Media: Things we like

ES magazine's biggest issue

The London Evening Standard may face distribution issues but its product remains impressive and its weekly glossy magazine ES is in especially rude health. Last week saw it pull in advertisers in their droves as the magazine reached a record 142 pages and punched its weight alongside the other newspaper glossies with a cover shoot featuring Vanessa Paradis. Its Christmas presents special was also one of the more impressive on offer among last weekend's supplements.

Churchill the dog in panto

The insurance company Churchill has hatched a deal for its ad mascot, Churchill the dog, to feature in 22 pantomimes across the country. The nodding canine will feature in shows up and down the country including Bradford, Northampton, Nottingham, Plymouth and Wolverhampton. We weren't sure what to make of this until the past few days when PR and marketing activity has kicked in, giving Churchill a big presence across the country through interviews in local papers and on local radio. More content has been made available at

BBC strategic review

It looks like the BBC's long-overdue strategic review, which won't be completed until next year, might actually deliver some relief for its commercial rivals. The BBC Trust has hinted there might be some sell-offs or at least cutbacks to elements of BBC Online, which would help rival news and content providers, and Mark Thompson, the director-general, has talked about a "more focused BBC ... smaller in some respects". There are also suggestions that this will include a scaling back of digital services such as BBC Three and BBC Four. Probably a shrewd move.

ITV player on Freesat

It's good to see ITV's catch-up service playing catch-up with the BBC's iPlayer by securing new distribution deals. The latest will see the video-on-demand service launching on Freesat, the free-to-air digital satellite platform, early next year. The fact that this will be available in high definition is an extra bonus for viewers.


River Cottage on Channel 4

Is there a bigger arse on TV right now than Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? If so, show us and we'll go and kick it very hard. His "new" series of River Cottage is like an opiate for the middle classes, it's so mind-numbingly pedestrian. Last week we saw Hugh trot out all the cliched scenes - catching squid with a bloke who had never tasted squid before and who (shock) thought it was really nice, and then having all his "mates" round for a bit of a knees-up after cooking some local produce. The only winner in all this seems to be Hugh himself who has yet another new book to flog this Christmas.


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