What on earth has happened to television in recent years? Yes I know we’ve always had plenty of guff on TV such as Mind Your Language and Allo Allo, but looking at the current TV schedules I can’t remember a time when there was so much utter rubbish on the television. Even the established genres are going down the pan.
First let’s look at the sitcom. Recently we’ve had Blessed from Ben Elton, the arch-sellout has created a real stinker with this one and I feel sorry for Ardal O’Hanlon starring in a second tat sitcom in a row. It’s bilge, and made worse by having a naturalistic cast destroyed with an over-the-top completely unrealistic character.
It’s the same story for Hyperdrive, the new BBC sci-fi comedy that began this week. There were some good elements, but it was hardly laugh out loud funny. And once against this sitcom suffered from having one over the top and over acted character played by the consistently annoying Kevin Eldon.
Oh and before I forget, the terminally unfunny third series of Little Britain. It really was truly awful, hardly raising a titter. Compared to recent shows from years past such as Big Train and The Fast Show, the latest run of Little Britain really was a snoozefest of poor ideas and pointless repetition.
But you’ll be lucky to find a sitcom on TV these days. It’s wall to wall reality TV and self help programmes. Programmes to help you save money, run your business, stop being fat, dress like an idiot or ruin your garden. And the presenters are a succession of the bland or the annoying, from the mild mannered boredom of Alan Titchmarsh to the annoying fraud Gillian McKeith.
Then there are the Celebrity shows. Celebrity dancing, ice-skating, wrestling, love-island and the arch-nadir of all that can be good about the Television medium – Celebrity Big Brother. Okay it may serve one good purpose, ensuring no-one is now unaware what a twat George Galloway is, but apart from that it’s chewing gum for the tiny brained morons of the UK.
There’s hardly any drama left on TV these days and what drama there is usually exists as a vehicle for yet another average actor escaping from a soap opera now they’re big enough for their own Hello! spread. You will find good drama on British television, but it’s made in the USA. Imports such as The West Wing and Battlestar Galactica serve to show the huge quality gap that exists these days between UK drama and the best of the best.
Recently the BBC brought us Sir David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth, a natural history programme about insects, bugs and other invertebrates. It was stunning television of the kind we are rarely treated to these days. Most documentaries, even from flagship series such as Horizon, are of a low quality these days. Horizon seems to have really lost its way, trying to portray each episode like a who-done-it, with strange camera work of people’s hands while they talk, spooky music and the plot with very little science – rather than just actually making a show about the subject.
It seems you can’t make a documentary these days without blowing the budget on some pointless re-enactments and artistic camera work that’s totally out of place with the subject matter. The news is no better, with endless pointless live linkups, cutaways to nodding journos in interviews, strange close-ups, terrible puns and very little quality journalism.
There’s never really been a golden age for British Television. Yet right now I would content we are most definitely experiencing the total opposite.