Friday, 23 March 2007

Don't phone, it's just for fun...

So I've waited a wee while before posting anything about the phone-in "scandal" that's "horrifying" every single viewer in the land. To summarise:-

  • Quiz Channel Scandal! No-one answering the phones and the answers are fiddled! GASP!
  • Premium Rate Rip-Off! People calling in after a winner has been chosen! SCREAM!
  • Votes Ignored Horror! Not every vote counted for some show or something! OOOF!
  • Even Blue Peter Is Crooked!

Err, except... well, none of this is a surprise. Surely.

Quiz channels - does anyone really think that the presenter is standing there waiting for someone... anyone... who can give the answer to PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: TONY _____. Of course not. They're simply not answering the phones, totting up the £1 and £1.50s until they've made a whacking great profit. Then they answer.

The other way is a bit sneakier, admittedly; "add up all the 'p's to make a total amount of money", with pictures of coins and words. And when it said 25p it means you add in 1p for the 'p', then 5p for the 5p then 25p as well. I think. Or something. Anyhow, it's not the obvious answer. But they kinda sorta make that clear.

These are channels that show exactly what most people who work in tv think of the audience.

tv secret: tv folks always think tv viewers are rubbish

It's wrong, of course, but there you go. Most viewers are rubbish. Hence the high ratings for ridiculous farmfest Emmerdale and all those "ooh it's the Fifties and here's a lovely old song" dramas Sundays at 8pm on ITV1. But not all.

Back to quiz show channels. They're designed for idiots or drunks. As the latter (and arguably the former) I've sat and watched The Mint on ITV1 at three in the morning for quite a while. Best question ever: "Fill in the blank: DOUBLE _______"

How the presenter managed not to piss himself when a Yorkshire lass answered "Ah'd sey 'double ennn-ten-drey'" I will never know.

Double entendre she meant. It, surprisingly, wasn't there. Next answer was "penetration". Well, it might have been. I was too busy snorting wine out my nose laughing at the first answer. But it makes a better anecdote.

All I'm saying is forget about these things. They exist to make money and that's that. If people are gormless enough to pay, remind 'em on every call, limit them to ten calls and then cut them off. Simple.

Now the thing about the rest of it - the uncounted votes, the people ringing in and paying after a winner was chosen, the wee kiddie made to pretend he'd rung in on Blue Peter... that's down to one simple fact.

tv secret: there's not enough money to make anything much any more

So the staff are overworked and make mistakes (naughty Blue Peter producer), the phone companies are kinda ignored a bit (naughty racing show I've never heard of) and the techie systems don't work properly as they're not funded that well (naughty ice dancey thing). And normal, every day tv shows are full of stupid "What's the colour of an orange?"-style phone-ins to make money for everyone as the advertisers are spending more and more on annoying intermaweb popups and viral YouTube nonsense.

There now follows a proper moral note. Please be assured they'll be few and far between - hey it's the telly, there ain't no morals there - but this really gets on my wick (as we used to say up North)

In the USA, the most money-grabbing, consumerist society in the world, most tv shows have to use free telephone numbers as premium rate lines are banned. Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, funded here by expensive calls by wannabe contestants, is free to call there. As is their version of Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing With The Stars (go ex-Mrs Macca there!). And even American Idol.

If Americaland doesn't ring every penny out of the poor viewers, it says to me maybe we shouldn't. Just a thought.

Happy weekend everyone. Watch Harry Hill's TV Burp, if you can, it's genius. And no, I don't make it, and yes, I'm slightly annoyed that I'd been pitching a show about tv to tv for years (to universal "oh, viewers don't like shows about telly" comments) and no-one wanted it grrr. Still though. When he turns to camera and says "there's an hour of my life I'll never get back" I so know how he feels...

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