Here's our challenge for the week. Rearrange the following words in
the order that makes most sense to you: Sir Martin, Tempus, Des, ITV,
Premiership highlights, petard, own and hoist.
No prizes for guessing that poor old Sir Martin has most definitely been
hoist by his own petard over the Tempus purchase. Seeing as the
WPP/Tempus saga is likely to drag out on appeal either way this week,
and possibly next, I'll leave comment on it to Campaign's Leader (p26)
until the issue is resolved.
Judging by the glee with which large parts of the media greeted the news
that ITV is to move its Premiership highlights to 10.30pm on Saturdays,
you might also conclude that it too has been hoist by its own petard.
I'm not so sure. I think ITV has caved in to the pressure and acted too
hastily. But then that's what happens when the going gets tough: resolve
Sure, scheduling its Premiership highlights at 7pm was a brave move, but
it seemed to me that the problem wasn't so much the timing of the show
as its quality. Des, Terry, Ally and Andy were just, well, more First
Division than Premier League. What ITV should have done was get the
programme right and stuck with the timing.
Still, what's done is done. What the reshuffled Saturday line-up,
including the return of Cilla, reveals is just how jaded TV thinking is
- and I don't just include ITV. To read the TV listings for last
Saturday evening is to travel back to a time when families liked nothing
better than gathering round the TV together. There was Parky, Jim
Davidson, Ian Wright, Philip Schofield, Casualty, Tarrant, Vic and Bob,
Frank Skinner and Leslie Grantham presenting a Top Ten TV Villains. And
that's even before Cilla returns.
Truly, Saturday night TV is now the Night of the Living Dead.
But it was exactly this now-failed attempt to break the mould that made
ITV's 7pm scheduling of The Premiership so interesting. Now that, ahem,
normal service has been resumed, we're back in the dark ages. Meanwhile,
commercial TV wonders why advertisers are taking their budgets
So whose interest, exactly, is being served by this? Certainly not the
viewers', who will surely vote with their fingers at the prospect of
being served up such undifferentiated rubbish. And surely not
advertisers, who need schedules that mix the tried and trusted with the
innovative if they are to re-engage with TV as an advertising
Instead what we apparently have is a ratings game slugged out for the
benefit of schedulers and a mythical breed of TV executive, the heads of
Light Entertainment, believed extinct the past 30 years but alive and
well and wreaking their revenge on the nation.
- Claire Beale is on maternity leave.