03 August 2009

Long live public broadcasting (for the over 40s)

Here we go again, 'I don't like something on the BBC so it should go'

Now the Tories are proposing (i.e. it won't happen, but it's a shameless vote-winner) to sell Radio 1

Why, pray tell? Seemingly because Radio 1 doesn't do enough to attract the younger listener, it's average (possibly median, I forget) is 33 - when it's aimed at 15-29 year olds, now why exactly a 29-year-old is closer to a 15-year-old than a 33-year-old I've never understood, but regardless it's failing it's mission

This of course means 'sell it!' - don't stop to think about it, it's not like I've yet to meet a teenager who actually listens to the radio through their ipod or anything - it's not like there is bugger all out their for 30-somethings on radio 2 - who are apparently, alone amongst all society, supposed to listen to commercial radio instead

Radio 1 is the only channel that provides 'popular' music - therefore it's the only one that actually competes with commercial so it does have some issues

But I seem to remember that the BBC is supposed to cater to all of us - we all pay for it you know - what BBC radio output would the under-40s want to listen to without radio 1? It would mean the only place popular music was available would be dreadful commercial radio, that hardly seems fair while oldies get their easy listening from radio 2 without ads, and their classical from radio 3 - sure I can listen to football on Fivelive, or might like something on Radio 4 - but any new music will be on commercial - hardly seems fair

I seem to remember the BBC created Radio 1 in the 60s specifically because the young needed their music played somewhere - now those very people who were young in the 60s want to get rid of something they dislike - can you imagine if I said classical music lovers should bugger off to Classic FM? Ironically they would suffer less than those who would suffer if radio 1 went

There would be no quality content delivered to the large group of people under 40 who like radio 1, and that to me seems unfair, based on some arbitrary demographic banding that targets a group that are highly unlikely to be attracted to radio

Can you imagine if the BBC were told to ship ratings juggernauts like Eastenders and Strictly... - they could be on ITV quite happily, but the BBC is still supposed to make things for the mainstream, competitive market - for some reason this doesn't apply to music

I know I'm jumping the gun here, but this is all part of the Mail's plan, in collusion with some Tories, to demonise the young and get rid of what they don't like - well I don't like Antiques Roadshow, so get it off

Lazy, greedy, hypocrites who think anything they don't like shouldn't be paid for by them

Also, while we're on the Mail's hate campaign - regarding this 'cult of youth' thing - just how many 'young' people dominate the airwaves? I love how this 'row' is about a show hosted by an 81 year old with a bunch of judges all above 40 (two in their 60s) - I want to see how bad this problem exactly is - show me the hordes of young people replacing people like Wogan and Humphrys

I can think of Jake from Newsround, who annoys me no end, popping up everywhere, but who else - the only ever name I hear is Alesha Dixon - one sole case on a show dominated by the old

So let's have a look - let's see what's on the BBC (we'll stick to terrestrial TV for ease) today

BBC1: 6am - Breakfast: Bill Turnbull (53), Kate Silverton (39), Chris Hollins (38) (they're today's main hosts, I'm not delving into a 3 hour show)
9.15am - Heir Hunters: Lisa Faulkner (36)
10am - Escape to the Country: Alastair Appleton (39), Denise Nurse (early 30s), Jules Hudson (late 30s - 40?)
11am - Homes Under the Hammer: Lucy Alexander (39), Martin Roberts (40s)
11.30am - Trash to Cash (seriously what is the daytime obsession with wealth?): Lorne Spicer (43)
12.15pm - Cash in the Attic: umm..Lorne Spicer (43) again
1pm - The news! Louise Minchin (40s)
1.45pm - Doctors: ah crap a soap - plenty of all types, three main characters in their 50s, no doubt many little old lady extras
2.15 - Murder, she wrote: hmmm - an average age for this 84 year old, Angela Lansbury (65)
3pm - news
3.05pm - Mister Maker (we are now in kids TV).............
4.35pm - Animals at Work: John Barrowman (42)
5pm - Newsround: Sonali Shah (25), Ore Oduba (20s?) (why is it with kids TV we suddenly see our first people who aren't white? Is it a demographic thing? Is it deliberately aimed at the young, or is it they aren't aimed are aimed at the old?)
5.15pm - The Weakest Link: Anne Robinson of course (64)
6pm - News: George Alagiah (53)
7pm - The One show: Chiles (42) Christine Bleakley (hottie - 28)
7.30pm - Bang goes the Theory...hmm should I count this?: Liz Bonnin (32), Dallas Campbell (38)
8pm - Eastenders: No way, but June Brown is still there at 72
8.30pm - Panaorama: Jeremy Vine (44)
9pm - The Street - tonight is Joseph Mawle (34), but has featured Hoskins (66), Broadbent (60), Johnston (65), and Spall (52) - all big names
10pm - News: Huw! (47)

