A friend of mine recently asked me what I watch on television, and I ummed and ahhed, trying to think of the programmes I actively go to the effort of taping.
I very rarely just sit and see ‘what’s on’, you see, as I invariably have a stack of films which I’ve bought but not yet seen. But at this moment in time, the only programmes I’m following are
· Lost (C4) – though it’s beginning to lose my interest, as it feels as if the large cast dilutes the focus of the scripts, and there are plotlines which are going unresolved or as good as ignored for episodes on end. I’ll probably give it until the end of this first series and then decide.
· Peep Show (C4) – one of the few-ish homegrown comedies on C4, this sitcom has managed to maintain a high standard even into series three
· Arrested Development (BBC2) – shunted round the schedules as much as Buffy or firstname.lastname@example.org and constantly under threat of cancellation by its originating network in the USA, this is possibly one of the finest sitcoms in recent years; superdense with jokes, its 20-minute episodes just fly past. Great scripts and cast. But series two has just finished on BBC2 (after being dropped from BBC4 mid-series without any explanation:classy), so this probably shouldn’t be here.
And … er, that’s pretty much it. If I remember, I’ll watch QI (BBC2) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (More4), or Have I Got News For You (BBC1), but I’m not that fussed.
Two observations on the above:
Firstly, I abhor the idea of the licence fee being abolished and the BBC having to operate in some other fashion. Though I find huge slices of their output to be dross, the BBC does some things very well indeed – documentaries like ‘The Power of Nightmares’, or my favourite TV drama of all time ‘The Singing Detective’ are worth the yearly £120 alone – and so I wouldn’t see the situation changed. Especially as much of the motivation seems to be political (whichever party’s in power invariably hates the BBC) or commercial (the Murdoch press seems to resent the BBC’s historical media advantage). And I think if you look at the minimal amount I watch you can easily see that if they did change to a pay-per-view system I’d be at a considerable financial advantage.
Secondly, notice the absence of ITV programmes on the list ? There’s a reason for that – ITV’s output is almost entirely bilge, and I’d rather re-read the Da Vinci Code than watch any of their endless soaps, humourless sitcoms, tatty gameshows or moronic reality or celebrity programmes (and don’t get me started on their celebrity reality schedule-fillers). ITV seem to tailor their programmes to the lowest common denominator, and then make sure that it’s patronising even to them. Take a look at the line-up of programmes on ITV on any given night, and see if you can find anything that isn’t just an insult to the intelligence.
And if you find it, let me know, because it’s painfully clear to me I’m really not watching as much TV as the average person, and I’d hate to be different from everyone else.