Box clever

Wednesday, February 8, 2006 by

Decent TV shows about TV have always tended to fall into one of two categories: the pithily pedantic (Open AirSee for YourselfRight to Reply) or the waspishly whimsical (Take TwoAsk AspelWindmill). A programme that tackles telly from a topical, informative and genuinely enthusiastic point of view has, it feels, never been treated as a serious proposition. Convention seems to dictate there always has to be a gimmick bolted on, be it Gloria Hunniford, video booths or “Call the Controller”.

Sure enough, the same goes for BBC4′s latest commission, Screen Burn, wherein the most exciting medium in the land is going to be approached via “a juvenile parade of insults and unpleasant imagery loosely masquerading as analysis,” in the predictably subtle and self-deprecating words of its creator Charlie Brooker.

Whether or not you find Brooker’s brand of humour enjoyable, chances are the show will fall flat on its face by dint of being neither particularly funny nor particularly offensive – at least if the man’s companion column in the Guardian is anything to go by, what with its obvious swearing, easy targets and plain cock-ups (“discovering” Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow on the morning of its final transmission, stating the top prize in Deal or No Deal as £200,000).

Moreover, the fall-out to what is admittedly just a three-show run will probably put everybody off attempting another series about TV for a further generation.

There’s an instantly obvious place in the schedules for a regular show that looks at what, when and why people watch TV, and there are assuredly plenty of people who’d be up for watching it. Stick someone with a great deal of knowledge about the industry in front of the camera, but someone who also boasts a likable personality and a lightness of touch, and you’d have the perfect early evening alternative to a surplus of soaps and Watchdog clones.

And suffice to say, there’s one person who’d fit that bill perfectly.


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