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Oh, said Tim, as he came back into the room, did you switch the television off? It was getting annoying, I replied, from under the cat. Which was sad, given that I was watching a programme about sculpture -- a subject which interests me -- specifically land art -- which should at least have shown me new good things, which (like any child of the internet) I value immensely. Alas, it was less fun than feeding the keywords into google. Which then got me thinking about how much I'm finding television annoying nowadays -- it's increasingly turning into a long fight to find nuggets of goodness in an ever-expanding sea of sludge. And when I do find something interesting it usually has someone stood in front of it, waving his arms and saying something (which sounds) unrehearsed. It's not unrehearsed, of course. Like the artificial authenticity of Cloverfield, it's an authorial position, designed to denote trust and a sort of chumminess. The see! he's just like me! effect.

Why does it annoy me so much? Is it just because the person in question has no chance whatsoever of being like me, if he's been selected as an everyman? Is it because they play with the idea of peeking behind the curtain, but only show you another stage, full of cameramen selected for their smiles and researchers who classify as TV attractive? Or is it because it takes you yet further from the subject?

Whichever, there are a series of things I've seen enough of already -- even though one or two of them have only been fashionable for a year or so. Sorry, your time is over, already. Enough of:
  1. Celebrities being sent on holidays. Because I don't want to spend my time in front of the television seething with envy, resentment and irritation at the sight of the overprivileged maundering over how amazing everything is.
  2. Cure my bad behaviour by putting me on TV. This is work, for me, and hundreds of thousands of people like me. And you're making more of it by suggesting there's a career/celebrity jackpot in parading it on television.
  3. Arm-waving people saying they don't know what to think about something. Er, hello. That's what we're paying you for. I'm assuming there's a researcher and a writer on your team. If you don't know, ask them.
  4. Documentaries sexed up with artificial crises You're lying. Your crew and cast know you're lying. The audience know you're lying. The embarrassed looks are kind of a giveaway.
  5. Artificial controversies Those people with loud, unusual ideas about things are merely the rich version of that guy on the street corner whose rantings you dodge on the way to work every morning. Stop wasting time and money on them.
  6. Putting backstage centrestage We love those making of documentaries because you're making something cool, which makes us curious to see how it's done. We don't actually care about the process for its own sake, sorry -- though you do, obviously, it's your job.
Well, I'm out of rant, and the postman still isn't here with my new hot water hose. The postal depot for me, then, if I want a working washing machine! It'd be easier if anyone actually bothered putting those little missed parcel notes through the door. Although, if their stationery-ordering process is anything like mine, I can quite understand why it doesn't get done. Later!


( 41 worms — Feed the birds )
15th Sep, 2008 09:33 (UTC)
I find 4 most annoying though 2 and 3 are probably the most pernicious.
I have probably said before that one of my running jokes is a fly on the wall documentary where I work, I'd like to see the bastards make this look exciting! Episode 9 - Duncan finds that having done an update from Subversion, the software no longer links. Or maybe that should be a 3 episode special.
15th Sep, 2008 11:10 (UTC)
it would probably speak to me
A little bit of "modern times" style camerawork, a sarcastic voice-over. Actually, it would make for a much more relevant "3 minute wonder" than most of the ones that have me leaping for the off button after C4 news.
15th Sep, 2008 17:31 (UTC)
I imagine they would have you doing an offensive and sardonic voice over and it might be rather better than the run-of-the-mill-fly-on-the-wall rubbish.
16th Sep, 2008 12:06 (UTC)
They are my middle names after all... considering what the company does that is quite appropriate.
CSO Weasel.
15th Sep, 2008 10:27 (UTC)
Amen & seconded to your rant - I'd prefer half the number of channels & twice the amount of quality.
15th Sep, 2008 11:06 (UTC)
I have this fear that the half of TV they'd get rid of probably would include everything I *do* like watching
15th Sep, 2008 10:27 (UTC)
This is why I only have 1 or 2 programs on my telly list at any time
...and often not even that. (Currently, to no-one's surprise, it's QI.)

I hate that mean-spirited sort of telly where people are supposed to enjoy the sight of people being horrible, to each other or at the world. Like where Gordon Ramsey is humilating his kitchen staff or whatever.
15th Sep, 2008 11:05 (UTC)
Re: This is why I only have 1 or 2 programs on my telly list at any time
Actually, I should have had "Bullying behaviour presented as entertainment" as number seven. Possibly with "I can get this from my workplace any time I feel the lack" appended as the comment.

15th Sep, 2008 11:28 (UTC)
Re: This is why I only have 1 or 2 programs on my telly list at any time
(Currently, to no-one's surprise, it's QI.)

