Charlie Brooker's Screen burn

25. dubna 2011 v 14:12 | K but not really |  Letters for Elliot
Dnes žiadny môj článok, ale dielo jedného z najúžasnejších mužov Británie. Pretože ma dojal a pobavil. Ale nebojte sa, žijem, len mám trocha pocit fyzickej nevoľnosti z určitých vecí, asi by som tu už nemala toľko vysedávať - ale viete, zodpovednosť za určité sociálne účty nepustí, where did my social life go. Ak chete vedieť viac, sledujte Twitter.

I used to pity Pac-Man. Not because he was relentlessly pursued by ghosts (what had he done - screwed their sisters?) but because he was a prisoner in that maze. There were exits either side, but they didn't lead anywhere. They spat him back into the haunted labyrinth. No wonder he ate so many of those suspicious looking pills. Getting off his face was his only escape.

You don't have to turn yellow and consist of pixels to experience a similar sense of deja vu. Just trot round contemporary Britain. Chain store after chain store. Ten billion supermarket doppelgangers. Identikit architecture. Same clothes. Same cars. Same sky. Same sameness. It's like walking the wrong way on a travelator: hours of plodding, and you've gone nowhere.

It's the same on TV. Not so long ago, not only were our towns and cities markedly different, the ITV regions were too. A small thrill, to switch on the box in your B&B and see unfamiliar announcers, exotic logos. Different programmes too. It was like being abroad.

As a youngster, I scanned the regional variations in the listings and felt faintly jealous if I spotted something interesting which I couldn't see on Central TV (my local). Gus Honeybun. Who or what was Gus Honeybun? He was always in the Westward listings, taunting me from afar.

I've just Googled him: he was a puppet rabbit. At last I know.

Anyway, since 2002 it's generic ITV, all over (apart from the hold-outs - STV in Scotland, UTV in Northern Ireland). Local identity hardly gets a look in.

But hmmm. Glancing at the cascade of unnecessary nationwide channels available through my Sky box - UKTV Canoe History +2, anybody? - I can't help thinking local broadcasting is due to make a comeback.

In fact, it already is. There, nestling in the EPG: local stations for Manchester, Milton Keynes, and most exciting of all, Solent TV (Sky Channel 219) - an entire network devoted to the Isle of Wight.

Solent TV is strikingly confident. Brash, even. It's just like an ITV region circa 1989. Its flagship show is a daily newscast called Solent Tonight, which looks and feels just like a "proper" news programme, except the headlines consist of minor traffic incidents and council squabbling. To a Londoner, this isn't boring, just comforting. Our news has a bodycount: it's all stab this and arson that and guns and bombs and phonecam footage of babies hurled under tube trains. It's nice to know that, somewhere, a hay bale blowing across a B-road is still big news. I watch it to relax.

The hosts are far younger than the national norm, yet work with absolute conviction (apart from one cub reporter, who the other day was conducting vox pop interviews in a baseball cap). They've clearly got a minuscule budget, but they wear it well. The studio's so small, when they interview a guest, they have to sit so close their knees are almost touching. But I'd rather watch that than the absurd virtual aircraft hangar you see on ITV news.

Aside from the news, there are other homegrown programmes like the brilliantly titled See It, Like It, Cook It, which seems to star a 15-year-old chef, and a chatshow called Hannam's Half Hour, in which a kindly bloke called John Hannam converses with leading Isle of Wight figures. Thrillingly, last week the listings promised an interview with "local character Derek Sprake", which I genuinely couldn't wait to see - but this seemed to change at the last minute. Nevertheless, the edition I DID watch was twice as cosy and reassuring as the local news - 30 minutes of jovial chat between two likable men in that familiar cramped studio.

Between shows, you can enjoy commercials for local shops, and occasional televised "noticeboards" promoting jumble sales or talks at Ventnor town hall ("Entry fee £1: coffee and sandwiches included"). It's a trip back in time to a more reassuring age - but also, it seems to me, a glimpse of a cosier future. It's truly heartening. Tune in. See for yourself.

Charlie Brooker for, March 17th 2007

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