Written by TV

Bad Language

Evidently a few people complained about the Christmas special of the Catherine Tate Show on BBC1 which was broadcast on Christmas Day. Their complaints were about the language, even though the programme went out at 10.30pm. My complaint would simply be that Tate is unfunny. She does have a handful of amusing characters, all of whom are worn out in sketches that overstay their welcome enormously. In other words, like the similarly over-rated Little Britain, you get the same jokes again and again every week.
But I do have a bad language complaint. This week BBC Two broadcast Three Men In Another Boat. The first episode went out on New Year’s Day at 8.00pm – in other words before the watershed. Now the programme sees three comedians – Griff Rhys Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara O’Briain taking Griff’s 50ft yacht from the Thames around to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to take part in a race. It’s a follow up to their recreation of Jerome K Jerome’s characters’ trip up the Thames a year ago. All amiable fare. Except that there is a bit of swearing here and there.
Being broadcast before the watershed, the first part featured the odd bit of swearing, which was either bleeped or amusingly “honked” from the soundtrack. As it should have been given the time it went out.
But the second and final part went out on Wednesday 2nd at 9.00pm and was thus, by the rulebook, allowed to have swearing. And so it did, with the grouchy McGrath being the number one offender (the writer in the Telegraph who said that if he was the producer he’d have been tempted to push McGrath overboard was right).
Individually, I have no problem with shows having swearing or not depending when they’re broadcast (and if someone can explain why a show like Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe has some language bleeped and other parts untouched, the please write and explain).
Where I have problems is with programmes that jump around the watershed between episodes. There should be continuity – either both pre- or both post- the watershed. There are some early evening repeats coming up that will have been completely cleaned up, but it seems to me that episode one of this two-parter should have gone out at 9.00pm un-bleeped in the first place.
Channel 4 sometimes pulls even worse tricks by introducing swearing at 9pm mid-programme when shows have started earlier – it’s done this with Big Brother and The F Word. If we’re to have a watershed then it’s surely for parents (or viewers of a very nervous disposition) to make informed decisions about whether or not to let their kids view a programme. And that has to be the whole programme or none of it. Otherwise we might as well scrap the watershed and broadcast a warning at the start of programmes.