Channel 4: pandering to people’s prejudices for the sake of entertainment

Channel 4 has been going downhill since the 1990s. When I first started watching C4 in the 1980s, it was innovative and groundbreaking. It also got up the Thatcher government’s nose. Michael Grade, the station’s chief and a Tory supporter, was often cast by the tabloid press as Britain’s “pornographer-in-chief”. The station was known for hard-hitting and gritty soap operas like Brookside and off-the-wall comedies like The Comic Strip Presents...

Today’s C4 is voyeuristic and trashy. The schedules are cluttered with cheap programmes fronted by the likes of the ghastly Hon. Kirstie Allsopp and her chum, Phil Wotshisname. C4 is described as a “public service broadcaster” but it barely fulfils its remit these days. I mean, when was the last time you saw a programme on C4 that could be genuinely described as “public service”? There’s Dispatches, itself once a bastion of investigative journalism is now reduced to being the platform for Tory hacks and former RCPers to spout nonsense and misinformation.

Recently we have seen a rash of programmes that can only be described as “low budget dross  designed to pander to people’s deeply-held prejudices”. The first of such shows was My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding which showed some of the worst aspects of traveller life. It also conflated the Romani with Irish Travellers. While the nation’s couch potatoes were gawping at the ‘pikeys’, the residents of Dale Farm near Basildon were being threatened with eviction. Other travellers are constantly moved on by local authorities who are no longer obliged to provide pitches for travellers . The show fuelled anti-Ziganism rather than doing the reverse.

C4’s latest hit is Jewish Mum of the Year, which treads pretty much the same ground as MBFGW. You can hear the conversations up and down the country. “Oh, aren’t they funny”?

Its producers, naturally, defend the show, while Maureen Lipman finds it “appalling”. Quoted in the Telegraph, she said,

“It is very damaging, with anti-Semitism being what it is. Not to mention that being a Jewish mother is nothing like the way they portray it.

“It is just the next stage in this culture of humiliation on television, and I think it is appalling. A programme like that would never have been made when Jeremy Isaacs was in charge of Channel 4. I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I suspect he would be appalled, too.

By the way, Lipman played “Beattie”, a stereotypical Jewish mum in a series of crap adverts for British Telecom. 

Jennifer Lipman (no relation) writing in The Independent is more scathing,

So why did watching Jewish Mum of the Year – with its token religious spoilsport, steely Alpha Mum, not to mention X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon dispensing wisdom – feel akin to having a tooth pulled? Mainly because it wasn’t about informing its audience, it was, unfortunately, all about cheap laughs at the expense of quirky traditions.

C4 started the race to the bottom years ago, dragging the other networks along with it. But C4 differs from the rest by showing what it believes to be ‘groundbreaking’ programmes that are little better than gawp-fests. Programmes like MBFGW and JMOTY are possibly the worst of C4’s entire output and do nothing to challenge the stereotypes, instead they pander to prejudices.

I wonder what’s next for C4? My Yardie Friend?  Maybe they’ll start showing repeats of the disgraced sitcom Curry and Chips. Perhaps I shouldn’t be giving these lazy bastards any ideas.

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Filed under Media, Trash television

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