The network that trashed itself 

3 September 2005

No other broadcaster has seen standards slide to the extent where its programmes are frequently unwatchable as has ITV.

Fair enough, standards have slipped at the BBC and Channel 4, and Five has never been noted for its commitment to upmarket programming, but the way ITV’s reputation has collapsed in the last ten years or so is nothing short of disgraceful. And the sad fact is the station’s managers seem not to care so long as the company makes a profit: if the modern ITV could make money out of showing paint dry, I am sure there would be a show devoted to this, probably hosted by Abi Titmuss to add a bit of celebrity to it.

Fair enough, the old ITV was never perfect. Going back to the late seventies I used to cringe at the prospect of the often joke free 8.00 sitcom slot on Monday nights, LWT light entertainment was often dire, the sports portfolio used to include such antediluvian events as barrel jumping and the world clown diving championship as the BBC had all the sports contracts, and there was a tendency to rely on cheap TV movies and imports to fill gaps in the schedule.

However, these were minor gripes, as the BBC could churn out some equally bad programmes, and the seventies ITV was as keen to produce quality programmes as the BBC. After all, many ITV executives had been hired in from the BBC and had years of experience in public service broadcasting that companies like Thames were keen to exploit. Granada, after all, was known as “the BBC of the North”.

Actually ITV, in theory, could have done what it wanted in the seventies and shown any old tat as it had a monopoly on commercial television and advertising revenue, unlike now where its role and ratings have been very much reduced.

However, the constant ratings threat from the BBC, which had totally recovered from the ratings collapse in the early days of ITV, the desire of ITV companies to make quality programmes and the watchful eye of the IBA made sure that ITV didn’t decide to pull This Week in favour of an extra Crossroads episode.

Thames, in particular, had a certain sort of glamour and a desire to make quality and innovative programmes, along with a few undistinguished suburbacoms, I might add. Its programme controllers in the seventies included Jeremy Isaacs, who went on to make Channel 4 such an innovative force in the eighties.

Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks was undoubtedly a ratings big hitter, a talent show that attracted 18 million viewers, and had been on air since 1960. However, Green was a celebrity who thought he was bigger than his show and had decided to wander into politics on his programme.

One particularly embarrassing show in December 1976 saw Green sing a rant about the state of the country called Stand Up and Be Counted, with the words coming up in subtitles, “Stand up and be counted, where the managers manage and the workers don’t go on strike.”

Viewers might have thought they had tuned into a Conservative party broadcast by mistake. Executives at Thames were furious, as the show was supposed to be apolitical, and issued a rebuke to Green, but the entertainer kept allowing his political views to slip during the series, leading to complaints. Eventually Thames tired of Green and the show was axed in March 1978, despite attracting high ratings, something Green mentioned in a bitter rant against Thames in his last show.

Despite Opportunity Knocks being one of Thames most popular shows and a risky move, tantamount to ITV dropping Coronation Street nowadays, the station’s innovative streak saw Green replaced by Kenny Everett.

Even with Green’s political outbursts, he appealed to the traditional older ITV audience who liked the conservative type of entertainment Green offered. Kenny Everett, on the other hand, was known for his madcap radio shows and near the bone humour and Thames thought that by hiring him, they would attract a younger audience.

It was the equivalent of replacing Jack Jones at the Talk of the Town with Sid Vicious. Shows that featured the provocative dancers Hot Gossip, sexual innuendo, television trickery (Quantel was frequently used), and a madcap, rapid-fire presentation style were a total break with the conservative world of ITV light entertainment.

According to the Television Heaven website, the Kenny Everett Video Show was a show viewers loved or hated, but never had a middle ground opinion about. While it never attracted the huge ratings of Opportunity Knocks, although over 10 million viewers tuned in, Everett’s show gained critical acclaim and gave Thames a younger image in the way Hughie Green never could achieve. Although a minor issue in the history of ITV, it showed that the station could take risks.

Unlike now, where programmes seem to go on forever – light entertainment shows like You’ve Been Framed, with the bizarre prefix of “New”, were first new in 1991 – and popular formats are flogged to death, shows were generally replaced every few years even if they were ratings successes as it was felt the formats could get stale.

This probably explains why series like The Sweeney never got tired or went downhill, the show stopping while it was still ahead. Had The Sweeney been launched in 1992, I could imagine it would still be lumbering along today with tired out plots, six changes of leading actors and a dose of political correctness that would have been lacking in 1976.

