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March 10, 2007

Tinkering with the television

I’ve just joined a new Facebook group. It’s called ‘I Hate BBC Wales’. True, this is the organisation that brings you Doctor Who, and for that we should be grateful. Their news isn’t too bad either, even if it suffers from the tedious banter associated with all local news programmes.

But what winds me up – and considering the existence of a Facebook group, it seems to annoy others too – is the constant tinkering with the schedules on BBC Television. You sit down to watch Top Gear on a Sunday evening and they’ve replaced it with the Welsh Open snooker. Even though there’s no-one Welsh in it and eight million people watch Top Gear (presumably some of them in Wales). You try and watch the first round of University Challenge, but you can’t because in their infinite wisdom, BBC Wales have decided not to broadcast it. Are the questions too hard for Welsh people or something? I think not.

Then there’s the sport. Whenever there’s an FA Cup match on a Saturday evening, BBC Wales ignores the pre-match build-up and cuts across (mid-sentence) to what people in England are watching seconds before kick-off. For anyone wanting to know anything about the game, it’s useless.

By far the worst example of this spectrum abuse is the torrent of programmes about ‘Welshness’. Instead of University Challenge you get a biography of a Welsh bloke you’ve never heard of, in which you learn how Welsh he is. Or perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a programme in which Huw Edwards goes to London and … wait for it … tells you how Welsh it is! I kid you not, this last show was stretched over a whole series.

This would be fine if it was occasional. But with the exception of the snooker, I can’t think of a programme that BBC Wales has crammed in the schedule that wasn’t a documentary about Welshness. It seems the place is run by Plaid Cymru!

Imagine the uproar if BBC Two featured nightly programmes about the exceptionalism of the English!


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