Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Television, The Drug Of The Nation

Baron Grumpypants of Withering Barbs (aka Charlie Brooker) has a new TV series about the awfulness of, er, TV. It’s actually a work of genius, as most Brooker things are. His Screen Burn column in the Guardian was always the first thing I read on a Saturday. If I’m right, following a nasty review he wrote of someone’s new show, he received a comment from them along the lines of: “I hope you are sprayed with hot s**t.” Nice.

Our TV still goes nighty-night around 6.30pm when it’s bath time. To vary Toddler’s viewing we have been introducing some DVDs including vintage Paddington Bear and Trap Door. I’ve also updated our rental list on LoveFilm so we can sample without buying.

So far Shaun the Sheep has proved a big hit. ’Beep. Beep!’ (She can’t say ’sheep’ properly.) It’s a very knowing animation with all sorts of pop culture references. It made me hoot no end. Particularly this episode where the sheep gang up and go out for pizza.

Speaking of LoveFilm I see it’s been bought by Amazon. One intriguing aspect is the fact that it’s now routine to ask you if you want to (a) buy the film, (b) rent it or (c ) watch it now on your computer via broadband. My head swims at this concept. Why would you want to watch a movie on a laptop never mind via broadband? I can do DVD on a TV screen but surely nothing beats the cinema experience?

However the download option is proving pretty popular. I read recently the firm that supplies ’the pipe’ through which downloaded movies flow is at capacity. Will Amazon have to fork out for an upgrade? It all seems too virtual. I’m afraid I still think of reels of film rather than bits and bytes. Mind you, at least DVDs are fairly Toddler-proof. I recall a number of harrowing incidents when I was young, watching my younger siblings yanking VHS tape out of the flap across the top of the video cassette and strewing it round the house like bunting.

Film and TV are johnny come latelys in the sphere of entertainment. The old master is radio. Sadly, in the year we’ve been doing the daily commute I haven’t found anything on the dial that suits all three of us. On one occasion we managed the whole thirty minute journey from Inversnecky to the Sunniest Town in Scotland listening quietly to PM with Eddie Mair. Mind you, I think Toddler was concentrating on a spectacular nappy filler that afternoon.

Mostly we listen to books on tape (on CD) - Julia Donaldson’s Greatest Hits, The Very Best of AA Milne and Eric Carle: The Platinum Collection.

As long as there’s a good bit of rotation they don’t drive me too demented.

We’ve tried the Cbeebies podcast a couple of times but it’s a bit talky and jumbled for Toddler’s liking, although Wife Features and I loved Jelly’s News. Jelly is a muppet from the super-smug tree-hugging Green Balloon Club show. Her news mostly consisted of kids breaking exclusives such as chocolate cereal makes the milk go brown. Bong!

Radio 4 used to be on constantly but due to the mania of parenthood I find I have to keep in touch with I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and In Our Time (wow - two ends of a spectrum there) through their podcasts. I see the new controller has plans. They may not sound earth-shaking but I recall a conversation I had in Broadcasting House with a top R4 bod about possible changes to the schedule. ’It’d take an act of parliament to change it.’ He was perfectly serious.

When TWMBO was tiny I used to feed her an early bottle on a Saturday to Sounds of the 60s with Brian Matthew on Radio 2. It’s such a great show - full of hidden gems and perfect for a boogie with a baby.

My sanctuary however is Jazz Record Requests on Radio 3. Saturdays at 5pm. Unless the heartless thugs who run the network decide to trash this hallowed airtime with live opera. I’m afraid my idea of relaxation does not involve a beardy bloke and a lady with thunderthighs (just call me the Andy Gray of blogging) warbling nonsense in German for three hours. What is it Jamie the press officer says in In The Loop? Vowels! It’s just foreign f***ing vowels!

I also recommend Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on 6 Music. 10pm on a Sunday. Despite my best efforts I usually bail out at 11. Yes, the show is called Finest Hour but it lasts two. Garvey - the lead singer with Elbow - plays an eclectic and intelligent selection of tracks. And, if you listen very closely indeed, you will hear a rather unhealthy obsession with Sir Patrick Moore and The Sky At Night. Good night!


  1. I'm sorry for your errors - and here is a clue.
    I S I D H a C isn't available as a podcast as far as I can tell, only as an i-play (alas).
    Can the rest of this blog be trusted?

  2. Any accuracy is purely coincidental.