Geek Speak

“Newsnight is our Hotel California. All of us who checked out never really left. We lived through extraordinary times with the most incredible team spirit.”

Emily Maitlis 

“If as many people who have voiced an opinion about Newsnight actually watched the show then they might not have had to change things,” 

BBC staffer, quoted in The Times

As we sprint/limp (choose your mood) into December, good morning – it’s Monday 4th.

The week ahead…

ASLEF train drivers undertake a series of one-day strikes at different train operating companies across the week.

Covid-19 inquiry – Boris Johnson (Wednesday and Thursday) 

Monday: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected in Qatar

Tuesday: Turner Prize winner announced

Wednesday: TIME Magazine Person of the Year

Challengers to Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination head to Alabama for the fourth debate

Thursday: EU-China Summit

Saturday: TUC hosts a special congress in London, the first such gathering since the height of the labour movement’s battles with the Thatcher government in the 1980s.

Sunday: Egypt presidential election

The brutal cuts to BBC News had been in the offing for a while. Last week’s announcement went further than many expected.

  • Newsnight to become a 30-minute “interview, debate and discussion show”

  • Our World is axed

  • An extended hour-long edition of BBC News at One relocated to Salford

  • BBC Breakfast, also broadcast from Salford, extended by 15 minutes

  • A restructure of the BBC News story teams in the UK, less TV packaging and more of a “focus on digital storytelling and live coverage”

Ahead of COP, Climate Science Breakthrough released a film with UCL’s Professor of Earth System Sciences Mark Maslin and comedian Jo Brand. 

It’s worth a watch. Classily produced, genuinely funny in bits, and its ambition – to bring the climate emergency to a new audience – is to be applauded. 

My issue is with how the concept is being framed. Firstly look at Good Morning Britain’s strapline…

On Professor Maslin’s Twitter/X post he writes, “Jo Brand translates my climate science for real people.” 

Hang on. “Real people?” “Clearing up scientist Geek Speak?” 

Watch the film. I don’t think there’s a single line Maslin says that so-called “real people” wouldn’t understand. Yes, they may be fatigued by the subject. Yes, translating the science into witty 1-liners is a good tactic. But the implication here seems to be that scientists need to simplify to be accessible. 

Part of our campaign next year is going to encourage experts to re-claim complexity. Not in a way that baffles or alienates. But the idea that simplicity is the only way to communicate effectively is a trope that needs to be called out. 

The extraordinary grip of The Rest Is… brand on the podcast landscape in the UK tightens.

The latest addition to the stables is The Rest Is Entertainment with Richard Osman and Marina Hyde.


On the Inside Edge website – Tony’s A-Z of media training: 

D is for Deadpan:

An over-mobile face can lead you into trouble. What you think is simply an animated expression can morph into revealing too much of what you’re thinking or feeling.The grimace that signals “that went badly” the smile at something contentious: “oh here we go – I was nervous that might pop up” are just two unnecessary and unhelpful give aways. Instead focus on energy and animation coming through your voice. Aim for stillness in how you look.


The birth control pill was made available to all on the NHS on this day in… (answer below the dogs)

Highs today of 3 degrees in Bradford and 4 degrees in Aberdeen.

That’s it. Just time for the obligatory dog photo. Sorry for stealing that biscuit.


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Have a brilliant week.

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