Clipheads and Corrie
I was going to watch the Britain's Finest Actresses programme last night but then decided I couldn't face another two hours of clips and talking heads.
Instead I watched Murder Investigation Team. But the sound levels seem very uneven in that programme, unless I'm going deaf, so after wasting 90 minutes of my life I still wasn't entirely clear who the murderer was.
As in so many cop shows, suspects being interrogated are allowed to smoke. Sometimes the cops even supply them with cigarettes. Does this happen in real life where all workplaces are no smoking zones? If it does, is it because psychologists have said that suspects are more likely to sing like a canary if they're allowed to smoke? Surely the opposite might be true? Nicotine deprivation might produce a quick confession that would either see you bailed or banged up on remand and, as I mentioned recently, smoking will always be allowed in prisons. These are the kind of trivial questions that keep me awake at night.
As for the '100 Greatest....' or '100 Worst.....' type of programmes, surely it can't be long before they've exhausted every possible subject. The obvious attraction of this format is that it delivers a respectable number of viewers at the lowest possible cost. But the superficiality of these programmes is becoming tiresome. So are the regular crew of 'clipheads' whose role is to mouth a few platitudes between the clips.
Some people now seem to become clipheads without ever doing anything else first. There's a young chap with long hair and a strong West Country accent who pops up on some of these programmes but who I've never seen anywhere else.
And then there's usually Mark Kermode, glibness made flesh. You wind him up and he spouts away without hesitation, deviation or repetition on any conceivable subject. (I wonder if he's ever considered becoming a blogger?).
Many of these programmes specialise in explaining the bleeding obvious. A cliphead pops up and says "The thing about Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army is that he's very pompous and self-important." Cue short clip of Mainwaring looking pompous and self-important. Well, bugger me in Bognor. In 30 years of watching Dad's Army I'd never noticed that characteristic of Mainwaring. Had you?
The Guardian's TV reviewer today, Rupert Smith, says that if you want Britain's finest actresses you should look no further than Coronation Street where ".....we were treated to a masterclass in screen acting, from pathos to farce."
Hear, hear to that.
But then it becomes clear that he doesn't watch the programme regularly. Talking of Shelley's facial scars he writes "For once, the swelling was not the result of Charlie's fists, but rather an ill-advised trip to the cosmetic surgeon."
Charlie has never used his fists on Shelley. The whole point of this storyline is that he has reduced her to a gibbering wreck through emotional and verbal cruelty without any physical violence.
I know this is becoming an obsession of mine, but how many times do the Guardian's TV critics have to demonstrate so blatantly that they don't actually watch the programmes they're writing about before Alan Rusbridger asks them to clear their desks and kicks their lazy arses down Farringdon Road?
The errors are now so frequent that I suggest they leave all soap reviews to the great Nancy Banks-Smith. Some of her finest writing has been about Coronation Street and I don't recall her ever getting her facts wrong. But then, being one of the old school she probably has this quaint idea that if you're going to write about a programme it's a good idea to watch it.