Sheena McDonald takes television makers to task.
Is it getting harder to make television programmes? I would like to think so.
ldon‘t mean — heavens forfend! — because of
or franchise-retentive thrift. l mean because people are learning to ca' canny of the smooth-talking researcher or producer with the ready smile. the encouraging nod — and the exceedingly skimpy chequebook. Not before time. people are learning that halfthe success of many television programmes relies not on the technical expertise of the professional. but on the living and real experience of the ‘amateur‘ — the punter. the viewer. the man-in— the-street. the eyewitness.
()r. equally. much TV mines the accumulated wealth of the expert - the academic. the scholar. the collector. the traveller. The professional TV team put the questions in the professionally-lit environment. before applying the professionally-wielded scalpel of the editing-suite to the raw meat which has been innocently proffered by the non-professional amateur or expert.
Delete ‘raw meat' — insert ‘uncut diamond‘. and amend metaphor accordingly. come to think ofit. I‘m serious. Without the gems of perception and wisdom. be it native or acquired. which the non-professionals provide. the pros of the great mass medium would. more often than not. be left whistling in space. Television traditionally has relied on outside skills. notwithstanding the excellence of certain individuals who do have a seat on the gravy-train.
And it's the dawning realisation on the part ofthose outsiders that there IS a gravy-train which is making programme-producers‘ lives a little trickier. lfthere is any gravy going shouldn‘t it go all the way round'.’
Absolutely — but it‘s going to be a thinner gruel as a result. and that doesn‘t exactly put smiles on faces back in the land of the ratings-junkies.
There's another problem. Not only do the beggars want paid the going rate for the extraordinary privilege ofbeing allowed to use the greatest mass medium known to mankind since the lrish joke - they're also beginning to claim control of what
happens to their graciously-indulged ’
‘l low are you cutting this‘.". they ask. ‘Who else is taking part in the programme? When is it going out'.’ Can I see it before it‘s broadcast? I can‘t‘.’ In that case. I'm afraid . . .‘
lfthey all cotton on. they‘re going to have an entire industry over a barrel.
And here 1 am. hoping they do. What in the name ofself-interest and Numero Uno has got into me'.’
I‘ll tell you. but bear in mind that I only ascribed HALF the success of television programmes to the input of the outsiders. The other half depends on the real skills of the professionals — to assemble and relate a story (which. in the end. is what every programme has to be to find its audience. be it broad or narrow) fairly and accurately without losing either the comprehension or the interest of the audience is a rare and hard-won specialism which deserves all the credit which the industry‘s own institutions offer awards for.
lam not bashing my peers and betters. lam warning against the abuse ofprivileges enjoyed by media-folk these last three decades. On two occasions recently. I have failed to defend successfully the reputation of all television-journalists against charges ofdeception and misrepresentation brought by once-bitten individuals who had no desire to proffer raw meat again. And that meant that I also failed to get the interview I needed for my own purposes.
Fortunately. it is also getting just a little easier. to make television programmes. The gradual creeping growth of the independent sector allows access to the people‘s medium to folk who might never have imagined that they would or could make television-programmes. It would be a great shame if the disillusion caused by one bad experience estranged good people from what can be an effective and beneficent medium.
It would be wonderful if the principal of access brought outsiders and professionals together in a way which maximised the skills of both. and spread control and reward evenly.
And the ratings-junkies? All l know about addiction is that it don’t matter where the fix is coming from as long as it gives you a hit. Start deahng!
Z’l‘he List 2~ 15.lune Mb“)
_ Pixies' 'Doolittle‘ (37 inthe
CALEDONIAN HIT PARADE
The Scottish Record Industry Association. the body which started in March withthe aim at strengthening the backbone of recorded Scottish music at home and abroad. has published its1irstsample Top Twenties of Scottish record-buying.
That Scottish and Irish bands occupythe topthree places inthe new SRIA album chart (Deacon Blue. Simple Minds and Clannad). and that Barbara Dickson and The Clan make a showing. is no surprise. But the national independent sector makes an inroad into the Top Twenty twice with The
Open exhibitions abound. The Smith in Stirling has iustadvertised Iorthis year‘s biennial andthe Glasgow Sculpture Studios. laterthis month. have invited Bruce MacLeanto select a show. This issue. the Fruitmarket Galleryin Edinburgh takes a second stab at establishingtheir annual ‘open‘. Artists were asked to submitworkwith only weeks to spare andthe
Gallup chart) and New Order's 'Technique‘ (not in the network chart) making good showings at 16 and 17 reSpectively.
As taras singles go. the lower end of the Twenty has live entries that aren‘t inthe Gallup Top 20 at all. The Thieves‘ ‘Soul Thiet' and wee cutie Stuart Anderson’s
‘Bonnie WeeJeannie McCoII‘s' places are easily explained by regional loyalties. and tor a nation that hasn‘tclutched hip hop to its heartthe way Southerners have. the Scots seem very partial to De La Soutsgenhyseu- deprecating (especially the video) ‘Me Myselfandl’. For some reason singles by Wire and PiL are doing much betterup here. but reigning atthetop otthe pops is still Queen Kylie.
risk of a motley crew seemed high. Butwiththe under-30$ dominatingthe floor. it seems thata consistency lacking in last year‘s exhibition may be achieved. lnthe end 48 artists were selected. 20 women and 28 men. No videothistime anda smattering otphotography (photo byJacqueline Barret). The battletor supremacy remains between painting and sculpture. See Art Listings lordetails.