daytime television

   In the Radio Times in 1996, Polly Toynbee, the former social affairs editor of the BBC, derided the content of daytime television as ‘stupidvision’. She called programmes on both BBC and ITV patronizing, and said that ‘most of the presenters look like they have to pretend to be stupid because they think their audience is’. The stations claimed that their schedules were under review, but Toynbee’s view was widely reported. This reflected a crisis in programming, as stations vied for the daytime audience consisting mainly of housewives, the unemployed, students, shift workers, the retired and the housebound. An index of the concern was that the Pebble Mill lunchtime chat show, presented by Alan Titchmarsh and Sarah Greene, was scrapped after twenty-three years on air.
   The formats of programmes on different channels are often the same. Many, such as BBC’s Good Morning and ITV’s This Morning, have a male and female host who try to create a cosy, friendly atmosphere in which items of news and general interest are presented for general discussion. Celebrities are often introduced and presenters try to recreate a chatty low-key ‘elevenses’-style gathering that theoretically could be taking place around the kitchen table of any member of the home audience. That is, they are making up for the family and friends who are being missed by the viewer. This feeling of immediacy and close friendship from television (which for teenagers is deemed dangerously anonymous and alienating) is promoted by the use of coyly named presenters like ‘Anne and Nick’ or ‘Richard and Judy’, to suggest the boy and girl next door. It is a cynical formula which evidently works.
   Other daytime programmes include discussion programmes involving studio audiences, such as The Time, The Place on ITV, and Kilroy on BBC1. Despite their presenters’ bedside manners, they are cruder versions of the format perfected by Oprah Winfrey, whose show goes out later on Channel 4. Can’t Cook Won’t Cook is a popular programme on BBC1 which uses canned studio laughter while cooks, sometimes in a state of undress, prepare food and tell anecdotes. BBC2’s Ready, Steady Cook differs only slightly. The other main staples of daytime television are endlessly recycled old films and quiz and game shows, such as Fifteen to One or Supermarket Sweep. ‘Stupidvision’ seems harsh, but arguably programming has become more populist due to pressure for ratings.
   See also: breakfast television

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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