Sexing up the schedule 

27 October 2008 tbs.pm/959

The real money shot

These days, television often seems to be far more obsessed with looking good than offering real factual content, and while there’s an element of truth in the fact that people like to watch good-looking people on television, the underlying issues can often be more complex than some people seem to think.

For one thing, broadcasters seem to be too reliant on a small pool of presenters, making them fit into formats that they may perhaps be less than well suited for, and the example given of the possible reasons why the BBC’s Holiday programme was doing so badly in the ratings is a good example of some of the things that can go wrong as a result.

It may be true that the likes of Anthea Turner and Craig Doyle are fun, witty and warm people in private, but on-screen they appeared to be exactly the opposite for much of the time, and you get the impression that whilst some of these “rent-a-presenters” may be judged to be professional they seem to be chosen predominantly on looks and/or blandness.

This reliance on a relatively small pool of talent (or lack of, depending on your viewpoint) may be stifling the acceptance of a variety of factual programming, since a fair number of people want something to watch that combines real substance with good presentation. A shallow audience is always going to channel-hop in order to obtain its next ‘beauty fix’.

And whilst it’s true that tacky programming such as Penis Envy and Boob Envy gave the Virgin 1 channel a temporary shot of virtual Viagra, it did relatively little to enhance the reputation of the channel in terms of its factual programming, and most of Virgin 1’s viewers are there for its science fiction output (eg. Star Trek, Chuck, Terminator).

It’s fortunate that many people aren’t as shallow-minded as certain people who work in the media industry seem to think, but whilst programme commissioners remain stuck in a superficial loop it’s always going to be difficult to find something to watch that’s more worthwhile than just a one-night stand.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Thursday 22 September 2022