A few weekends ago I went to visit my parents. On the Friday night we all went out for a meal and had a fantastic evening, on the Saturday we stayed in and settled down for a night of telly. Sounds good right? Well, it wasn’t. Seeing my family was great of course, but the TV, well, it’s not what it used t’be is it?
No seriously, it’s shit. Not because there’s nothing on, but because there’s nothing really in what’s on.
Maybe it’s the grumpy old man in me, but those phrases I used to hear “It kills your brain cells that does” and “It makes y’stupid that does”. Well, it does, doesn’t it?
Take for example X Factor, an easy target you may think. I know this is hugely popular, I get that. Most people see it as harmless fun, but there’s something within that programme, something really deep inside that whole movement that I find, well, kind of sad. I really can’t put my finger on it, but I just feel sad that throughout this century the world has seen an incredible leap forward in how we can broadcast ideas, stories and insight around the world in the most fantastic way, yet we’re left with this. An audience dripping with wet apathy which finds us blankly staring at colourful pictures of humans making noises, occasionally pressing buttons to vote for which of the colours and sounds made us happier than the other colours or sounds.
I’m not talking about the corporate element of it, jeez, I applaud Simon Cowell for rinsing as much cash out of it all as he physically can. I just find it sad that there are core aspects of entertainment massively faded on a whole generation. Storytelling, suspense, drama, insight.
Since I discovered I really don’t like a lot of what’s on television, I found myself looking for other things I do like, and you know, I found a hell of a lot. A lot of absolutely amazing comedy, drama, insight, stories. Just not presented by Ferne Cotton.
So here you go, I thought I’d put a few things down in case you also found yourself lost amongst berks on a Saturday night, wondering where the hell our entertainment went.
1. Radio Lab
This is quite simply the best radio I’ve ever listened to. It’s an American radio show that tells fascinating stories and discussions about a different topic each time. It’s some of the greatest storytelling I’ve ever heard, and is edited together in a really amazing away. I would start off with “Space”, “Slow" and "Inside Ouch!”. They have an iPhone app too which makes it really easy to listen to.
2. Damn Interesting
If you prefer reading to listening, then this is seriously for you. I may not read lots of books, but I do read lots of blogs. This is my firm favourite. It is a series of articles all about interesting things, simple as that. Stories from history, amazing tales from science and discovery, written in a really entertaining way. They even sell their entire archive as a Kindle book, which I absolutely devoured pretty much in one sitting.
3. Pappy’s Bangers and Mash
I really love podcasts, I listen to a lot of them. After the Adam and Joe show went off the air, it was difficult to fill the gap. I gave this podcast a shot after browsing through iTunes. Now, I know it a terrible name. It sounds like some student radio crap. But it really is one of the funniest podcasts I’ve heard.
Obvious choice right, but really, I love this place. I have even got Kate addicted. The design of the website is absolutely horrific, which puts most people off, but once you plough on through, there’s no looking back. Yes, there’s a lot of in-jokes and toss-pots, but there’s probably a lot less than your facebook feed. If you can’t bear the design of the page, try installing RedditEnhancementSuite in your browser, or if you’re on an iPhone, get AlienBlue, it makes it a LOT better. Reddit, in a nutshell, combines a series of interest groups called “Subreddits” which are all around a particular topic/theme. Everything on there can be upvoted, or downvoted and the most upvoted content/comments sits at the top, or on the front page. I won’t say too much, you probably know if of course, but delve a little deeper and it’s highly addictive.
5. Radio 4
Yes, I’m officially old. I love Radio 4. But since Chris Moyles left Radio 1 (what? I liked him) and I don’t like ANY songs on 6 Music, and Radio 2 is a bunch of knobs, where else to go? Well join the cool kids over at Radio 4. Just ease over the RP voices and formal style, it’s all part of the package and I have absolutely grown to love it. I can tune in to everything apart from Gardener’s Question time and it’s always really bloody good.
Oh god, I’m old right?