Noticed how certain BBC programmes now seem to flash up the Twitter hashtags they’d like viewers to use at the start of each show? Bit presumptuous, isn’t it? It’s like they’re saying “if you’re going to way how wonderful we are, please use this as a signifier, so we’re able to use you all as a free focus group.”
Anyway, we’ve conducted an in-depth investigation into how these hashtags are actually used during the broadcast of a sample BBC programme from tonight. Here are the results.
In a thrilling change to their usual diet of complete and utter drek (Your Face Or Mine, Distraction, Balls Of Steel – y’know, all the stuff too rubbish to be repeated on E4), 4Music have started broadcasting the wonderful Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Generally at around midnight, and never at quite the advertised time, so your PVR recordings are likely to be topped or tailed by seven minutes of Mark Dolan’s smug wrong face, but still, at least the thought is there, eh?
Well, the idiocy doesn’t stop there. The entire show has been cropped really badly from 4:3 into widescreen. That’s stupid enough with a standard comedy show, but when it’s a programme packed with loads of amusing on-screen text, it does kind of ruin things. Throw in a huge on-screen graphic at all times telling you the name of the programme you’re watching (even though you’ll already know what the name of the programme is, because it’ll be right there, on the EPG), and, well…
ACTUAL SCREENSHOTS AS SEEN ON 4MUSIC.
4Music: the clumsy step-son of the Channel Four family that never seems to do anything right.
In other “while we’ve got the screen grabbing program loaded on our Freeview box” news, every time we see the special BBC One/Children In Need idents with Pudsey leaning into the screen and waving…
…we can’t help but think of this from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
“BONG! Start again.”
You know how new-fangled digital channels feel you need to be slammed over the head with the details of subsequent programmes the very femtosecond the end credits begin to roll, lest you pick up the remote and switch to one of the many other programmes starting at, er, 10.50pm? Worse still are channels who decide this information has to be globbed onto your screen during the final moments of the programme itself, as the BBC infamously tried when decided the best way to add to a tense cliffhanger during an episode of Doctor Who was to throw a cartoon Graham Norton at it.
Well, Comedy Central (UK) have decided just discreetly sliding a few lines of text onto the bottom of your screen at the end of a programme just won’t grab anyone’s attention. No, as we noticed when watching our recording of Sean Lock Live earlier today, squeezing the ending of the thing you’re actually watching into the left half of the screen is a way to really grab the attention of those viewers. “Hey, you know what? Fuck enjoying the ending of the thing you’re watching, there are more programmes coming up ANY MOMENT NOW. After some adverts.”
Now, this is rendered especially pointless for three reasons. ONE. We’re watching Comedy Central after 9pm, so there was already an 80% chance the next two programmes were going to be Peter Kay at the Comedy Store and South Park. TWO. These days, there’s a pretty good chance someone is watching a show using a PVR. Unless Sky have added a time-travel option to the remote on new Sky HD boxes, we’re not going to be viewing the next programme. THREE. Doing shit like this only makes us hate your channel and makes us not want to watch it again unless you do something special, like start showing The Colbert Report.
Where will it all end?
Our guess: by 2013 the last minute of every television programme will see a quarter of the screen taken up by live footage of a pair of goldfish swimming around inside a blender which, for the moment, is switched off.
After ten seconds, text scrolls alongside the bottom of the screen, simply stating “This is live footage of two goldfish in a blender. If the overnight figures for tonight’s viewing show that more than 5% of the audience change channel before the next programme, the blender is switched on, with the fish still inside it, live, on air, tomorrow evening. Coming up next on Comedy Central, Two and a Half Men.”