I’ve Always Made a Noise at My Noisome TV

I’ve always made a noise at my noisome TV

For as long as I can remember, I have been shouting at my TV screen. Possibly the first occasion would have been circa 1971, in sheer irritation at the infuriating, self-defeatingly named kiddie programme Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?

Perhaps it was even earlier than that. Though I liked Teddy, I used to find Andy Pandy incredibly wet. Bill and Ben were incomprehensible. The Clangers whistled too much. ZsaZsa the Cat and Kiki the Frog were quite maddening in the way they ganged up on Hector the Dog. As for Florence in the Magic Roundabout, what a goodie-goodie!

So, yes, I must confess to a certain amount of sneaking sympathy with Martin Soloman, the pensioner who has just been banned by the courts from using his radio or his TV (on top of 14 months in jail) because of his noisy, foul-mouthed rants at programmes that irritated him. I’m sure it must have been awful for his neighbours and I wouldn’t want to condone it. But I can definitely see where he was coming from, especially where his absolute bête noir was concerned: Question Time.

For Question Time is indeed the most annoying programme in the history of broadcasting. Annoying for so many reasons that just thinking about it makes me want to put a sledgehammer through every TV in the house. (Which, presumably, is why my wife so rarely lets me watch it.)

David Dimbleby is annoying because he always interrupts the speakers you like with pointless questions, and always gives a free pass to the idiocies of the speakers you hate. The people in the audience are annoying because they are always too cocky, or too nervous, or too stupid, or too wrong. And the guests are annoying because the ones you agree with aren’t sufficiently sympathetic or forthright, and the ones you disagree with always say such thoroughly disagreeable things at such disagreeable length.

Still, if Question Time were the only culprit, life would be simple: all you’d have to do is never watch it. Unfortunately, though, it is merely the tip of an ever-expanding iceberg. To watch TV these days, you’d almost imagine that programme-makers consider it their primary duty to peeve, irk and irritate viewers into a state of foaming apoplexy.

Obvious examples include Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live (four Leftist comics banging on Leftishly for an audience of Guardian readers); Masterchef (once about amateur cookery; now transformed into one of those sadistic Japanese game shows Clive James used to find so droll); Shameless (in which we are invited to celebrate the kind of dole-scrounging asbo-collectors who are ruining our country); and, of course, Big Brother and The X Factor, whose unremitting, weapons-grade annoyingness needs no explanation.

Perhaps this is deliberate. In advertising, it has long been known that the commercials that are the most annoying (eg the one with the meerkat) are also the most effective. So maybe this is just TV’s way of competing for our attention in the age of such myriad distractions as Facebook, Twitter and Call of Duty.

Or perhaps it is simply a function of my age. Maybe there are millions and millions of younger people who don’t find the programmes I’ve named at all irritating, who don’t swear at their screens, as I did the other night when I realised, while watching the fourth episode of Channel 4’s The Promise, that not once – not once – had the female lead done anything other than look sulky and bored.

If the latter is the case, I can only offer my apologies to my next-door neighbours. And a warning as well: don’t judge me too harshly. It happens to us all in the end.

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6 thoughts on “I’ve always made a noise at my noisome TV”

  1. Thumbnail says:4th March 2011 at 2:11 amAustralia is on the brink of setting a price for carbon, which is turning out to be political poison for the Labor Government and Julia Gillard who has sidled up to the Greens to form a coalition government.This youtube is well worth a watch.


    Please watch it. It comes up when googling ‘carbon tax downfall’.

    Oh, we need all of the help we can get.

    Fyi and if you can use it, please do so.

  2. Thumbnail says:4th March 2011 at 2:11 amOh, and I yell at the TV too. I draw the line at yelling at laptop.
  3. David Heffron says:4th March 2011 at 10:36 amI agree with what James is saying about the guests on Question Time. Thing is, I suspect we are thinking about the exact opposite guests.I also mostly agree with the comments about the 10 O’clock Live. However from my experience of comedy there are very few right-leaning commedians out there. The best one is probably Dennis Miller in the US, but I can’t think of one in the UK right now. One that’s good anyway.
    That said, the 10 O’clock Live, or indeed any topical show is going to (mostly) have a go at the guys in charge. There’s not a lot of milage in material about environmentalists or CND supporters because they have relativly little power (there’s probably a lot of people who will disagree with that). If you want an example of this is urge you to youtube “The Half Hour News Hour”, an attempt by Fox news to come up with a right leaning version of the Daily Show – it was really, really, REALLY bad. I mean REALLY bad.
  4. JimmyGiro says:4th March 2011 at 4:18 pmNot many Jewish comedians in the Third Reich either, David.You pays your licence fee, and you take what’s LEFT.
  5. Martin Lack says:4th March 2011 at 4:35 pmJames,You may be surprised to know that I quite often find your writing genuinely funny (i.e. when you’re ignorance of science does not not make me genuinely angry). However, I think you are on very dangerous territory in criticising the likes of Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, and Jimmy Carr. Personally, I think Jimmy Carr’s “news summary” on the “10 O’clock Live” show is one of the funniest things on the TV at the moment.

    So, all things considered, you might be best to eschew the humour in favour of the pseudo-science – it is much more your thing really, let’s be honest…

  6. JimmyGiro says:4th March 2011 at 7:11 pmLoud cheering, long applause, short laughs… 10 O’Clock Live, Stalin’s choice TV.

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