Sunday, December 19, 2010

The UK's worst politics programme

They say the BBC is looking for programmes to axe. In which case, what better place to start than 'This Week'?

If you thought you knew the real meaning of cringeworthy, then you may want to think again. Last Thurday's episode of Andrew Neil's "political" show on BBC One plumbed depths previously unknown to man.

The combination of dogs from Britain's Got Talent performing tricks in the studio, Quentin Letts and Kevin Macguire doing a stomach-churning impersonation of Downturn Abbey, and Andrew Neil's profoundly unfunny jokes hanging in the studio like a toxic cloud was just too much to take.

Some people may have long wondered what the purpose of This Week is.

Is its lighthearted tone meant to draw in viewers that are not normally interested in politics? Then wouldn't the 11:35 pm slot defeat the object? But suppose it was given prime time, its relentless bombardment of annoying in-jokes and cryptic backslapping would be enough to make most people turn the telly off within minutes.

Because the thing is, someone should tell Andrew Neil that he is not funny. But really not funny, not one bit.

Last Thursday was the first time I had the misfortune to watch This Week in ages and the words "Alan" and "Partridge" sprang to mind - as in, the type of egomaniacal televisual bigwig that Steve Coogan intended to parody. Just think your most cringeworthy family member churning out unfunny jokes at Christmas gatherings catapulted on national television. That's almost as bad as Andrew Neil.

With light entertainment ruled out, it's obvious that This Week is not about in-depth analyses either. Hapless guests (including regulars Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo) are lucky if they manage to open their mouth for five seconds before Andrew Neil chokes the conversation again with one of his "jokes".

It's obvious that the producers' script is "avoid anything remotely engaging at all costs", which is why anything that isn't a soundbite or extremely shallow gets trampled over by the presenter's industrial-size ego.

They say that state-funded TV often appeals to the lowest common denominator in order to compete with commercial television, but it's hard to think of any other channel, even Five, ever commissioning something like This Week without the words "commercial" and "suicide" flashing in big lights as the credits roll.


Brian Lawton said...

I enjoy This Week and always make the effort to catch up with it on iPlayer given it's after my bed time. I agree to some extent about Andrew Neil sometimes getting in the way of it, but overall I think it's good humoured and good quality political analysis.

Stan Moss said...

I agree This Week and Andrew Brillo are annoying, but I don't think this is the right time to snipe at the BBC. Let's not give the Murdochs and various cheerleaders of privatisation further ammos.

claude said... we're supposed to say that a shit programme's good just in case Bogeyman Murdoch comes in and takes over?
I actually think useless (and dumb) BBC programmes are the corporation's worst enemy.

Brian. It could deliver good political analysis if only Andrew Neil kept his gob shut for longer than 5 secs. Portillo does come up with good observations. Except he gets truncated the moment he strings subject and verb together so that Andrew Neil can listen to the sound of his own voice again.

Anonymous said...

Some people may have long wondered what the purpose of This Week is.

Some of us are still wondering what the purpose of Quentin Letts is.

As for Brillo, it's time to put him out to pasture; as you say why should I watch him when I have a full set of Alan Partridge episodes? Oddly enough I find the Abbott & Portillo show strangely watchable, though almost all of that is down to Diane and Michael and their somewhat slashy on-screen chemistry.

Bob Piper said...

I agree 90% with Claude. My only gripe being his suggestion that it is the worst politics programme in the UK. For me it is possibly the worst programme on television at all. Full Stop. Complete and utter embarrassing, buttock-clinching, bollocks of the worst kind.

Someone, somewhere told Andrew Neil that he can be amusing and an entertainer, and what's more he has dragged a whole host of other political broadcasters in to this piece of shit with him. Mark Mardell, whilst not exactly premier division, ended up as the equivalent of the lower reaches of the Blue Square League after coming into contact with the programme.

As Claude asks, if it is meant to be 'entertainment' put the bloody thing on CBBC on Saturday morning and use the post Question Time slot for a bit of serious political analysis instead of this garbage.

My fear is that other political programmes are being dragged down in the same direction, and we will end up with Paxman, Wark and co. giving us their cabaret act together with a succession of b-list celebrities with a book or tv programme to plug.

Jackart said...

File this under "Dog Bites Man".

Who'd have thunk it? A Conservative presenting a political show doesn't meet with socialist aproval. You'll be supprised by my disliking polly toynbee next :)

Love stan's comment! No time to criticise the BBC with the murdochs about! Solidarity brother.

claude said...

Here's the football fan again, unable to make a point without a sign that screams TRIBALISM all over his head.

a) it's news to me that Andrew Neil is a Tory b) even if it was, it'd be totally irrelevant. A shit programme is a shit programme.

Piers Morgan is notoriously pro-Labour and I think his stuff is mostly trash.

But no, "socialist, socialist, socialist!!!!!!!!!!!!"