Good news for those who don’t own a squarial: A Young Doctor’s Notebook is available today on DVD from BBC Worldwide and Big Talk.
The Daily Mail’s TV & Showbiz pages include many non-stories which look uncomfortably like a dump of content the paper doesn’t own…
Mikhail Bulgakov is the Russian author of the original stories on which we based the mini-series A Young Doctor’s Notebook. I recently googled Bulgakov’s wife Yelena and came across a piece which begins:
This is the story of the Soviet authorities’ persecution of the Ukrainian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, as told through the diaries of Yelena, his third wife, and Bulgakov’s own letters.
The curious thing is that the link takes you to the Daily Mail, which isn’t the first site I associate with literary biography. And the page doesn’t read like a piece of journalism, exactly. Here’s how it looks:
It seems to be the programme note for a BBC Radio 4 drama from 2001. There’s no embedded audio, link or TX details; it’s not a review – just some contextless content. Which makes the Daily Mail look uncomfortably like a “scraper” site: those odd-looking, often illegal bits of the web which use other people’s property as padding around the real point of the pages, adverts:
Some scraper sites are created to make money by using advertising programs. In such cases, they are called Made For AdSense sites or MFAs. This derogatory term refers to websites that have no redeeming value except to lure visitors to the website for the sole purpose of clicking on advertisements.
When I accessed the Mail page which did well in search for Yelena Bulgakov, it had ads from Play, M&S, WeightWatchers, Ariel, Always and Google Ads. Perhaps it’s an anomaly, I thought. A one-off test page with some placeholder text which should have been deleted to avoid any risk of looking like the Mail was covertly bringing users to a page with content they don’t own to generate commercial revenue. I had a look around the TV & Showbiz section of the Mail and found a similar looking page:
And another one:
Again, lots of ads around both and in the second one, some information about other Radio 4 programmes. As it turned out, I found it difficult to think of a Radio 4 programme that hasn’t been surrounded by ads and made into a Daily Mail page.
Very odd. Someone had even added a picture to the Archers episode description, like with this documentary about Gandhi:
It’s a while since I worked at the BBC; perhaps these pages are part of a project where the Beeb has generously handed over its own content – or that of independent production companies – to help with the Daily Mail’s revenue streams, even while the Mail takes every opportunity to bash the Beeb. Perhaps there’s a reason none of these pages seems ever to have been linked to from the Mail’s front page. Perhaps it’s a good use of your licence fee. Who knows?
Other advertisers who find themselves next to BBC content include Marriott, Sky, Toyota, Dell, Lotto, Virgin, Nokia, Nationwide, Direct Line, Reiss, BA, Corsodyl, HSBC, JP Morgan, BT, Barclays and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. On all of them are Google Ads, the terms and conditions of which have a questionable relationship with the content.
A piece for the Guardian about A Young Doctor’s Notebook: how we adapted the short stories for the screen and why Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm are playing the same nameless doctor:
Our focus was the emotional core of the hospital tales: the hardening of the junior medic. In Bulgakov’s book, in interior monologue, the young doctor wonders how a more experienced practitioner might react, wishing he had the composure of his future self. But as the story Morphine warns us, that older self may not be wiser; he might, in fact, be a junkie. We wanted to incorporate that story: on screen, the older doctor (Hamm) is right there for the younger (Radcliffe) to talk to; but he turns out to be a damaged man: nostalgic, regretful, not above the occasional pratfall.