Saturday, August 04, 2012

Why the Olympics on TV is making us cry

The truest thing I ever heard about TV came from a senior broadcasting executive. TV, he told me, is all about the human face going through a moment of disclosure.

It's obviously the case with the traditional TV favourites. From Mastermind to The X-Factor, the camera is ravenous for the face of a person undergoing triumph or disaster. All successful TV formats revolve around a basic money shot like this.

The interesting thing is it's also the case with televised sport. Match Of The Day is nothing without the close-ups of the player who's either scored or missed. The action is great in its own way but the drama comes from the narrative and the narrative depends on the close-up.

Jude Rogers has been at the rowing today and she reports it was exciting. I've been watching it on the telly box and the temptation to cry has been almost irresistible. That's what telly wants you to do.


  1. Too true. My brother is in the stadium tonight and I'm a little jealous, but he won't see as much as me. Or shed as many tears!

  2. My American friends are at the mercy of NBC for their Olympic coverage.

    The other day one of them was complaining that a women's gymnastic event, which was not broadcast live, was edited to show the competitors out of sequence, in order to create a more compelling narrative. It seems as though there is an increasing emphasis on the athletes as people and their'journey'.

    I'm not a huge fan of the microphone in the face, meet the competitors, approach, but I think that says more about my stiff upper lip, 'we keep our feelings behind closed doors' upbringing. I know the athletes have earned their moment of catharsis after years of training and sacrifice; I'm just not mentally equipped to deal with such public outpourings of raw emotion.

  3. The temptation to cry? You're a hard man. I wept like an abandoned toddler at the double sculls gold.