Anything You Say May Be Broadcast In Peak Time
Just suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Government's crackdown on binge drinking is successful and on Friday nights the youth of Britain sip a couple of spritzers at a pavement cafe before going home to watch Newsnight Review. It's going to leave an enormous hole in the television schedules.
Last night you could watch two continuous hours of Pissed TV.
At 9pm on BBC1 Drunk and Dangerous followed young piss artists in Southend, Dover and Folkestone.
At 10pm, Bravo (Booze Britain) put the spotlight on drinkers in Derby and then at 10.30 their camera crews were stepping gingerly through the street fights and pools of vomit in Wrexham. If you still hadn't had enough, the same channel had another episode at 1am and tonight you can discover how the youth of Blackpool and Dundee measure up in the binging and brawling stakes.
So, if you crave your 15 seconds of televisual fame, just head for your nearest city centre, get totally rat arsed and then (a) kick the shit out of someone (b) give your girl friend a good slapping (c) moon at a passing police car or (d) tell a passing copper that he's the ugliest c*bleep* you've ever seen.
A few of these people tell the cameraman to F*bleep* off but many others relish the attention. What we don't see - but I'm sure must happen - are the unfilmed arrests where people shout indignantly "Where's the f*bleep*ing camera?"
I'd like to know who decided that the police could become a branch of the entertainment industry and that CCTV footage (which includes many innocent people) could be given to television companies.
It's also blindingly obvious that if you flood the TV channels with images of binge drinking, 'laddish' behaviour and worse, it lends an acceptability to the behaviour and says: 'this is what some of your peer group are doing all over Britain so there's nothing unusual about it.' And it's a truism that the presence of cameras is always going to alter behaviour and in some cases make it more extreme.
Apparently joyriders often say that their favourite TV programmes are real life footage of police car chases. The fact that these sometimes show kids being removed from crashed cars in pieces is no deterrent at all. The same is surely true of Pissed TV, one of whose messages is that the police are totally outnumbered and barely able to hold the line.
In view of my recent comments about swearing, it was interesting to be reminded in last night's BBC programme that you can be arrested for using in the street some of the words that have occasionally appeared in this blog - and which famously appeared in Jerry Springer - The Opera. It's called a 'Section Five' offence. A slight whiff of double standards here? An entire chorus can sing 'cunt' at 500 people and 1.8M TV viewers but say it on the street and they're nicked.
But I think it's only likely to happen if you direct the word at a policeman, one of whom said that it was the C word that made him see red and bring out the handcuffs. This means you have to be particularly careful if you're a 'Hooray Henry' because the traditional upper class pronunciation of 'constable' is 'cuntstable'. Too much stress on the first syllable and you'll wake up in a bare room, on a hard bed, with working class chaps in uniform serving you breakfast and think that you're back at public school.