I decided to do a telly review, and settled down with my deep fried Mars bars and Irn Bru chasers. BBC Scotland’s brand new totally non-stereotypical cutting edge 21st century current affairs for a modern Scotland show had its debut on BBC2, and I wanted to get into the mood. I wasn’t disappointed, it was the Daily Record with moving pictures. I was just waiting for Dougie Donnelly to pop up and tell us about indoor bowling from Coatbridge.
We shouldn’t rush to judgement, this was just the very first show. We’re promised fitba in future editions, and doubtless some wee cute kittens as well. But we got the murrderr so we’re well set on the road to the Reporting Scotland hat-trick.
Titled Scotland 2014, it got off to a bad start by promising to “investigate the costs of independence” with no mention of any possible benefits, and deteriorated from there. It was a bit like the bastard offspring of the Alan Titchmarsh Show and Loose Women, but without gardening tips, cookery segments, celebrities, or any of Alan’s insight into Scottish politics and current affairs. It’s daytime TV at night, so you don’t have to miss it even if you’re so depressed by the asinine intelligence insulting offerings of the BBC that you can’t crawl out from under your duvet until past 8pm.
The programme is presented by Sarah Smith, who apparently got the gig because of her hard hitting interviewing skills, and her comprehensive journalistic talents, but not because she’s John Smith’s daughter. The first two of those qualifying conditions were not on display this evening, which just leaves not being John Smith’s daughter. I’m not John Smith’s daughter either, and probably neither are you, but I don’t recall getting an invite from Ken McQuarrie to show up for an interview. Perhaps it was in that Better Together leaflet I put in the bin without reading it, or in that leaflet from a frozen food shop. Come to think of it, it can’t have been in the frozen food shop leaflet. BBC Scotland has never knowingly mentioned Iceland’s economic recovery.
First up was what was billed as an investigation into G4S, the private security company that raked in a fortune in contracts in Iraq. But there was little about the dark and nefarious nexus between government ministers and companies that employ psychopaths and give them guns, instead it was a piece about a murrderr. By this time I was wondering if Dougie Donnelly had been delayed in a malfunctioning lift with Archie McPherson.
Ken McDonald, BBC Scotland’s science correspondent, presented an ill advised jokey wee segment about the costs of independence, which was loosely based on the Swiss Tony character from the Fast Show. It managed to be both unfunny and uninformative at the same time, achieving in under five minutes what Sanjeev Kohli took half an hour to do, so kudos for that. The joke about Swiss Tony was that he was a misogynistic used car salesman left over from the 1970s. Ken really needs to be careful about that sort of thing what with all the cutbacks being imposed by the management at Pacific Quay. Ken’s on a BBC reporter’s salary but Scotland’s very own UKIP MEP, Jibberjabber the Hutt, will cheerfully spout outdated 1970s social attitudes for free. After all, it’s not like he’s got anything else to do.
Ken really ought to stick to the science stuff, because political satire is clearly not his strong point. Maybe he ought to stick to doing jokey wee segments about topics he’s more familiar with like – What’s the difference between the Large Hadron Collider and BBC Scotland’s referendum coverage? One is a ruinously expensive attempt to smash matter into nothingness, the other is a scientific experiment. See Ken, it’s not that hard, and you won’t piss off half your potential audience. Just some geeks in Geneva who’ll zap you with a scary death ray and try to suck you into a black hole, but real comedy isn’t without risks.
The headline interview with Danny Alexander quickly skipped over any mention of the criticisms being made of the UK Treasury report’s figures by the very same people who researched and published the statistics the report relies on. Instead Sarah felt it was more hard hitting and investigative to let Danny Alexander waffle on unchallenged. So did Danny.
It wasn’t just the dubious independence costs that weren’t explored, Sarah didn’t ask Danny about how the Lib Dem’s remaining particle of electoral support was smashed into nothingness by the Large Hadron Collider of Thursday’s elections, and the fissile matter of party leadership being destroyed in radioactive decay. That sort of science was best left to Ken, but he was off looking at a used Cortina.
Instead the closest we got to hard hitting was Sarah asking Danny whether he’d prefer UKIP or the SNP to have won the seat the Lib Dems lost, complete with an ‘Am I not a naughty schoolgirl?’ smirk. And Sarah had a wee smirk on her face too. Naturally this gave Danny the opportunity to claim that both the SNP and UKIP are nationalists, while Sarah didn’t think to question him about his own ProudScot British nationalism either.
And then we had a Trending segment, in which we were helpfully informed what was the most popular story on BBC Devon. Sarah joined two random persons and they twittered about Twitter for a bit.
Swiss Tony would have said it was all like making love to a woman, you go through the motions while thinking about someone else then satisfy yourself before rolling over and going to sleep, but that’s probably misogynistic.
I never thought I’d say this, but bring back Gordon Brewer. I’d far rather have Gordon’s grumpy mug than this fluffy content free crap that passed its sell-by date 40 years ago.
And in other news, Scottish cinema chains have decided to ban political advertising from referendum campaigners because the Vote Nob Orders deluge of misinformation was being booed by cinema audiences and had attracted a record number of complaints. The astroturf campaign and its London based branding and marketing agency tried to align Westminster’s dismal message of indy doom with Scottish chi but got chibbed instead, and the self-proclaimed ‘thought leaders’ of Acanchi got sent hamewards tae think again.
(Update: I made a wee alteration to the original piece, after it was pointed out to me by Nigel Mace that I’d missed Sarah asking Danny about the Dunleavy and Young criticisms of the UK Treasury’s misuse of their research during the 45 seconds when I went for a pee.)