Televisual annoyances and observations…

A post from a Facebook friend complains about those moments in TV dramas when a key plot development is contained in a text message shown too briefly to read.

The example given was in The Split on BBC1, the latest drama from Abi Morgan (writer of, among much else, The Hour – much missed by this viewer).

Morgan’s latest is a six-part series about an emotionally fraught divorce lawyer called Hannah Stern, played by Nicola Walker (above) and her immaculate new hairstyle. Ruthless and fragile in equal measure, Hannah is another compelling turn from Walker, who rarely puts a foot wrong, although she does pick a lot of scripts from the miserable box.

And, yes, that plot device is annoying for those of us who are either getting on a bit or habitually inattentive – “Sorry, what just happened then? What did that say?”

Here are some other televisual annoyances and observations…

ONE: The sudden switch in time of day in a drama. This one really bugs me. One moment it is bright afternoon, the next it is midnight.

A good/bad example arises in the last episode of Come Home, the recent Belfast-based drama on BBC1 in which Christopher Eccleston carries off the local accent to admirable effect, at least to these ears.

At a key point in this good but gloomy drama – no plot spoilers – Eccleston’s character storms off in bright daylight. Moments later he is storming around in darkness.

He hasn’t been gone for hours or anything, it is just that the producer/director/annoying person who makes these decisions presumably thought a night shot would look good.

This happens all the time, believe me, and once you start to look out for it, you’ll be condemned to join me on the grumbly end of the sofa.

TWO: Those silly graphics that pop up every night on the BBC news. As soon as a reporter pauses by a blank wall or whatever, you know the moving hand of the graphics department is about to scrawl all over that space.

The reporter stands there pointing at nothing, and then back in the studio the graphic artists fill in the blanks with surplus information. I never read a word as I am too busy being cross.

THREE: Subtitles. No, not those – I love those BBC4/Walter Presents subtitles. Heavens, what a lot of dramas with subtitles there are to watch. I particularly enjoy the Channel 4 spin-off channel. It might almost be called Walter Presents Just for Julian On His Day Off.

So, not those subtitles but the ones you get on the news or in documentaries when someone has a slight accent, so everything they are saying is also put in subtitles. Apart from anything else, how insulting is that? The inference is that the person is too ‘foreign’ or too ‘regional’ to understand, yet often what they are saying is perfectly easy to follow.

FOUR: The TV Presenter’s Blank Face. This is something you will often see on the local news. I hope I am not being rude here, as there is no way I could do that job, but once spotted, this is hard to put out of your mind.

It usually happens because news magazine shows are presented by two people. You might think that speaking would be the hard part, but my suggestion is that it’s the staying silent that’s difficult.

What are you to do with your face? Do you stare at your fellow presenter or look at the camera? Gazing at your co-host can be awkward in inadvertently suggesting a degree of adoration, while staring at the camera risks the blank face.

Often the answer is that you look serious in the serious items, then crack a smile and an inane remark in the lighter moments, perhaps just before you simper, cross your legs and tease the weather man.

No names and all that, but if you watch you’ll know.

I am sure other things annoy me on television, but that’s your lot for now.

Leave a Reply