on the ‘we really want a girl to win this year’ schtick thicker than ever. The thing is, it’s one of Idol‘s unwritten rules that the core voting demographic of teenage and pre-teen girls naturally prefers a cute guy, irrespective of whether he’s actually the best singer.

That didn’t stop the Idol hype machine from going into overdrive about contestant Angela Miller‘s performance of her own original song, which wowed both the judges and the viewing public if the reaction on Twitter was anything to go by.

Of course, one of the other unwritten rules of Idol is that the early favourite rarely wins. In recent years only 2011 winner Scotty McCreery was an obvious pick early on, and Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze flew under the radar until at least halfway through the finals. (DeWyze has barely surfaced above the radar since.) You can judge Miller’s performance for yourself here:

Indeed the show has many unwritten rules, most of which relate to those who fail rather than those who succeed.

All too true, although sometimes it’s difficult to fathom the reasons why the judges choose to let certain contestants go. While the calibre of the eventual finalists is always high, sometimes it can seem a bit arbitrary – a case of  ‘there but for the grace of God’. It’s enough to cause even the ultimately successful to wax philosophical. Here’s season four winner – and country music superstar – Carrie Underwood:

I dislike Underwood and her music, but there’s no denying the girl can sing and it’s hard to imagine her ever being sent home. But you never know. Who knows what other potential superstars missed the Idol cut? And what if by some chance Underwood had been sent home? That’s six Grammys, five CMAs and a host of other awards that would currently be sitting on someone else’s mantelpiece.

With that, I’m off to an alternate universe where Carrie Underwood never existed and TVC remains the beating heart of the UK TV industry. See you next week.

To read previous Tweets of the Week columns, click here.

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