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.
- Worrying about pop stars who don’t do drugs
- Are lefties incredibly stupid or just plain evil?
- ‘Anyone who thought Love Actually was a bit crap please leave…’
- Stuff of legend