Remember When Freda Died On Live TV?

Posted on Jan 08, 2021. by NTI

Times change. Now a nine year old might momentarily look up from their Xbox One S, see Blue Peter on another TV screen, raise their eyebrows in irony and return to shooting aliens with heads the size of dirigibles.

However, there was a time when the Blue Peter tortoise died live on afternoon TV. The ever-cheery John Noakes dragged a post-hibernation Freda the tortoise out of a load of straw, expecting her to stretch and munch happily on a piece of lettuce. Instead there was no sign of life in the nation's favourite reptile, she got a little posthumous shake from Mr Noakes and the cameras moved swiftly away to someone making a weapon of mass destruction out of a yoghurt pot and some sticky-backed plastic on the other side of the studio.

We were reminded of this in the NTI newsroom this afternoon (Friday 8 January) when confronted by a headline on Sky News, 'Poundland placing 44 stores into temporary hibernation'. That is one of the nicer ways to break the news of redundancy to your colleagues:

"No, honestly Aurora, we're not firing you, we are just putting you into temporary hibernation." That is tantamount to telling someone on the wrong end of a firing squad that they are not being shot, rather being made into a human colander.

It seems as if some of us will now have to pay full price for 12 out-of-date KitKats and a fly-swat, as the retailer said that the affected stores will be closed from the end of trading on Friday 8 January, while its other 800 stores will remain operating as usual. A busy spokesperson working on the shopfloor in one of the resuscitated stores said: "The temporary measure reflects the 80 per cent drop in footfall at some shopping centres and high streets as the various lockdown rules in place across the UK take effect. That will be a pound please. That? Also a pound. And two of those - that is two pounds for two. Thank you."

Austin Cooke, Poundland's retail director said: "We learned valuable lessons during the lockdown in March about how buying patterns change as people stick to Government advice to stay at home."

"What was the main lesson you can share with us, Austin?"

"That people staying at home don't go shopping and don't have any shopping patterns."


None of the above is too surprising as figures out today reported that there was a 46.1 per cent slump in footfall across UK shopping destinations during December, compared with the same month in 2019. High street stores saw a 49.5 per cent drop, shopping centres were down 47.3 per cent and retail parks fell by 17.3 per cent.

M&S are reportedly in the verge of buying Jaeger from Philip Day, who said behind a cupped hand:

"No, they're serious. Take their money, now ..."

M&S had a bruising Christmas sale in everything other than food; revenue at M&S's clothing and home division slumped 25.1 per cent in the 13 weeks to 26 December, its third quarter, following a 21.3 per cent fall in the previous quarter.

Leave the tortoise alone, children, and wave bye-bye to Marks & Spencer.

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