For a while now I’ve been wondering why I don’t seem to watch anything on BBC One. (Except for the news, and Match of the Day, and HIGNFY, and the Natural History stuff – obviously.)
I’m surely in the target audience. And there’s probably some programmes on that I would like. Sometimes I hear about them, when it’s a bit too late. (Spooks, Outnumbered, Mistresses, the occasional one-off drama….) For which, of course, there’s the iPlayer, so long as you get there in time.
I miss them because I’m watching things on V+ that I know I like: Boardwalk Empire, The The Killing, something interesting on BBC Four, America’s Next Top Model. That sort of thing. So it’s partly my own fault. And because I know this, I try to venture back every now and then to see what I’m missing.
And that’s where it all goes wrong.
I’m already at a disadvantage because, let’s face it, I’m never going to watch the BBC One staples of Eastenders, Holby City, Casualty, Strictly, the Lottery draws, the One Show, Doctor Who, and anything involving Graham Norton. The Apprentice has been taken as far as it can go. I’m not that fussed about game shows or cookery.
There’s still drama of course. And I’ve tried. Really, I’ve tried. But it never seems to work. There’s this strangely limited cabal of familiar-looking actors delivering dialogue that makes you feel a bit embarrassed for them. I had high hopes for the Shadow Line, but again the script was lame and every character was a pantomime psychopath.
Then recently I realised. It’s not that I don’t want to watch BBC One. BBC One doesn’t want me to watch it.
I was outside its gang, and it didn’t want to let me in. I knew this because the continuity announcers referred to presenters or contestants only by their first names. (“Now on BBC One, Harry has got to tango his way to survival in the vote-off”.) I also knew this because every new BBC One show featured people who I was evidently supposed to know and love – presumably because they appear in the BBC One staples. It’s a self-perpetuating downward spiral of exclusion.
Come off it, I told myself. You’re being paranoid. And then I saw the BBC One Christmas TV trail.
Oh. There they all are round the piano. I recognise Norton and Sir Bruce, of course. And there are a couple of blokes who probably appeared on home makeover shows, when the BBC still did those in peak time. Now they’re probably on Strictly. Or fronting Panorama. There are some other people from sitcoms I don’t watch. Sitcoms that are probably going to do a Christmas Day Special. And – oh fucking hell – they’re singing ‘consider yourself one of us.’ “Or else”, they should probably add. “Because if you don’t know us by now, there’s no way back. So just fuck off back to Channel 4 and your series links on V+ because there’s no place for your sort round here.” That bit probably didn’t get past the BBC Trust.