Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BBC insist their new Top Of The Pops won't be Top Of The Pops

For reasons that we're sure are well-meaning, the BBC is trying to develop a popular, mainstream, prime-time music programme for a general audience. MediaGuardian reports:

"We are working on it," [Andy] Parfitt told a Broadcasting Press Guild breakfast today, adding that it was "absolute rot" to say there was no music on BBC TV.

"It would be great if we could get a new popular music-based programme with a new format, a new kind of offer that really worked for the audience," he said.

"The work is on to try and find a format but we are not trying to relaunch or reinvent Top of the Pops. That is kind of a red herring. Should we be looking for a programme? Of course we should and we are.

"Would it be a good thing to try and persevere and work with producers to identify a new format? Yes. That's what television does all the time. Jan Younghusband is actually leading that process and I am closely involved with that."
Maybe there is such a mythical format, a world where The Ting Tings, Susan Boyle, The Cast Of Phantom Of The Opera and Sharon Corr can co-exist happily.

But you know what? I think I switched over as soon as Susan Boyle came on.

It'd be great to have a music programme - perhaps something a bit like Inside Sport, but... well, not about Sport - on BBC One. Or maybe a performance slot which does something a bit Whistle Test-y. Develop away happily.

But it's a bit like biscuits, isn't it?

You can have a Tea Time assortment, and if there's no other biscuits around, people will tuck in. But if they like jam rings, they're going to get the hump when there's only one in the box and they have to end up with rich tea fingers instead. Especially when there's an entire channel of jam rings available elsewhere.

At Christmas, it's nice to have a tin of Tea Time. And a few people will always enjoy a bit of a mix. But give most people a choice, and they'll always plump for a packet of their favourites. This isn't an era looking for something like Top Of The Pops, even if it isn't Top Of The Pops.


Robin Carmody said...

Indeed. "TOTP fans" are now a wholly separate breed from "pop fans" and are bloody scary people - most of them hate almost everything that is currently in the charts, they're in love with a mythical (and irrecoverable) *idea* of TOTP, not pop music itself. For its fans, TOTP has become bigger and more important than pop music as a whole, a sign of how irrelevant it would now be to everyone else.

Just as the old ways of television viewing - the whole family watching the same thing at once, all channels other than BBC1 and ITV largely ignored with BBC2 and Channel 4 showing largely high-cultural stuff - make a comeback every Christmas that is wholly unrelated to the general trend of viewing across the rest of the year, so can something like TOTP in a way that is equally unrelated to its chances of faring well week-in, week-out. There's a parallel here with the way that many children's comics continued to publish annuals at Christmas long after they had ceased weekly publication - some, like Bunty, still do - with the annuals clearly selling mainly to nostalgic adults. TOTP in 2010 is the equivalent of a comic like Bunty, really - it can still do well when families come together and people want to look back, but people *now* of the age it was originally aimed at have long since lost all use for it on a weekly basis. The people who like current chart music don't care about TOTP, the people who *do* care about TOTP don't like current chart music. Best to just do the equivalent of a 2010 Bunty annual.

Anonymous said...

"It'd be great to have a music programme - perhaps something a bit like Inside Sport, but... well, not about Sport - on BBC One."

I have this horrible fear that one day somebody is going to spot the Sky Sports News format and make an "entertainment" channel based around it. It will be twenty four hours a day, seven days a week constant wall-to-wall gossip about pop stars, film stars and all those other famous people who you don't really know what they do. Up the sides of the screen will be constant updates of the current charts as a ticker of drivel slides across the bottom. All this will be repeated over and over every fifteen minutes except of course on charts day when they'll have pundits chatting inanely about every part of the chart as it is announced without the viewer actually being able to hear any of the music much like you can't see the Saturday football on Sky Sports News. It will be hell. Much like A Question of Pop.

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