Wednesday, March 03, 2010


In youth, I had a very quick temper which often shamed me in personal relationships despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that I had a job, then as now, which requires infinite patience. Now it is rare for me to lose my temper on a personal level, though I am still angered by war, injustice, hunger, poverty, racism and the "big things" of life.

Tonight, however, I am furious on my own behalf and this post constitutes a rant at the cause: the decision-makers at Sky Italia, who have, without a word of warning, taken BBC Entertainment off their platform. There I was on Monday evening, settling down for my "treat of the week" - two hours of "Holby City" - but when I keyed the channel number in there was a notice from Sky saying that from 1st March BBC Entertainment was unavailable. There was no explanation or advice offered.

Most of you know that I'm an Italian graduate and am fluent in the language, so I do watch Italian TV, though I would rather listen to BBC Radio 4 than watch anything. But "Holby City" and "Casualty" are my little bits of Britain and I look - I mean looked - forward to them. Selina's love life, Charlie's childcare problems, Connie the man-eating medical director and Chrissie, the matron who's anybody's after a martini, are the stuff of which quite pleasant dreams are made. But now because of Sky Italia's actions - or maybe non-actions - I won't know who is sleeping in whose bed in any of the hospital departments from one week to the next. [You didn't think the medical staff had time for the patients in these programmes, did you?] Come on Sky Italia, these are serious matters!

There are , apparently, other cards which you can buy to receive BBC Entertainment in Italy but I'm hanged if I'm going to shell out more when Sky is already so expensive! Oh, no, I am going to keep on and on at Sky until the channel is restored to our screens and, if the facebook group "Bring Back BBC Entertainment on Sky Italia" is anything to go by, a lot of other ex-pat Brits in Italy are ready to do the same.

Not that BBC Entertainment - formerly BBC Prime - is a perfect channel, for it is far from that. It sometimes screens soap opera episodes in the wrong order so you get completely muddled [the sensation is a bit like being drunk] it goes in for Saturday night "stacks", so that you get about three hours of episodes of one programme - this is just lazy scheduling - and it shows repeats of comedies from thirty years ago time and time again. I have to admit, though, that these are funnier than a lot of the comedy that is churned out today and the familiar faces give you a sort of cosy, nostalgic feeling. The channel also angered a lot of viewers a couple of years ago when it announced a decision to broadcast even more rubbish "reality" and "lifestyle" shows. So it was far from perfect but it was, after all, dear old "Auntie" BBC and we put up with it stoically, as Brits do. And now we want it back! It's quite simple, Sky Italia: we have the right to grumble about it but you don't have the right to take it away.

All any of us can get out of Sky is that it "has not renewed its contract" with the BBC and the BBC is confirming that. Is it a coincidence that the Berlusconi government has cut advertising time on Sky or that the BBC announced massive cuts yesterday? Or could it be that Sky's bureaucratic procedures cannot cope with the channel's change of name? Your guess is as good as mine. But Sky had better get its act together or it will find itself losing many of the British clients who keep it in business.

In revenge, here are some Skyisms for you. Sky News, I have to say, is often first on the scene and when it is good it is very, very good. But most of the time it is mediocre and sometimes it is terrible.

On Saturday, for instance, we had pictures of people standing on a Hawaiian beach waiting for the tsunami, digital cameras at the ready [as if the tsunami was going to stop and say "cheese"] while a female news presenter several times described waves which were "crashing in" as we all gazed at a remarkably calm sea. Sky newsreaders can rarely hide their disappointment when a disaster fails to happen and this one was no exception.

Then there was the time when a weathergirl was called in to fill a Saturday afternoon slot by describing what happens in a flood:
"It's like a teacup that overflows", she explained as if she were Einstein.
Well, thank you, Sky, I would never have figured that out!

When Madeleine McCann disappeared nearly every Sky News reporter got a beano out to Portugal. Even the excellent Kay Burley was despatched to an almost empty beach to interview British holidaymakers. Why the task needed someone of Burley's standing was never explained.

