There have been some truly atrocious bits of guff that have passed for popular entertainment over the years. For some unfathomable reason it has always seemed to be the prime-time "lights, camera, action" cabaret style crap, with its over familiar, somewhat vacuous looking presenters that has been most cherished by the nation of telly lovers.
However,the last ten years have proven to be the true renaissance of telly turd. Thanks to the dawning of easily accessible multi channel programming, there is now a much greater variety of shite on the box than ever before.
It seems that our collective appetite for audio-visual tripe is more insatiable than ever before, and as such a barrel-load of new crap is relentlessly delivered to our living rooms every day.
I felt compelled to write this after the appearance of one of the worst TV programmes ever to be commissioned - Red or Black.
Red or Black is yet another steaming pile of turd conceived in the brain of TV's version of the Anti-Christ, Simon Cowell. The show gave its contestants the opportunity to win a cool £million through a process no more complex than tossing a coin. It was of course, needlessly jazzed up with the familiar tomfoolery of Geordie midgets Ant and Dec and a procession of 'popular' entertainers plugging their respective wares between tasks.
My main problem with this show is that is promoted the idea that you can make your fortune on the whim of complete chance - and this is exactly the message that it conveys to the viewer. There is absolutely no level of ability required at all. I am not exaggerating when I say that a laboratory rat has as much chance of bagging the million in this show as any of the contestants who actually participate.
The completely lack of any skill requirement makes winning 'Deal or No Deal' seem like the game-show equivalent of writing an equation to explain the complete workings of the entire universe.
Red or Black is by no means the only example of the widespread cack that occupies our goggle boxes.
Here are my picks for the cream of the crap:
I must confess to actually enjoying this programme, but my bias does not detract from the fact that it really is appallingly bad television. X-Factor would be more appropriately titled 'four wankers destroy your dreams'.
In each series, the complete nutters and the tone deaf are easily weeded out by the self-professed overlords of the music industry quite early on in the process. However, in the later stages we see the hopes of genuinely talented people crushed in favour of the promotion of others who are perceived by the panel of smarmy fuckers to offer a greater level of entertainment for the telly nation to absorb - like this Brazilian nut-job (who quite coincidentally was once my boss at a double glazing firm):
Of course, the 'dream crushing' antics of these so-called judges are exactly what some people enjoy watching. It is a sad human trait that we are able to find amusement in the complete breakdown of others. Simon Cowell has clearly recognised this condition, and has therefore made his millions profiting from the misery and despair of others (much like Robert Mugabe in a sense)
Take Me Out
I cannot confess to watching this one regularly, mainly because it offends me so much that I want to punch Patrick McGuinness in the balls (repeatedly).
Look more closely at this ghastly affair, and it appears that the producers have been inspired by the manifesto of the Third Reich. Namely that anyone falling short of Aryan-like physical superiority should be removed from the general populous and henceforth be refused the right to breed.
The following excerpt from the show just about sums up this particular shit-fest. Listen very closely to the last few seconds of the clip to hear this total arse refer to himself in the third person - a trait usually reserved for only the highest calibre of tosser:
I have never seen anyone short of supermodel quality get even close to winning this show. It is yet another sad indictment of TV land that the viewer is encouraged to believe that we should all look like these white toothed, perma-tanned morons.
The Weakest Link
I will start by congratulating the Weakest Link. It seems that the contestants appear to be a fairly normal cross section of society. There's usually a good mix of student types, single moms, middle aged men in shit jobs and the occasional quirky nutter. However, that is where my praise stops.
You see, this mish-mash of ordinary joes loses all credibility when you realise that they have willingly volunteered for a quiz show that involves them being lambasted and ridiculed by a vicious old bint for 30minutes.
It is also one of the few quiz shows in mainstream telly where the prize money is so pitiful, you'd get a better return by sticking a grand on Man Utd to beat Hereford at Old Trafford.
Here's my advice to any potential contestants: If you want to earn a few quid for being repeatedly berated by an anorexic, acid-tongued witch, go and get a job in a Boots cosmetics department.
The grand-daddy of reality shows is arguably the king of crap TV. It is perhaps the one programme that has been most responsible for kick-starting a decade of Televisual garbage.