After all, in the brave new world of ITV1, programmes are kept well past their sell by date because they still get into the station’s top ten ratings and innovation is a dangerous word. When pressed on “Fifty Years of ITV” about why ITV no longer makes sitcoms, producer Nigel Lythgoe declared bluntly, “we just don’t have the time.” Seemingly in the modern world of ITV anything that isn’t an instant ratings success or might take time to develop will not be commissioned.

The real decline in ITV came with the 1990 Broadcasting Act. Although there had been a fall off in standards in the eighties, ITV became a little less committed to minority programming with the creation of Channel 4, and daytime schedules became notorious as dumping grounds for badly made Australian soaps (Afternoon Plus giving way to Sons and Daughters), ITV in 1990 was still relatively good and still devoted time to current affairs and regional programmes.

The 1990 Broadcasting Act, which Douglas Hurd referred to “as one of our least successful pieces of legislation”, was a huge mistake for ITV. ITV franchises were decided on financial bids rather than on quality and the IBA was abolished in favour of the far less powerful ITC, which had far fewer regulatory powers and virtually allowed ITV to do what it wanted, unlike the “policeman” role of the IBA.

The Act saw the highly respected Thames beaten for the London franchise by the unknown Carlton and the middle brow TV-am replaced by GMTV, whose programme controller declared, “the public will get what the public bloody well wants” and created a totally lightweight breakfast service where news came a poor second to celebrity gossip and soap chat.

Even Margaret Thatcher realised the mistake she had made with the Act and was forced to apologise to her main ally in terrestrial television, Bruce Gyngell.

Populism of a kind associated with red top newspapers soon replaced any sort of commitment to quality programmes. Even if ITV’s first network director, Marcus Plantin, wanted to attract a BBC-type audience, he soon fell foul of the diktats of Carlton Television, whose main interests seemed to be in taking over its rivals rather than making anything worthwhile. Current affairs, religious programming, documentaries, intelligent drama and, ultimately, regional identities and programming were ditched in an obsession with ratings.

Perhaps the people who have run ITV since 1993 have been worried that the growth of competition could have damaged the station’s position as the nation’s leading commercial broadcaster and a programme like This Week was never going to top the ratings.

Fair enough, the days of ITV taking half the audience share, and 20 million viewers tuning in to a variety show, were gone; but the wholesale move downmarket was a disaster. Of course, ITV managers will still defend the fact that they take the bulk of the audience in peak time and Coronation Street is the country’s favourite programme.

However, who is watching the station should prove worrying, as ITV’s appeal has drastically narrowed. Yes, I know ITV was always more working class oriented than the BBC, but programmes like Brideshead Revisited and Upstairs Downstairs always attracted huge middle class audiences as well, providing vital advertising revenue – I can recall seeing adverts during Upstairs Downstairs for The Sunday Times and The Observer, something I very much doubt would appear in the breaks for Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes.

ITV relies too much on the 18-35 year old female who reads celebrity magazines and laps up garbage like Celebrity Love Island, underclass viewers during the day, and the dying hardcore of ITV viewers who grew up with the station in the fifties and sixties and who watch little else.

Without wanting to sound snobbish, ITV1 appeals far too much to people who read Hello magazine and The Sun and seems happy to be stuck there. As a 37-year-old man with a degree, who likes broadsheet newspapers but would still class himself as working class, there is little on offer from the station.

Basically men, the middle class, older viewers and anyone with an ounce of taste are excluded from the new world of ITV. Unfortunately, by driving away large parts of the audience, ITV could destroy itself as advertising revenue is bound to suffer.

The fact is that ITV1, the main access point to ITV, is becoming unwatchable and its digital channels are no better. I can recall tuning in to the channel on a Monday night in 1979 and seeing such excellent and diverse programmes as The Kenny Everett Video Show, the old-style Coronation Street, World In Action, Hazell and News at Ten (dodging the poor 8 o’clock sitcom).

These days ITV1 offers Emmerdale, back in 1979 only shown on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a far simpler programme than the trashy soap it is now; two episodes of Coronation Street; the weak reality documentary Airline; and the formulaic and dull police drama Murder Investigation Team. News at Ten is now shown at 10.30.

On some nights, Coronation Street shown three times and Emmerdale extended to an hour. Obviously a case of flogging the station’s two most popular programmes to death, although I often wonder if Coronation Street is as popular as it was because of this over exposure, with ratings falling by 5 million in the past ten years.

