Monday, 22 March 2010

This is the Age of Glorious Hyperactivity

The BBC has been criticised for having only 20% of its presenters or main characters over fifty years of age. There was one five minute patch on BBC yesterday where three programmes flashed up: Tropic of Cancer, Wonders of the Solar System, and some science programme, working on the principle of WHEE!!! BANG!!! POW!!!

They all seemed to concern the same young man, bouncing through life like the Encylopaedia Britannica on a pogo stick. The young man - who, on closer inspection, turns out to be three young men - is ninety-percent hyperactive and is / are clearly being pushed as a personality / personalities. Now I have checked, it is definitely three people. The trouble is that it all looks the same personality. Mostly this one:

Even the camera tricks are similar. It wasn't like this when I was young, though occasionally I might confuse A J P Taylor with Arthur Askey.

The difference is clearer to me today. We're all post-Askey now.

What I want is a fat, unfit, bald old man, or indeed woman, preferably tipsy, sitting in a chair and looking me rather sleepily in the eye. I want this figure speaking prose. Elegant prose if possible, not bourgeois gentilhomme stuff. Frankly I don't want to be dazzled. I am dazzled enough as it is.

Give me prose. Prose not pogo sticks.


mikeovswinton, jealous, very jealous said...

The young man who presents Wonders of the Solar System is a Professor of Physics at a major English university. And I'd bounce around like I was on a pogo stick if I could get the BBC to fund me to travel to some of the lovelier and remoter parts of the North American continent to illustrate things that could equally well be illustrated in Greater Manchester.

Luke Smith said...

Kind of a follow-on from the comment above, but I do feel the need to stick up for Prof. Brian Cox, who presents Wonders of the Solar System (and frequently Horizon, when it's a good one about physics or something). He's endlessly enthusiastic about the science he describes, and he explains things in such a way as to get the wonder of them across to even the least scientifically minded type (while still putting across a decent amount of the science). I think he's the ideal person to present these kind of programs, regardless of his age.

I'm also deeply jealous of his job. I wish I'd discovered earlier just how interesting physics is...

George S said...

I like subtle endless enthusiasm, preferably looking a little like boredom. Alfred Hitchcock is the ideal to aim at.

Maybe it was just the montage of the three young men beaming and enthusing, one on top of the other in rapid succession, that so exhausted me. We are all neurasthenic, we artistic types, you know. I am now going to lie down in a darkened room.

I may be gone some time.

Peter F said...

I tend to differentiate in the first few minutes of a programme between those who have been to bouncing-around-shouting classes for 'presenters' and those of any age with some engaging natural exuberance. I stick with the latter, or turn off the former and worry all the more about the corners the poor BBC is being forced into.

Mark Granier said...

I love the idea of a sleepy-eyed Hitchcock-lookalike presenter (possibly with a Waugh-weary voice). And I get all too irritated by puppyish 'dazzling' enthusiasm (especially in recent Arts programmes), in tandem with ridiculously elaborate jumps across the globe to illustrate something that could be demonstrated far more clearly, simply (and cheaply).

Nevertheless, I too enjoyed Brian Cox (despite my wife finding his voice annoying), and his illustration of the rings of Saturn, ridiculously elaborate though it was, was fascinating.

mikeovswinton. said...

Hey! I'm not knocking the programmes Brian Cox does, although last night I thought his reaction to the Lightning Fighter aircraft was rather like mine. Except mine was when I was a member of the Junior Aviation Society and was 11. Seriously, the programmes are good - but do you really need to go to somewhere beutiful in Canada to illustrate Methane. Come on, he's milking it. Mrs Mikeovswinton wants the programmes (which she actually understands) to end if only to bring the curtain down on my "when will he discuss the rings around Uranus" gag, which I have to say I'm pushing a bit.

George S said...

Brian Cox looks very young to have written the Black Papers in Education. Brian Cox and A E Dyson, wasn't it?

So Cox takes some elixir and goes on TV while Dyson invents a vacuum cleaner.

This is beginning to turn a little Keats and Chapman.

mikeovswinton said...

No George. This Brian Cox was in the band D:Ream who did the New labour anthem "Things can only get better". Unless THAT was the Black Paper Brian Cox as well, and the Brian Cox from last night was previously the actor Brian Cox. (Or indeed, the goalkeeper Brian Cox. Cf Wikipedia Disambiguation page for Brian Cox.) He's still got a damn good travel budget.