The format was simple. Stick a dozen people in a house together for twelve weeks and impose a fascist regime on them which will deny them access to any information from the outside world, govern their daily activities and restrict their access to a steady food supply. Oh, and give the viewers unfettered 24 hour access to the goings-on in the house.
As it had never been tried before, the first series was actually rather good, concentrating on the psychological effects of this artificial environment on the individual housemates.
I must admit to being utterly gripped by the highlight story of Series 1, involving Nasty Nick; a particularly underhand chap with a penchant for smuggling pencils. The final ousting of this bastard made for very nail-biting, albeit rather cringe-worthy TV:
Unfortunately, every series that followed was terrible. It seemed that with every passing year the contestants became more and more unhinged and were far lesser reflection of the society that they were supposedly representing. In a mere few years, the civilised disputes of previous series had descended into the full on ape-like carnage seen in the famous season 5 ruckus:
The problem was that as the first few winners had become reasonably famous because of their appearance on BB, it served to inspire all manner of fame-hungry deviants to crawl out from under their discarded paving slabs and queue up for a stab at getting their own five minutes of fame.
This primordial soup of UK reality TV also managed to spawn an offspring that still haunts us today - the 'celebrity' reality TV show - which is identical in format to regular reality TV but is populated with even bigger bastards.
Living with....**INSERT USELESS CELEBRITY TOSSPOT HERE**
'Living with' programmes are easily the worst type of 'celebrity-reality' shows around. Examples of such are as follows:
- The Osbornes
- Keeping up with the Kardashians
- Kerry and Me
Worse still, they are usually commentated over with all the pomp and gusto you might expect in a Dickens narrative, thus re-enforcing the apparent importance of these brain-dead muppets to the viewing public.
In the early days, these kind of programmes would at least follow people who held some semblence of actual fame (i.e. Ozzy Osborne, Hulk Hogan etc), but have now become self-fulfilling fame prophecies for jaded z-listers. I say this because like some sort of mindbending existential paradox, 'the celebrity' actually becomes famous in the first place because of their programme (i.e. Kerry Katona, Jordan etc).
In fact, the power of celebrity reality TV shows is so great that it has managed to reincarnate the fortunes of Kerry Katona so many times that she has become the celebrity equivalent of Nosferatu (note to those inclined to permanently kill off her career - try a wooden stake and some holy water next time)
Personally, I'd just prefer it if they made a reality TV programme about the chap that fixes watches on my local market stall. At least he does something productive and probably has something interesting to talk about.
The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE)
I've really saved the best/worst till last here. The latest mutation of the self-fulfilling celebrity reality show is the monstrosity known as 'The Only Way is Essex'
This car crash of a programme takes the form of a reality TV show, but is actually a stage directed dramatisation where the lines between reality and fiction are completely blurred.
The actors (and I use the term loosely) are so gormless and are so entrenched in their insulated world of spray tan, boob jobs and vajazzles that I'm not even sure theyare aware of what's real anymore. It's a bit like the Matrix for wankers.
Oh, and it recently won a fucking BAFTA! What has happened to this country?
There are other versions of this type of programme that have been emerging:
Jersey Shore - American wankers
Geordie Shore - Geordie wankers
Made In Chelsea - Posh (possibly inbred) wankers
However, it is TOWIE that steals the crown for possessing a cast of the most accomplished twats known to mankind. Some of them are literally so dense that light cannot escape from their gravitational pull.
Depressingly, judging by the outfits and spray tans sported by many teenagers these days, it seems that this programme is really starting influence our nation's youth.
So a warning to all of you; If these people become the benchmark for the aspirations of future generations, then we can forget about recovering from our current economic slump, because our nation will be lucky to be in possession of a comprehensible form of spoken language by the next decade.
Now please don't think I'm criticising anyone for watching these programmes. I have already admitted watching some of them too. The trouble is that our natural impulses and baser instincts make us particularly susceptible to being hypnotised by this sort of tat. But we really do need to start weaning ourselves off this shite before our brains permanently turn to mush!
Just heed the words of the Roman Poet Juvenal (circa 100A.D). Truly a man ahead of his time:
Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the people have abdicated in our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread and Circuses (and possibly 'What Katie did next').