Thursday, 30 October 2008

All those mediocrities gathered in one place…

THE foul-mouthed gorillas missing from the National TV Awards (ITV1, 29 October) were, of course, Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
But with or without those two smirking, overgrown, overpaid schoolboys, the event was always going to be a dismal letdown.
The programme’s slogan was “all the glamour, all the stars, all the action”.
“All the faces you’re bored rigid with” more like, as cameras panned over no-marks from The Bill, Hollyoaks (officially, the world’s worst soap opera), Strictly Spandex, and Britain’s Got Crap Singers.
David Tennant won a gong again, but he decided not to turn-up to this annual tack-fest…which shows impeccable taste on his part.
Instead, he was busy doing real work (well, “real work” in actors’ terms) at a theatre.
But he was interviewed live, during a break from treading the boards as Hamlet, to announce he’d be stepping down as Doctor Who after next year’s shows were in the can.
A frisson on indifference ran through the audience…
Elsewhere in the show, a succession of American “stars” I’d never heard of sashayed on to announce the winners, including some ditzy bird from Desperate Housewives.
As for Paris Hilton? Why, why, why?!
EastEnders won an award again – presumably for putting middle class syntax into the gobs of Working Claarse Cockerney Characters from Central Casting.
Then Simon Cowell got a prize for force-feeding our country and other unfortunate nations his dreadful “talent” shows that involve public humiliation of people who are too stupid to know they are being exploited.
Thanks heavens, now that I’m reviewing television again, that I have an en-suite vomitorium in my living room.

I HAVE, of course, enjoyed seeing BBC executives squirm over the puerile and offensive broadcast by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.
Having read a transcript of the broadcast I was disgusted by the nastiness of it – and the arrogance of BBC “entertainers” who think there is no limit to how cruel, tasteless and cynical they can be.
At least Brand had the decency to resign.
It remains to be seen what happens to Ross. For the moment he’s suspended. So there will be no chat show from him on BBC television this weekend – which is no great loss.
But if I was a BBC boss I’d sack Ross – even though it might cost me millions of pounds in licence-payers’ cash to rip up his contract.
If a high price has to be paid for a return to decency – so be it.
And if the bloated, arrogant fools who run the BBC get a lesson in humility as part of this process then that will have come not a moment too soon.

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.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Sex education for everybody – even Scouts

OVER the past 30 years or so there has been an unparalleled growth in sex education of the young.
These days even the Scouts are getting in on the gig.
And now our mad Government is planning sex lessons in schools in England for kids as young as five.
Already, generations have grown into “maturity” having had lessons in the horribly distorted version of the birds and the bees doled out by hard-faced, ideological liberals.
Hundreds of thousands of people are already making a living out of sex and sexuality advice and services, one way or another.
Abortion clinics are just about our country’s only growth sector, for instance.
But is the average Wayne and Waynetta any better off after all these years of State-sponsored values-free sex education?
Our own observation and experience would suggest not – because every day we see families break up.
Every day adults take a very selfish attitude about sex; it’s all about them and their pleasure.
And every day people feel they are on their own as inadequate players in a big sexual game where the old rules are off and they are bombarded by images of the sexually attractive.
Plus, because of modern sex education, the prevailing view of sex is a confused conflation of “rights”, freedom to choose, and protection against contagion.
That’s all wrong. For humans, sex must always be about more than the “freedom” to act upon instincts and achieve gratification. That might be all right for animals, but we humans are supposed to be superior beings with moral consciences.
The fact is that we would have all been better off if we had stuck to what was the traditional teaching about sex in these islands – namely that the only morally proper sexual intercourse that can take place is between a man and a woman within wedlock.
That sort of traditional relationship is pro-creational in a very good way, because it offers the possibility of children who can grow up with the care of a family around them.
The above is the ideal obviously. Most of us will from time to time, even most of the time, fall short of the standard.
That is to be expected, but at least we ought to know what the standard is and aim for it: otherwise we are floundering.
And there will be those who are gay and will want to form same sex relationships, for companionship or something more passionate. For some, of course, that’s always going to be tricky area, despite what the liberal sexuality preachers and popular soap operas might have us believe.
We can be clear on two things: every human being (male, female, gay and straight) is of equal worth and dignity and should be accorded respect.
What each of us does with our sexuality is a matter for our conscience. Some of us may not be able to keep to the ideal standard expected.
In that respect, we may want to “offer up” such a difficulty, or carry the cross of it on through life like any other difficulty.
We all seem to want choices but many of us seem to flunk the really important ones.