I love Saturday night TV. Time was, when as a junior doctor those of us not on-call would all make for the local night club in our market town. For those who haven’t experienced the pleasures of North Yorkshire’s premier night spot, you’ve not missed a lot – not since the live recording of An Audience With Kim Jong-Il have so many people had so much “fun” at the same time in one place. It always struck me that come midnight, this particular venue was not unlike Freddie Flintoff’s crotch on the afternoon of a July test-match – a hot sweaty box with lots of pointless bumping and grinding going on.
Nowadays of course, I’m far too old to even consider attending night clubs. Firstly, being close to pension age (at least in the eyes of the local teens) we’d attract a great deal of negative attention, and secondly I could easily fracture a hip in that difficult moment when your foot sticks to the floor in the pool of spilt WKD. So Saturday nights are no longer for going out (unless it’s a sedate dinner party when the conversation reaches the dizzying heights of whether to go for the Antony Worrall Thompson frying pans or the Tefal) – they’re for Saturday night TV.
I should make it clear, that the Saturday TV-fest is by no means a disappointing way to spend part of your weekend. With the return of Britain’s Got Talent you can watch a whole studio full of people making fools of themselves on national TV. This is followed by the marvelous Take Me Out where you can watch a whole studio full of people making fools of themselves on national TV. The joy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I particularly enjoy the misguided antics of others, it’s just nice that someone else is doing it rather than me for a change.
B’s Got T is all the better for the return of Simon Cowell (top tip: watch for those teeth when he smiles – it’s like being back on the Golden Mile at Blackpool Illuminations on a dull November evening). Mr Cowell has the approach of a Dyno-Rod employee – he cuts through all the crap and flushes out the rubbish – of which there is a lot. I particularly enjoy the really bad acts (though on a serious note, I do wish they’d screen out the entrants with obvious mental health issues). The programmes are edited so that there’s at least a couple of routines per show who are so incredible that they bring a tear to the eye and you just know they’ll be in the final.
Take Me Out on the other hand has no such redeeming features, being 100% trite. If you’ve not encountered this particular show, in summary, Peter Kay – sorry, my mistake, Paddy McGuinness jokes: “let the hamburger see the bun” resulting in a hapless youth descending the “love lift” to face thirty young women who decide through various ‘rounds’ whether or not they fancy an all-expenses paid trip to a Syrian beech resort called “Fernandos”. Each girl stands behind a lighted podium which she can switch off at any time – “no likey, no lighty”, quips McGuinness. The whole spectacle is reminiscent of walking past Smithfield Meat Market first thing in the morning. Probably one of the worst game shows ever made, I absolutely love it and would pay my license fee if this was the only thing on TV ever. Don’t bother ringing on Saturday nights when TMO’s on – the ‘phone’s not.
Of course, we tell ourselves that we watch these shows to make cutting witticisms to each other about their contestants – as Churchill might have said: “never in the field of light entertainment has such little talent been shared by so many.” We sit with our feet up, a glass of Blue Nun in one hand, the Argos Catalogue in the other (open at frying pans), desperately diving for the mute button on the remote control when the Go Compare ad’ airs in the breaks.
Gone for us are the days of strutting our stuff at Club Adiemus, instead we’ve resorted to catch-phrase based humour for our weekend fix. We watch as Paddy ascends the love lift at the end of the show, announcing for another week that “it’s lights out, all out” before we jump on the stairlift and tell our significant other to make sure the standard lamp’s switched off.