Television Torture

On Thursday evening I travelled out to White City to the BBC Television Centre to watch a taping of a variety show on musicals. It was two years since I last did this and forgot that television recordings are a five hour odyssey.

At the time I thought it was just because I was seeing a taping of Celebrity Mastermind which made it dull, but this was an odyssey too. It was one full of bad jokes (the warm up man used the line "dirty stinkin' gypos" which I thought surely wasn't very BBC-ish), hideous sets, and endless repeats of poorly arranged songs. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, they managed to find an arrangement to do so.

Television is a curious thing as well as what makes it what it is, is local celebrities and local in-jokes, so it is a difficult thing to appreciate culturally as well if you have not had the years of exposure to it. The host was a typical garden variety smarmy type who had hosted several game shows and curiously seemed to be well-liked by the punters. It must be something about the magic of television that I wasn't getting here, or there was a cultural gap...

Having said that, on the plus side, there was very little of the usual Musical numbers that I feared (although they may have recorded those Phantom and Les Miz numbers in previous episodes). Two numbers – a jazz version of "Summertime" and a club-act style version of "What I did For Love" actually sounded pretty darn good too. It wasn't bad hearing those twice, but for the remaining four-and-a-half hours it was less torch song and just more torture.

The recording was made for a series to be aired in January on Saturday nights on BBC1, so it will be perfect for that sort of timeslot when everyone is at home and miserable so why not inflict a cheesy show on the punters – well the ones that can't be arsed getting out on a Saturday evening….

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