“What’s behind the rise of the Golden age of television and how are consumer habits tuning into it?
There has been much talk recently about how we are experiencing a ‘Golden Age’ for television. There’s certainly no doubting the quality of the programmes being produced; from Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead (to name but a few) in the US to the likes of Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Dr Who right here at home.
But what is it that has made this such a great time for TV and, as business models and viewer behaviours continue to change, how much longer can we expect it to continue?”
Now, I don’t really want to go down the road of debating whether we actually are in a golden age of television, or whether that was in the 60s, or whether it all went downhill once the resolution went past 30 lines. Such discussions have been had endlessly. What I want to examine is how the debate here – and elsewhere – is framed.
Breaking Bad. Mad Men. The Walking Dead. Downton Abbey. Sherlock. Doctor Who. All given as examples of a current golden age of television. And all six examples are drama. Television is not just drama.
Television is sitcom. Television is game shows. Television is chat shows. Television is news. Television is documentaries. Television is sport. Television is entertainment shows. And television is many other things, stretching outside genre boundaries. Whenever this debate comes up, drama is nearly always the focus; and of course, it’s hugely important. But by ignoring everything else that television is, you diminish it. Great TV is so much more than just drama.
The latest series of Saturday Night Takeaway was at times absolutely extraordinary; clearly made by a production team which put stupid amounts of effort into the show. Pointless could be just another mediocre afternoon quiz show; but a ludicrously clever format and the Armstrong & Osman double act turn it into fantastic telly. Peppa Pig is one of the funniest and most heartwarming shows on television, with a line in dry humour a lot of adult drama would kill for. All important. All part of how television can be great.
Discussions about drama on television and the rise of Netflix and the like are hugely valuable. But it’s important to frame that debate as just one part of the wider picture. We mustn’t forget the rest. It all needs attention. It should all be the best it possibly can be. And it should all be appreciated when it is.
Never let it be said that Dirty Feed isn’t topical. To, erm, celebrate JLS splitting up, here’s some audio from their appearance on The Chris Moyles Show back in 2011, where they sung the show’s jingles live – in front of an audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.
To be honest, it’s a case of “nice thought, pity it’s JLS”. (I prefer the BBC Concert Orchestra playing the jingles live the following year, 17:20 into this clip.) But it’s worth it purely to hear Moyles being extremely rude to JLS over their ability to sing. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
Pips from the end of the show are kept in at the end of the clip. Because playing the pips in front of an audience at the end of your show is bloody great.
Last Wednesday was Pirate FM‘s 21st anniversary – and to celebrate, they dug out a bunch of their old JAM jingles from their 1992 launch. I wish I’d managed to record the whole day, but sadly I only captured a part of Hometime with James Dundon – of which the below is just a small badly-edited snippet:
Highlights include the amazing Pirate FM song at 1:45 (“The future’s looking great, at Great Britain’s Western Gate…”), and a hilariously sniffy contemporary BBC Spotlight report of the launch at 3:35. The whole day was a fantastic, heartfelt celebration – I only wish every radio station celebrated its anniversaries by having so much fun on the air.
The main thing I’d point out though, is how wonderful those jingles – now 21 years old – sound today. And more importantly, still work with a huge variety of different music – from Prefab Sprout in 1988, to a 2012 Pink hit. They made the station sound bloody fantastic. And, dare I say, deserve bringing back for more than one day…
I’ve been uploading things to YouTube for a few years now. Hardly a heavy user, mind you, and I was never eagerly chasing views: it was mainly just a place to store small bits of video easily that I didn’t especially want to pay the hosting costs for.
This was was the case tonight, where I had recorded a fun bit of video I wanted to share with the world. So I go to the YouTube upload page, and was greeted with this. Pay special attention to the right-hand column:
Yesterday, I bought the domain name for my upcoming internet radio show: 80track.fm. There’s only a holding page there at the moment, though TV pres geeks should recognise the font used for the logo. (For more, check out this post by Dave Jeffery.) There will be plenty of time for more about the actual show, however – let’s talk about simply buying the actual domain itself.
You may have spotted a subtle link between all those jobs. Sadly, I will never enter TV Centre – as it stands now, anyway – as a professional rather than a telly nerd. So a telly nerd I remained, as I walked into the reception of TV Centre in January, to take part in one of the last BBC Tours of the building. I won’t try to detail everything that went on in the tour, but I thought a few observations may be of interest.
This may be the most pointless thing I have ever done. But also one of the most enjoyable. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the final image of each episode of The Brittas Empire, or: Chris Barrie teaching the world how to pull silly faces. Image-heavy page under the cut.
Every so often, a DVD release gives you a lovely surprise. Sometimes, that surprise may be quickly skipped, with most people not even noticing it.
Take, for instance, Blackadder II – and specifically, the opening title music:
Delightfully, the DVD menu of The Complete Blackadder has a clean, extended version used for the main menu of the Blackadder II disc, giving you a good 15 seconds or so extra. Anyone want to have a listen? Of course you do.
AWESOME EXTRA ELECTRIC GUITAR NONSENSE. Somebody, somewhere, went to the effort of tracking down Howard Goodall’s original recording, rather than just lazily ripping it from one of the episodes. Whoever you are: I love you.
(Incidentally, the Blackadder Remastered boxset does not have the extended version of the theme – just a slightly awkward looped version, with sound effects clearly indicating it was ripped from the episode Beer. One of many, many sloppy things about that boxset, but don’t get me started on that one.)
So, my question: anyone got any other examples of extended versions of music only showing up in the DVD menus of film or television releases?
Robert’s Web. Safely one of the worst television programmes I have ever seen. Not that that’s my main point here, but I’ll take any chance I can get to slag off that wretched show. No, my point here is to do with the show’s Twitter account.
Let’s ignore the fact that the last tweet there is advertising the third show of the series, despite there being four episodes – a sure sign the team had given up by the last one. More importantly: there’s no goodbye message. No “thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed it”. Nowt. Zilch. Abandoned. Production office wound up, nobody there to even tweet a farewell.
Which altogether gives the impression that the account meant nothing to the makers of the show than what they could get out of it. Nobody could spare a minute to even pretend they gave a fuck, and post a goodbye. There is little more transparent than an account just abandoned like that. They never really engaged; it was all a front to try and whip up interest, then abandoned when the show failed.
It’s not a hard and fast rule, obviously. I’ve seen excellent Twitter accounts run by TV people, and I’ve seen awful ones run by web companies. But it happens enough to spot a pattern, and it’s not a pleasant one when it comes to television shows.
Which makes me sad. Telly can benefit hugely from social media, done right. Done wrong, it exposes some rather uncomfortable truths.