Clean up TV?

Mixed news about TV. Do you support Joan Bakwell’s protest about the coarsening of TV and her call for less swearing? I do. It puts me right off those TV chefs who use it as a verbal garnish. It’s not exactly a new theme. Remember Michael Grade then head of Channel 4, dubbed “pornographer in chief” by the Daily Mail? One person’s pornography is another’s art or authentic voice. Joan is probably right. Swear for a purpose, not like the onset of Tourette’s. TV is still capable of ambition – high ratings were delivered yesterday for the first episode of the C4 drama series on the English civil war, or as I should call it, the war of the three kingdoms (though I could quibble about the rough-hewn but right Cromwell and Charles 1’s straggly beard.) I wasn’t going to return to John Sergeant but I’ve just spent a day at a conference on the constitution at which his was the name most mentioned, more than Obama– by among others the Lords Speaker and the Chair of the public administration select committee. Ah, if only we could get them to vote like that on serious things…. Amid an ocean of coverage at least 600 stories by Google’s count, for the deeply serious Martin Kettle, Sergie’s become a kind of latter day Spartacus of the Oldies, the symbol of a brief rebellion against ageism and a smaller rebellion by viewers. You might say all this “people’s” stuff is getting impressive, were it not for the fact that I know my media, who in good times and bad, know how to keep a good popular story running. But then, it is a good story and people are enjoying it, so maybe the Sergeant saga is a real phenomenon after all.

  • willis

    Thanks for stating a thread on this speech, even though I am going to go in a different direction with it.

    To my mind the speech was about shared values, shared between executives, creatives and the public. Of course swearing is on part of that but it goes much further.

    I agreed with practically every word, but was particularly taken by this paragraph, not surprised, mark you. It shows that in matters of trust, the rot starts at the top and in the pocket.

    “Today responsible producers tell me of their misgivings at being directed informally not to renew the freelance contracts of those who work for them without allowing a 2 weeks break. That way the BBC avoids being responsible for all that is involved in employees rights: holidays, sick
    leave, maternity leave. etc. Loyalty to such an
    organisation? I don’t think so.”

  • Ian

    Since there’s a Monty Python thread further up the list, I will point out an example of where less swearing would have been more effective.

    In Life of Brian, there’s a bit where Brian’s trying to get rid of his band of devotees. After becoming increasing frustrated with their failure to see reason, he finally exclaims, “Just… F**K OFF!!!”

    His disciples look at each other, ponder a moment and then one (played by John Cleese) asks, “And how shall we f**k off oh Lord?”

    It’s a great gag, but I think it would have been even more powerful if it hadn’t been preceded earlier in the film by a couple of more casual uses of the F-word.

  • Iano

    What has swearing got to do with Tourette’s?