I live in England, and as such, I am familiar with the typical programming of the BBC. I have learned to love strange formats of television that have no US equivalent, such as the “panel show” that is “QI” which has, as far as I can tell, no point. It has a scoring rule that is completely hidden from the viewer, and which often results in negative scores for most of the three comedian guests who appear on the show (Alan Davies appears regularly and almost always loses, a result that would be difficult for the average American to understand.)

But that said, and as much as the BBC often produces quality programming, it also produces a LOT of CRAP. I have been suffering from insomnia of late, and have been watching things on the BBC iPlayer that make me want to crawl into a small hole and hide from my peers. I love Masterchef. They cook for real chefs, often in difficult circumstances. But I do not love Celebrity Mastermind. Seriously, there is a TV program(me) in which a dude asks questions of people for two minutes and that is all. They tally scores after several people try to answer questions and that is that. Really, England? This is compelling television?

I have a new thought, which is that Americans who claim to love Downton Abbey should have to sit through at least 4 hours of typical BBC programming for every hour of historical drama that they love. See how they do with a marathon of “Homes Under the Hammer” or “Only Connect” or “Countdown“.

And there is a special place in hell for those who produce “Room 101“, Britain. Just, no.

11 responses to “The BBC

  1. Mastermind is an institution! But anything on during the daytime on BBC 2 is dreck.

  2. On the whole, BBC is MUCH better than US TV, but yeah, they can put out some drek when they put their minds to it.

  3. I am a Minnesotan in the UK as well. I have to say…I don’t spend too much time watching BBC. WIth Skye, I end up watching a lot of US reruns and movies. Guess maybe I should try and culture myself a bit more. 😉

  4. Come to Italy….same CRAP here..Fiction= all beautiful people! hand picked I suspect. Even the female newsreaders!
    I watch very little TV fox crime with NCIS…CSI MIAMI…LAW AND ORDER I watch in original language, however the American vocabulary is at times difficult to understand for a non American. There is an Italian MASTERCHEF which is enjoyable.
    The only English prog here is INSPECTOR BARNABY, I love it for its setting and just ordinary looking real people.

  5. Ha! I love Only Connect! So terribly geeky!! (I’m an Ohioan in the UK, for demographic reference :)) Mastermind is fun, too, although not nearly as wonderfully random.

    I can’t really speak to the daytime (or evening, really) BBC scheduling specifically, but I can say I enjoy the quiz shows (Only Connect, Mastermind, Eggheads, University Challenge) but can definitely do without the overabundance of real estate, auction and antique programming! Like the US the Brits also know how to turn 15 minutes of content into 60 minutes of drudgery and repetition! That’s not just the house hunting/relocation type shows, but also the educational series (the recent Human and Architecture series come to mind!)

  6. But at least you now know where the phrase “I’ve started so I’ll finish” comes from.

  7. I quite like Room 101. No?

  8. I haven’t seen it under it’s new look. Maybe it’s not so good without Paul Merton.

  9. You are so right. I’d say the BBC is both the pride and the shame of the UK and we Brits have a strange love-hate relationship with it. It handily combines the roles of national treasure and whipping boy. Perhaps that’s what we want, like a much-loved spouse that we love to complain about and bicker with but also defend to the hit. Otherwise why would we allow our licence fee to be pissed away on so much embarrassing drivel?

    (BTW without wanting to get into a list of everyone’s faves and pet hates, I’d say there are far worse programmes than the ones you mention!)

  10. corr: “defend to the hilt”

  11. I’m an American in the UK, too. It is funny how people in the States often think Britian has great programming because the US only gets a handful of UK shows, and those shows are typically the best of what’s on offer here. I wish they could see most of what’s really on, and know that they’d be required to pay BBC license fees to fund some really awful programming (often with poor production values to boot).

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