Sky’s Covid Docudrama is a Tall Story

Guido’s looking forward to Sky’s retelling of the Brexit Pandemic in This England, the likeness and sets all look pretty good, although it remains to be seen whether director Michael Winterbottom will be able to leave any prejudices at the door. Regardless of the show’s evaluation of Boris’s response to the pandemic, Rishi will certainly be pleased with his portrayal. Actor Shri Patel had the task of portraying the chancellor, seen in the trailer generically saying “Obviously the impact on the economy would be huge”. There’s just one significant discrepancy: 6’1 Patel has been cast to play a man seven inches shorter…

Kevin Branagh’s Boris is closer to reality. Branagh measures in at 5’10 – the same height Boris claims he is, although Guido’s previously done a comprehensive fact check on this, and he’s really around 5’6. Hancock is only three inches out too. Looking at the other casting choices, Guido was particularly amused to see the actor tasked with playing Hancock’s ex-SpAd, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, has previously appeared in Mission Impossible: FalloutJamie is better looking in real life…

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Sky’s Big Brother Plan to “Nudge” Viewers Towards Net Zero

Sky have co-authored a report with the Behavioural Insights Team – AKA the Downing Street Nudge Unit – which uses “behavioural science techniques” to encourage TV audiences to “[make] lifestyle changes that address the climate crisis“. Revealed this week at COP, the report – titled “The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to Decarbonise Their Lifestyles” – claims that broadcasters “should put climate-friendly actions […] centre stage in all areas of TV content“, especially towards children, because of the “important influence” they have on their parents. Expect to see Peppa Pig tell us all to ditch our boilers very soon.

Launching the report, Sky CEO Dana Strong* said:

“At Sky we have set out our pathway to achieve net zero carbon, but we know this alone will not be enough. Through the content that we bring into our customers’ homes we believe broadcasters have a clear role and responsibility to encourage lifestyle changes that address the climate crisis.”

You might have naïvely thought the role of a news channel was to report the news. Legally regulated broadcasters have an obligation to be impartial, not push lifestyle changes:

 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

Sky’s climate advocacy has seen them claim sea levels are rising so quickly that the Queen will soon be swimming through Buckingham Palace – a claim that was patently false. Now they’re suggesting broadcasters should “use kids’ content” to put children off meat and dairy. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Nudge Unit is partially owned by and run out of the Cabinet Office, which means this report is effectively government-sanctioned propaganda to push a political agenda, something that liberal democracies usually avoid. Governments encouraging broadcasters to use their power to subliminally influence the population is dangerous.

*Dana Strong’s commitment to decarbonising did not prevent her commuting via private jet from America:

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Sky Adviser on Psychological Safety Says Those Who Criticise Take-the-Knee Are “Subhuman”

Political activist and author Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who mentored Sky employees on “allyship and psychological safety” just last month, has declared that those “offended” by taking the knee are “subhuman“, and that the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges “is a Racist Apologist epitomising the inferiority complex of white supremacy”. No doubt her contributions to Sky’s “Unity Programme” were greatly appreciated…

This isn’t the first time Mos-Shogbamimu’s pushed the boundaries of what it means to promote psychological safety. A quick browse through her Twitter profile shows that she’s called Priti Patel a “Racial Gatekeeper Extraordinaire”, suggested that “exempting the Queen & Household from race discrimination laws is an atrocity”, and even warned her own followers that “for your own mental health, don’t try my patience.” Always be kind and tolerant of others, unless they disagree with you.

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Sky Invests in Massive New Studios

Despite dire warnings about Brexit, Sky have unveiled plans to build a 32-acre TV and film studio in Elstree. A new dawn is breaking for Sky…

The huge development will be able to facilitate production of several films and TV shows at the same time, with 14 impressive sound stages; and will go ahead with the international backing of US media giants Comcast (Sky’s owner) and NBCUniversal. The Sky’s the limit…

Sky’s CEO Jeremy Darroch said of the development that “Sky Studios Elstree will play a pivotal role in bringing the wealth of UK and European talent and creativity to the world.” Not that you’d necessarily know that from Sky’s Brexit coverage…

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Runners & Riders: Sky Pol Ed

After four years at Sky as political editor, Faisal Islam is off to the BBC to become their economics editor. As ever Guido brings you likely runners & riders:

Beth Rigby – she wants it and many viewers think she’s already the pol ed. Must be in with a good chance.

Sophy Ridge – conflicting information as to if she really wants the job, which entails being on the road a lot, given a young child at home. Sky are a progressive employer so they would want to make it work for her. No doubt she could do it.

Chris Mason – if Sky wants to get one back from the BBC Mason would be an obvious choice. Mason might feel that Laura Kuenssberg is going to be in position for a long time and this is a chance for promotion and more money. Is rumoured to be interested in a move.

Nick Watt – again Sky could get their own back on the BBC by pinching Nick from Newsnight. Is he tired of the late nights?

Ross Hawkins – seems a bit frustrated on BBC radio. Could be interested.

Tom Newton-Dunn – a regular on Sky’s late night paper review, Tom’s enthusiasm for appearing on television is well known. Not sure if Sky’s executives share his enthusiasm…

Lewis Goodall – just too young, too Labour and too irritating?

Paul Brand – if Sky were to cast their net further afield – ITV’s political correspondent has had a few eye catching scoops lately.

Ed Conway – Impressive journalist and writes authoritatively about economics. During elections he has covered politics well. Guido’s outside bet.

Amol Rajanhas not publicly ruled himself out for the job.

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Wake Up With Ridge on Sunday

In a quick response to to Andrew Marr’s hurried announcement yesterday that his Sunday show is moving to ten o’clock, Ridge is grabbing the nine o’clock slot. Of course Peston has beaten them both by retreating to Wednesday nights. This all brings back memories of the great morning email wars of of 2017.* Smart move. Ridge will now be more likely to set the agenda…

*Won by Politico’s Jack Blanchard.
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