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How to spot whodunnit: academics crack Agatha Christie’s code

Posted on August 3rd, 2015 in Book PR,creative publicity,PR Stunt,Publicity Stunts,Television PR.

NEWS! On the 125th Anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth, scientists reveal the key clues behind the world’s best-selling novelist

  • Panel of experts reveal the secret to Agatha Christie – the world’s best-selling novelist’s success
  • Greatest mystery in fiction solved – how to spot ‘whodunnit’
  • Where the novel is set, the primary means of transport used throughout the book and how the victim dies, are all key factors that give away who the killer is
  • New research released today was commissioned by TV channel Drama to celebrate their Agatha Christie Hour, weekdays at 8pm, 3rd – 14th August

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As Agatha Christie fans across the world celebrate the 125th anniversary of the best-selling author’s birth, new research reveals the formula for her incredible success and crucially – how to spot whodunnit!

The research, commissioned by UKTV channel Drama for their Agatha Christie Hour at 8pm, weekdays from 3rd – 14th August, tasked a panel of experts including Dr. James Bernthal from the University of Exeter; Dr. Dominique Jeannerod, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities at Queens University; and data analyst Brett Jacob, with analysing a selection of Christie’s top selling mystery novels** to discover the secret to her success and the ultimate formula for predicting who the killer is.

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Key Findings:

  • The killer will be introduced within the first half of the book
  • The killer is likely to be emotionally involved with the victim, most killers are spouses or blood relatives of their victim
  • If there are a lot of land vehicles in the story, the killer is most likely female
  • If there are a lot of nautical vehicles and aircraft in the story, the killer is most likely male
  • If the victim is strangled, the killer is most likely male (or male with a female accomplice)
  • If the setting is a country house, the killer is most likely female (75% chance)
  • The language used throughout the book to describe a female killer is usually more negative than when describing a male killer
  • Female killers are normally discovered due to a domestic item
  • Male killers are normally found out through information or logic
  • If Poirot is the detective, and the cause of death is stabbing, the killer will be mentioned more frequently at the beginning of the book
  • If Miss Marple is the detective, and the motive for the murder is money/affair, the killer will be mentioned more in the later stages of the novel than the beginning.

Adrian Wills, General Manager for Drama said “Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, so the television adaptations of her books are hugely popular.  To mark the 125th anniversary of her birth, the Drama channel decided to pull together 10 nights of some of her most famous stories in the Agatha Christie Hour, weeknights at 8pm from August 3rd. Given her on-going popularity, we wanted to know her formula for success, especially since the whodunit is such a classic of the crime drama genre.  We hope that her legions of dedicated fans will revisit their favourite whodunits with a better understanding of how to crack the ultimate code.”

Christie’s Work:

The study found that Christie features similarities in language style, word length and sentence length across her works. According to a team of researchers lead by Dr Jeannerod, a key element of Christie’s writing style is to keep it simple; using middle-range language and repeating it. In fact, according to research, the most used word in Christie’s novels is ‘said’.

Jeannerod’s team also found that the structure of a Christie novel can be simplified down to a list of key events: the body will be found early on; a closed group of suspects (achieved either by remote location or the confines of a social group) will be presented to the reader; the detective will then be introduced and a series of red herrings will follow; and finally, after the outcome, the solution will wrap up the story quickly and efficiently, leaving the reader satisfied.

The Main Clue:

As any mystery novel goes, the reader is subjected to the occasional red herring. Clues need to offer the reader an experience that satisfies expectations whilst avoiding disappointing predictability. According to Dr. Bernthal, Christie’s novels tend to include a “main clue” which is revealed “approximately half way through the text” and “it will usually be highlighted as it appears in the text,” so the reader is likely to remember it.

However, according to Bernthal, even if the main clue is easily missed or consciously skimmed over by the author, with Christie’s work, because the “the reader already remembers the clue, this creates an impression of fair play,” so the reader doesn’t feel cheated by the addition of a random detail they could never have spotted. He also reveals that Christie’s female killers tend to be given away by domestic items whilst the male killers are discovered by information or logic.

Working out the Formula:

Relationship to the victim (=)

Dr. Bernthal’s research highlighted that the killer is likely to be emotionally involved with the victim; the most common relationship being a spouse or relative. Furthermore, if the killer’s victim is their spouse, the most probable motive will be love, whereas murders committed by blood relations are more varied in motive.

