I haven’t got SKY Television. Perhaps that’s why some people, especially my wife, think my habit of clicking the remote defies logic, as well as overstepping the bounds of tolerance. My excuse is that I’m a man. I need to be in control of my environment, especially when I’m watching television. Clicking my remote is like throwing a hand-grenade, it gives me the power to blitz head-blasting commercials. Zap! and I also destroy the complacent faces of news presenters trying to be entertainers. If I had SKY, instead of being confined to local stations, I could to keep myself entertained for hours zapping all manner of mindless features that annoy my admittedly individualistic taste.
I blame my upbringing. As a teenager in the fifties and early sixties I was a victim of parental negligence. I was exposed to television programmes before the medium was brought under proper control by knighted gentlemen, who knew its true value. In the early days of the transformation, David Frost (later Sir David) disclosed that owning a television station was a licence to print money.
These days rigorous commercial standards protect our children from the worst practices of the old regime. Such as those corrosively astute political satire programmes. Even so-called music features were not exempt from excesses. Under the guise of diversity, the insidious messages contained in Yehudi Menhuin’s master classes for young violinists were inserted between Rock and Roll, Jazz, piano playing and folk singing. I, along with thousands of other traumatised teenagers, was also subjected to doggedly intelligent television plays that give no respite, not even for commercials. Fortunately those days ended with television’s confident, onwards and upwards trajectory, breaking all barriers.
But I confess to a slight feeling of unease. Is the brave new direction of television faltering? I remember that wonderful day when I first saw a urinal scene on television. It was tame by current standards, of course, lacking the superb sound effects of splashing and the visually evocative steaming stream. But it was, nevertheless, a courageous sign of things to come, at least that was my confident prediction at the time. We were moving towards the ultimate liberation; zoom lens reality defecation. But alas, we seem unable to move on from scenes of simulated copulation and fellatio.
Still, we should not lose heart. As I was surfing the home-grown channels recently I was treated to an entertainer who should be applauded for doing his best to move us on. He was a homosexual gentleman who proudly announced that he liked “to smoke cock.” I know, I know, talk’s cheap. But it reminds us to be patient, we’re getting there. And to think I would not have discovered this gem had I not been practising that much maligned activity, clicking my remote.