19 October 2011

A Hughie Green tribute blog

Mr Mustard got a bit muddled. He was wondering what to write about yet another Interim Director Consultant, this time in Housing. He thought of Hughie Green.
Green became a household name in 1955, with the ITV quiz show Double Your Money, completely appropriate to Barnet of course although for modern audiences it would have to be renamed "Better Services for Less Money" and would still cost twice as much as expected.

In 1966, Hughie Green presented the show from The House of Friendship in Moscow. Along with Monica Rose, he also had Natasha Vasylyeva as assistants. Because the Communist Party would not allow money as a prize, the top prize was a television set. ( Aren't they still doing something similar in Westminster with prizes for issuing the most parking tickets but no money, oh no! that would be improper. )

His catchphrase "I mean that most sincerely" was also mocked and doubtless the councillors and officers promoting One Barnet think that they are most sincerely doing the right thing.

His most successful show format was his self-developed long-running talent show, Opportunity Knocks ( it certainly does for consultants in Barnet ). Started as a UK-wide touring show produced for the radio, one of his early finds was singer Frankie Vaughan, who came second as part of a duet. When it transferred to television on the ITV network in the mid-1960s, it began the show business careers of Les Dawson, Lena Zavaroni, Pam Ayres and Mary Hopkin, among others. ( Did he read Pam Ayres? Mr Mustard is sure he read Pam Wharfe resurrected this show for one final performance and Cathy Osborn won £43,500 in programme no. DPR1456  ).

Right up until its final shows, Opportunity Knocks was a ratings hit that attracted 18 million viewers weekly. But Green, known for his right-wing politics, had decided he was bigger than the show format he devised and began politicising an apolitical family-friendly format. In December 1976 Green sang a rant about the state of the United Kingdom called "Stand Up and Be Counted" with the words coming up in subtitles: "Stand up and be counted, where the managers manage and the workers don't go on strike". It was released as a single in 1977. ( Mr Mustard thinks that this may still be sung at meetings of the One Barnet Programme Board but that is just a scurrilous rumour that he heard and doesn't believe ).

Having got through the biog of Hughie Green Mr Mustard then had to find out where the phrase "and the next one please came from" - he thought it was invented by Barnet Council rushing extra consultants through the North London Business Park one by one but it turns out that it is from Take your Pick ( consultants are taking their pick of the best jobs ) If they got through the "Yes-No Interlude" (in which they were required to answer a series of questions without using the words "yes" or "no" or be gonged off the stage), contestants would answer questions to win modest monetary prizes and at the climax of the show had to decide whether to "take the money" or "open the box". The box could contain good prizes (for the time) such as holidays or a washing machine but could also contain booby prizes such as a mousetrap or a bag of sweets. ( there are no booby prizes for consultants in the Barnet version - it's the residents who have boobed ).The first version was hosted by Michael Miles

Not to deprive you here is the DPR 1456 signed off by Pam Ayres Wharfe

 One temp signing off fees for another one.

One of the shortest DPRs that Mr Mustard has seen.  Less tosh than usual although not very informative. Para 1.1 - date of meeting ? ( 13/12/2010 although looking at item 9 won't help you )

Para 2.1 - this appointment will enable the council's housing stock to be properly maintained. Cathy Osborn must be good with a trowel then, or maybe with the skill saw?

Para 4.1 - all applicants were compared to the same job description and person specification. A level playing field except that Barnet are selling them off.

Para 5.1 -  £43,500 cost. That looks to Mr Mustard like 29 weeks of 3 days = 87 days at £500 = £43,500. If so, Cathy Osborn is only half as valuable as Andrew Travers; oh dear.

Para 7.2 says that the Chief Officer or his nominee should sign off Officer appointments. An interim director has signed this one off. There is no mention that the Chief Officer knows anything about it at all.

It is often said that the "old pals act" applies to appointments at the top of organisations. Obviously not the case here. Maybe the "old gals act" has come out for some air ( Milton Keynes Council 2004 )

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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