UK television dumbing down?

What’s happening to the intelligence and\or attention span of the UK television viewer? Are we becoming just like the US viewers, in that we’re either watching a few minutes of any show, or forget what’s happened during the advert breaks?

The reason I ask is that more and more shows are starting to do the five minute recap, so after an advert break, or at the worst case after something new happens, we are subjected to a bullet point list of what’s happened since the show started. This get’s totally infuriating come the last ten minutes of a one hour show, and you listen to the twelfth voiceover recap, slightly reworded from the previous eleven.

Geez, I never knew that the show I had been watching for the last fourty eight minutes was about a couple moving to France, especially after hearing a different recap every twelve minutes!

You can see where it’s going to stretch to when you watch see the American version of Wife Swap. The voiceover hypes it up so much from advert break to advert break (these are the US ones, not ours so it’s even more often) and recaps at the same time. Interspaced with the cuts of what is going to happen and what has, it’s horrendously difficult to watch.

Actually, there is an interesting point, by catering for the short attention span audience (which is what I think they are trying to do here) they are pushing the audience towards this short attention span. They are creating the audience desire for this type of programming by continually showing it. When the fourth or fifth recap happens you just change channel and flick back hoping to have missed it, and perhaps missing more of the programme itself.

I just don’t understand it. My viewing style is to pick a programme I like and watch it all. I hardly flick channels unless it’s while waiting for the next programme to start or something has just finished. By trying to attract those that are flicking through the channels they are actually going to drive away those who watch the programme in its entirety and probably also follow the series.

It’s actually strange if I think of my own television preferences now. I like series that have a more complex storyline weaving through the episodes, and sometimes the series themselves. Babylon 5 really highlighted that for me, and recent shows like 24 and Alias just go to show that. I am exactly what these programme creators do not want, someone who has some intelligence, a desire to be stimulated, and does not sit in front of the television screen hour after hour, night after night.

I hate this short attention span programming, and it’s creeping into more and more programmes, mainly lifestyle shows, but it’s going further. Pretty soon all our programmes will be like this, and you’ll be faced with the infamous words “Previously, on the News” after each advert break with a montage of action shots, followed by eight minutes of programming and another “After the break” montage. Before we know it movies shown on TV will be cut the same way! STOP IT!

1 comment on “UK television dumbing down?”

  1. Robert Fairbanks Reply

    Hello Richard

    Firstly you don’t know me and I don’t know you but before you start to wonder who am I, I am just an ordinary member of the British public like yourself. I thought I would email you on the off chance to see what your pet hates are on television because television is in a disgraceful state right now so when you get chance please visit my website –

    Please read the main page of my website first before doing anything else.

    Also please email me back when you get chance.


    Yours sincerely


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