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Bouncy Beeb

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The other day I was sitting in a hospital outpatients waiting room for my annual scan. The hospital was very quiet with lots of spaces in the car park. Only one other person before me in outpatients and the whole job was done in less than a third of the usual time. Obviously not over-worked but I’m not complaining.

During my brief sojourn in the waiting room I watched part of a BBC programme about waste and the wonderful things being done to recycle it. The programme was presented by a bouncy young woman whizzing around asking people what they were doing and telling us how amazing it all was.

Routine stuff but as I no longer watch BBC I found myself wondering why they bothered with a presenter. In spite of the bouncy approach she was clearly not particularly knowledgeable about the subject. She also came across as intrusive with that impossible to erase hint of condescension.

A narrator could have worked better, but the BBC still seems to have a fixation on making presenters into celebrities. The overall effect is to dumb down almost any subject. It reminded me of tabloid journalism. Keep down the word count, avoid technicalities, keep it bright and breezy.

In my mind I compared the two possibilities. One tabloid style programme with bouncy presenter and one with a professional in the field. I watch lots of YouTube videos which vary enormously in quality and professionalism and that BBC programme did not come across as premier league material compared to the best online videos. Instead it came across as rather dated and rather amateurish.

Dated because the fixation on celebrity presenters is dated. Amateurish because it hasn’t moved on and is decidedly inferior to the best that YouTube offers. The BBC has been doing things this way for decades, but even the bounciest presenter cannot compete with an articulate professional or even with an enthusiastic and articulate amateur. The contrast has become too obvious.


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