Wednesday, 21 August 2013

It's not real life - it's just TV

I often complain that we don't get any decent telly any more, just a lot of reality telly. Another of my bugbears is misery TV and I don't watch soaps for that reason. If I want to watch families yelling at one another I'll visit mine and not do it in my precious leisure time. There is an element of TV being there to inform and educate, but my favourite shows tend to be purely entertainment, which I almost feel I have to apologise for.  More often than not I'll watch Blackadder yet again (which is almost like learning history isn't it ?) and recently Masterchef or the newly returned Great British Bake Off (come on that's just Home Ec) or if I'm being really swotty a quiz so I have to use my brain a little bit. It made me wonder whether TV was always about real life or if this obsession with 'constructed reality' is all new.

On the buses colour still
I'm pretty sure that very few bus companies are like seventies sitcom On the Buses. For a start they don't have nearly as many staff as that any more, the cultural mix is far more diverse and the bus garage in South Croydon certainly doesn't have a canteen where they all sit around between shifts - hence the roaring trade in transport caffs along the Brighton Road. If the drivers were to walk out in protest at women driving buses they'd get nowhere these days as women drivers are not controversial any more. I do remember when I was at school and Sheila was the well known driver of the E2 bus who would get out of her cab to help pensioners on and would tell the school kids to wait and take their turn. She won bus driver of the year many times and was brilliant !!

Despite what the papers and every Prisons Minister and Justice Secretary (how Orwellian is that ?) think I know for a fact that prisons aren't like Porridge. Prison officers who've been in the job a long time insist it used to be like that and long serving prisoners do hark back to the days of it being like a gentleman's club, but I suspect closing the 'staff clubs' where officers could get 'cold refreshments' during breaks is only a good thing. Norman Stanley Fletcher and his like do exist, but the scams are far less jolly than the ones depicted going on at Slade Prison. In reality we have an interesting TV crossover where the Muppets help children who have parents inside prison to deal with this very difficult issue in their young lives.

Citizen Khan still from the show
Citizen Khan is no more an accurate reflection of 'multicultural Britain' than Love They Neighbour was back in the seventies. It's just the language was less censored back then and now the white character does not get an equal number of digs as the Asian one. It was a stipulation made by Rudolph Walker when he took the part of the black neighbour that for every racist epithet he should get an equal number of them back at his white neighbour as recourse. I think that was what passed for equality back in the seventies.

And despite what every Health  minister in the last 15 years believes, NHS hospitals are not like Green Wing (and then Scrubs). I'm sure they want to believe that doctors have time for japes and hilarity and that the admin staff spend all day photocopying their body parts rather than actual work. If you think it's a bit far-fetched that actual policy on health might be based on misconceptions from watching a comedy series then try and recall the last time you saw a minister or indeed any public figure sitting in A&E at 3 in the morning with a child with a viral infection. No, it's ok I'll wait...

Call the midwife still
My personal favourite is a recent addition to the thinly disguised propaganda school of TV making and is the vintage and soft focus Call The Midwife. An everyday depiction of childbirth in the East End of London with a side helping of 'why don't women give birth at home anymore ?" I'm pretty sure that it was commissioned as a lovely bit of Sunday evening nostalgia and costume drama to keep families entertained - I mean only a hard heart wouldn't be reduced to tears by the cute ickle babies wouldn't it ? In addition it's a tale of women giving birth in adversity and without horrid doctors interfering that elevates midwives to mythical status. I honestly do think midwives can be marvellous and that childbirth should be treated as a normal thing and not medicalised as a matter of course. I'm also fascinated to see if requests for and actual home births increase as a result of the show.

Of course all of this is moot when you have a toddler as the TV is on Cbeebies the majority of the time he is awake. At least I can say that is educational without fear of contradiction :o)

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