The trend towards dumbing down, while most manifest at ITV, seems to have spread to other broadcasters – we can exclude Sky from this, if only because their programmes have always been terrible.

If ITV was showing some daft series like Hollywood Wives in the eighties, and the BBC was showing news or snooker, then the get out clause for the intelligent viewer was Channel 4, who would probably be showing a documentary or a film like Another Country.

Not any more: Channel 4 has drifted far away from its public service remit and is far keener to show an imported series or a reality show. Against the appalling Celebrity Love Island, Channel 4’s alternative was Big Brother, an equally gross reality show for the Heat magazine mindset, making you wonder if the broadcasters are in league with celeb magazine editors and the redtop tabloids.

I can remember picking up a copy of The Sun on a train and seeing a huge pullout devoted to these two awful shows. Meanwhile, the BBC, despite some excellent programming, seems quite happy to cut down its factual programming department and make 4000 staff redundant in the mythical belief it will make better programmes. It’s enough to make you throw out the television.

In the past fifteen years, television executives have become frightened to take risks and have fallen into the trap that the lowest common denominator is a guarantee of audiences, which is the current thinking at ITV in particular.

Whatever the audience that reads The Sun and The Daily Star wants is all that matters. Unfortunately, unless you’re of a mindset that likes soaps and reality non-stop, you don’t count. Never mind that ITV used to produce some of the finest period drama in the world, like Jewel in the Crown, which attracted 16 million viewers. Current affairs programmes like World In Action were once far more relevant than the stodgy Panaroma and well liked. Thames once broadcast Don Giovanni to an audience that was normally hostile to opera.

This is too elitist and complicated for the modern ITV, who thinks that super-serving the chav mindset is all that matters.

However, no one except the South Bank would class the modern ITV as a success. If ratings of 16 per cent for ITV1, not that far ahead of Channel 4, are classed as successful, then there must be something badly wrong at a station which always outperformed the opposition for decades.

Viewers are not fools: there are only so many soaps, reality shows and celebrity programmes you can take. Most recently, ITV1 was forced to pull Celebrity Wrestling, a particularly stupid programme, when it was beaten by four viewers to one by Doctor Who, a welcome return of escapism to the television that the viewers loved. Doctor Who should have made ITV executives wonder if maybe a healthy dose of escapist drama instead of soap, something that ITV once excelled, would win back the viewers.

Yet the current argument in commercial television is not to take risks and thus produce the cheapest, most “populist” programming available. Referring back to the hopeless “50 Years Of ITV ” series, which seemed very dismissive of the station’s past, Nigel Lythgoe seemed to regard reality television as the new situation comedy.

Whatever was funny about Celebrity Love Island was lost on me, and certainly on the viewers, as the programme performed badly in the ratings, unless Callum Best had a sense of humour that the South Bank alone found hilarious.

I would never suggest that ITV1 should become like BBC Two and replace Coronation Street with two intellectuals discussing Marxism, though even this type of programming is rare on Two now. The station needs to be middlebrow, becoming similar to BBC One, offering a wide range of populist programming, balanced out with current affairs, documentary series, regional programmes and religious programmes. Viewers would return to ITV1 if this happened.

Perhaps ITV should take a leaf from Classic FM’s book on how to produce quality commercial broadcasting. Until 1992, Radio 3 had a monopoly on classical music in this country.

Rather like the BBC Television Service in the fifties, Radio 3 tended to be an inward looking network, being excellent for covering the Proms and The Bayreuth Festival, but often playing the sort of classical music that could only be appreciated by an expert. Radio 3 was so inaccessible that the Sunday Times referred to the station in 1988 as “the Militant Tendency of classical music”.

Classic FM decided to use a more accessible approach to classical music, with DJs in a Radio 2 mould introducing popular classics and listener requests while popularising what was often a misunderstood music form through CDs and magazines. Audience figures soon vastly exceeded Radio 3, as listeners warmed to the unstuffy approach and Classic FM attracts over six million listeners a week, a major success, when one considers Radio 3’s audience figures never exceeded three million even when it had a monopoly. Commercial broadcasting does not necessarily mean lowest common denominator broadcasting, as the early Channel 4, Classic FM and the pre-1993 ITV proved.

