Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Televisual Offal

 Homefront down the Toilet

Many years ago when I was barely a lad, I worked for 2 years at The BBC. It was a funny place. A culture of moaning, appalling pay and even more-appalling hours.

If you've ever seen W1A it's pretty accurate. Well-meaning yet sinisterly insincere types making creative decisions they really weren't qualified to make for programmes that were too awful to watch.

I was there working in 'lifestyle' programming in a pre-internet age. 

As a researcher I used to beg and borrow any product for the show. Product-placement was rarely mentioned but it was rife. After the 'talent' and the cameraman were paid, there was almost nothing left in the budget. My wage in 1999 was £14.5 K/annum. 

This is why the children of the wealthy go into the media: few can afford it or have the connections to go in anywhere other than at the very bottom as a runner. I had saved up money to come to London with and eventually sold my car to keep myself going. It was tough.

At least in the BBC they treated runners better than they did in the private sector. (Shivers...)

The department wanted to expand the 'brand' (which was the latest buzzword) of Home Front. They'd done Home Front in the Garden and now they wanted to do a non-transmittable pilot for a new show.

Our Series Editor, the Cambridge-educated Franny Moyle, had a big meeting with us to impart the great news of the new branch of the brand!

"It's going to be called Home Front in The Kitchen. It's a half hour show, where we design and make a kitchen, then make a that kitchen!"


Somewhere in the distance a dog howled.

I could just imagine these over-educated Oxbridge types, high on coffee and biscuits, managing to convince themselves the worth of this mediocrity.

I looked around the room, incredulous at such nonsense. Everyone looked resigned and exhausted, albeit partly due to the 80 plus hour weeks some of us were enduring. 

My mate Fergus looked at the floor for the entirety of the speech.

At the end of it, I said to Franny "Can I NOT be involved in Home Front in The Kitchen?" Career-suicide I know, but someone had to say something and that's where yours truly came up trumps.

Makes me laugh to this day.

So the premise is basically welding a design and build show onto a cookery programme. I wonder if a visual metaphor would elucidate further?

Home Front in The Kitchen
So you have the designer doing their bit, then hairy-arsed builders put the cabinets and worktop together, plumb it all in with grease and dirt, then someone cooks a lasagne. 

You could even have one of those wipe cuts or transitions from the plumber's arse to a board full of minced beef to signify the natural blend of the 2 genres. The possibilities are endless.

So they spent £120k of licence fee (possible £160K but here my memory is shaky) on a programme which it was obvious to me and others would never work. They then showed it to a focus group who hated it.

I should be running the country, me.

Time to take the pills...