Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Friday Night on BBC One: Hull

My reaction to the news of 6Music's closure

I read with deep sadness today that the BBC is considering - or even decided already - to axe 6Music and Asian Network. Story on BBC - BBC 6 Music and Asian Network face axe in shake-up.

I am a regular listener to 6Music, and I understand that the BBC has to remain value for money, but as a public broadcaster, surely there are many other services that should be cut back instead.

like purgatory for journalists

Firstly, I watch very little television on BBC One. My reasons are very simple; almost all the output on this channel would be served, or is served presently, by the commercial sector. There are exceptions, but at a cursory glance at Friday evening's (5th March) television listings:
7.00pm: The One Show (Light News)
7.30pm: Masterchef (Reality TV/Special Interest)
8.00pm: EastEnders (Soap)
8.30pm: QI (Entertainment)
9:00pm: 5 Days (Drama)
10:00pm: News Programming (News)
10:45pm: Friday Night with Jonathon Ross (Entertainment)
11:35pm: National Lottery Draw (News)
11:45pm: The Hot Chick (Film)

Where not to start? Substituting QI for a suitably loathsome Patrick Keilty related vehicle, along with 5 Days for Strictly 'not entertaining due to lack of celebrity extracted gore' Come 'Fuck Me - Bruce Forsythe Isn't Dead, He Is On Telly' Dancing and it's my idea of the beginning of the Apocalypse. In fact I was briefly tempted to use a portmanteau or something to better share my hate, such as "The Lobotalypse" or "Lorraine Kelly". However, both have a softer edge to them than I require. So I'll just go with Hull. It's almost Hell, but Hell would strictly have to be more fun - at least you'd be able to see Hitler being tortured and await with a baseball bat the imminent arrival of Maggie Thatcher.

QI, for example, I watch almost exclusively at my own leisure via iPlayer, same goes for anything David Mtichell related like The Bubble on BBC Two. Similarly, I'll watch re-runs of BBC stuff on Dave. So there are gems of quality television out there - especially the wonderful documentaries they squeeze out and most people ignore, like a weak fart. This brings me to something that the BBC does very, very well. Live TV. No, not that cable channel with Janet Street Porter and Tiffany Bannister's Big City Tips; actual real, live television! News broadcasting on the BBC is awesome - just listen to its opening theme and you pay attention like they're filling time before announcing the Queen's been mutilated by an over sexed gorilla. ITN used to have it, but they don't - and Sky News? Oh, please - Dermot Murnaghan ended up there - it must be like purgatory for journalists, walking around with ID badges reading "I used to have my own opinion but Mr. Murdoch and News International told me otherwise". So yeah, the News can stay on "The One".

MasterChef, well that's a joke. I'm sure it used to be cool before food programmes were thought as cool. Now it is quite frankly gauche and cliche and the other popular shows in the genre both on the Beeb and other broadcasters are hideous too. Incidentally, there's a lot of cool things that used to be on TV in the early nineties, but they need to stay there before ITV brings them back with Ben Shephard as the presenter - a la Krypton Factor. Friday Night with Jonathon Ross. Need I actually comment? It's more craptaculous than an evening in with Timmy Mallet, who now just wants to forget about his children's television work and discuss his art. Ross used to be funny, indeed his radio work still is. However, on Friday Night.. he just brown-noses celebrities and makes us suffer those god-awful wankers around the piano every ten minutes. I'm sorry, but that kind of shit has a home, it's not BBC One at 11pm - it is on Sky One at 3pm on a weekday afternoon.


small pixies dressed like Elvis

Second, get rid of the absolute shit that is on Radio One, then I'll happily let you pull the plug on my little island paradise. For a kick off, Chris Moyles. Get that personality void, dubious excuse of a human being off the radio. Honestly, I think the perfect opportunity to make my life better would be to invite Chris Moyles and team, Steve Wright and team and Sarah Kennedy to a small room, fill it slowly with tepid water and watch them all drown. Yes, they disgust me that much. The worst presenter on 6Music is probably Steve Lamacq, but I don't hate him. That level of contempt is reserved specifically for Moyles, Wright and Kennedy - like it seeps from a gland I've evolved from my appendix.

My argument here centres around the two main stations both being carried primarily on FM band, meaning most car stereos, cheap radios and mobiles with radio function can pick them up. 6Music on the other hand is carried bit by digital bit by the equivalent of small pixies dressed like Elvis*. Most people don't have that available to them in the places we listen to radio most - you know, the car, kitchen and while walking to the pub. Yes, the enlightened thinkers amongst us have invested down the cul de sac of technology of DAB, finding that while there are more channels and better content - the quality difference as heard in the aforementioned locations is neglible; exacerbated further by total loss of signal while walking under tall buildings, driving through valleys or switching the microwave on. However, are the likes of the general public going to invest similarly?

Maybe it isn't a question of needing more listeners. Absolute Radio apparently are interested in taking over 6Music, saying they'd run it more efficiently. But hold on, I'm a regular listener and the biggest draw for me is that it sounds unlike any other station. It sounds edgy. It doesn't have commercials. It doesn't have a corporate** paymaster jangling keys to the funding vault to keep them playing the music they wish to sell and image they wish to project. It does sometimes sound quite unprofessional, something a-kin to a hideously over funded 6th form radio station - but fuck me that's why I love it. I'm not perfect, and neither is it. It's symbiotic: I complete it as it completes me. Absolute, or whoever, taking over the station would alienate most listeners, I'd venture. And, more the point, Chris Addison is quoted in the guardian here with a brilliantly apt two-fingered salute.
6 Music serves a minority interest, does it? Then it's heartland BBC. Leave it a-fucking-lone. All those commercial stations like 6 Music that are competing for the audience. There's.. oh, that's right – there aren't any.
Right on the money, for me: It's a minority radio station for a minority interest. Like Asian Network, Match Of The Day or Bring On The Fucking Wall - hands off my 6Music and I'll accept entire tranches of Summer programming being given up to sporting snooze-fests like Wimbledon.

*May not be true
**As in commercial

{Originally posted to my my facespace notes}