Primary means of transport associated with the novel (=)

According to Dr Jeannerod’s team, the novels which include a female killer are more likely to feature land vehicles (such as cars, vans, trucks), whereas novels with a male killer are more likely to involve nautical vehicles and aircraft (such as boats and planes).

The sentiment of the language used in association with the killer (=)

By using a sentiment analysis program called “Semantria”, Dr Jeannerod’s team found that in general, Christie uses more negative language to describe her female killers, whereas with male killers, she uses “higher levels of neutral or positive sentiment”. It was also found that in her later novels, Christie portrays her culprits in an overall more negative light.

Method of murder and the detective characterized in the novel (=)

Jeannerod’s team also found that if the victim is strangled, the killer is more likely to be male (or male with a female accomplice) and that there is a correlation between the killer being a doctor and the victim dying from either stabbing or strangulation. The results also suggest that if Poirot is the featured detective, and the cause of death is stabbing, it is extremely probable that the killer will be mentioned more frequently at the beginning of the book rather than in the concluding chapters. However, if the detective is Miss Marple, and the motive for the murder is money/affair, “the culprit will be mentioned more in the later stages of the novel than the beginning.”

Setting for the novel (=)

Dr. Bernthal’s research revealed that if the setting is a country house, there is a 75% chance that the killer will be female.

Chapter of introduction of the killer (=)

Bernthal also discovered that the murderer will be introduced within the first half of the novel, and almost always within the first 20% of the book.

Number of mentions of the killer ()

Furthermore, the later the book was published, the more the murderer will be mentioned throughout the novel according to Dr Jeannerod’s team. In fact, it was found that on average the culprit had 11.7 new mentions with every new novel. The findings also reveal that “there is a 27% chance that the culprit will be mentioned most in the first quarter of the novel, a 36.5% chance for the second quarter, an 18.5% chance in the third quarter, and an 18% chance for the fourth quarter.”

Agatha Christie Hour will air on TV channel Drama at 8pm, weekdays from 3rd – 14th August

 

 

Magnified crime scene unveiled on the South Bank

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 in creative publicity,PR Stunt,PR Stunts,Publicity Stunts,Television PR.

A two-metre high installation of a human skull appeared overnight on London’s South Bank this morning complete with forensic investigators and cordoned off by police tape.

The ‘magnified’ crime scene was specially created by TV channel Alibi to celebrate their summer season of crime drama.

The unique build took a design team four weeks to create. The centrepiece skull was carved from high density polystyrene with a polyurea hard coat finish.

the-alibi-skull

Scenic carving skills were used to finish the texture and create depth, and techniques such as sponging and stippling as well as colour washes were used to create shadowing effects. One tonne of earth dressed the scene, making it appear as though the huge skull had just been discovered from the earth.

Adrian Wills, General Manager of Alibi says, “Our dramatic installation pays homage to the moment that features in many thrilling crime dramas; the unexpected discovery of human remains that triggers an investigation into how and why it came to be there. And because the channel celebrates the biggest crime dramas on TV, we decided to super-size this crime scene and really get people talking.”

 The two-metre high skull was unveiled to mark the summer season of crime drama on TV channel Alibi

The future of Britain? floating cities and high-rise farms

Posted on May 26th, 2015 in creative publicity,Television PR.

MEDIA ALERT!

The next 100 years will see the architectural landscape change beyond all recognition according to new research released today. Super-deep basements, floating cities and easy space travel all feature in the top 10 of predictions about the future of architecture and engineering.

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 The research, which was carried out to mark the launch of new series Impossible Engineering which premieres on TV channel Yesterday at 9pm Tuesday 26 March, asked a panel of four acclaimed experts to provide a long list of architectural and engineering developments they predict we will witness within the next 100 years. The panel included Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering; award-winning architects and lecturers at the University of Westminster, Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess; and urbanist, Linda Aitken. 2000 British adults were then asked to choose the predictions they thought most likely to happen, and which they would most like to see.