George S said...

Sounds like a load of Cox to me, mikeovswinton.

mikeovswinton said...

Brilliant. But I think that was where you came in........... (Incidentally, there was more than a touch of Arthur Askey in the Music Hall Comic that Whitehouse used to do on the Fast Show ; "where's me washboard"?)

Background Artist said...

I remember catching Cox on BBC 3 or 4 a few weeks back and thinking - what a ****.

It reminded me of another ****, Irish economist David McWilliams, who made an RTE show last year called 'Addicted to Money' - in which he explained how, who, what, where, when and why there was a globakl financial collapse. In order to get the narrative across, he travelled to all five continents, doing pieces to camera in - say - Texas, driving along the freeweway in a white convertable, droning on about blah blah blah Thailand, and the next shot would be of the **** in Bangkok - being tugged along choked streets in a rickshaw with an insufferably smug blah blah blah eminating from the tosser's gob.

It must have cost a million or two, for one rich Irish know-all to feel important and great about his thoughts on this matter. But the thing is, if he's so ******* fabulously talented on all things financial, how come the **** couldn't tell us prior to it happening, that it was coming?


Funnily enough, my poetic research that began with Irish myth, travelled through the Tuatha De Dannan into the various bardic woofs from a big dog called God - lead me to where the real exciting knowledge is, which makes poetry appear very very boring by comparioson - theoretical physics.

The main guy at the mo is Michio Kaku, a Japanese American who started out under Edward Teller, father of the H bomb, after Teller spotted him as a teen prodigy and gave him an engineering scholarship to Harvard.

Kaku chose not to go into developing weapons of mass destruction, naturally enough being the child of Japanese immigrants, and opted for the Peace movement instead.

In the early seventies he wrote the first paper on 'string theory', that seeks to reconcile the various difficulties of Einstein's theories and posits there are at least another 8 dimensions we are unaware of. Like radio waves and such have always been around but not harnessed till recently, Kaku has made what was previousoly in the realm of Sci-fi, mathmatically probable. He has written anumber of best-sellers that explain in lay terms, his theories and now, in this realm of theoretical physics, the true magical projections are happening.

There's an award winning film that brings all the quantum physics theories together, called What the Bleep Do We Know: Down The Rabbit Hole - you can watch on youtube.

Basically, the Sciences have displaced the Humanities as the place where 'real' knowledge about existence is being proved, and now, the current state of play is that in the next hundred years, providing we don't blow ourselves up, there will be - perhaps - a huge and fundamental shift as all this mind-boggling Science turns our life truly magical.

Cox reminded me of a smug Manc culturally programmed and formed as a little boy - like most working class N Britians - by the Gallagher brothers. The intro to his trailer is Hey You by Oasis - the ****

The Plump said...

What I want is a fat, unfit, bald old man, or indeed woman, preferably tipsy, sitting in a chair and looking me rather sleepily in the eye.

Join one of my classes then.

George S said...

Not bald enough, Plump. Tipsy could be managed, I imagine.

James said...

Brian Cox is in his 40s, and one of his principle TV roles is assisting Sir Patrick Moore - 80s - to continue presenting. Both men benefit from the arrangement and it works ably.

Granted that some of you would like to describe such people as young men - but for the purpose of your argument, it just doesn't stand up. And for one or two of you, you don't mean young: you mean uncynical. I'm 41 myself and would still react to a Lightning in just that fashion.

George S said...

James, I am sure you are absolutely right, but this wasn't to be taken all that seriously, was it?

I do actually think, however, that the screen is pretty well occupied by a lot of young men and that, on the whole, they do wave their arms about a lot, enthusiastically.

I also think that much of what Brian Cox had to say could have been said in fifteen minutes.

mikeovswinton said...

Young or uncycnical? I guess the problem I have with the reaction to the Lightning is the thought that all that ingenuity and intelligence went into a machine designed to kill people. It raises a whole series of issues about the connection between science and power that at least need to be addressed. The point that the only time an RAF Lightning actually shot down another aircraft was when it was used to take out a Harrier whose pilot had had to eject notwithstanding. (Although I suspect that some of the Air Forces it was sold to found rather more deadly uses for it. And the regimes concerned if Wikipedia is correct were hardly paragons of democratic legitimacy.)