Hmm, I like the idea of QI but whenever I've seen it it always seems to have at least one irritating tosser among its guests, which has put me off pursuing it.

I did quite enjoy the land art programme though, I must have a higher threshold for that sort of thing. I'm sure I could have found out more by Googling the key terms, but it wouldn't have occurred to me to do so: it wasn't something I was particularly expecting I would be interested in. (And in fact I did spend part of this morning's tea-break looking for stuff on Roden Crater.)
15th Sep, 2008 12:17 (UTC)
But surely Stephen Fry in his magnificence outweighs them all
And Alan Davies' doe-eyed sweetness, of course!

There are some annoying other people sometimes, but the main thing I'd wish to change would be the paucity of women in the teams. Jo Brand is good when she's on, but often it's four blokes being quite blokish, and Fry.
15th Sep, 2008 13:28 (UTC)
I wish he did, but
sadly blokes being blokish is something I have an extremely low threshold for. Especially if one of them is Jimmy Carr.
15th Sep, 2008 12:33 (UTC)
land art is teh awesome
It's possible I switched on during a bad bit -- he'd gone from introducing us to a sculptor by telling us who her husband was (presumably another sculptor, but I didn't recognise the name) to an "ooh I'm just an ordinary bloke fish out of water look at me aren't I embarrassing" type monologue on a train. I just couldn't get past the presenter to enjoy the subject. Shame -- the photography was good, what I saw of it.
15th Sep, 2008 13:06 (UTC)
Re: land art is teh awesome
I find WJ very annoying,especially the shorts and the lame quiff... In fairness, though, I really enjoyed that series. The photography was ace. The husband of the woman land artist (both names forgotten at the moment!) was the 'Spiral Jetty' man, who he'd just been talking about, so maybe Vladimir could be cut some slack on that one. (I'd love to give him a wedgie, though...)
15th Sep, 2008 13:11 (UTC)
I figured he probably had a reason, but it's still a poor line to introduce anyone on
Yup, wedgie.
15th Sep, 2008 13:33 (UTC)
I just couldn't get past the presenter to enjoy the subject
He's no Tim Marlow, that's for sure. But then again, who is?
15th Sep, 2008 11:41 (UTC)
I'm actually OK with number 6.

To make up can we have double damage for number 4 please? Once for "Lost Land of the Jaguar" and once for "Pacific Abyss". With possibly a third for the upcoming Amazon programme.
15th Sep, 2008 13:48 (UTC)
I think that's a likely shading into definitely
15th Sep, 2008 20:36 (UTC)
Mmmmm...Pacific Abyss was bad.
The worst bit wasn't the artificial crises. It was the big build up to the constant pressure suit. Then he dives in it and.....
.....well nothing happened. He found a floaty tubey thing science already knows about. Stood on the bottom briefly. Went back up.

15th Sep, 2008 14:12 (UTC)
Offender 2 comes in 2 types - the BBC-type where they actually do sensible and reasonable approaches to the bad behaviour - These are not necessarily a God Thing, for all sorts of reasons, but they are infinitely better than the Channel 4/5 version where the means of intervention has been chosen purely for its tellygenicness/shock value. [NB that not all the BBC type are on the BBC and unfortunately vice versa]

Prime offenders obviously McKeith and her gibberish, the show where they stuck tiny babies at the end of the garden because that's what they did in the fifties, and Tribal Wives. Supernanny hovers on the border because what she actually does is much more reasonable than the way it's presented.
15th Sep, 2008 17:09 (UTC)
it's just work for me --
--in fact, I've got a large resource folder from "The Baby Borrowers" with an "anything useful in this?" post-it note on it waiting next door. Yippee. Another Shockwave game to evaluate.

I'm assuming that everyone involved in Tribal Wives is actually a lizard-headed alien of some sort.
15th Sep, 2008 19:41 (UTC)
Re: it's just work for me --
I want to see a programme in which a Maasai woman who's feeling a bit dissatisfied with her lot comes to stay in a cul de sac in Swindon and, like, gains some real perspective on what's important in life, and returns to her home but will never ever forget those really important lessons she's learnt.
15th Sep, 2008 14:15 (UTC)
4 is related to one of my least favourite types of show, the one where everyone is really worried about how well the subject's restaurant/guest house/shop/invention will do, and no-one ever says "Well, at least that free hour of prime time publicity on Channel 4 should help bring in the punters".
15th Sep, 2008 17:01 (UTC)
Yes, really. Why don't they just call it "Watch as I advertise my friends" and be done with it?
15th Sep, 2008 17:02 (UTC)
To be fair (ish)
the schedule of everything means that the free publicity will happen quite a lot later than the actual opening day or whatever the event is that publicity could help with...
15th Sep, 2008 17:11 (UTC)
Re: To be fair (ish)
Not on Dragon's Den, or Grand Designs, or the X Factor/Maria/Joseph.

