Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TV Trivia

A few weeks' ago I was mystified to find a note in my diary that said '10pm: Dave.'
I don't currently know anyone called Dave. The only one I could think of was a local electrician who has done a few small jobs for me but it seemed unlikely he would be coming round to fiddle with my fuse box at ten in the evening.

Perhaps I had arranged to meet a friend from My Space who would turn out to be either a psycho or a born-again Christian with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the Routemaster bus. This possibility was eliminated when I realised that I am not a member of My Space.

It was only when flicking through the Radio Times that I remembered that 'Dave' is the new name for a television channel that was previously known as 'UKTV G2'.
This was generally regarded as the most ludicrous re-branding of recent times. But now people are eating their words and hailing it as the new benchmark for out-of-the-box, blue skies thinking, a revolutionary template for connecting with your demographic.......<insert your own bullshit phrase here>.

The figures speak for themselves: 8 million viewers trying the channel for the first time and now the most popular non-terrestrial channel among men aged 16 to 44.
But before we get too carried away, it's worth noting that almost any name would have been an improvement on 'UKTV G2'. The names of the majority of satellite/cable channels describe their content. They do what it says on the tin. You won't have been misled if you find history programmes on the History Channel or food programmes on UKTV Food. UKTV G2 told you bugger all about the content.
'Dave' doesn't either, but at least it arouses your curiosity. Similarly, if you change your name from 'John Smith' to 'Tarquin de Turbeville', you may still be the same boring bag of shite but you'll attract a little more attention.

For an indication of content, you have to turn to Dave's strapline: "the home of witty banter". This is more problematic and sails perilously close to breaching the Trade Descriptions Act, unless you regard Jeremy Clarkson and the panellists of 'Mock the Week' as being the Oscar Wildes and Dorothy Parkers of our time.

One of the 'creatives' behind the relaunch says "everyone knows a bloke called Dave". Not true in my case, unless you count my local fuse-fiddler. But what if the Dave you know is a total arsehole? The bloke who wrecked your marriage. The boss who blocked your promotion. The bastard who bores the balls off you in your local pub. Seeing the name 'Dave' flash up on your screen might cause you to splutter and zap onwards, even if it means missing a five year old repeat of a 'topical' news quiz.


Last night I decided to watch James Corden, co-writer of Gavin and Stacey, on Lily Allen and Friends (BBC3) and lived to regret it.
I probably shouldn't express an opinion on the programme as a whole (in all its getting down with the kids, hey, let's tie it in with My Space ghastliness) because I'm not in the target audience, as proved by my having no idea who Lily Allen is. I think she may be a singer. If so, her oeuvre is an unregretted lacuna in my musical knowledge.

But I have to say that I have never seen a TV presenter so totally lacking in personality, charisma or technical skill. For most of the time she seemed to be in the early stages of catatonia - which she probably thinks is a country in southern Europe.

The interview with James Corden was conducted on a large bed. Now there's an original idea! Oh, hang on. Wasn't that a feature of The Big Breakfast, years ago?
As for the interview, Gavin and Stacey is so rich a comedy that there are a thousand questions one would like to ask the writers, given the opportunity. But Ms Allen spent most of the time flirting with James Corden (and he with her, to be fair). This culminated in Ms Allen saying "Fuck me". Not as an exclamation but as an invitation, adding 'you know how to get into a girl's pants.'

So, Parkinson it wasn't.
Parkie was prone to flirt with some Hollywood actresses but I don't recall him ever saying "I suppose a blow job's out of the question?"
Although the least sensitive of souls when it comes to swearing and sexual content (I even complained to Channel 4 once about the bleeping of 'cunt' in a comedy drama, for God's sake) I found this quite offensive. That's probably because context is everything in such matters.
'Fuck me' as a request is a phrase usually uttered by consenting adults in private. It may well be uttered by women of Lily Allen's generation in bars and nightclubs or between the rubbish skips behind bars and nightclubs. Fair enough. But in the middle of a TV interview with an actor and writer? It seemed gratuitous and inappropriate, an abuse of the greater freedom from TV censorship that Britain enjoys compared to many other countries.
Or maybe I'm just turning into a censorious old fart.


Heard on BBC News 24: Matthew Amroliwala commenting on footage of storm-lashed Britain: "these stories tell their own pictures."
No disrespect, Matthew, but have you ever thought you might be better working in radio?


At 1:29 PM, Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

"fiddle with my fuse box"
You are a very naughty boy.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I did proof-read it for inadvertent doubles entendres but that one must have slipped in behind my back. Sorry.

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Betty said...

Lily Allen is a reasonably popular singer, and, more importantly, the daughter of Keith Allen, "enfant terrible" of British comedy. Well ... he probably still likes to think of himself as the enfant terrible of British comedy even though he's now in his fifties. Like father, like daughter, it seems.

She's too young and inexperienced in TV to be a chat show host but no doubt was chosen because she's a tabloid gossip column favourite.

The programme seems to follow the usual format for shows aimed at young people which hasn't changed since the days of The Word. Attempt to be outrageous, refer to sex in the most blatant way possible (no chance of innuendo here!) and top off with lots of swearing. Oh, and show a few YouTube clips as a nod to the popularity of the internet among teens. After all, those are the only things that young people are interested in, surely?

Perhaps not - the viewing figures are pretty abysmal. Maybe programme makers should credit younger people with a bit of discernment and intelligence after all!

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be soft - Lily knows that Catatonia is in Southern Wales.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Betty: I completely agree with you. I think most young people can sniff when they're being patronised at 20 paces.
And, at a time when oldies are increasingly outnumbering the young, it's bizarre that the media are so desperate to secure young audiences - and the BBC doesn't even have the excuse of needing advertising revenue.

Anon: I think I once stayed in Catatonia in South Wales.
Then again, it could have been Port Talbot.


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