 

Top 10 Most Likely Architectural Advancements

1

Super deep basements

41%

2

Floating sea cities

30%

3

High-rise or rooftop farms

28%

4

3D printed homes

22%

5

Buildings with their own micro climates

21%

6

Huge bridges that span entire cities

18%

7

Spaceports with easy access to the Moon / Mars

12%

8

Super high buildings – cities in the sky

11%

9

Underwater cities

10%

10

 Collapsible / stackable living pods

9%

 

Topping the poll was super deep basements. The idea of multi-layered basement extensions is already beginning to materialise, particularly in high-value, densely-populated areas of London, and future homes look likely to have as many floors below ground as they do above.

Floating sea cities that may harness solar and tidal energy were voted the next most likely development (30%), followed by urban high rise farms where crops and animals are kept in tall, layered structures that combat space shortages (28%).  3D printed homes that can be bought ‘off the shelf’ (22%) and buildings with their own micro-climates that mean we can live in previously uninhabitable areas (21%) complete the top five.

The top three predictions were then visualised by architecture illustrators:

Super –Deep Basement below the Houses of Parliament:

·         6 levels of living and functional spaces including: gardens, parks, swimming pools, gyms, hotels, a football pitch and a secure bunker – designed to meet the future needs of MPs offering them a place where they can work late into the night, keep healthy with gym, pool and food outlets on site as well as accommodating offices for their staff teams and accommodation for those attending votes late at night

·         Glass pyramid atrium which sits under the Palace of Westminster itself – The light well for the pyramid lets in light from the courtyard

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 Floating City:

·         Reef-like structure formed on the water

·         Interlinking pods allow for living space within the city

·         The use of glass and bone structures reflect sea-life and helps to sit the floating city into the environment

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High Rise Farm:

·         Animals graze on pastures on top of high-rise London buildings with familiar landmarks in the background.

 Many of the predictions made by the panel were influenced by environmental conditions, with global warming and predicted rising sea levels encouraging a focus on water-based architecture. One in three (30%) Brits believe that floating cities would be a viable option for the future, with 10% preferring the idea of developing underwater cities and 19% thinking floating living pods on major rivers would solve the problem of inner-city crowding.

 The likely increasing population was another factor raised by the panel. According to research, this space constraint would catalyse the development of structures such as high-rise farms (15% would like to see these) and cities in the sky that build upwards in levels on top of each other (preferred by 13%).

 It’s not all doom and gloom however, as the expert panel also noted that huge advances in technology and science would allow for some really exciting developments in the way we live. For example, the recent progress made with 3D printing is expected to continue to the point where entire houses will be available to print, after being bought ‘off the shelf’ and 16% would like to see this become reality.

 Not only is there huge scope for how we buy and live in our homes, but also for the way that we travel, with 12% of Brits believing spaceports that will offer easy access to the Moon and Mars is on the cards!

 Yesterday General Manager Adrian Wills said: “Rapid technological advances coupled with increases in population and global warming will have a huge influence on how we live, with underground, super high rise and even floating homes likely to feature in our future cityscapes.

 “Impossible Engineering shows how a series of seemingly unconnected breakthroughs can be put together to create amazing feats of engineering, but anything could happen in the next 50 years.”

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering says, “Breakthroughs in engineering work in the same way as breakthroughs in literature, music and lifestyle – an accumulation of different discoveries (or influences) is required to create the final catalyst for a new discovery. There is rarely a ‘eureka’ moment. As such, engineering feats which are currently out of reach require time for the pieces to fit together and the minds responsible for developing the ideas to work through all the wrong avenues before achieving what is currently impossible. This series, Impossible Engineering really highlights this collaborative nature of progress.”

 Impossible Engineering premieres on Yesterday on Tuesday 26 May at 9pm

 

Claude Littner announced as new advisor on The Apprentice

Posted on April 27th, 2015 in Celebrity PR,Television Industry PR,Television PR,The Apprentice.

MEDIA ALERT:

The Apprentice just got a whole lot tougher. Claude Littner is today announced as Lord Sugar’s new advisor, taking the reins from Nick Hewer.  Hewer stepped down in December 2014 after ten years as Lord Sugar’s eyes and ears during the biggest business challenge on TV.

Claude Littner has known Lord Sugar for 25 years, having served as a director of Amstrad plc, Amstrad International, Dancall, Viglen and Tottenham Hotspur. He currently chairs a number of Lord Sugar’s companies.

The Apprentice 2014

Claude is already well known and loved by Apprentice viewers – and feared by candidates – thanks to ten years as an integral part of the formidable interview episode. In his new role, he will join Baroness Karren Brady in following the candidates during each task and reporting back to Lord Sugar on their progress, successes and failures.

