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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Selina was right: TV is deteriorating

Earlier in the week I saw a programme on Five featuring Selina Scott, "Don't Get Me Started," featuring her rant against the poor quality nowadays of British TV.
And she's so right.
I felt quite ashamed after the programme because I did watch Big Brother 7, even though I felt slightly uncomfortable about it, realising that this is the modern equivalent of throwing the Christians to the lions, or, as her show stated, the equivalent of Bedlam where rich people would pay a few shillings to watch the lunatics in the asylum.
But in the last few months I have become increasingly depressed about the standard of our TV, once the greatest in the world.
In the last week, we've sunk to new depths. Charlotte Church, once the voice of an angel, is now the voice of the sewer, overblown and coarse at the age of 20 with a neat line in the f** word. A programme on Five featured the memorable title "F** Me I'm Getting Fat." And coming this week, a new programme on ITV2 featuring three young men whose only claim to fame is that they are lotharios who can't commit to relationships. Calum Best (unemployed, claim to fame is deceased father who was an alcoholic), Paul Danan (was in a little-watched soap a few years ago) and Fran Cosgrove (claims to own a nightclub) travel through the US seeing how they can get by without money.
If you scan the TV listings, it's difficult to find any good quality, new dramas. You can find re-runs of "I, Claudius" and re-runs of good, but old, comedies. Even documentaries have been dumbled down. They come in two flavours nowadays. The first is "big cat/bear/wildebeest" specials, where a shrieking and over-excited team pursue animals relentlessly across the savanna. The animals are always involved in life and death struggles, presumably manufactured with editing. The second is the classic historical documentary, dumbed down with riduculous computer generated graphics - for example dinosaurs, gasp! - chasing TV presenter, or re-enactments with poor acting of the fire of London, Pompeii, etc.
Selina was also right about the trend for cruel TV, where stupid members of the public are ridiculed and disgraced for their poor dress sense or parenting ability. Fortunately, I think the tide is turning on this one. The recent C4 programme "How to look good naked," whilst featuring a gratuitous title, did at least build the self-esteem of the women it featured with kindness and no plastic surgery.
There are a plethora of TV channels, but without exception they show mediocre dross. And yet teenagers seem to lap it up, the cringeworthy US imports of ABC1, the exploits of "rent a celebrity" Jade and Chantelle on Living TV.
My dream would be a channel called "Quality TV," showing programs about art, history and nature without the dumbed-down factor; quality drama; experimental comedy. TV for grown-ups with intelligence. No programmes featuring "The Public" and no revenue-generating telephone scams. Surely there's a market for that?

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