Published Aug 26 2006, 21:26 BST | By Dek Hogan
Our traditional channels don’t try overly hard in the summer do they, and by the time we get to the end of August, with Big Brother now out of the way, it seems there’s not much on offer, though we do get a few teaser trailers of the delights than we can expect come the autumn.
The threadbare fare on offer was highlighted to me as I sat on my commuter train and scanned the telly pages in The Times
last Monday in a vain effort to find something worth watching.
No problem if you happen to be a big fan of Silent Witness but sadly I find that less than engrossing and nowhere near as much, er, fun as it used to be when Amanda Burton was at the helm.
This is when the minor channels come into their own and there are plenty of well made American shows to be enjoyed but so many of then have continuous plots these days that it’s almost impossible to dip in for a single episode. Even the better sitcoms have running storylines making them fairly inaccessible to the casual viewer.
Is the reason that so little engaging telly is scheduled during August that the people in charge of scheduling it aren’t in to watch it? They’re all up at Edinburgh getting the sort of culture infusion they are too scared to risk on their mainstream channels but if ratings are in the doldrums any road, why not take a few risks? We are more clued up than ever these days and shoving some of the fare on offer at the Festival straight into mainstream schedules could have pleasing results.
Comedy is one area where certainly ITV and Five are lacking and even still hip Channel 4 are nowhere near as good as they were in that department. I wouldn’t stop there either. If the traditional channels are seeing ratings eroded, have they really got much to risk by showing creative and innovative works? It wouldn’t cost the earth and it would garner a hell of a lot more kudos than an embarrassment like Love Island.Buckets of love
If ITV actually thinks that Love Island
is the answer then you really have to start worrying what the question was. My partner devours the celebrity mags with gusto but even she has struggled to identify all of the participants of this. The presence of Kate Lawler has merely been a reminder of how much better Big Brother is than this total tosh.
Now it appears that some of the residents of the resort have taken to thumping each other. This is a definite no-no on Big Brother but on the rival channel the main annoyance seemed to be that the blows landed were not carried on camera. Surely anyone engaging in actual fisticuffs should be removed from the show immediately. Just about everyone involved in this debacle has gone down in my estimation, something I really wouldn’t have thought possible given the level of esteem in which they were held in the first place.Stay on the bus
I sincerely hope that Jane Hall
manages to return to our screens at some point because it’s certainly been one of the drama highlights of the summer. A key ingredient here has been not just a great central performance from the wonderful Sarah Smart but the calibre of the supporting cast with Susanna Hamilton and Ann Mitchell particularly outstanding.
Mitchell won us over two decades ago in the gripping thriller Widows and has been criminally underused by television ever since. It’s annoying that the fashion in the nineties and the early part of this decade was to cast soap refugees in leading roles rather than better but less known actors. Things seem to changing again now but the fragmentation of the audience means that quality dramas – which are expensive to make – will be far fewer on the ground in future.
Both this tale of bus drivers and the postman saga on BBC One came to end this week and both left me wanting more. How refreshing that we can have the occasional drama that isn’t overloaded with murders and detectives.
ITV are now to reintroduce US drama into prime time. I wonder why they ever got rid of it in the first place. The trick here is that they only pick the best shows. Anything that looks like a mere filler will merely reinforce the impression that the once mighty channel is becoming indistinct from the plethora of channels that surround it.Not doing it for the kids
ITV’s kids' controller is riding off into the sunset as the sun sets on half a century of entertaining and informing children. A decent children’s service is one of the cornerstones of public service broadcasting as far as I’m concerned and with ITV out of the picture, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out the even the BBC’s stuff could soon decline. The rivalry between the two stations has been a main driver in terms of the quality of programming children have enjoyed for decades.
Sadly, bigwigs at the beeb are already talking rationalisation.
Children are the future of television and if they are ignored when it comes to creative, innovative, engaging programming they simply won’t watch. There so many other distractions for them these days.To Do Ron Ron Ron, To Do Ron RonBig Ron Manager
sees football legend Barry Fry calling on the services of his old mate and disgraced football pundit Ron Atkinson to help get Peterborough United climbing the league table.
Part of the problem with this concept is that anyone interested enough to sit through this probably already knows the outcome. The conflicts are so predictable you wonder why Ron and Barry don’t see them coming a mile off and the whole things feels more like a spoof documentary than a genuine fly on the wall job.
The show relies on the charisma of Big Ron to carry it through, though this does seem to have been a little diminished in the years since Ron vanished from our screens and if this and Excuse My French are part of his broadcasting rehabilitation it could be quite a while before he manages to reach the top again.Flat trumpet
I suppose you could just about justify the shocking Cilla Black autopsy sequences in Time Trumpet
if there had been some biting wit behind it. Using such a jarring image as an excuse for a bunch of lame puns made it seem crass in the extreme. It’s difficult to countenance a satire on just how low television can go while actually taking it even lower in the process.
All the good ideas in this seem to be stretched past their limits or hammered home with zero subtlety .