Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The one thing TV never investigates

Last night's "Dispatches" certainly didn't look good for the former ministers who were caught plying for hire. This morning they've already been hung out to dry. Nonetheless there's something about this kind of latter-day current affairs programme and its reliance on having apparently taken the camera somewhere it's never been before that raises more questions than it answers. Once the producers have got Geoff Hoon saying that he's interested in making some money at some point in the future, which is not in itself illegal, I feel they're punching the air (and planning to run that one clip at least five times in the course of the programme in case we hadn't got the point.) The programme relies for its effect on the contrast between the hidden camera shots (from the low angle in which everyone looks furtive) and the endless covering footage of their journalist musing in a sceptical manner in front of a bank of screens (he's meant to appear as the intrepid guardian of our liberties).

I barely heard a completed sentence from any of the interviewees during the entire programme and I would like to have known more detail about exactly how they were targeted and then fished in. Either they're exceptionally credulous and greedy or the programme just picked five at random. The latter conclusion would be more worrying. In fact if they'd saved some of the time they spent re-capping what they'd already told you they could have put the programme in half an hour. I realise that TV current affairs only gets made nowadays when it promises pictures that appear to have caught somebody bang to rights. We can only hope that one day they will take the same searchlight and point it in areas that never seem to get investigated at all. Like TV, for instance.


  1. I don't doubt that the MPs in the programme are venal enough to grasp uncritically at any chance of some free money but I note that they are almost exactly the same group of MPs that participated in a rather limp anti-Gordon Brown putsch a couple of months back and that the scandal over their misdeeds is conveniently eclipsing the bigger news of Tony Blair's huge profits from the Gulf War.

    I shrink from suggesting that Labour have deliberately hung these money-grabbers out to dry in order to bury the biggest political scandal in recorded history but, y'know, it's a thought isn't it?

  2. I suspect there is a great deal of suspect self-righteous indignation over th politicians behaviour, but I wonder how it contrasts to other ex-ministers who are leaving parliament at the next election and are looking to 'maximise' there future employment opportunities. Skills and contact exaggeration is hardly new in any walk of life when looking for a job. I'm not defending them, I just don't find it surprising.

    I'm also tired of the documentary format that has journalist as star and 20 minutes of filler. Only slightly less irritating than watching the main news at to be presented with 'man on the street' opinion