Culture House Daily

Remember what really bad, racist TV looked like? I give you London Live

1 April 2014

7:27 PM

1 April 2014

7:27 PM

So Lebedev’s London Live has launched. And I don’t know about you but I’m hooked. I’d totally forgotten what really bad TV looked like. It’s as if the chief execs at Channel 5 got together with Alan Partridge for a 21st-century rebrand. London’s new TV channel did get one nice review from the, oh, Lebedev-owned Independent – moving swiftly on.

From what I’ve seen of London Live’s first full day, it’s as if a posh, ethnically very chic primary school won a Blue Peter competition where they got to dress up as adults for the day and run their very own TV channel – all by themselves! The top news story was the announcement that Emma Watson’s dress was white and pretty. We were then treated to two Twitter images of yesterday’s ‘sandstorm’. And that was it. Lucky, lucky, London. It made Newsround feel like Dispatches.


Say what you like about the content, however, the channel definitely felt modern. (If you ignore all the repeats.) There were lots of black and brown faces, which felt extremely modern. There was lots of chit-chat about ‘street food’. Also modern. And a presenter with a beard and tattoos. Very modern.

But then came a rerun of the first ever episode of the fire-brigade drama serial, London’s Burning, broadcast on ITV in 1986. I wonder if anyone actually watched it. Because you know what 1986 was like? Not very modern. By which I mean extremely racist. So day one of London’s hip new modern TV channel offered up a bit of this:

“I though your wife was very attractive, Tone?” says one character to the only black character in the programme. “That’s because she’s white, isn’t it, Tone?” chips in another.

Riiiiight. So don’t think we can give London Live full marks yet for diversity . (Hope someone at London Live gets round to watching the rest of London’s Burning before we do.)

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Show comments
  • Craig Bauer Melson

    erm, it was meant to be ironic with London’s burning.. daaaaaagh!

  • GraveDave

    What was the point of all this? To show us how right on you are. As I remember it there were many episodes of London’s Burning showing anti black racism as a moralising storyline including one series ending with a number of white /racist firemen being drummed out for bullying a black fireman and constantly referring to him as ‘Monkeynuts’. Then there was the black fireman played by Garry
    McDonald(?) , previously in Eastenders, who was the first ever casualty and hero of the first series. And who could forget the awfully clever ‘Recall’? with his savant like mind and memory.

    And who was in charge of the station toward the end – oh yeah, ‘Zorba the Greek’.

    As I remember it London’s Burning might as well have been made by the BBC.

  • Chingford Man

    I bet it’s as rubbish as Lebedev’s Evening Standard.

  • Mr Grumpy

    You mean they didn’t display the HM Government Thought Police health warning? Unbelievable!

    Why on earth is the Spectator publishing this?

  • Jez

    “There were lots of black and brown faces, which felt extremely modern.”

    I think many of the Commonwealth nations in Africa have this dynamic ethnic tapestry- with a pretty much similar percentage of White faces there that could be around the same as which are left in the ‘modern’ borough’s of London.

    I think we should call it quits and just hand over the lot and move there.

    (Apart from Uganda- or Zimbabwe. They expelled their brown faces- er, obviously nothing to do with racism)

  • The Red Bladder

    Down here in rural Dorset the talk in the pubs is of little else.

    • East_Anglian

      Funnily enough, here in Eastern Counties, the price of fish was altered by not one penny.

      • The Red Bladder

        In the face of such a momentous event, which has captured the imagination of the entire country, I find that not only difficult to believe but rather depressing.

  • anyfool

    Good, if these minority metropolitan media sh!”te hawks do not watch it, it might develop into something the rest can tune into without gagging.

  • Raw England

    Immigrants destroy our country and capital city, then they make a channel to remind us who’s in charge now.

    Igor, I know this was a sarcastic article, but please, even in jest, can I ask that you don’t describe blacks and Muslims as “modern”. The immigrant take over of our country is anything but modern. The destruction and poverty immigrants have brought us is anything but modern.

    • blanyarx

      The only thing the government cares about is that these vast numbers of immigrants become vast numbers of taxpayers. Any other effects they have are of no interest to politicians because they are not affected in their super-privileged world isolated from the rest of the country.

      • Raw England

        Correct. And very well put.

    • dado_trunking

      Nigella, you need to face up to your sins and stand trial for possession.
      No point blaming immigrant housekeepers. That backfired spectacularly.

    • biginabox

      Your paranoia is caused by the breakdown of the competitive system you defend. Its contradictions are eating you up. Your precious free-market demands the cheapest labour possible, which means mass importation of poor people willing to undermine domestic wages, and feeding your brand of pathological neurosis.
      Property Fever as cjhhampioned by the Right To Buy scam is one expression of the central tory delusion of the Capitalist Utopia, where there is ‘always room at the top’ for all. Which is absurd in a competitive sysytem – which is simultaneously held as sacred.
      Enough to keep the psychologists busy for a generation.
      The nett effect of your Debt Culture is to have reduced us from a society able to collectively organise in our own interests to a fragmented mass of latter-day sharecroppers, unable to spare our backs from the plough. Fighting each other for scraps.

  • jack

    sad. I will not elaborate.

  • Andrew Smith

    This article entirely misses the point about that fabulous film London’s Burning. Jack Rosenthal wanted to show us how London and the fire brigade was, instead of the sanitized TV nonsense that otherwise abounded in the 80s. Showcasing reality isn’t the same as endorsing it….

    • saffrin

      In the 80’s?
      Bars and snooker tables replaced by widescreen TV. The average fireman today spends 90% of his/her time watching b movies when not fast asleep.
      I used to see firemen as heros until I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I ever saw a fireman putting out a fire.

      • Jackthesmilingblack


      • TimeandtheRani

        Well I really don’t think it’s fair to blame firemen for the
        lack of fires to put out.

        • saffrin

          Just pointing out they do very little for their money, so next time they go out on strike…

  • roman_column

    Oh, yeah, wacism! I hope that this article was written for the 1st April edition. Any other reason or pretense of seriousness would make Igor look like a few balls short of snooker. Is he?

  • saffrin

    Ugly Igor again. One can only ask why he came here if he hates us so much?