Perhaps ITV should stop looking to The Sun for inspiration and maybe see how to make itself the world’s greatest commercial broadcaster. I live in hope.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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12 responses to this article

Phil Phillips 16 September 2012 at 4:31 pm

Hi Glenn

Came across your article by sheer chance whilst researching Hughie Green for my weekly article in the local press. I really enjoyed your take on the decline of commercial broadcasting in this country and concur that it was Thatcher’s broadcasting act that started the decline in ITV.24 Hour television has severly compromised the quality of broadcasting to the extent that fillers like the hideous cookery and other so-called ‘Lifestyle’ programmes have become the staple diet of both the commercial and public broadcaster. The granting of continuous broadcasting licences was the death sentence of quality programming in this country.

The advent of commercial television in 1955 was the best thing that happened to broadcasting. It gave an almighty kick up the backside to the BBC who thought that their cosy public school broadcasting style was the ‘bee’s kness’. Their smugness didn’t seem to be impaired even when the likes of ‘World in Action’consistently trumped the,as you say, ‘stodgy’ Panorama.

In my youth,in the sixties, we were subjected to such tripe on a Saturday night like Dixon of Dock Green, The Black and White Minstrels and Billy Cotton’s Band Show that I thought it was Sunday.

The BBC didn’t have a clue in Light entertainment and had to turn to the pirate stations to recruit DJs who had some idea about popular music.

BBC used to laugh at the likes of ‘World of Sport’ because they had the momopoly on sport on TV. Because of this, we all thought that the BBC were the best in sport.When other broadcasters were able to broadcast sport it was patently clear that they were so much better (shame about the adverts)Despite the the fact that they are funded by us, the BBC has decided to build a media centre at Salford. Within this centre is a state of the art sports centre which is a white elephant because they no longer televise live sport.They still pay their self-serving ‘pundits’very well at our expense however to comment on football which they no longer broadcast live.

Whilst I agree with your assessment of Sky, it is a fact that television would be much the poorer without the entry of ITV on the stage.Let us hope that their new autumn series of drama might see them make something of a comeback?

Best wishes


Tony Crampton 23 September 2012 at 11:45 am

The death-knell sounded loud & clear for ITV when they began to advertise SKY!

Martin Lowrie 25 September 2012 at 8:08 pm

Perhaps ITV should advertise their programmes on SKY!

For a while Radio Times advertised on ITV much in the same sort of way as other listing mags do,so I can`t see any reason ITV does not advertise their wears on other commercial channels.

Tomos Hale 17 June 2013 at 2:46 pm

You can’t compare Big Brother to Celebrity Love Island, even if it isn’t the must-see TV it once was.

Adrian 3 June 2014 at 2:16 pm

In my view the move to digital and rebranding to ‘ITV1’ was the final nail in the coffin for ITV. Nowadays ITV2, 3 & 4 can cherry pick the best of ITV past & present, whilst ITV1 has to make do with the rather thin pickings available from current material.

Come to think of it, why do ITV1 (and many other channels) insist of broadcasting in the daytime? Audiences must be tiny, and they end up having to fling out any old rubbish to fill in the time. A more intelligent approach to channel sharing with one of the niche channels would probably solve a lot of the problem.

Tony James 26 February 2017 at 8:52 pm

At last! Some other people who believe what I’ve said for years. ITV HAS dumbed down. The nail in This Weeks’ coffin being ‘Death On The Rock’. Thatcher deliberately setting out to destroy Thames TV because of it. In no way do I support terrorists, but this was ITV current affairs at its’ finest. Impartial, brutally honest & balanced. Also the so-called 9pm watershed is now being stretched to 10pm. The phrase ‘inappropriate’ being the current sick euphemism for ‘violent TV not on ITV? No thanks!’. (unless in the guise of Period drama, soap hypocrisy or police procedurals) – TV does not make you violent – society does that very well thank you. UK TV is now becoming like the DROSS in the US! To paraphrase the Jam ‘the public gets what the advertisers want, OK?’ And of course action TV should be ‘never on a Sunday’ You only have to look at this ‘five days of new’ (26/2/2017) twaddle to see that. Hooray! – they ‘ve finally got a drossy chatshow on at 10pm. So ITV news continues to be marginalised ( ITV News Channel anyone?) Gone is the Holy Grail that you ‘can’t move the news from 10 o’clock’ eh? They’re so bad that ITV should pay US to watch THEM…… Also anyone remember the fabulously funny (& relevant!) ‘Room At The Bottom’ with James Bolam? It was a comedy in the 80s – Now it’s a documentary! First class article. More please!

