Monday, 27 October 2008

Television – a terrible waste of creative energy

I’m planning to be mightily bored on Wednesday night … as I watch the National TV Awards on ITV1.
Most years I watch this drivel – and it reminds me how right I’ve been over the years to express the view that TV is a shallow medium which favours mediocrity and insincere sentiment.
In the days when I worked as TV critic for the old Oracle Teletext service, I used to go to the season launches of the various networks and just sneer at everything.
Occasionally, I’d ask debunking questions…such as one I remember puttig to Selina Scott at the ill-starred launch of British Satellite Broadcasting in the late 1980s.
After her “triumph” on BBC1’s breakfast show, simpering Selina had been chosen to front a new BSB channel devoted to “people who enjoy living”.
When the time came for questions from the media I chipped in with this: “Surely, if people really are interested in living, then the last thing they should be doing is sitting on their arses watching television.”
Bloody hell, you’d think I’d just farted in the room. How dare anyone question the validity of a TV programme!
But when it comes to covering telly, print journalists (apart from a few heroes) tend to be extra-fawning, especially the hagiographers of the women’s magazines.
I’m afraid I earned quite a reputation as the man who always asked awkward questions – and the man who wasn’t impressed by showbiz fluffheads.
So shocking was my reputation for asking hostile questions that I remember one soppy bird – who these days writes crap about soap operas for the Daily Mail – opining in an article that the “man from the Oracle asked his predictable question”. Well, at least she was being quite funny for once.
Since my days as Oracle’s TV critic, television has expanded enormously, which means we now have endlessly repeated US moron-fodder such as Friends and various other imports on Freeview and the Sky channels.
And on the main channels, awful cookery shows and karaoke cack such as the X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Britannia High – plus all those preposterous shows with hopeless hoofers, ice-skaters and Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
If anything, the “talent”-base of TV presenters and comedians is now rock bottom. Alan Carr, Russell Brand?! Laugh? I thought I’d never start…
Don’t even get me started on Dale Winton and his Hole in the Wall.
Apart from the excellent and poetic sitcom Early Doors, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, and a few of the Catherine Tate shows (though even some of them are patchy), British TV has produced precious little to be proud about over the past 20 years.
Virtually the whole industry is a sinful waste of creative energy – so I’m very happy to see it failing so badly, with ratings plummeting.
Why on earth British TV thinks it is worthy of receiving awards is a mystery to me.

IN MY new incarnation in this blog, I shall be turning my gaze on lots of aspects of life – not just the crock of excrement that is contemporary telly.
Newspapers are also going down the pan.
I picked up The Independent the other day. It is supposed to be an intelligent and serious newspaper, but hasn’t been that for quite a while.
On page 27, masquerading as world news, was an article about Smurfs, those blue-faced Belgian comic book characters that some of you might just about remember. Apparently, Smurfs were created 50 years ago. That was the “peg” for a “news” story. Pathetic.
With each page I turned the paper got worse. In the “Independent Life” section was an illustrated guide to “the ten best egg cups”, complete with information about where you can buy them …if you’ve got up to £15.99 to waste on buying one egg cup, such as the “SuckUK” one (sic!) … and if your boring enough to worry if your egg cups are quite cutting edge enough.
So often when I read today’s newspapers the SFW (so f***ing what!) factor clicks in almost instantly.
Till next time, folks… keep it real and keep the faith!
And remember, all those years when I was away, I never forgot about you.
XXX Sam.

1 comment:

  1. I think the question is, do the TV companies treat their audience like idiots, or are the audience just idiots?

    I mean ok, over 99% of the stuff on TV is rubbish, but with an eagle eye over the listings, and cunning use of Sky + I'm never short of something decent to watch, there are some real gems hidden away if you take time to look for them.

    So why do so many people watch XFactor et all? Nobody forces them to watch it.

    Maybe the audience are just lazy/set in their ways. In the days of 4 chanels, the same program would get much higher ratings on ITV than on CH4 (similarly between BBC1 and BBC2).

    Or maybe they actually like it - which is a depressing thought - no wonder Gordon thinks we need a Nanny State!

    I think most mainstream popular culture is a bit rubbish, be it TV, Newspapers, Films, Magazines, Radio, Music, Books ... you need to look a bit beyond the mainstream to find anything worthwhile.

    But then even in decades gone by, daytime Radio 1 was more likely to be playing Black Lace or Wham than The Smiths, you had to wait until late at night for John Peel for something that appealed to those of us who wanted something more sophisticated than a simplistic catchy tune you could immediately hum along to, and almost as quickly get sick of.

    Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (as 'er indoors might say :)