We are living in strange times. And that has been reflected in our tv shows. Who thought that watching 3 people stood at podiums talking to a giant TV would be compulsive teatime viewing? Move over Walsh, Armstrong and Osman. There are new kids in town. Ok, it would be better if there were a few more sports questions (other than “When will the Premier League resume?”) but other than that it’s quite addictive watching.
They have also moved rapidly through format changes. It was years before Have I Got News for You and Never Mind the Buzzcocks thought to have guest hosts, but within a few days that bloke who used to guest host on HIGNFY has been swapped out for a whole host of newbies. I’m really glad that I invested in a copy of the “Eye Spy Book of Government Ministers” before this crisis (But I’m still waiting to get Ben Wallace, the Defence Minister. I’m sure it will be his turn soon).
Another effect of this lockdown is the acceptance of video conferencing. Until the other week “Zoom” to me was either a 1970’s lolly shaped like a rocket or mellow track by Fat Larry’s Band (can we still call him that? Seems a bit body shaming to me). Now everyone is Zooming, Skyping. WebExing, 8x8ing, and Google Meeting-ing. International correspondents have been using this technology for years. Who can forget this incident of childcare and reporting not quite mixing?
When it started it was as bit of a novelty. Lots of “oooh, look at their décor”. Now we are immune. We just expect that all reports will come from reporters’ front rooms. When we are on the subject, Laura Kuenssberg, when you are doing Coronavirus Newscast…. put the lights on! I know that it is a late-night show, but I feel you are taking the ambiance thing a bit too far.
But now EVERYONE is using it. On This Morning, Holly and Phil are still allowed in the studio, as long as they six about 12 feet apart, but all their guests are video calls. Alice Beer’s home in Wiltshire seems to be a shrine to her employers. Me thinks they may have gone over the top on the set dressing there. Does anybody really have that many flowers/plants in their office?
Even Saturday Kitchen have been having their guests on Skype calls. Again, the presenter and the chef are allowed in the studio, as long as one stands in the corner when the other one is cooking, but on Saturday Tom Allen and Olly Smith were sat in their respective kitchens. Yep, we are now watching people sat in their kitchens drinking wine alone. What an age to be alive.
Friday evening saw the ultimate acceptance of this new process with both of the BBC’s topical/satirical shows Have I Got News for You and The Mash Report being recorded from home. So what will be the lasting legacy of this? Well, now that we have seen into people’s homes, reality shows like Big Brother and Love Island seem old hat. Why use fake houses when we can use real homes with real people? Which brings us onto our final show and probably the one that has changed the least, Gogglebox.
For years now we have been watching real people sat on their real DFS sofas watching the TV. No grainly webcams here. Perhaps Gogglebox was actually a proophectic vision of the future. If this is the case than I am going to get the cakes in and improve my range of mugs in case someone wants to interview me via my webcam.