Written by TV

Dreadful Dreadful Television

The most recent issue of The Word magazine, and most recent edition of their podcast both discuss “Monkey Tennis” – the phenomenon best illustrated by the Alan Partridge clip where he desperately attempts to win a commission from a BBC controller:

Jump to 4:55 for the really good stuff – although it’s all excellent.
In both the article and podcast Aris Roussinos talks about exactly how TV programmes are commissioned and frankly that Alan Partridge pitch seems pretty accurate. It’s horrifying, it really is.
Commissioners have such a low opinion of the general public that all those “says what it is on the tin” series which clutter up most channels these days. I’ve said before that I’ll never watch another show, no matter how brilliant, if it’s called “The Real…” anything.
Flicking through this week’s Broadcast, just brought more of the same. The big story is Shine US’s commission of something called The Marriage Ref. Despite having the input of Jerry Seinfeld, this show in which a comedian judges which of a husband or wife is right in a discussion sounds like lowbrow daytime television rather than primetime entertainment.
But what other great TV have we got to look forward to?
Virgin 1 has commissioned The Naked Office, in which a Newcastle ad agency has run an “experiment” that involved everyone removing clothes to “improve communication and break down hierarchies in the office.” It’s being considered for a potential series. And it’s not just an excuse to look at people naked.
They’ve already commissioned a programme about Jim Davidson entitled So You Think I’m An Arsehole. Actually, I’m more inclined to believe that of the commissioner… And there’s also Why Men Watch Porn in which “medical experts” try to measure the effect of watching lots of pornography. Groundbreaking stuff.
Still, that’s all Virgin 1. What about the BBC? You wouldn’t get that kind of garbage on a licence fee funded channel would you?
Well BBC 3 is sending Snog, Marry, Avoid overseas for 12 episodes with an ex-Atomic Kitten. Challenging stuff. And the same channel has commissioned Clever v Stupid: “Clever v Stupid explores the notion that you can be brilliant without engaging with Aristotle” according to the executive producer. Just as well, since Aristotle died over 2,300 years ago which is going to make “engaging” with him quite challenging right now.
And there’s yet more BBC 3 news – their budgets must have just been agreed or something. Dancing On Wheels will pair wheelchair users with able bodied partners in a dance competition. I’ve no problem per se with this – if I honestly thought that it was being commissioned for the right reasons. You just know that the programme title was created first, and a format shoe-horned into it.
Over on ITV, following her success with the Gurkhas, Joanna Lumley is presenting Cat Woman. Sounds enthralling. Well it would perhaps, if it was a remake of either 1942 or 1982 versions of Cat People. Sadly, I think this is more about her looking at, well, cats. Let me know when the DVD’s out.
I know that nobody has any cash on TV at the moment – although ITV should at least have earned a pound or two this week, but coming up with halfway decent programmes which cost
Incidentally, tonight on BBC1 is a documentary called Tourettes: I Swear I Can’t Help It. As we all know, this medical condition never gets any airtime, and this must surely be the first documentary covering this subject? Well, apart from Teenage Tourettes Camp (ITV), Tourette de France (C4), Tourettes on the Job (Five) and Extraordinary People: Tourette’s Rewired (Five) all of which have aired in the last three years. Then there was the Big Brother contestant suffering from it.
I’m sure that this wasn’t commissioned just because there’ll be an audience for people swearing at inappropriate moments.