That'll do for now, the next show is about kids in Asia, couldn't find a presenter

6am - Kids TV, must be summer...
1pm - Open Gardens: Joe Swift (44)
1.30 - Animal Park: Ben Fogle (noooo!!) (35), Kate Humble (40)
2.15 - Some drivel: Angela Rippon (64)
3pm - Monk: Tony Shalhoub (55)
3.45 - Flog it: Paul Martin (50)
4.30 - More drivel, unknown hosy
5.15 - More Cash in the Attic! (Celebrity version...) Jennie Bond (58) - oh Jennie, why?
6pm - Eggheads: Dermot (51)
6.30 - Knowitalls: Gyles Brandreth (61)
7pm - Top Gear: Clarkson (49) , Hamster (39), May (46)
8pm - University Challenge: Paxman (59)
8.30 - What to Eat Now: Valentine Warner (37)
9pm - Docu on criminal girls, I guess they're young...
10pm - BBC3 sitcom (20s)
10.30 - Newsnight: Wark (54)

So what does that tell us? Well bugger all really, it was hardly comprehensive - but do you see any particular invasion of youth? Unless you count late 30s as 'youth', most presenters are between there and the mid-50s - you can also see a progression, the presenters in their 30s are mostly stuck in dreary daytime TV, the older ones have climbed up to the bigger and better shows - nothing wrong with career progression, but in terms of weight the old definitely get the better shows

Granted we don't see many over 65s presenting, but as they aren't even working population, should we? Two of the biggest names spring to mind - Wogan is 71, Forsyth is 81

Other big names at the BBC are Wossy (48), Norton (46), Humphrys (65), Dimbleby (64), Neil (60), Marr (49), Fry (51), Lineker (48), Hansen (54), Shearer (38), Lawro (52), Robinson (45), Peston (49), Barker (53)

Or how about some comedy names - Hislop (49), Merton (52), O'Briain (37), Hugh Dennis (47), Frankie (36), Andy Parsons (32), Russell (29) - even the Top Gear team average mid-40s

Radio: Moyles (35), and Wogan obviously

I was pulling at straws to even find the under-30 Russell Howard, he's hardly a big player, but he's on a big show - otherwise the 'youngsters' are made up by Alan Shearer and the rest of the Mock the Week team, who don't exactly run the corporation and Chris Moyles, probably the only major player in his thirties - so there you go, dominated by 40-60 year olds, with a fair sprinkling of the over-60s

What I will say is there's a pretty obvious lack of women in the big names - and most of the women seem to be the younger side of middle-age, the only real exception is Sue Barker - the rest seem to be pretty faces to go alongside their older male hosts (think Tess Daly, Christine Bleakley, that bird off the Daily Politics)

I don't think there's any ageism with regards to have a 'cult of youth', if anything the major channels are dominated by the older generations, but when it comes to the women they do seem to have a shelf-life that the men don't, that is pretty bad in my opinion - whether or not this relates to Arlene Philips I can't say, and to crudely say this is about the young is bordering on crazy - it's sexism if anything (or perhaps pretty-ism), not ageism

The BBC should be addressing why there are so few women in major roles over the age of 50 - but there is certainly plenty of older (male) presenters for the growing older generations, who we apparently should be catering to, to relate to (re: Ben Bradshaw) - not like it's about appealing to the old for their powerful votes or anything though...

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