But by far the most common occurence on Sky News is some political row or other which somehow always breaks out late at night or on weekends. On those occasions a hapless political reporter, usually poor old Peter Spencer, has to stand, in snow, fog or torrential rain, outside a Downing Street where nothing is happening or outside a Parliament where nothing is happening. Do they think their viewers have no imagination at all? Is this what I pay my 500 euros a year for?

No, it is not, Sky. I pay it to receive foreign channels that I would not otherwise be able to receive. If you cannot restore BBC Entertainment you will lose my subscription and many others and I wouldn't have thought that you could afford this in these desperate times. So what have you got to say for yourselves, Sky Italia?

Da: Patricia Eggleton No. cliente: ********
A: Sky Italia
Oggetto: Canale 138 - BBC Entertainment
Modica, 3 marzo 2010

Spett. Ditta Sky Italia

sono spiacente di notare che, dal 1 marzo 2010, il canale BBC Entertainment non è più disponibile sulla piattaforma Sky e Vi prego di informarmi dei Vostri motivi per la situazione.

Questo canale è importante per molte persone anglofone che abitano in Italia e lo Sky è in grado di perdere i loro abbonamenti. C'è già un gruppo molto attivo sul facebook.

Vi prego di riconsiderare la Vostra decisione.

Mi auguro di sentirVi presto.

Distinti saluti

Patricia Eggleton



I hope they see reason and bring the channel back. Its crazy it happens here in the states as well some of my more quirky programs have been relagated to podcasts and no longer on tv at all. There is hardly anything worth watching on tv and then the one thing you really like, they take off.

Sally said...

Quite right Welshcakes, do hope your letter to the wretched Sky has some effect, it's lot to pay when they remove the very channel you took out the abbonamento for in the first place. How's your broadband speed? Crossed my mind you could keep in touch with BBC iPlayer.

Devonshire Dumpling said...

I followed your rapid degeneration on Twitter from irritated to peeved to annoyed to ballistic with steam coming out of your ears mode.

I sympathise that you can’t watch your favourite programs and it’s very unfair for Sky to pull the plug for so many who live abroad and still follow the UK soaps. I can’t give you a précis as I watch neither but I’m sure some blogger would be able to do so.

Trubes said...

That was a wonderful rant Welshcakes, I hope you get somewhere with your letter to Sky.
We have stopped subscribing to most of it and now have Freeview TV.
Can you get it in Italy?

Love to you and precious Simi and, a belated, 'Happy St David's Day.

Di.xx and Chloe...puuur puuurrrrr.xx

jams o donnell said...

Good luck with the campaign Welshcakes

Lee said...

I can understand your anger and frustration with Sky, Pat. It is very maddening when something like that happens! Keep at them until they're sick and tired of the "sight" of you and finally relent and give in!

It amazes me, too, how the media is so disappointed when things don't happen e.g. the tsunami etc. I get annoyed, too when all the magazines are on Brangelina's case, (for one instance) hoping and wishing that they'd break up. How nice it would be to see positive articles for a change wishing them lasting togetherness and happiness.

I guess good news is bad news!

sally in norfolk said...

I hope you get them sorted and soon :-) Thanks to you i am just getting back into holby city

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, GCC. I agree with you. It's getting increasingly difficult to find anything worth watching. Thanks, Sally. My bb connection is good but outside the UK you can only get BBC iplayer radio output. Hi, DD. Yes, ballistic's the word! I can find out what happens with the episode summaries on the net but it's no fun! Thanks, Trubes. We can get digitale terreste which I think is like freeview but I'd have to buy a new set and you can't get BBC Ent on that either. Thanks also for your St David's Day wishes. Love to you and Chloe from Simi and me. xx woof! Thanks, jams. Hi, Lee. I will keep on! And the facebook group is going from strength to strength. Yes, I hate it when the media stalk stars looking for bad news. Thanks, Sally. Give my love to Holby!

CherryPie said...

That sounds very annoying indeed, I hope it gets sorted out for you.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I hope so, too, Cherie. Thanks.


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