Saturday, 10 July 2010


We are witnessing the birth of Radish TV.

Time was when it was buses. Now it is TV programmes. You wait all week for one. Then two
come along.

All I do is watch TV, feed my fish and dream of Dry Martinis whilst whistling the September Song. I bought Freeview, tempted by the heady prospect of sixty TV programmes. None of them were listed as Repeats. That is because ALL of them were.

In desperation I took out a Sky subscription. I now have a choice of many programmes,several days of the week, all showing the same programmes. I watch Taggart so often that the characters are beginning to get the accent right.

The only refuge for the inquiring mind is Sky Arts 2. Somehow repeats of Pavarotti, favourite operas and notable concerts are bearable, indeed welcome.

My wife's noble aunt used to take her ancient nanny to her seaside holiday home in Dorset.
As a treat, Nanny was taken to the cinema where she saw the first James Bond film and was entranced. She was so full of his escapades she made the film unmissable and the Ferret took me to see it.

I was deeply impressed and told Nanny. She was horrified. "That poor Mr Bond," she said. "Did he have to go through all that again?"

What would she make of TV in its latest manifestation? Repeats within 24 hours. An
endless procession of posturing antique dealers, far beyond description in non-obscene words, in "Antiques Masters", heavily "Outnumbered" and a ceaseless interrogation: "Any Questions?", "University Challenge" and more too numbing to mention. A proliferation of Paxman exhibiting all the sneering, snug superiority of a man who has the answers to the questions he hurls written down in front of him. Clarkson with his air of school scarves and chewing gum.Alsis not just to-night that is Frying. It is every night,often twice And if you manage to dodge this shower of unguided missiles you can get them all on your computer for the forseeable future.

Michael "Low" Grade, once a Mirror sports reporter, hangs on grimly to his chairmanship of Pinewood Sheperton Studios despite pleas of major shareholders who gave damning assessments of the chairman's performance and asked for more 'sweat and toil'. In his days as a High Honcho of the BBC in 1986, he bought in "Neighbours" (Coronation Street with Fly Corks) and was thought of as a wizard scheduler. I was not convinced after I learned that his schoolgirl daughter had complained she missed the show because it clashed with Prep. Grade signed up repeats so she could watch it.

Why are there so many repeats? Why is there such brilliant technology and yet such creative poverty?
The Broadcasting Establishment insists it cannot afford to commission new programmes. That from the same Establishment who have 180 staff getting, if not earning, higher salaries than the Prime Minister and unlimited expenses. They also tell us that The Talent is expensive and would not function for less than a million. This is nonsense. I have yet to meet a "star" on TV or Radio who would not pay the BBC if that were the only way to get on Air or in front of a camera.
In regional radio there are many household names working free. Ego Mania is alive and well and living in Medialand.
The truth is that all the troubles in sport and entertainment can be put down to the most recent Media recruit: the Agent. It is the agents who blackmail football managers and media moguls into paying astronomical sums. When I started broadcasting forty years ago, only actors had agents. Finding authors, sports stars and entertainers, even after dinner speakers, was the job of the executives. It was an onerous, time-consuming chore. When agents emerged to take on that task they were welcomed with open wallets. Which they have pillaged with gay abandon.