Monday, 2 March 2015

Let’s Double The BBC Licence Fee!

I’d quite enjoyed Julian Barnes’ novel ‘Arthur and George’ a few years ago, so I thought I’d give the ITV adaptation a go.  The story – about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective-like espousal of a lost cause in reaction both to bereavement and to Holmes’s unsupportable weight – is a fascinatingly disturbing one, and I like Martin Clunes a lot.

Well, I watched for twenty minutes (forcing myself to ignore the persistent, obtrusive, irrelevant background music and cupping my ears to try and catch, beneath the tinkling pianos and droning cellos, what the actors were actually saying).  I did quite well, and was getting quite drawn in to the story (although flashbacks to Wolf Hall and how to do it properly kept intruding), when the story went blank and (I think) four minutes of very loud adverts asserted themselves.

I say that, but to be honest I can’t be sure about the loudness or the duration of the adverts.  I went and did a bit of dishwasher loading, came back and undid the mute button, and watched a bit more.  Even more dialogue-drowning, subtlety- bludgeoning foreground music; and then, after another twenty minutes – well, you know the rest.  I switched off at ad break #3, and won’t be watching next week’s episode; which is a great shame, because I’m sure there was a pretty good drama lurking somewhere behind the crud.

When will they ever learn?  Extended drama (with or without the music!  That’s another rant, really) requires extended attention.  Just go to the cinema or, even better, the theatre to prove this.  If the only way to fund quality television is to slice it up and dump dollops of gunk into the interstices, I’d rather do without it. 

To put it another way – Advertising Is Evil! 


  1. Get yourself a PVR dear chap! We shall be watching this tonight sans adverts.
    ITV can do amazing drama - the Cilla series was beautifully shot and very well crafted making several BBC dramas look a bit pedestrian.

  2. Long live the BBC!

    I don't watch much drama and very rarely venture to ITV, although I do have to confess to watching Catch Phrase - oh the shame! We do watch a bit of Channel 4, More 4 and E4, where the adverts are annoying but not as intrusive as they are on the Dave channel where they seem to have the same 4 commercials in every single ad break.

    I watched and LOVED the BBC's Wolf Hall adaptation, although as excellent as it was, I still prefer the books. I understand some people complained about volume with regard to Wolf Hall but I certainly had no trouble understanding the dialogue myself. When we bought our current television, Sir Bruin invested in a sound bar which is a great improvement on the horrid tinny sound quality that comes with modern flat screen televisions.

  3. Dave is very annoying I agree

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  5. Who is Dave?
    I would never ever watch an ITV programme unless I had recorded it. We refused to watch Broadchurch "live" & watched it later so we could fast forward the ghastly commercial breaks.
    I recorded CitizenFour, transferred it to the computer & have spent half an hour editing out the adverts so we can watch it as it should be.
    If ever they make BBC have adverts I'll have to emigrate

  6. Rog - having looked it up, I now know what a PVR is, and that I've already got one. But that's not the point. Why should I have to shell out in order to avoid the only thing that enables them to provide the content in the first place (whilst incidentally trashing its quality)? There's a fundamental flaw in the business model. (The same applies to the internet, btw.)

    Liz - Wolf Hall (TV) and Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies (novels) should not be compared. Although the former is obviously dependent on the latter, they're each wonderful in their own different ways. Rarely does a visual adaptation of a written work achieve this parity.

    Richard - see my response to Rog. If everyone does as you, Rog and I do, then nobody will ever watch an advert, therefore nobody will buy the advertised product, therefore the advertisers will stop advertising and the channel will go out of business. Innit?

  7. Breaking News. Started watching on PVR but first few seconds warned of cruelty to animals which my Good Lady Wife refused to countenance watching so we didn't get past the introduction.