Friday, 17 February 2017

TV time...

I’ve noticed that there seem to be even more animal programmes on the television than ever at the moment. I’ve nothing against them. Who doesn’t like to watch cuddly dogs doing cuddly things with camp comedians and lions ripping water buffaloes apart? Besides, it’s better than watching northern drunks getting arrested by the police on a Friday night for falling about drunk and endless footage of idiots doing ridiculous things in cars that they shouldn’t even be allowed to drive. 

We have it all these days don’t we? TV ‘documentaries’ about dodgy tradesmen, cruise ship boredom (have you found my luggage yet?), stupid twenty-somethings doing the things that stupid twenty-somethings do, medical conditions that even the Victorians wouldn’t want to make a spectacle of and cakes.

Entertainment seems to have no boundaries and I can’t help wondering how we got from ‘All Our Yesterdays’, ‘Zoo Time’ and ‘The Singing Detective’ to where we are today. I’m sure that a lot of it is driven by the amount of airtime TV has to fill. No longer does television start with Children’s Hour in the afternoon after school – and it was an hour - and finish with the National Anthem at 11.00 pm prompt (watch the little dot until it plinks out).

Nor do we have less than a handful of channels any longer; we have dozens, dozens of dozens and TV on demand and the Internet channels. Not so long ago I can remember just a choice of two and both were in black and white. How strange and impossible that seems now.

Now, I don’t want to get into the nostalgia zone, nor do I want to go on about how we have so many channels but nothing to watch (I’ll leave that to Bruce Springsteen), but I can’t help wondering if a lot of what we watch is driven by cost.

Filming a pride of lions wandering around the plains of Africa has to be significantly cheaper than making a Brideshead Revisited. Apart from the narrator and cameramen there must be very few participants to pay as lions generally work for nothing. Even dogs only expect a handful of biscuits and a good stroke to make TV programmes that can go on relentlessly for hours and hours over weeks and weeks. Just how much footage of dogs running and barking do we really need in this world? And do I really need to see Paul O’Grady in tears over yet another abandoned puppy.

Of course, there are lots of excellent dramas these days and it seems to have improved over recent times. There are also plenty of quiz shows which – I am ashamed to say –  I am a sad fan of. So it isn’t all bad. Just don’t get me started on ‘reality’ TV or the other pap we have thrown at us daily. Yes, I know that I have choice and can turn the box off if I want to, but that isn’t what TV is for. TV is meant to be the other person in the room. It’s just a shame that for much of the time that other person appears to be the chap you avoid down the pub, that social worker you hope that you never need to call on, a group of teenagers causing a ruckus in your road and of course the emergency services in one form or another.

Maybe it was better when we had two channels and TV programmes for less than a third of the day. It was certainly a lot simpler and in my memory the limited nature of what there was to watch made people even more keen to watch it – even the wrestling.

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