And the winner is …

by Rick Johansen

I declined the opportunity to watch the BAFTA TV awards on BBC 1 last night. There was no point. At a quick glance, I found two programmes I had watched from beginning to end – Happy Valley, arguably the greatest TV show of all time (CONTROVERSIAL!) and The Reckoning, Steve Coogan’s stunning portrayal of Jimmy Savile and a couple, like the Graham Norton Show and Later with Jools Holland I watch if the guests are good – so the prospect of an entire evening spent waiting for the next “And the winner is … ” did not appeal.

Not only had I not watched the vast majority of nominations, I had not heard of quite a few of them, either. In any event, in order to watch everything that BAFTA sought fit to nominate, I’d have had to cancel everything else in my life. And I’d have to take out subscriptions for even more channels, like Disney+, Apple+ and Sky Atlantic, the latter of which is not included in our rip-off Virgin package.

I am not saying this to sound all cool and trendy, but we watch precious little TV these days, certainly compared to years gone by. We are more likely to binge watch Clarkson’s Farm, pretty well any travelogue hosted by Michael Portillo and various box sets. We are less likely to simply veg out and watch any old crap that happens to be on.

You’d think that we’d watch more TV given the proliferation of choices, but the opposite happens. Whereas in the days of a handful of channels, I’d keep up to date with all manner of shows, I reckon I have learned to be more discerning and not fret if I miss something that looks vaguely interesting.

The miracle of TV and how you can watch the world’s events on a small cinema screen in the corner of your room still amazes me, yet my attitude to it began to change when I worked in the third (charity) sector and saw people literally dying in front of the crystal bucket. This is not a criticism, believe me, but when you are waiting for God,  confined to a bed or a wheelchair, you’re being fed from a blender and you’re incontinent, watching This Morning with Holly and Phil, or whoever hosts it these days, is all there is left in your life, well why not? My time, if I live long enough, may come and it’ll be me, overdosing on Homes Under The Hammer, Bargain Hunt and Loose Fucking Women. If you ever find me watching the latter, kill me.

That said, I am not knocking anyone who subscribes to the Full Monty of streaming channels, or whose life revolves round what’s on the TV. It’s not really different to anything else we do, whether that’s reading books, listening to music or going to the pub. It’s not as if we’ve been put on this planet for any reason, other than the accident of our birth and there’s no purpose to  our existence beyond procreation. So if television is the thing that floats your boat, then carry on floating.


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