Belfast Telegraph

Robert McNeil: Why adverts have forced me to take a break from TV

Do you still watch television? How quaint. Actually, I do too but decreasingly so.

Match of the Day is the only programme I tune in to regularly at the time it is broadcast.

I became less telly-orientated when we suddenly got two million channels instead of just four.

In the happy days of just four, you read the TV listings in the paper and always found one programme to watch of an evening.

Serious viewers with arguably maladjusted personalities might even circle the programme in the listings with a pen.

If it was on at, say, nine o'clock, that time hovered around your consciousness all day as something to look forward to. “Oh great, Minder's on at nine. What fun!”

Now, when we just scroll down hundreds of channel listings on-screen to see what's on when we happen to feel like it, we find we've nothing to look forward to of an evening, no anchor for our lives and so, generally speaking, we fill the void by getting blotto.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that. It's an unhealthy state of affairs.

And it's about to get worse. Firstly, in a quite bizarre and evil move, they — and you know who I mean — have decided to allow ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to show 12 minutes of adverts an hour during films or one-off dramas. The previous maximum was seven minutes.

This is intolerable. It's one of the reasons I find satellite television unwatchable. I've given up on reruns of The Simpsons as it's just a bunch of adverts with a short cartoon attached.

But the capitalists — who spoil everything — haven't finished there.

This week, product placement became entirely legit on ITV, the tawdry commercial channel forever lagging behind the magnificent, state-run, socialist BBC.

Product placement means items are surreptitiously present in scenes. Evil profit-addicts Nescafe, for example, paid £100,000 to have their latest coffee machine in the studio kitchen of This Morning.

As if Nescafe hadn't been given enough publicity already in the speeches of Libyan dictator Humphrey Gaddafi. It's ridiculous a respected politician like him should be brought so low — taking money to mention products.

Here is his latest speech, given from behind the bins in a lane off Ballywibble Street, Tripoli.

“Good morning, my revolting people. Here I am, fresh and arguably sane after wakening to a cup of Nescafe coffee — hmm, refreshing! Do not even think of waddling out into the streets to bung objects at my loyal forces — they are strong from eating hearty plates of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, the sunshine breakfast.

“Democratically voted in 74 years ago, I didn't get where I am today by failing to eat Bonko Jelly Babies — made with real fruit — and steak pies by Fray Bentos, the family butcher in a tin.

“Do not listen to the foreigners, who are full of gut-rotting Red Bullshit, and not good old Irn Bru, as drunk in Libyashire for many centuries.”

The leading nutter added: “I will never flee this great capital but, if I do, I'll be doing so in these extremely comfortable and great-looking Nike trainers. That is all.

“Right, I'm off for a Jaffa Cake. Carry On Follow That Camel is on at nine.”

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