Tony 8 May 2017 at 6:18 pm

WELL! Just when you thought ITV daytime couldn’t get any worse – it does! Anyone seen the (creepy!) AWFUL game show Babushka? I shan’t say ‘inappropriate’ coz’ then I’d be a hypocrite, but whoever described it as the ‘worst load of toilet’ they’d seen, recently, got it right! How can ITV justify this codswallop? This articles originator must be laughing his socks off, as this is the very theme of his article personnified. FOR GODS SAKE. ITV stop inflicting this trash on audiences or you risk losing everyone but those who will watch two flies crawling up a screen ‘as long as it’s TV’ (& yes, such people do exist!). It’s 40 years since our once proud ITV network was showing gems like Happy Days & now they’ve descended to this trash! We need an alternative to the banal Southern-flavoured sycophancy of the BBC but this isn’t it! ITV gave us Coronation Street (back in the day I was a fan – anyone remember Eddie Yeats or Mavis?) – but with that ship taking on water faster than the Titanic I at least thought that the ‘intellectual’ side of ITVs programming was still able to put up alternatives. The rot set in when Granada started selling University Challenge to the BBC. The chase maybe isn’t ‘UC’, but at least you get a laugh & can answer some good questions eh?, even if it has ‘dumbed down ‘ recently. The summer now seems a testbed for any & all dumbed-down TV of an independent nature. And as for drama, if it’s not period costume piffle or dull as ditchwater police procedurals – yes I know I’ve made the point again – then ITV don’t want to know. I can remember the ill-advised comment in 1983 that ITV was intending to move ‘up market’ (ie. snobbify) but what has really happened is polarisation – the ‘soap oiks’ on the one hand versus the ‘Brideshead revisited’ squad on the other. And no middle ground… The move away from TV to streaming & the like (& the thousands of ‘dumped’ TVs) is not down to technology alone but to the sheer fact that the so called ‘watershed’ has choked off all good action TV to the point of absurdity. I can remember The A Team going out at 5.20pm on a Saturday evening and not a wimper compared to todays ‘sanitise everything’ culture. The ‘violent 70s’ being much more law-abiding than now.

The only solution of sorts is to vote with your feet (or rather, fingers) and not to watch this dross so that viewing figures fall. Only then will ITV bosses ‘get it’ and stop inflicting this absolute bilge on audiences. I cannot believe that the X-Factor crowd are the only people whom ITV really wants as its’ core viewership. In doing so they are alienating millions of viewers like me who once were ITV loyalists to the core. But got terminally fed up of the WW2 Cockney wide boys or aristocratic cliques
– The ‘Del Boys’ & ‘Sebastians’ who populated the airwaves between 1983 & 1998, ‘Yellowthread Street’ anyone?…..

Tony 8 June 2017 at 12:47 am

Well! – another summer and another spate of middle-class, middle-England boredom!
At least we’ve got ‘the chase’ back even if it does come laced with brand-centric slipped-in questions. But the old slots on ITV are rearing their heads again. Monday for limited-violence ‘thrillers’ (dressed up police procedurals). Tuesday for what passes for documentaries on ITV these days. Wednesday a mix of the first two types. Thursday for the tut-tut crime documentary or womens slot, and Friday for the (occasional) American action series (Nice try with Lethal Weapon – ITVs rough counterpart to SKY TVs (excellent) Hawaii 5-0. I won’t mention the (dire!) weekend lineup, apart from the pseudo-religious pap on Sundays. – Maybe they’ll bring back the Epilogue? (gulp!) if things get bad enough.
What ITV needs is the TV equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn – a Rottweiller of a producer who will take risks and regenerate the old mix of genuinely funny comedy, blazing action, quality current affairs and good drama. Someone who can consign the likes of ITVBe to the dustbin of history. A producer for M-E-N., not some ‘luvvie’ whos’ Gok Wan fixation sends most real men off to the pub at warpspeed!…. ITV was a great network, it did not pride itself in calling Coronation St. a ‘soap’ because it wasn’t back then….and it didn’t need a week of high violence, audience-baiting post 9pm ‘specials’ to boost ratings. It regularly took 6-8 million viewers to the edge of their seats with humour, pathos and genuine warmth – not being used as a surrogate social worker with 0800 help lines for viewer interaction. (It’s fiction, OK?) & as for shows celebrating achievments in advertising? Anyway I’m off to watch the excellent Abandoned Engineering on Yesterday. Ta-Ra!…….

