'Stephen Fry has said there is a culture of fear at the BBC which is creating "incredibly bland" programmes.'
'The host of BBC Two's QI told the Radio Times executives with "cold feet" were shying away from taking creative risks. "A lot of the adventure and excitement have gone out of television programming and a lot of it is just down to fear."'
So far, so Rorschach test. For the 'artistic elite', who will all indubitably be nodding their heads in agreement with Mr Fry at this point, there just aren't enough TV shows about gay sex, 'shocking' taboo-breaking anti-Christian diatribes, and very far left fantasies. You know, adventurous and exciting.
For the average license fee taxpayer, the reaction will probably be similar. With very few exceptions, I would reckon the favourite TV show of most Britons are American, whether it is Desperate Housewives, House, Dexter, NCIS, The Wire, Law and Order, CSI or 24. Most of those shows have British equivalents which are unwatchable. Of the recent offerings, big budget shows tend to have terrible achilles heals. Robin Hood seemed to have been written by a twelve year old girl, and Dr Who is jumping the shark on a regular basis. The one or two-parter dramas are excruciatingly dull, often turned off after ten minutes. All of them seem to deal with the same stock characters in the same stock situations. Mind numbing.
And lastly, there are weirdos like me, for whom many of the TV programs I would like to watch just aren't made, not in the US or the UK or anywhere else. Back in about 1992, there were a series of brilliant TV programs, about an hour long, on Afghanistan. They came on at about half past midnight. I watched anyway. They were superb. They covered Afghan geography, politics, current events, tribal issues, national figures of prominence and loads of other things. Most of what I know about Afghanistan came from watching those programs. Not only have I not seen anything like them for anywhere else, I've never seen them re-shown.
These programs leveraged what television can be- an extraordinary tool for learning and going to places you could never go personally. There are zillions of places and things which could get a similar treatment. How many people know what actually happens in the City of London finance houses? How many people know what the hinterland of Russia is like? How many people know the real story of the Royal Navy? Not just the skim, but the real story.
I don't know how many people there are like me. But there must be some. And for us, TV is pretty much a desolate wasteland of trivia and pap. No meat. If I had a billion pounds, one of the first things I'd do is start a TV company to make the TV shows I'd actually pay money to someone to watch. Probably wouldn't ever make a profit, but I'd watch!