BBC Proms 2011: First day of ticket sales

The telephone and online box office for this year’s BBC Proms season opened yesterday. Figures from transactions so far show that a total of 85,921 tickets were sold yesterday. 376 tickets sold every minute in the first hour.

Last year’s total ticket sales across the season came in at 313,000. This year’s similarly sized season has already seen 27.45% of that target-to-beat reached. That in itself is an impressive signal that the season still commands a great deal of attention amongst audiences. Or maybe some of them were bowled over by the interviews I did on BBC Proms launch day. Maybe.

With my concentration fixed on something else entirely, spending an extended period of time in a virtual queue to purchase tickets with money I haven’t got wasn’t on my list of priorities. But seeing as 71,808 of those tickets were sold online, lots of others clearly made use of the Royal Albert Hall’s online ticketing system to bag themselves a seat at some of this year’s concerts.

In online terms and given the demanding infrastructure serving an online ticketing system where users are held in a virtual queue before they have an opportunity to select their seats and concerts, the fact that so many users are opting for online over telephone, postal or face to face booking is impressive.

This is now the second year the online ticketing system has been used. I didn’t use it last year either, ending up purchasing seated tickets for all the concerts I ended up wanting to go to either on the day (there’s usually a decent seat somewhere on the hall) or by ringing for returns. Last year’s visit to the packed out and utterly brilliant Sondheim Prom was as a result of ringing for returns.

But I’m impressed more people are buying at the top of the season for big number events. It shows there’s a hunger for the programme and that the online system is working.

TV: Doctor Who Day of the Moon BBC One BBC America

Given my shameless gushing last week, there’s little else I can add at the end of the concluding episode of the season 6 opener.

Thank God. Gushing is a demanding process. Factor in the added time I need to take checking I’ve spelt things correctly and not missed out any words and you can see why a lengthy blog post reiterating exactly what I said last week is a waste of time.

The short blog post is all that’s required. Episode two of season six – Day of the Moon – was brilliant. But then we probably knew it was going to be brilliant anyway. Episode one was. So this one would have to be. It was dark, scary and occasionally confusing. And there were guns. And people falling down dead. And fear. Good stuff.

Clever, isn't it?

What I’m now feeling comfortable with is the notion that all the character exist at different times in endless moments in time and space. Linear timelines are shafted. Every piece of dialogue demands close analysis. Speaking personally, that’s taken quite some time. Yeah, bite me. I don’t care. I’m a bit slow.

I’m also loving River Song’s character. And the fact that Amy and Rory have been in the TARDIS for so long that they both know how things work. The Doctor sending Rory off to get some kind of couplers wasn’t just a way of setting a piece of misdirection, but also a nod to the past when the Doctor and his companions reconvened in the TARDIS console room. Safe from danger. Pottering about.

At least, that’s how it seemed to me. And it made me feel all warm and fuzzy. If that was incidental, then Steven Moffat is a very lucky man. If it wasn’t incidental then the man is a genius. Or just very thorough.

Well done Moffat. Still no word from on when Tegan’s coming back, I notice. Come on man. Jump to it.

TV: Doctor Who The Impossible Astronaut BBC Wales BBC America

Right and Proper

A few years ago – when I was partial to a roll-up – I’d spend my cigarette breaks moaning to a former colleague about Doctor Who.

It wasn’t for me. It was an intense disappointment. That bloke Russell T Davies liked comedy more than sci-fi. He might have said he loved Doctor Who, but as far as I could see he didn’t get it like I did. If I’d met him I’d have told him. And maybe that’s why he and his cohort turned me down for an interview so unceremoniously.

Loving You Luv

He gave the BBC National Orchestra of Wales way too much air time. There could be a lot less music. Everybody should stop running around. Why was it I couldn’t understand anything of what had happened when the final credits rolled? Why the hell couldn’t he write something especially for me? It wasn’t like I hadn’t remained faithful to the cause. Yes, really. Why had he let me down? I had been so excited when it was announced it was coming back.

There were times when I wondered whether that former colleague had a hotter line to the impenetrable offices of Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner than I perceived my blog had.

I want one of these

And then Steven Moffat wrote that thing with the statues. Blinking suddenly became dangerous. Those who dared to dream stopped for a breath. Could this bloke Moffat be the answer?

I’ve waxed lyrical before about his efforts in the last season of Doctor Who. The breath I drew when I watched his first story was exhaled when I quickly realised the Scottish bloke with the curly hair wasn’t the one-hit wonder I worried he might be.

Sure. His first season was subject to quite a bit of running around. And really, the Blu-Ray I purchased has such shocking examples of poor post-production audio mixes I’d hesitate from purchasing another set unless I’d received personal assurances such ‘issues’ had been ironed out. (Somebody .. somewhere .. sort that particular problem out, will you?)

Well Done Everyone

But. His second season is .. basing my opinion on the season opener at least .. so incredibly close to how I demand my Doctor Who to be as to make me want to stop him in his tracks the next time I see him outside BBC Television Centre and plant a smacker on the man’s lips. It’s dark. It’s exciting. It’s made me draw breath.

Just so we’re clear … this (finally) is how I expected, how I hoped present day Doctor Who to be. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you must.

Thank you Mr Moffat. I really appreciate your efforts. Yours too Mr Wenger. And yours Ms Willis. You and your team have done very well.

Thank. God. It’s taken a while. But we’re there.

From this moment on, you SO don’t need any PR. Ditch them. Bin them. Fire them. They’re history.

Now then. When exactly are you planning on bringing back Tegan?

John Sullivan (1946-2011)

News that sitcom writer John Sullivan has died at the age of 64 after a short illness prompted me to do a bit of digging about the man.

Not only was he responsible for one of the BBC’s longest running sitcoms Only Fools and Horses (work which was so popular it prompted BBC commissioners to look for a OFAH prequel Rock and Chips. Read about his work on the series on the BBC’s brilliant comedy blog.

I was pleased to be reminded that Sullivan was also a songwriter as well. A songwriter in fact of the very tunes which introduced the sitcoms he’d written.

The pilot episode and first series ended up using Ronnie Hazelhurst’s theme music but after audience feedback confirmed Sullivan’s fears that there was a certain lack of understanding as to what the characters were about, it was the latter’s original composition which return to open the second series (as below).

But while OFAH was a pragmatic – and arrestingly original – signature tune, it’s his lesser known comedy Just Good Friends‘ starring Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis for which Sullivan’s compositional efforts will be personally best remembered.

Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011)

Very sorry to learn on BBC News Online of the death of Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen.

One of the finest Doctor Who companions – Sarah Jane Smith – whose repeat appearances in the classic series, the regenerated series and her own spin-off series only served to illustrate the love audiences had for her and her character.

Sladen was – for many thirty (and possibly forty) somethings – hot-wired to our childhoods. She bucked the trend of Doctor Who ‘companions’. She wasn’t just pretty. She wasn’t employed merely because she could scream. She was reliably bouncy and perky to Pertwee’s serious ‘scientific’ Doctor.

When Pertwee stepped down from the role her character developed into the perfect foil for Tom Baker’s burgeoning ego. She was intelligent. Feisty and brave but also prone to moments of vunerability too. Gawd bless her.

Of course, that was Sarah Jane-Smith. She wasn’t aspirational. She was just normal. Audiences connected with her as a character. And because kids are impressionable and we all loved Who, Sarah Jane-Smith was Elisabeth Sladen and vice versa.

A measure of why so many have reacted in the same way at the news of her untimely death.