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Home > Media

Clip Shows: Stop the madness

24 April 2004

How much self-congratulation does the BBC need? Before long the BBC schedules will consist of:

BBC1: 6am-3am. Aren't We Great? A tribute to the sheer genius of everyone involved in BBC1.

BBC2: 6am-3am. Aren't We Great '2'? A tribute to the sheer genius of everyone involved in BBC2.

BBC3: 6am-3am. BBC3: Titan Among Entertainment Channels. A tribute to the sheer genius of the people who brought us Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

BBC 4: 6am-3am. Noone Watches Us, But We Don't Care (Because We're Geniuses). A tribute to the forgotten heroes of BBC digital expansion.

What prompts yet another slightly deranged attack on the BBC? The answer is, of course, Happy Birthday BBC2. Yes, another three-hour compilation of classic clips, talking heads and lightweight analysis, hot on the heels of Britain's Best Sitcoms, another love-in for the BBC.

There's something intrinsically rubbish about this sort of TV. Apart from the self-congratulation, most of the clips are incredibly familiar (Pete'n'Dud's Greta Garbo sketch, the 'Gissa job!' nutting scene, Bob Peck looking glum in Edge of Darkness, etc.) and there's the assumption that the public has an endless appetite for disjointed archive shows. If BBC2 wants to celebrate its own programming, why not put on a series of whole shows, maybe with a 30 second precis giving the context? It's possible that we might just be able to sit through half an hour of Joan Bakewell interviewing people from the 60s without getting
hopelessly confused because she isn't Cat Deely.

However, there's a slight suspicion that if BBC2 showed some of these programmes in their entirety, they might not turn out to be as great as the channel claims. Happy Birthday BBC2 hinted at this, showing the bafflingly unfunny sketch in which Pete'n'Dud are lowered into the Thames while playing a piano. (It makes you wonder if the BBC Comedy Department was once staffed by people who spent all day going 'Peter Sellers with a turnip! That's funny! Dudley Moore dancing with Andre Previn! That's funny! Angela Rippon in a barrel! That's funny! Spike Milligan with a hat! That's...')

But the point remains - if you're going to show archive material, let's see the actual programmes, not just annoying little snippets. Considering BBC2 has just shown about four million hours of snooker, you could probably squeeze in a re-run of Boys from the Blackstuff.

Most of all, maybe the BBC should give the clips-and-talking- heads format a rest. But in TV, when one show has a modicum of success, you can bet there's plenty more of the same in the pipeline. Anyone for an evening of highlights from Songs of Praise?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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