Sunday, 27 August 2006

Lazy Idiot Journalist Thinks Of Fifty Television Programmes He Doesn't Like, Then Writes Them Down

As our ever vigilant readers may be aware, the Radio Times has paid John Naughton some money to hand in a list of the fifty worst programmes ever shown on British television. Presumably, he'd then forgot about it until an hour before his deadline, and ended up cobbling together a list from all the other Worst TV Show Ever lists, throwing in a few random shows from the schedules to stir up a bit controversy. We're assuming that's what happened, as the list is gnashingly bad and wrong. Lets take a look at some of his choices, and look at why they shouldn't be there (and, going against tradition with Worst TV Ever lists, we've actually seen the shows we're talking about), and offer some alternative suggestions while we're at it.

Remember, the ones we're suggesting aren't neccessarily the worst TV shows ever made (apart from Balls of Steel, obv), as we wouldn't have tuned in for shows that are obviously going to be terrible, because we're not stupid.

8 Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends (1984-1991)
Massively popular with it's target audience (BrokenTV's Mark X remembers a ten-child clamour to see the first episode on his ninth birthday), internationally successful (even Mr C Montgomery Burns has been known to list it amongst his favourite shows), and led to a (admittedly useless) semi-live-action movie. Hardly the eighth worst programme ever.

Replace it with...
Balls Of Steel (2005-)
Or, Trigger Happy-Slapping TV, as it's known in our house. Television for cunts, by cunts. The worst thing ever transmitted on Channel Four, and given the competition for that accolade over the years, that's some achievement.

11 Heil Honey I'm Home! (1990)
We've seen the first episode of this, and do you know what? It's not that bad. Basically, it's a Viz comic strip, but on telly. It certainly could never have lasted longer than half a dozen episodes, but given it was a micro-budget sitcom on BSB, much better than could be expected. And we still really want to see any episode of Up Yer News! with Lee and Herring in.

Replace it with...
The Girl In The Cafe (2005)
You know, we'd never have realised that massive global poverty was a bad thing, until Richard Curtis put on his special directing hat and patronised BBC One viewers into a coma. Thanks, Rich.

15 Breakfast Time (1983-1989)
Aah, you would have expected him to say TV-am, wouldn't you? Aah.

Replace it with...
RI:SE (2002)
RI:SABLE, more like. It was pretty rubbish to begin with, but when they tried to revamp it to stop the rot, they drafted in Iain Lee and Someone Off Big Brother as hosts. Why they couldn't simply show repeats of The Channel Four Daily, we're not sure.

17 OTT (1982)
BrokenTV has finally had the opportunity to watch this recently (very probably unlike pretty much everyone to nominate it as one of the worst TV shows ever), and you know what? It's perfectly watchable, in the sense that it was truly something that had never been done before that point of TV history. Some of it doesn't work at all now, such as jokes where the punchline is Lenny Henry being black, but the majority of it is knowingly corny knockabout fun. In a nutshell, what Soccer AM would be like if they could swear, wasn't about football, and was transported magically back to 1982. And as a special bonus, it'd be a version of Soccer AM that didn't feature bloody Kasabian every other week.

Replace it with...
Hardwicke House (1986)
Another notorious show that BrokenTV has recently viewed for the first time since original transmission. Pulled due to viewer outrage after just two episodes, surely this would be one of the most dangerous and thrilling programmes ever broadcast on ITV since, ooh, OTT? Crikey, no. It stank the room out. The writers had fallen into the trap of being 'shocking' (i.e. not very shocking at all, really) as opposed to being 'any good'. You know, like the second series of Nighty Night.

18 George and Mildred (1976-1979)

"Ooh, blimey."

[Whaps John Naughton across the snout with a rolled-up newspaper] No. Idiot journalist. This is clearly amongst the best of ITV's sitcom output (which contains more gold than anyone ever gives them credit for), as the repeats on Paramount 2 will confirm. Just the thought of George Roper muttering "oh, crikey" to himself is enough to reduce BrokenTV to a fit of giggles. Not only was there an American version of the series (which, of course, was a spin-off from Man About The House - see, they can work), but we'd say it could just as easily have been the inspiration for the mighty Married... With Children. Only without the children, obv. Even the 1980 movie version was utterly great, with George inadvertently getting mixed up with gangsters (which would be a bit of a rubbish idea, only it involved George "Crikey!" Roper, which automatically made it into an excellent premise). Also, BrokenTV used to have a massive crush on Sheila "Ann Fourmile" Fearn. Still does, actually. Still, if it was on ITV, and it was on in the 1970s, and wasn't Rising Damp, it *must* be rubbish. Eh, John?

Replace it with...
Green, Green Grass (2005)
How not to do a spin-off. It doesn't help when the main character had previously been restricted to saying something sarcastic to Delboy in the Nag's Head, allowing Del to make a snappy comeback quip to roars of approval from Denzil, Mickey et al. Still, we suppose it did provide a little bit of TV history, as surely the least popular prime-time sitcom ever to be shown on Christmas Day BBC One.
25 Eurovision Song Contest (1956-)
28 The Edinburgh Military Tattoo (1952-)
They've been running for over fifty years, and are still popular enough to make it onto our screens. Possibly, the Radio Times are a bit annoyed that other countries are obviously also treating Eurovision like a bit of a laugh ("We are the winners" etc), so they can't feel quite as high and mighty as they were by sneering at it.