Claude said: “If the candidates think I am soft and fluffy, they haven’t been watching me on The Apprentice over the past decade.  I will now be assessing their performance in the process, individually and within their teams.  I will be reporting to Lord Sugar to play my part in ensuring that his personal investment of £250,000 goes to the best candidate.  I’m ready, and this won’t be a walk in the park!”

Lord Sugar said: “I first worked with Claude in 1990 and trust his judgement completely. He will no doubt take a very different approach to Nick. It’s great to have him on board.”

Claude has had a very varied career, having been involved in many companies across a number of industries and geographic locations.  These have included start-up, AIM listed and fully quoted companies.  For much of his career he has been involved in corporate turnarounds. He was Deputy Chairman of Blacks Leisure plc, Chairman of ASCO plc, Chairman and majority shareholder of Powerleague plc.  He is a visiting professor at the University of West London, Claude Littner Business School.

Some of Claude’s most infamous interview putdowns include:

  • “You’re not a big fish – you’re not even a fish” – to Stuart Baggs “The Brand”, Series 6
  • “Don’t compare yourself to Lord Sugar. Don’t compare yourself ever to him” – to Luisa Zissman Series 9
  • “I’ve told you how pleased I was with your CV… And then I came on to actually look at the proposal you’re pitching for Lord Sugar, and quite frankly it’s a bloody disgrace. It’s a bloody disgrace. The ten years I’ve done this, I’ve never seen something… two bloody pages… You can leave. Goodbye… There’s nothing to argue, you’ve given me pictures of sailboats… You’re taking the piss… please leave… That’s not the way out.” – to Solomon Akhtar, Series 10

The Apprentice returns to BBC One later this year.

Claude Littner PR Contact: Taylor Herring: 020 8206 5151

 

The Island With Bear Grylls

Posted on April 10th, 2015 in Celebrity PR,Reality TV PR,Television Industry PR,Television PR.

PRESS RELEASE: In our world full of 21st century luxuries, few of us will ever experience what it is like to fight

for our very survival; to sustain ourselves using the hunter gatherer skills of our ancestors.

But in the second series of The Island With Bear Grylls, Bear conducts the ultimate survival

challenge on the smart-phone generation, and sets 28 Britons just one test: survive for six

weeks on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.

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This year, that challenge returns harsher and longer than before. The “Islanders” not only had

to endure the torrential downpours and stifling humidity of the tempestuous rainy season,

they also had to cope for an extra two weeks; almost six weeks in total.

 

The series also returns with one fundamental difference; this year, both men and women are

part of the task with each sex inhabiting their own island within a remote Pacific archipelago.

After being whittled down from over 80,000 initial applicants, 14 male and 14 female

Islanders lived 25 miles apart, never crossing paths, in what will be an intriguing look at how

the different sexes handle all the islands had to throw at them.

 

The chosen few arrived by boat with just the clothes they stood up in, filming equipment,

basic medical supplies, enough water for 24 hours, a few simple tools and survival training

from Bear and his team. Their one assurance was that there were sufficient indigenous

resources on the islands to sustain them, but only if they had the ingenuity to find and

exploit them.

 

Once Bear waved goodbye to the Islanders there was no hand-holding. After a tough swim

to shore, Islanders were left to battle the relentless elements, crippling hunger, extreme

exhaustion and the ever-present, real threat of their habitat. Their physical abilities and

mental strength were tested as they were forced to forage for and catch their food, light fires

for warmth and water purification and build their shelters – and try to learn how to live and

work together.

 

Filming their gruelling experience were four professionally trained camera people per island.

With additional pressures to those experienced by the rest of the Islanders, they had to

juggle documenting life on the islands; each animal slaughtered and each fire lit, with their

own endurance of the same extreme conditions.

 

Could they survive without their 21st century comforts? Who is more resilient: the men or

the women? Will gender stereotypes be reinforced or pulled apart? But above all, do men and

women approach survival differently?

 

The story of each island will be told in separate episodes. An episode of life on the men’s

island will be followed by an episode of the women’s island, each airing in the same week,

across seven weeks. A raw and exhilarating series, this is an authentic look at survival and

what it means to live in the 21st Century.

Full press pack here

Press Contact: Taylor Herring PR + 44 208 206 5151