Tue, Jul 7, 2009
[Photo by ralphbijker]
I see that El Tel hit the tabloid headlines this weekend – PR-fectly timed a few weeks before his new series returns to the box – bemoaning the “cheap” and “humiliating” state of today’s TV schedules.
“It’s not what it was like 50 years ago,” he laments. Of course it’s not and would he or any of us really want to see a return to the “expensive quality light entertainment” shows from the ’50s, ’60s or even the ’70s?
With precious few exceptions, they were rubbish. Absolute twaddle. But lapped up by a captive audience embracing a new-found freedom to be visually entertained at home – they’d watch anything, and hence the astronomical ratings.
Ritual humiliation and reality TV seems to be at the centre of Terry’s tongue-lashing. Huh? Arguably the grandfather of reality TV, Candid Camera, first hit UK screens in 1960, a smidge under 50 years ago, bringing schadenfreude direct to our sitting rooms, and we loved it. No surprise this set the standard for a raft of contemporaries including Dom Joly and Ashton Kutcher.
And in my mind at least, the Eurovision Song Contest, part of Our Tel’s broadcasting legacy, is just one pan-European festival of embarrassment.
The proliferation of sleb-led and wannabe reality TV might be a cause for concern, but these days it’s less about unsuspecting humiliation, but more about self-serving masochism.
Leave those who take part to further their personal quest for 15 minutes of fame to it, and use the power of the remote to switch to the best of ‘reality’ TV, such as Blood, Sweat and Takeaways or Embarrassing Bodies.
And as for the bad language, then I, like most people, would agree that Gordon’s use of gratuitous swearing is wearing a bit thin. His trademark potty mouth has overshadowed his brilliance in the kitchen.
It’s all about the context and I feel that in that regard, some of the recent top-rated shows would benefit from more effing and blinding, Desperate Housewives being a top contender.
Ultimately, this whole argument is a futile one: today’s TV is simply the best ever. There’s room for improvement of course, a need to get rid of some of the dead wood and for new voices to find their deserved place on the multichannel airwaves, but whilst that happens, let’s be proud of our telly producers and bear in mind these wise words of US radio and TV talkshow host, Jack Parr:
“I have never seen a bad television programme, because I refuse to. God gave me a mind, and a wrist that turns things off.”