Replace them with...
Anything With Patrick Kielty In It, Ever
It's a little known fact that Patrick "Tesco Value Chris Evans" Kielty hasn't actually been on British television for over 47 years, it just feels like it.

31 Family Fortunes (1980-2002)
Gngh. Massively popular, much of it has passed over into popular culture (for better or worse), everyone was wowed by the impressive Babbage back when it began (much better than the Supermatch Game-esque rotating boards of Family Feud), and the original host was Sir Boob Monklouse. What's not to like? "Fortunes is security, Les."

Replace it with...
The People Versus (2000)
Where the viewers can send in their questions to ask the contestants. If your question can't be answered correctly, you get to come on the show as a contestant. Basically, a product of ITV's 'throw enough gameshow formats at the wall, and see if any of them stick', with the word 'stick' representing the phrase 'flog to American networks'. It wasn't very good, and should never be confused with the excellent The People Versus Jerry Sadowitz.

34 French and Saunders (1987-2004)
Sigh. Never mind it being massively popular, or French and Saun-ders (pop-a-dilly-oh*) being one of the best double acts of the last twenty years. Because the last series was a bit rubbish, John has decided that dispels the previous five series of general greatness. Granted, there was the occasional sketch where French and/or Saunders were made to look like a famous celebrity (a comically fat version of such, in many cases), and that's supposedly enough of a joke to last for the next five minutes, but most of their output was of a very high standard, such as the running sketch where they broke into the BBC to try and blag a pay rise and nick Victoria Wood's BAFTA. Even the 2003 Christmas Special was one of the best shows of that festive period, all the more surprising considering the title referenced Love Actually.

(*F.A.O. Paramount, UK Gold or the BBC: Finally repeat the first series of this, so anyone who isn't me might be able to get that reference.)

Replace it with...
Double Take (2001)

England footballers, doing their hair. This
would have used up three minutes of your life.

You know, the one where people who look a bit like famous people do things that the famous people themselves might not do in grainy monochrome. The idea worked in it's original incarnation (i.e. photographs), as it only took a split second to 'get' what was going on, and if you were amused by the sight of a Svenalike in Union Flag pants, that was a bonus. Dragged out for half an hour of screen time, each idea was expected to stand up on it's own over several minutes, which got tremendously boring rather quickly. Add the fact that agency lookey-likeys can't actually act very well, and that lots of them were pretty poor lookey-likeys in the first place (especially the Bush and Blair models), necessitating lots of blurry, out-of-focus camerawork, and you're left with a programme that was a major let down. Of course, that didn't stop the Radio Times endlessly gushing over it. But they do the same over Green Wing, which pretty much devalues that currency.

36 Eldorado (1992-1993)
Except, for the final year of the show, it was actually really good, was picking up lots of viewers, and was only cancelled once Alan Yentob decided that appeasing the tabloids was more important than listening to viewers.

Replace it with...
Night and Day (2001-2003)
As pointed out in the excellent Off The Telly, ITV ordered 240 episodes of this soap opera, with the USP of being on at 5.05pm three days a week, with an 'adult' episode on weekly at 10.20pm. Ooh, edgy. Except, of course, it wasn't. Nobody bothered watching it, and before long it was restricted to a single omnibus outing once per week, in an increasingly embarressing timeslot, sometimes as late as 1am. Ah, the folly of trying to 'do' middle-class soap operas.

41 Origami (1968)
We're willing to bet actual cash money that John Naughton has never actually seen any more of this programme than the clip shown in Channel Four's 100 Moments From TV Hell. It was daytime television, in the Britain of 1968. It was hardly going to be Man Alive, was it? And it'd probably be preferable to the endless Make Your House Worth Slightly More Than It Is Now programmes of space year 2006.

Replace it with...
Julie Birchall on Chavs (2005)
"Hi, I'm Julie Birchall. You know chavs? Well, I like them, and I'm going to pretend I am one. YOU DIDN'T EXPECT ME TO HAVE THAT OPINION, DID YOU?"
That's all we can bear to pick apart for now, but the rest of the list is equally shoddy - The Good Old Days (1953-1983)? It had Kenneth Williams in it! And it only lasted for THIRTY YEARS. How can it possibly be worse than, say, The Book Group?
Of course, we could buy a copy of Radio Times to try to understand his reasoning behind each choice. We could do that. But, as we'd previously stated, we're not stupid.

3 .:

Anonymous said...

A slight factual imprecision there, Brokes, as the "original incarnation" of Double Take was, in fact, Alison Jackson watching the Miniaturised Area bit of Friday Night Armistice and saying "What a brilliant idea which they have unfortunately spoiled with accuracy and comedy." I mention this only because she was on the increasingly unsettling History of Light Entertainment the other night explaining her patented formula for TV magic, which appears to be (1) hang around cafes and schools trying to find lookey-likeys, (2) have them expensively dressed and made up by professional BBC staff, (3) put them in a big set and say "Go on, do something" then (4) leave a Photoshop filter running on the monitor and phone a man to order another house; and am therefore cross.

Also, French and Saunders's Raw Sex's libretto went "Bop a do wee ooo." It DID.

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