There is a fundamental problem with British television at the moment, it isn't very good. The last decade has produced a culture of reality television shows which are cheap to make, cover large gaps in the television schedule, and have a large amount of people ready too humiliate themselves to get their face on Heat magazine for a week.
This all started with two programmes which would change the way we watch and participate with our television for the next 10 years and beyond. The first of these was Driving School, which followed Maureen and her ever suffering husband as she tried to learn to drive. Ill admit I watched it, and found most of it funny as well it was different, there hadn't been anything like it for before. The problem was it led to other inferior programmes when the broadcasters saw what success the BBC had, and they churned them out one after the other, Traffic Wardens, Binmen, Sewer men, the list went on and on.The general rule was get a famous actor too narrate and of you went. Job done.
The other one, which polarises opinion more than any other, was Big Brother. Put people into a house and get people sitting on their sofas at home watching them cook and clean. Sounds like a winner doesn't it?. Well it was and it took the nation by storm.
It was everywhere, it was all people talked about, I remember standing in Sainsbury's waiting to buy cigarettes listening to the people in front of talking about Nasty Nick. We couldn't get enough. Series 2 was an even bigger success, with Helen and Paul's romance and Brian coming out.There was a genuineness about it all. The contestants went in not knowing what to expect, they didn't play up to the cameras ( Kinga and the bottle anyone?) they certainly didn't go in for the fame and that is what made it great television.
The problem was that there then appeared the fame hungry talentless bunch that have occupied the house since. They were picked for their freakishness, not because they were genuine, they were talentless and fame hungry.I don't watch it anymore, I don't like the way that they expect to be famous for sitting in a house for 12 weeks. If you have talent and work hard enough you'll get there. Take this blog, I'm writing it because I enjoy writing, why else would I be doing it at midnight, having to go to work the next day, will anyone else read it who knows?. The point is I want to do it so will work at it until I get better, perhaps one day good enough to be published.
There are some excellent reality shows though, X Factor is one and its predecessor Pop Idol was another, real talent like Will Young, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and JLS wouldn't have perhaps had the success they have had without these shows. We then have the other extreme where Lord Webber is allowed to plug his shows on the BBC. Why? I thought the BBC was supposed to be non biased. Some may say Simon Cowell is doing the same, perhaps but there is a difference, Simon Cowell produces world class acts and ITV is a commercial station, we pay for the BBC, so in effect we are paying for Lord Webbers advertising.
The problem with all these reality shows are they fill gaps and are cheap to make. If I look at what I watch now on a regular basis only four shows are British made, Ashes to Ashes, Doctor Who, Spooks and Luther. I know there are others but the bulk of what I watch is American made. Law and Order, CSI, Cold case, 24, Prison Break and Damages to name a few. Good, intellegent programmes, that drag you in and make you care about the characters. Must see television something we were once very good at.
Why is this? Because the Americans make great television shows. They do this by encouraging talent and if a show is not working they cancel it. It can be frustrating at times, Flash forward and Defying Gravity being two recent examples but if they don't get the ratings they get cancelled. Most of the comedy shows I watch now are American as well, Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a half Men, Scrubs, Frasier these are shows that make me laugh out loud.
We used to be the envy of the world with our comedy, Only Fools and Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Fawlty Towers and Monty Python. We don't make programmes like this any more. The reason, I believe, is that television isn't made by television people anymore. People that worked their way up through the ranks, now they get a degree are politically correct and off they go. The standard has dropped and we need to get it back.
There are an enormous amount of channels now and yes they have schedules too fill, but I expect better from our main channels. We need to get back to making great documentaries, dramas, comedies and kids shows. The talent I'm sure is out there but it is up to the major players at the stations to find it. Challenge it and give it a chance to grow.
BBC Three is another example of a channel run for the corporations benefit and not ours. It showcases shows that aren't funny, Lee Nelson and Three Non Blonde's where not funny and adding canned laughter doesn't make them funny either. They are commissioned by people that think they know youth, the problem is these people are in their 40's. Give talented youth the chance to shine and it will make great television. Gavin and Stacey as well as Little Britain both started on BBC Three. They were successful because the people writing them were talented. They were also young and understood the audience they were aiming it. We are not stupid people we get factual programmes, we understand complex drama's, we understand adult humour.
Reality television has had its day, it was fun at the start but went on to long. I hope the next decade allows us to showcase excellent talent once again. The main broadcasters need to get back to basics and make good quality programmes. If we want to see who Jordan marries next, stick it on a cable channel and we will pay for it, if that's our want. Its time to move on. Its time to let the talent start showing through before its too late.
Give me Outnumbered instead of Dirty Sexy Funny, give me Torchwood instead of What Jordan did next?, give me Im a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here instead of Somewhere over the rainbow. Ill watch becasue these are good programes made with the audience in mind. Lets start again, only this time lets get it right.