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A Christmas glow (maybe)

It’s funny how sometimes you spot things on television or on screens of one type or another that seem totally out of synch and place … and/or totally inappropriate in the circumstances of the moment.

And – to be blunt – it is most often upon television. Despite all the ‘austerity’ and economies inflicted upon the world of newspapers, I suspect that there are still (just about) enough editorial staff, proof-readers and journalists to double-check everything that goes onto the printed page and/or (for the most part) prevent such cock-ups from occurring.

I cannot comment with authority on any social media medium because (being my age) I don’t partake of this particular facility.

Going back to the era before the Ark, when I worked in ITV, the department responsible for actually transmitting our programmes – if memory serves (which it may not) called ‘Promotions’ – had people specifically detailed to ‘spot’ issues.

You know the kind of thing I’m talking about – e.g. taking any ‘airplane disaster’ movies – especially comedy/spoof ones – out of the schedule if at lunchtime in real life, somewhere around the world (but especially anywhere in Europe) a Boeing 707 airline has just fallen out of the sky and crashed into a field with the loss of everybody on board.

Or perhaps allowing a comedy spoof on the Royals to go out on the day of that the death of one of the real-life ones has been announced.

Or making sure that you don’t have The Taking of Pelham 123 – whether that be the famous Tony Scott 1974 version starring Walter Mattau, Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam (which I have seen) or the rather more ‘iffy’ remake of 2009, directed by Tony Sargent and starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta (which I haven’t) scheduled to for transmission at 9.00pm on a day when earlier at about 4.30pm – at the height of the afternoon rush hour – the London Underground had been subject to a terrorist incident which is still unfolding and unresolved.

You might argue that all of this is just simple plain common sense, but it takes someone to be on the look-out for little things like this.

It’s one of the things that oldies like me tend to bang on about when comparing ‘the good old days’ with the mayhem and chaos of modern media.

It’s certainly the source of half the problems with modern low-budget films and television.

In the old days crews went out with cameramen, sound men, focus-pullers, directors (anything up six or seven people just so a reporter could do a piece to camera) – every individual job involved, or potentially involved, was covered.

These days, however, quite often it’s a case of a reporter and a crew of just two, maybe three. It may save money and time but frankly so often the end product quality is merely so-so. In my day in ITV the technical department of the IBA (later the ITC) would never have approved a good deal of what passes for modern television reporting as acceptable for transition.

Today – unless you’re spending Netflix money – it seems that these days ‘any old how will do’.

Ah well.

I say all this because recently I came across an example of an ‘inappropriate moment’ that I thought I’d share with you. For all I know it’s done the rounds of social media and therefore – in advance – I apologise to all those Rusters under the age of 65 and/or who may already have had their fill of my topic of today …

But anyway, for my sins – I often watch at least the opening few minutes of BBC1’s The One Show, ordinarily broadcast between 7.00pm and 7.30pm (or sometimes 8.00pm), mostly because it comes on straight after the national and then local BBC News from 6.00pm to 7.00pm.

On Monday this week – with not a little fanfare and ceremony – the two main presenters Matt Baker and Alex Jones excitedly unveiled The One Show‘s special seasonal look for Christmas and the New Year. You can imagine the sort of thing – red everywhere, tinsel, baubles, a Christmas tree and so on and right between the two sofas – the left hand one (as you look at them) for the presenters and the right hand one for the main guests of the day – was a brand new, massive television.

On said monstrosity was playing (presumably) a looped tape of a Yule Tide log-type fire. And not just a small little example … e.g. glowing embers with a few flames idly licking around a pile of wood, something that would add a general sense of warmth and comfort to the scene around it.

Instead – in short – it looked like an absolutely roaring conflagration … in fact this is my sole point today … which, partly perhaps being ‘distorted’ slightly on the screen because (if you like) the studio television camera was broadcasting a televised image of the fire, looked almost out of control.

Like it was in a domestic house in a situation in which the Christmas tree had just caught fire and the whole bloody house was going to go up in flames!

Which – I felt at least- was just a teensy bit inappropriate [well, in fact a lot more than that] when the main national news of the day – featured incessantly across all television and radio stations – was the commencement of the Grenfell Inquiry into the fire in West London in which 71 souls lost their lives.

On Monday it looked to me as if the BBC’s The One Show was taking the mickey out of the Grenfell Inquiry, the victims and the families – never mind those who lives were and are being affected by it.

Or at least being crassly insensitive towards it.

Why did not not someone on The One Show‘s production team – or, if not that, within the BBC hierarchy higher up – stop and think, pick up a phone and say “Hey guys, let’s just consider this for a moment … what with the launch of the Grenfell Inquiry going on today, isn’t it going to be inappropriate to have such a roaring fire going full blast in the studio background as tonight’s show goes out?” …

Well, obviously nobody did that … because a ‘roaring out of control’ fire is what The One Show‘s viewers on Monday evening were treated to.

I watched The One Show again last night, just to see if someone had come to their senses.

They hadn’t. There was the fire again, reminding me exactly of those awful images of the flames creeping up the side of the Grenfell Tower on the night of the disaster.

I suppose at this rate we’ll be getting a daily evening reminder of Grenfell every day until the Twelfth Night when the decorations come down …




About Wendy Lewis

A former GP in the Home Counties, Wendy’s busy life revolves around her husband, grandchildren and two Labrador dogs – though not necessarily in that order. More Posts