It’s been a bit depressing looking at what was on BBC television the evening just gone. Not because there was a load of rubbish on, because that’s normal, and as Theodore Sturgeon said, ninety percent of everything is crud (that’s a bit mean on the BBC so far as yesterday evening went – there was actually some good programming on). No, there’s been Brian Cox delivering the Royal Television Society Lecture, Science: a Challenge to TV Orthodoxy, which I’ve just missed most of because it was on BBC2 at twenty past eleven in the evening, and the entry in the Radio Times listing magazine was so tiny I didn’t see it. My daughter went to watch the recording of it in Salford last week and enjoyed it (a bit too far for me to travel to, so I’ll have to watch it on the iPlayer). Why was it on so late, especially when the presenter, Brian Cox, is someone who appeals to a wide audience (I bet RM fancies him (see below))?
The other saddening thing is to do with Ancient Worlds, which was also on BBC2, and on at 9pm which is a far more accessible time. My gripe here is not with the programme, or its timing, but the review of it in the Radio Times, the BBC’s own listings magazine:
‘If you’re lucky enough to own a head that can process stodgy, academic storytelling and fantastically wordy sentences, then you’re probably savouring Richard Miles’s series. But when the historian announces early on that Alexander the Great’s dad, King Philip II of Macedon, was, “unfettered by the parochial and claustrophobic embrace of the polis,” I had to pause the DVD and unpick my brain. This happened at least eight more times. If you ignore the verbose script, Miles is at least charming and excited by his subject. And he’s handsome. Think Peep Show’s Robert Webb (who he also sounds a lot like) but with bigger front teeth and a tan. Tonight, he talks in complicated terms about the rise of Alexander the Great and Hellenistic civilisation, without really explaining what this is. Ancient Greece, basically, but I had to double-check that on Wikipedia.’
That’s really going to make people want to watch it. Credit your audience with a little more intelligence than yourself, perhaps, ‘RM’; or perhaps, stick to reviewing Desperate Housewives and the like? Or, maybe the Radio Times editor could give programmes to reviewers who have a bit of a clue perhaps, rather than getting someone to write something that’s going to put off anyone who’s vacillating between trying Ancient Worlds and watching something else? Although they might watch it with the sound turned down so they could just letch after the presenter, I suppose.
Here’s my review of Julia Bradbury’s German Wanderlust (which was on yesterday evening and which I didn’t actually watch, but I think I’ve got the Radio Times‘s house style sorted): Julia Bradbury was trekking round Germany, and if you ignore the mentally challenging mentions of Byron, Wagner, Turner, Goethe, and the like, there’s some beautiful scenery, not least Julia herself. Definitely some wanderlust provided there, although she kept going on about the Romantic movement, whatever that is, although I’d certainly like to get Romantic with her.
I wonder if Radio Times would print it? If not I could always try the Guardian.