Friday, January 9, 2009

Washing your brains with soap, especially at Christmas time

Britain used to be noted for having the best tv in the world.
Now, i’m not sure if that still stands, but if so, then it doesn’t say much for the rest of us.
Certainly, over the ‘festive season’ the television has been awful.
Many a time there has been ‘nothing’ to watch, even if you have Freeview and its several dozen different channels.
Take Christmas Day. As a lad I recall growing up in the 70s and the goggle box offered great family get togethers.
There would be Top of the Pops at 2pm, followed by the Queens Speech, and a family movie like The Wizard of Oz.
Evenings would feature Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game, the Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise.
Come the 1980s, the line up changed a little, perhaps featuring the Hollywood Blockbuster, until the 90s when everyone had seen the feature movie on video, cable or satellite. So the 1990s saw a shift to home made drama.
Sadly in the noughties, Christmas telly has become somewhat bleak. We have what I shall call the ‘Mega-Soap.’ There will be special extra-long episodes of a soap, soaps that are already increasing their broadcast form say two episodes a week, to three, four or five.
Now my mum rules the remote control with a rod of iron and she’s a bit of a soap addict.
Thus we kicked off with an hour of Emmerdale, followed by an hour of Corrie on ITV1 and 30 minutes of Eastenders on BBC1. Pause a little for 30 minutes and then there’s yet another episode of Eastenders.
During Christmas week you averaged around 2 hours of soaps a night. This week, we seem to be down to 90 minutes.
Shouldn’t the Brits spend time creating real lives for themselves instead of wallowing so much in the fictional lives of soap characters? Of course, much comes down to the weather, and it being dark by 4pm at this time of the year. But the Brits do seem to let the tv rule their lives.
So if you haven’t had such a festive season, spare a thought for the Poms. Life could be worse.
The growth of such soaps can be explained in cost terms. It seems to offer much better value and the old variety shows of yore are far too expensive for a multi-channel world.
On Christmas night, I caught a tribute to old 70s comic Stanley Baxter. Despite their popularity, his shows finished in the early 80s as they became too expensive to make, because he liked such fancy sets.
Similarly, the longrunning Channel 4 quiz countdown has dumped one of its presenters Carol Vorderman, because she didn’t want a 90% cut in her annual £1 million salary. She has been replaced by a fresh unknown 20-something on £100,000 a year. I have also noted a lot of tv newsreaders and journalists also seem much younger. I’m sure its not because I’m getting old, but driving out the experienced ones does save money, allegedly. Though only if standards and audiences are maintained and that is debateable.
But back to British tv. Consider yourselves fortunate it is indeed summer in New Zealand. You can have fun with friends, as Barnsley Bill so obviously did, the season was truly festive for him. It is also a credit to New Zealand tv for being so incredibly awful, as it is in Australia, that we have learnt to devise alternate and real lives away from the goggle box, even if, as I imagine it is for others, such awfulness has fuelled my own internet addiction.
Of course, I guess Down Under we are helped by the better weather!


Dungeekin said...

Don't get me started on bloody soaps - especially Eeurghstenders.

Depressing tosh, all of 'em. Yuck.


Anonymous said...

Come on...

Brit TV has been great the last few years.

Life on Mars
Bleak House
the ITV Austen Series
The State Within

and especially...

Dr Who Christmas Specials

Clunking Fist said...

Sets? Fuck that: get a whole lot of unknown stand-up comedians, pay them peanuts (actually, pay them peanuts divided by 2, but offer a prize for the comedian who gets the most laughs), charge the studio audience to attend, then televise the results. Do this in major towns and cities around the UK, the "best" comedians going forward to regional laugh-offs, then on to a national laugh-off. (c) Clunking Fist MMIX