Having hundreds of TV channels here in the UK is undoubtedly a good thing. No station has a monopoly, so competition is promoted and producers work harder as a result. You can generally always find something you want to watch (in theory). More undiscovered talents than ever before are given the chance to break into television. Thanks to this widening of the playing field, there are hundreds of new shows which might have been overlooked by our traditional networks.
The flipside of this is that shows emerge which, quite frankly, are not wonderful. I suspect some of the following shows have an audience of about five, one of whom is me, and I’m just there to mock them so I don’t count.
Everyone knows the way to make a TV show awesome is to fill it with robots and people falling over; the way to make a TV show awesome and popular is to fill it with robots and people falling over, who then get judged by a celebrity panel. Some people clearly don’t share this philosophy. Some people think the way to make a TV show awesome is to film it on someone’s phone, and to fill it with old men standing round talking about fitting a battery to a caravan.
I make it a point to watch obscure shows, when I’m not sitting around scratching myself. Sometimes I’ll become addicted to Nigerian soap operas, sometimes I’ll discover cartoons I never knew existed. And sometimes I’ll stare in disbelief, wondering what those responsible were on at the production meeting, and whether I can get some.
1. Love Talk (My Channel)
Hosted by a couple who clearly hate each other. James and Helena Marques are a strange pair of Transylvanian sounding automatons, who sit as far away from each other as they can get while in the same studio, and preach to the rest of us about what makes a successful relationship. Most people realise that the key to a successful relationship is to not hate each other, but Jim and Hel seem to view this as a minor inconvenience.
Take the episode Things that annoy him, which is an excuse for James to finally let rip about just how much he hates his chosen life partner. You can practically see the desperation in his eyes as he lets out twelve years of frustration and regret.
After opening with a pointless and terrible vox pop, Jim 'n' Hel get down to the serious business of why she sucks so much as a wife. James' first grievance is the fact that Helena sometimes asks him if he's ok. Helena then has to reassure James that she's 'not doing it to be evil'. Secondly – Helena, like all women, talks so much that she combusts mid sentence -
“And that's another annoying thing...Helena said so many things that she got lost.”
Things continue in this manner until we cut to Jim and Hel in their fictional kitchen, where Jim informs us that “I'm going to be doing something that I don't really like to do, but this is what relationships are all about.”
As the show rolls on it becomes increasingly painful to watch, as both James and Helena struggle to cover their obvious disgust with each other with hollow, manaical laughter.
2. The Caravan Channel (Information TV)
So awesome and huge that it was forced to become its own channel, rather than just some ropey old show. Caravans have a special place in the British consciousness; it's probably next to the place where we keep information about European fishing policy, or paper cuts we have known. But just as some people enjoy pain, others go all sweaty over cramped, uncomfortable sheds on wheels.
Chief ambassador for the 'let's sleep on a fold out shelf' brigade appears to be Andy Harris, who wanders round the country looking increasingly amazed and impressed by everything. He also has a 'hilarious' knack of mistaking black people for other black people.
In this episode he's at the National Caravan and Camping show 2013. Not even a minute in and he's leaping around, being inadvertently racist. Other highlights include the weirdly inappropriate heavy metal soundtrack, Andy getting a hard on over some fridges, Andy stealing some cheese, and Andy getting excited over some portable televisions, because there are “hardly any black bits around the edges”. The guy sure is an accidental racist.
Other delights to be witnessed on The Caravan Channel include second in command John Wickersham taking time out of his acting woodenly schedule to show viewers how to install a battery on a caravan (“make sure nothing's on fire before you begin”), and the brilliantly excruciating “Me and my caravan” section – featuring an assortment of couples who have decided to revive their obviously failing marriage by buying a caravan together. They then invite the cameras round to witness their mutual despair.
3. Where U Going? (My Channel)
You know what 'Da Yoof' needs? A horrendous farce of a show that appears to have been filmed on someone's Nokia, complete with switching scenes mid sentence, presenters who forget their lines, and interviews conducted with the top of the guest's head cut off. Never mind, I'm sure that's what makes it 'edgy'.
This show, not at all related to the famous Joey Tribiani chat-up line (although that's all I ever hear in my head when I think of this show) purports to cater to the youth of today. Apparently, the youth of today's main concern is how they struggle to completely turn themselves over to Jesus. Not the fact that they just got caught sexting their girlfriend's sister, or how their parents won't buy them the newest i-phone (probably i-phone 6007 by now), which is what I assumed.
Ok, I'm a grumpy, almost middle-aged woman, so naturally I hate these kids. But they are doing their best, so I shouldn't be too hard on them.
4. The Chrissy B Show (My Channel)
Haphazard Oprah wannabe talk show, focusing mainly on women's issues, such as how to keep your desperate claws in that man you've finally trapped. The episode featured below clearly shows that independent TV is some sort of Mafia, since the guests are well known woman hater James Marques and his long suffering wife Helena. Ironically, the show is titled '10 wrong reasons to be with someone'. Later on in the show we meet some kind of self help guru who makes the genius observation that people sometimes have a job for the money. Then, this rambling gem -
“Wants and needs... wants are the now and needs are the lifetime... wants are desires, and even that could match with relationship as well as job... you want because this person looks good, or because your life's boring... later on you realise 'that's not really what I want'... if you meet challenges and you know what your needs are, those challenges will just step aside.”
5. UCKG Finding Answers Live (My Channel)
Video here, on account of how the file is bigger than Mars http://vimeo.com/64884752
apparently now he's a bishop.
It's a triple bill for Dracula sound-alike spouse hater James Marques. This time he's berating vulnerable people for having been absolute scum before they found Jesus. He's probably run out of ways to rant about how much he hates Helena, so he takes out his rage on unsuspecting former bastards. In this show he's free to shout at poor, unsuspecting ex-cons, telling them how worthless they are. Luckily for him, the former bastards all agree with James, and love the fact that they're free to sit there spouting off about how they turned their life around. I must say, the way most of the people apparently turned their lives around seems to be by giving up having any fun, ever. One of the guests used to post pictures of himself on Facebook holding A) bottles of Disaronno (because amaretto liqueur truly is the gangsta drink of choice) and B) ladies' bottoms. Apparently this made him a worthless individual, and in order to save his putrifying soul, he renounced all traces of alcohol and lady bits.
What I really love about this show is the blurb on my TV guide. 'Finding answers live – for those of you experiencing difficulties'. They make it sound like an IT help desk, rather than a god bothering insanity festival-cum-bullying impressionable people masterclass.