The turn of the millennium is a time for thinking of the future and starting anew, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the past and to learn from it. With the male propensity for compiling lists so prevalent among reviewers of late, why shouldn’t the Socialist Standard get in on the act? If any group of people have clear ideas why the past was unsatisfactory and how the future could be a whole load better it is socialists. So here we go with twenty TV nightmares of the past balanced by twenty TV wishes for the future:
We should have pulled the plug on . . .
- News reports that refer to any given dictatorship across the globe as “Marxist”.
- Programmes intent on uniting Tony Blair with a comfy chair and a pair of sycophantic interviewers before mealtime.
- Channel Five’s sickeningly nationalistic coverage of England matches.
- The Price is Right.
- The aliens with overly-large foreheads constantly on Sky One.
- Brookside, about three years ago, Neighbours at least ten years ago and EastEnders after the very first filming session.
- Every US kids cartoon since the Hair Bear Bunch.
- The exponential growth (in both width and coverage) of overly matey TV chefs.
- Bellicose, belligerent and biased war reporting (all channels, every year).
- Judith Chalmers.
- Solemn and revered historians on BBC2 (solemnly received by us and greatly revered by themselves).
- Kids TV presenters who invite us to “check it out” with our “posse” if we are “in the area”, the area in question being the King’s Road or Camden Lock, not Brixton, Toxteth, Moss Side or Harlem.
- Royal correspondents.
- Gordon Brown’s sinister attempts at smiling to camera.
- The incisive, penetrating and totally unscripted interviewing of Des O’Connor.
- Anything involving Jeremy Clarkson and subliminal erotic fantasies about fast cars and motorbikes.
- Songs of Praise.
- The ‘devil-may-care’ and ever-so-wacky participants of Extreme Sports.
- Interviews with Barbara Cartland (the contrast button on my TV set is worn down).
- The Money Programme (natch).
The above choice is a personal one so please remember that any offence caused is purely intentional.
We should plug into . . .
- The abolition of the TV license, “pay-per-view” and all monetary payments for TV subscriptions. Free access to the airwaves!
- The Royal Family, the moving tale of a dysfunctional extended family getting to grips with life in a classless society without butlers, palaces or command performances.
- Community-controlled television rather than multinational pap and brainwashing.
- The Antiques Roadshow, without the blue-rinse money grabbers feigning interest in everything but the long-awaited valuation.
- The disappearance of all Party Political Broadcasts in a society where there are no longer any political parties.
- Men Behaving Badly, to remind ourselves of how desperate we were in capitalism to laugh at something – indeed, anything.
- Direct democracy via television and the internet.
- The accurate dissemination of information rather than the sustained idiocies of modern advertising.
- Blue Peter without charitable endeavours and coke-head presenters.
- Television for children which isn’t dominated by violence and gang warfare.
- News broadcasting shorn of its class content, political bias and servitude to the market.
- Re-runs of The Prisoner, so we can remember what life became like in capitalism.
- Re-runs of the Queen’s Speech during Comedy Hour.
- People playing sport for fun and entertainment, not money.
- The Bill, without being able to comprehend any of it anymore.
- The concluding episode of EastEnders.
- What the Papers Say without the Daily Mail.
- Casualty without a crisis (admittedly, this might be stretching it a bit).
- The final edition of the Jerry Springer Show, where Jerry is outed as a transsexual bigamist who has been cheating on his sister’s pet Alsatian.
- Wish You Were Here, and really think that for once we might be.