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TV: Nostalgia is best


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After having a rather heated debate with an (ex) close friend of mine, I got to thinking that TV really was much better back in the day. She argued that it’s better now than it’s ever been. Now, we are faced with commercial deluge of processed formats with ridiculous non celebrities fronting a fluffy show about the life and trials of a WAG.

We have shows like Snog Marry Avoid, where Jenny Frost (Yes exactly, who? She’s the one that didn’t marry Peter Andre and didn’t raise her kids in a ghetto) humiliates freaks who think that ‘lesser is better’ (evidently having attended the St Jeremy Kyle school of English and Grammar), and where the more you resemble a Satsuma, the fitter you are.

Not only this, but even the ‘serious stuff’ is liquefied and dumbed-down these days it’s painful to watch. Every documentary has to have some famous face attached to even get off the ground, and the content of the shows merely shows us the same slums in Africa or the identical ghettos in the Middle East. Yes, Ross Kemp, your well ‘ard like, but are you sure you’re not just visiting the same place with different camera angles?

Back in the day, it was Attenborough, a camera and a cameraman out exploring the places only existing in our minds, interacting with animals we only ever saw in storybooks and meeting tribesmen we only saw in films. This stuff was real. There was no James Bond sound track as a shark mauls a seal, or some part-time explorer scoffs some road-kill (woo for you Bear Grylls). It was the sound of the jungle and merely observations on the world around us.

Too deep? Ok, how about game shows. Now we have countless studio game shows (The Cube, Million Pound Drop, Push the flaming Button...) Not exactly stuff you’re going to show your kids now is it? But tell me honestly you were never sat down as a child to watch re runs of Bullseye, Catchphrase or even Family Fortunes...

This is the point I’m making. TV as it is not memorable. It is repetitive and unadventurous, and makes me worried for in 20 years time. What will we fill out ’50 best ever...’ TV shows with? Will it just miss out 1990-2010? Will it still be full of Morecambe and Wise, the Two Ronnies and Frank Spencer? And rightly so, because these were true stars of TV. Not Paddy McGuiness or Mr Vernon Kay.

There is, like everything in TV, one exception to the rule. TV drama. Never have I felt that TV has nailed it better. In the 90’s and before, drama was a little basic, a little wooden and basically a little crap, basically. Shows like All creatures great and small, The Avengers and The Bill seem to be so dated and uncomfortable to watch, that I struggle to sit through one episode, let alone a series marathon (thanks ITV3/UK Gold). However today, we have some of the slickest, most exciting drama in years. The Hustle, Spooks and Downton Abbey all seem like series with serious long-term potential, with more complex and edgy storylines per episode. The shows are exciting to watch and leave you desperate to watch next week, or even find a cheeky clip online. Ever felt that with Poirot? Nah, me neither. These will be the shows we should be proud enough to show the kids in years to come. Although they will probably roll their eyes and tell us its rubbish then, too.

But, are we all just looking through rose-tinted glasses? I think we can safely admit that most TV these days is pretty cheap and repetitive, but it’s there for two reasons.

A) To keep us entertained on such a basic level that all understand and...

B)... also to roll in the big bucks.

After all, big bucks which fund the next Marchlands, Downton or Mad Dogs.

And if that’s what we get as a result of ‘No Likey, No Lighty’, then I’m more than happy to tune in.

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