And even the restaurant/shop/hotel ones are going to get a huge boost from the show as long as they can stay open until it airs.
15th Sep, 2008 14:41 (UTC)
I chucked my telly out years ago. Didn't see any justification for the licence fee when I watched so little. I just get my mum to video me the v-e-r-y occasional thing then watch a year's worth over Xmas/New Year. I've zero interest in the lives of folk like Chris Evans (is he still on ?) Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross, and really dislike the music biz vibe of Jools Holland's show which seems to turn everything that's on it into the same sort of mush (save for the admirable Scott Walker, who did the show his way or not at all). I do enjoy some of those Beeb 4 documentaries when they end up on BBC2; and Attenborough, of course. But little else attracts me, has me wondering enough to want to watch. The last non-docu/music/arts ting I watched weekly (The Simpsons aside !) was probably Northern Exposure, back in, what, '93 ?
15th Sep, 2008 17:00 (UTC)
presented by Cat Deely and Phil Jupitus
Now a decent music show, that would be a thing. We should be so lucky.
15th Sep, 2008 16:49 (UTC)
Nature "documentaries" that feature the exciting life of the presenter more than the subject of the documentary - see anything with Katie f&cking Humble in it.
15th Sep, 2008 16:59 (UTC)
believe it or not
Pacific Abyss had her looking embarrassed.
15th Sep, 2008 17:29 (UTC)
Re: believe it or not
And rightly so. A program mostly made up of evil scientists torturing and killing rare, inoffensive, pretty, reef fish. This is the 21st century guys you do not need to collect them and put them in display cases any more. Bastards.
On land sculpture we went out to the White Horse at Uffington today. A great trip though rather sadly indicating that land art has not progressed very far in the last 5000 years.
15th Sep, 2008 17:46 (UTC)
Oh man.
The recent Joanna Lumley "watch me pal around with the Norwegian working man and coo endlessly about how desperate I am to see the Northern Lights" special was exceedingly inexcusable, so number one on your list cheered me endlessly. Thanks for articulating the nature of a kind of programme I will never, ever, even in my laziest moments, watch again. Sick! I'm also perturbed by programmes like Maestro, or the one where Jo Brand learned how to play the organ. WHY?
PS How's your WoM story coming? I am writing my second strip now...let me know if you need an extra page!
15th Sep, 2008 19:37 (UTC)
Maestro should have been rubbish, but was inexplicably rather good - due mostly to a better class of celeb.
Actually I'm a sucker for celebs learning to do stuff, as long as they really are learning to do stuff, rather than being shouted at or thrown into pits of bugs in the hope that they have nervous breakdowns.
15th Sep, 2008 20:38 (UTC)
Ah! No, you may have that page. I'm needing less than I thought. Assuming you're Ellen, which I think you are :)
15th Sep, 2008 20:16 (UTC)
I propose that Channel 4 should be closed down, and the money used to operate a 24-Hour Rolling Jonathan Meades channel. This would solve a lot of problems.

-- tom
15th Sep, 2008 20:39 (UTC)
Quick, start the Facebook group!
15th Sep, 2008 22:30 (UTC)
Now that's a bloody brilliant idea - as long as Channel 5 picks up Desperate Housewives, which is the only thing I still watch on 4 *slinks away in shame*.
16th Sep, 2008 12:11 (UTC)
Channel 4 clearly lacks any further justification. I was irked to see there is some Nathanesque magazine (I saw it in the Nathan mags section of Borders) where some Channel 4 Nathans have clearly given their friends money to do a magazine.
At the very least it should be forced to put on the screen with every ident
'CHannel 4 - a state owned company'
16th Sep, 2008 08:15 (UTC)
C4's Dispatches episode on phonics was very close to #5. After a whole episode on how the school's intensive phonics programme was a huge success, and the stupid government weren't rolling it out nationally, they briefly mentioned a damning Ofsted report. It turns out that the school has concentrated all its effort on teaching the kids to read, and forgot to teach any of them to add up.
16th Sep, 2008 12:14 (UTC)
Re: Phonics
A slight disconnect between the description on the C4 website and the Ofsted report or what?
16th Sep, 2008 13:51 (UTC)
Re: Phonics
Wow that's a foul report. Having seen the mealy mouthed fluffy "they're trying their very best" reports that Ofsted has given to some schools I wouldn't touch with a bargepole the mind boggles at how bad this one must be.
16th Sep, 2008 14:19 (UTC)
Re: Phonics
The company behind the phonics scheme advertised in Dispatches doesn't quote that school in its list of glowing Ofsted reports.
( 41 worms — Feed the birds )