Knock knock! …who’s there?

“Pickfords Removals. Can we be of assistance Mr Brown?”

One of the most talked about shows this season has been the UK Government Competition. Audience viewing figures continued to rise throughout the contest. And, having now exceeded all other reality TV contests in popularity, it looks like this series is going to end with a nail-biting cliffhanger, leaving us in suspense til the autumn.

Hats off to the party leader contestants who rehearsed, performed and really battled it out – each demonstrating a singular determination and desire to win. Not one of them has been afraid to learn all their lines by heart, though each resorted to condescension when the heat was on.

In an early round of the contest, media coverage indicated that Nick Clegg might do well. They talked us live through Nick Clegg doing well. Then reflected at length afterwards on how Nick Clegg had done well (eerily similar to an episode of Master Chef). Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg – now a household name. Yet the mystery of who he hangs out with leaves us wanting to know more. Is he a loner? Are there others who hang out with him – and if so, what are their names? That story-line may not unfold until the next series.

We’ve had all the insight and analysis – at the scene – from the fabulous Laura Keunssberg (following the Big Brother’s Little Brother format but with fewer pseudo-psychoanalysts). And viewers watching online saw the most popular performances rated via The Worm (web tool reflecting the responses of a focus group scattered around Britain).

Viewers weren’t allowed to phone in their votes in the finals of this competition (not very X Factor) causing great confusion among some of the less attentive. While the reason for this is unknown, speculators claim that Britain’s telephone networks would certainly have jammed and shut down, had phone-voting been permitted for a popular reality contest on this scale.

Postal and in-person voting methods were immensely popular: queues at some polling stations were so long that many people waited hours and still didn’t get to vote. Some were – understandably – very cross. In such a close contest as this, everyone wants their say, rather than defaulting to the show’s creators to decide, in the event of a tie-break.

Voting over (or turned away) and counting continued through the night.

Imagine then, waking up to the final results this morning only to find that Gregg Wallace isn’t the winner and will never govern Britain.

BBC script-writers may have changed the ending of this first series right at the very last minute, to avoid the one true winner getting leaked to the press. But will the next series be as formulaic?

Under competition rules, the final decision lies with top-ranking judge, Queen EIIR. It is reported however, that QE II will not return to London today to select a winner (whose prize is to be UK PM for the foreseeable future). Rather, she is thought to be seeking guidance from the top UK expert in this field, Simon Cowell, and will remain in Windsor until their assessment of each orator is over.

Cowell and QE II are expected to play back footage on the three party hopefuls from all heats of the competition and thoroughly analyse the potential of each. Re-viewing may take about three weeks; an outcome is not expected soon.

Government analysts predict that more ballot papers may be distributed if a re-match (general election) takes place in the autumn but were not prepared to go on record. “There’s been such overwhelming interest from the public since the first general election contest was announced just over a month ago, we don’t want to ruin the plot for those who are on tenterhooks for the next season to start. Some of them get so into it, it’s like real life”.

A tired Brown offered to bring back the Minister of Cuts to act as interim winner (PM) until autumn before realising he would – again – be unable to deliver.

Big brother kindle power

In July, Amazon deleted books bought by kindle users including, ironically, Orwell’s 1984. The books were sold illegally as the publisher didn’t have the rights to produce electronic copies. Amazon have since apologised and given refunds to readers who had books deleted – along with any notes and annotations – from their kindles without their consent.

The Free Software Foundation said that “The real issue here is Amazon’s use of DRM and proprietary software. They have unacceptable power over users, and actual respect necessitates more than an apology – it requires abandoning DRM and releasing the Kindle’s software as free software.” (read The Guardian technology blog).

Sign the Free Software Foundation’s ‘We believe in the freedom to read’ petition at:

On the other hand, how useful would it be – provided you gave consent – to be able to ‘upgrade’ your book to the latest edition, or access revised or corrected versions of content?

~ Economist article, July 21, 2009: All the news that’s free to print
~ Economist article, Aug 27, 2009: Screen Test – a dust-up over digital dust jackets
~ Economist article, Sep 4, 2009: The internet at forty
~ Intelligent Life article, Autumn 2009: Facts, Errors and the Kindle