At the End of the Day

It’s the season of cold nights and warm afternoons down here: keep warm doing stuff in the mornings, plonk down in a lean-back garden chair in the afternoon, chuck a few peasants on the fire of an evening, open a robust red, and then continue the marathon search through Freesat listings for something to watch that isn’t from the Pleistocene era and/or formulaic ‘lifestyle’ telly. I suppose the ultimate starting point for Indie producers these days would be a ‘concept’ along the lines of Every Garden Dining Makeover in the Country under the sun. A ‘new’ variant might fuse fame, fantasy and ego – thus delivering us unto Britain’s got the Grand Kitchen Designer Voice Talent Academy. But mooching around the schedules in the early evening, one is left with the inevitability of Come fly with me on Canal Train journeys for Antique Pets.

Content by numbers is just another depressing aspect of the Bums on Seats world we inhabit. You may think I’m over-egging the pudding a little here, but let me disabuse you of this opinion by simply looking at tonight – a Saturday – on this the 6th February 2016. None of what follows is made up.

On UK Channels 4 & 5, you can go walking through time on great canal journeys towards America’s hidden pyramid city. On BBC’s 4 & 1, I invite you to enjoy the voice of Britain’s sunken national lottery history. Or on ITV’s 3 & 4, there’s the chance to watch Columbo’s Midsomer murders for five hours non-stop, and then join Sherlock Holmes in another bout of storage wars. It is, literally, crime repeat meets travel saga removals.

When I first acquired multi-channel satellite telly fifteen years ago, I asked the engineer how many channels were available.

“Wull,” he began, “yer got eight news, twelve terrestrial, seven repeats, ten sports, ‘undred and fifty porn, four ‘undred shoppin’, an’ thirty God”. Today, that has exploded to over a thousand channels, but there’s an inverse correlation in play: the more channels come onstream, the less I want to watch any of them.

The French dish I have offers me a staggering 256 German channels. A weekly oom-pah-pah competition on Bayernische is about as good as it gets. The German shopping channels should be beamed into every UK home by the Vote Leave Brexit campaign: not only would there be a 92% majority to quit the EU tomorrow, there’d be 60% in favour of dispensing with the formality of a referendum. And as for Italian porn, forcing people to watch it would be the most reliable contraceptive in history: you’d have to limit viewing of it for fear that global celibacy might result in very short order.

I feel the same about the TV channels explosion as I do about the proliferation of media: I simply don’t have time to engage with it. It is the dramatic triumph of quantity over quality, of braindead breaking news over socio-economic analysis, of copycat visions of what is over original ideas about what could be.

Ultimately, the media and programming we have today have all the appeal for me of blue-dotted week-old stale bread. Such cultural and artistic stagnation is the direct and entirely natural outcome of a neoliberal mindset that values ROI over exploration, and   obsessive navel-gazing over dangerously stimulating examination.

Unless we rid our civilisation of it soon, it will destroy that civilisation forever.

 

 

16 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Channel 4 has anumber of foreign entrants these days that are worthwhile: Deutschland83 and Spin for example. The BBC has the Night Manager comng shortly. That said TV has not changed since the head of the FCC in 1960 said it was a wasteland full of empty calories.

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  2. Thank you.
    Just remembered that I need to catch up on “Great American Railway Journeys”.
    The US and Portillo useful for something, as long as they are able to dodge the occasional exploding crude consignment.

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  3. I get much enjoyment from the ARTE channel. It was good to see M. Hulot’s holiday recently as I remember seeing that 1st time round long ago.

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  4. Cold nights and warm afternoons…
    any news of theTufty family , the squirrels with red fur coats..?
    Their animations taught me to cross the road safely in the 1960’s so i’m a big fan.

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  5. I’ve recently retreated to You Tube for ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’, ‘Fry & Laurie’ and other classics from that bygone era when things really were worth watching.

    Today’s mindless cr*p is simply soul-destroying …. and possibly intentionally so.

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  6. TV offerings today are like the reading matter available in a doctors surgery, dated or trivial. Thats why I invested in chromecast gadget so can transfer the world of the internet to my TV (need to be modern TV though I’m afraid).

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  7. @Chris

    I am on your team. I have become a huge fan of YouTube. I use it as a research tool and for entertainment. Some of the recent research topics include tutorials on photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, digiscoping. For entertainment there are dozens of history programs, dramas, university courses on whatever etc. It even has its own search engine. It is quite extraordinary and growing rapidly. When I research a topic I notice that much has been posted in the last 6-12 months. Apart from a bit of football, TV5 and BBC News, I no longer watch TV at all.

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  8. Hmmmm. With yet another 24 hours of nonstop rain and gale force winds, many local roads unpassable due to flooding and a bitter chill – all whilst London basks in 30 degrees – I’m beginning to think being in Europe might have its advantages but only if we have a warm climate with mild, balmy winds and long hours of DAYLIGHT not grey turgid monotony. My arthritis is becoming acute now as there’s never enough time between constant downpours for me to dry out!

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  9. Never mind the mind numbing drivel that masquerades as TV entertainment, I want to know the calorific value of a peasant.

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  10. @OAH

    Yeah I agree. But I only watch on catch up i e BBC i Player or All 4 etc . All 4 has a category World Drama which is excellent includinfg Spin Pure Evil Deutschland 83, Cenk Hatu etc

    iPlayer although BBC is by far the best of the rest with Dickensian , War and Peace etc. Even Ch 5 with The Transporter gets a look in for James Bond type fantasia.

    ITV Hub is a dead duck on all fronts

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  11. John
    Things are quite good, for now ! …… It was YouTube and touch screens eventually that got my wife to use her pad ! …A few years back she decided she was going to learn fancy baking and cake decor!. I got her to go to tube for help…she found it fantastic.
    Myself, going back to pre-internet proper, had to use bulletin boards for tec help … very good to start with but started to fill up with shite and porn! and the Unies who did much of the hosting slowed the connection down to a bight a second!( 14K modem) very expensive , GPO + their charge – per second! but I did find out that a lot of disinformation and tec stuff was being distributed, such as ribbon cables and connectors causing it to be a bit of a nightmare to get stuff up and running . The irony was the GPO, in my opinion, had the best sight, “Spectacular,” a computer specific set up ! They closed it down as they could see no future in this kind of communication.
    Folk like me were seen as a danger to nice little earners.
    dofornow

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