Tony James 29 June 2017 at 3:40 pm

Hi! Me again (back from Abandondoned Engineering). Glad to see The Chase back on our screens (even with it’s ‘AD-stions’ – That’s an ad masquerading as a question. OK?). But what’s this? FOOTBALL I see on ITV? Don’t get excited folks, it’s only the Confederations Cup (confederation of what. I hear you ask?). Still I suppose it fills up two and a half hours, gets adverts and saves ITV bosses from having to find family-friendly pap to fill bloated summer schedules. Oh yes! the s-word! Still, Royal Ascot keeps the South entertained eh? Bugger the North – never mind that ITV is just back where its’ sport coverage was in the seventies. They only have eight weeks to go before the whole sorry circus can begin again and they can start using the c-word (Christmas) in sly drop-ins to publicise their no-doubt abysmal fayre of family pap that will tide them over the so-called Festive Season. ITV used to publicise each season of new TV in a restrained, informative manner that provoked (in me at least) genuine excitement over the coming Autumns programmes (QV 1975) And Wow!, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, up jumps ‘The ITV Hub Plus’. Hallelujah! Amen! Subscription TV a-la ITV Posh Drama (sorry!, Encore). So now we know their hidden agenda, make up the deficit of revenue on ITV1 by selling ad-free repeats to subscribers who probably watch UK-TV Drama or Yesterday….Anyone For Tennis?

Tony James 21 July 2017 at 10:38 pm

Well! Murray out of Wimbledon, summers’
here & here we go again! The holiday pap from 2016 regenerates itself like
an alien in the Invaders(God bless The Horror Channel!) – to writhe, sorry! rise like a constipated phoenix once more. The usual suspects are all here – hour long episodes of Emmerdull & Regurgitation Street, Midsummer Boredom & tut, tut Piers Morgan documentaries.
ITV is so terrified of Ofcom that any good classic thrillers (Goodfellas, Deathwish 2, et al) are consigned to ITV4. The relentless march of mediocrity – pap elevated to an art form. Any and all good films largely butchered to appease the South East. Funny thing is, you wait months for one then two turn up at once (Deathwish 3 last night, Goodfellas tonight) – Strawberries & cream anyone?…..

Tony James 4 December 2017 at 4:14 pm

Me again! After a bad dose of family pap, I thought at least that Spike (sorry, FIVE Spike, wow!) – was starting to get a grip when they began showing The A Team. First couple of series weren’t bad as far as they went. But then..Horrors! they showed the AWFUL final series that attempted to merge this first-class action show with the DIRE Man From Uncle. Apologies to UNCLE fans, but to try and merge two so dissimilar shows was a joke (& a sick joke at that!) – at Uncle Sam trying to recruit Mercenaries (sorry! Private Military Contractors) to be rehabilitated by the CIA. The A Team would commit mass suicide sooner that help the Government who mis-tried them in the first place! So a much vaunted action series then went out with a wimper to be replaced by (more horrors!) Knight Rider. And not the crap remake either! I cannot bring myself to watch this as I think the editor who will no doubt have made so many cuts for so-called ‘inappropriate’ issues no doubt will have learnt his/her trade at a butchers training school. I am hoping (against hope) that they’ll show Airwolf – but with the scissor-happy souls at C5 will it look more like Budgie The Little Helicopter? Watch This Space….See Ya!

Tony James 12 January 2018 at 7:04 pm

Another winter – another case of ITVs terminal decline. Back to the formulaic family pap of BGT and The Voice. Not that only ITV are guilty of it (anyone who’s seen Channel 5 recently will know that) – But channel five is (excuse my xenophobia) – well! owned by YANKS who are good at drossvision (they after all invented it!) and
maximising profit over viewer appreciation. My remedy for this? – bought myself the Miami Vice box set and am revelling in quality, action-led American class that cost (at the time) a million dollars an episode to produce (the music licences cost 10k a pop alone!). What is ITVs answer to this? The admittedly good ‘Lethal Weapon’ – but it’s still a clone of the remake of Hawaii 5-0. Meanwhile, something like the excellent Doc Martin gets a measly six-episode run (ITV used to do 13 or 26 week series, remember?). And this is before SyCo season starts! For Gods sake ITV, wise up – before you lose what’s left of you viewership to SKY altogether.

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