Saturday, 24 September 2016


Now I'm all in favour of the BBC. It's one of our most important institutions and losing it to commercial interests would be a disaster. I'm always going to oppose Tory attempts to shut it down or to reduce it to an "also ran" in the broadcasting business. 

Likewise, I have absolutely no sympathy for those people who complain about paying a £145 a year TV licence then happily pay £1000 a year or more for a Sky subscription in order to watch a endless morass of imported American rubbish, repeated BBC programmes they claim not to watch on the BBC, stuff about flying saucers and Football. 

Is it really worth paying all that much just to watch a bunch of multi-millionaires rolling about on the grass, clutching their leg and pretending they have been fouled? I don't think so.

I also support the fact that the BBC spends most of it's licence fee on home produced talent and the money they raise is ploughed back into the UK economy. There are some people who think that giving a small fortune to Rupert Murdoch so he can stuff it into some tax avoiding offshore bank account is a good thing; not me.

Because a succession of governments have starved the BBC of the funds it needs to provide a high quality service, they have sometimes had to resort to cost saving measures to make ends meet. One of those measures is to take one type of programme format and literally flog it to death.

Cookery programmes are popular and (usually) cheap to make. No problem so far, but they are now taking it to extremes. This weekend they are going to broadcast 9 hours of them, many will be shown back to back so you just get one after the other. When BBC1 has finished, they just transfer them to BBC2 and carry on.

There's nothing wrong with cookery programmes, even the ones featuring pretentious chefs offering warmed up bits of raw meat on a bed of vegetables no-one has ever heard of. But 9 hours?

Not Phil Taylor
Cartoon by
Likewise sport. Back in the 1970s, the British public discovered darts. Previously the preserve of elderly gentlemen in public bars, it suddenly became all the rage when the BBC discovered that they could broadcast hours of it for little or nothing. For reasons I will never understand, it became an immediate hit with the viewing public and was watched by millions.

Enter Sky. Seeing an opportunity to make money on the back of someone else's idea, they set up their own league and threw huge amounts of money at it. This had the desired effect of attracting all the big names around at the time, leaving the BBC with all the "also rans" and plummeting audiences.

Sky also made sure that no-one would be in any doubt that this was "their" league and so gone was the original audience of darts fans, quietly respectful of their heroes' efforts to be replaces by a bunch of yelling and screaming drunken yobs, howling through the whole proceedings.

The other main effect was the fact that you could only watch major league darts on a Sky pay-for-view channel, i.e. no-one was watching it anymore.

The best example of just how much public interest had disappeared was during an episode of the BBC quiz show "Pointless". The public were asked to name all the darts champions they could think of. The old 70s and 80s champions like Jocky Wilson, Eric Bristow and the like all scored highly. Phil Taylor, who has been world champion more times than anyone can count, but mainly in the Sky era, was almost unknown.

Darts TV audiences are now back to the levels they were when the BBC first started showing it which is not very high but it hasn't stopped the BBC from treating like we are all still watching it.

This weekend we will be treated to over 15 hours of darts. Yes, that's 15 hours. I don't mind watching it for a bit but come on lads.

Looks like I will be spending some time in the pub. Deary, deary me.

Header Picture

My latest header picture features a Common Seal basking on the mud by the Thames, opposite the Thamesmead golf course. You will see them there quite a lot.

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