Monday, September 9, 2013

Thieving Bastards V: Thieving BBC Bastards

I'd always planned to continue this spiteful blog series, as it was oddly fun - in an obsessive, vengeful way - the first time I wasted an entire weekend chronicling every unlicensed theft from my first two years' worth of travel photos, supplemented by the occasional futile email or Facebook comment when it was companies rather than individuals doing it. But the idea of putting myself through all that again was just depressing.

So I was delighted to have the work done for me today as I whiled away the afternoon catching up on comedy shows from the past year and saw my pervy anatomical photo of a baboon's puffed-up arse from Singapore Zoo being used as a non sequitur punchline in the middle of the second episode of Kevin Eldon's madcap sketch show It's Kevin.


This has always been one of my more whorish photos, being bandied about all over the place as you'll see if you do a Google search by image, so they wouldn't necessarily have known where it came from (here originally, re-used here and now on this page too). Presumably, whoever was responsible for inserting amusing stock footage into that show googled something along the lines of "baboon red arse" and chose my image as the best representation of what they had in mind.

But what would happen then? Can they just take it? As I was never asked by someone working at the BBC if they could use my photo in their upcoming TV show (to be fair, I am deliberately hard to contact, but they could always have left a comment), could they have requested permission from some other thieving bastard who had it in their Photobucket? If I was called on to prove I actually took the photo in the first place, here's Singapore Zoo's baboon enclosure from a different angle on that day, possibly featuring that same baboon on the left:

The fur matches, but I'd need a closer inspection from a different angle to confirm it. Of course, this proves nothing as I could have just stolen this one too, just to claim my 0.5 seconds of uncredited fame in front of an audience of 0.48 million (plus a few on YouTube, but those just make up for the TV viewers who blinked at the crucial moment). I don't blame you for being sceptical - even I had trouble actually believing that could be my photo on the TV, because how could that happen? Maybe I didn't manage to snap a decent photo of the baboon arses that day at the zoo, so sought out someone else's photo in frustration that I forgot I'd been passing off as my own for more than two years? That seemed even less likely, and checking out the image properties confirms it was taken by my camera.

The possibility of someone else getting the undeserved credit is the only thing I find annoying about this - otherwise, I'm actually flattered that my photo was selected over all the other photos of baboons' red arses out there. I do like the photo, particularly how the inflamed anal region inappropriately resembles a love heart or kissy lips, but that praise really has to go to the animal itself (now a national TV star). When I saw it on YouTube I was stunned and doubted my own memory, double checking my blog and photo folders to confirm what I was looking at. I imagine it's not completely dissimilar to how those innocent viewers of Noel's House Party might have felt when the scene cut to their own living room that pervy Noel had hidden a camera in earlier.

At least It's Kevin

Image source: Who cares?

The main reason I'm delighted rather than annoyed is that it showed up in Kevin Eldon's show, as he's my all-time favourite comedy actor, gracing literally every good comedy series since 1995 (and a few lousy ones too) with his distinctive face and Buddhist mantra-honed vocal shenanigans. And even though his own long-awaited comedy vehicle isn't up there with the likes of Brass Eye, Big Train and This Morning With Richard Not Judy, his long-awaited stand-up debut was one of the best things I saw at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe, so Kevin's certifiably ace and above the law as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, it's not like I even had a right to watch the show I'm talking about, since I don't live in the UK or pay a TV license any more and have to settle for other comedy fans' illegal YouTube uploads for my fix. The fact that I only spotted this six months after it was broadcast, in one of the relatively few shows I've made the effort to watch, does make me wonder how many of my photos could be showing up in the overwhelming majority of TV shows I don't watch being produced in every country with internet access. Please let me know if you spot any of my other photos from Singapore Zoo showing up on your favourite light entertainment show, won't you? That nice one with the three tigers gets around a bit too. Imagine how much more plagiarised I'd be if I'd invested in more than the most basic camera and had any sort of professional training and editing skills!

But as I can only remain blissfully ignorant of the rest, as far as I know this is only the second time my stuff's been shown on the BBC, after I drew some pictures that were among the winning entries in a Children's BBC ident competition in about 1994. That excitingly meant I got to see someone's animated interpretation of my awkward Arabian Nights caricature rubbing a lamp and was compensated with some (irrelevant) dinosaur books, CBBC clothing and - best of all - a signed photo of Toby Anstis. Yes, THE Toby Anstis! (I guess Andi Peters was busy that day). Sadly, it seems that animated sting is one of the few that doesn't exist in digital form, no matter how ruthlessly you scour compilations of mid-90s CBBC intros when you can't sleep and feel particularly self-indulgent. I hope some other bastard didn't get a signed photo of Kevin Eldon for this.

Here's the episode, for however long it stays on YouTube. The money shot's at 15:51. Uploaded by some arsehole or other - you don't need to credit sources any more.

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