Where do they cook up these TV programmes?

HALF FULL: … or half empty?

ACCORDING to a recent study, pessimists tend to live longer than optimists. “Being overly optimistic,” the American Psychological Association study concluded, “was associated with a greater risk of disability and death. Whereas pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.”

Well, all you pessimists out there should welcome this news but, as you yourselves are only too aware, is “the future” worth all the precautions and hanging around for?

I mean,  to take one example, look at TV programming. This will continue to dumb down until it hits rock bottom. A process hardly helped by politicians and the educational establishment and their endless quest for so-called equality. By this, what they really mean is cater to the lowest common denominator, push everyone down to a barely articulate or literate pop-level culture. A culture in which anything that requires thought, time or effort is: “Boring innit”.

It’s all “infotainment” now, including the news. Anything that might require sustained mental effort has been airbrushed off the telly in favour of “fun stuff”.

I recently wrote about the departure of Delia Smith from mainstream TV to online cookery programmes. If memory serves, the same thing happened with Gardeners’  World some years back. The BBC wanted to make it ‘edgy’, more appealing, so they dumbed it down by getting younger presenters to make hopeless hanging baskets with bits of wire. Pure mass-market television. Unsurprisingly, ratings plummeted. Most people don’t want to be treated as though they have an attention span shorter than a greenfly.

Cookery shows likewise all have the same, uninspiring, repetitive format. Some chef or other explaining a bit of background, cooking with a bit of enthusiasm, and then serving up to the inevitable “mmm delicious” aftermath. Boring, lazy, unnecessary programmes. Yet oddly, those who present them become huge stars, producing the fastest-selling non-fiction books in UK publishing history.

Finally, whether you’re a lifelong pessimist or not, here’s one for Prof Stephen Hawking, too. What law of the universe states that, as the quality of the equipment we watch TV on and the overall picture quality goes up, the quality of what sadly passes for programming nowadays plummets? Answers — in words of no more than one syllable — on a postcard, please.

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’,Soul Stealer’,‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.77) and iBookstore.Profits to Cudeca   

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