X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs Culture House Daily

Monty Don, Kirstie Allsopp and Bear Grylls – we get the TV shows we deserve

22 May 2014

6:04 PM

22 May 2014

6:04 PM

We’re now on day three of the Chelsea Flower Show, and this year the BBC have taken their coverage to the max. As well as the quotidian hourly slot with Monty Don, Joe Swift and newcomer Sophie Raworth, in the week preceding the show we were also treated to the daily Countdown to Chelsea.

What is it that makes the public so interested in gardening that we are willing to watch so much of it? Gardening is, for the most part, about scrabbling around in the mud and digging up weeds. But that’s the point. If this were a country where the majority of people earned their keep by growing plants – ie arable farming – it’s unlikely that watching other people do the same would make for enjoyable viewing. I mean, when you’ve finished a hard day’s work, the last thing you want to do is re-live that day on TV.

[Alt-Text]


The same applies to so much of our prime-time viewing. The whole concept of The Great British Bake-Off, for example, revolves around the fact that baking is now an entertaining pastime, rather than something we do daily in order to feed our families. Kirstie Allsopp’s many craft and restoration programmes work along the same lines, as does The Great British Sewing Bee. Skills that were once universal have become minority entertainment activities, or things that only your grandmother knows how to do.

Before anyone accuses me of abandoning the female cause, it’s certainly not just activities traditionally seen as ‘female’ that are now being classed as entertainment. Bear Grylls’ most recent television venture, The Island, has a similar premise – dumping a group of men on a desert in a bid to find out whether they have ‘lost the ability to be practical – even when their lives depend on it’. In this country, that might well be seen as entertainment. But in other parts of the world, having to boil water before you drink it is a necessity, not something you watch others doing for fun. There are hundreds of these kinds of programmes – almost anything featuring Ray Mears (or Bear Grylls), for example, as well as the classic ‘watching paint dry’ programmes like Changing Rooms and Ground Force.

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this. I might not know how to crochet a pair of mittens, but I do know how to upload a YouTube video, and edit a podcast. I would probably prefer to know how to crochet, but the skills I have are the ones that are more likely to be helpful in life. At the same time, however, it’s interesting how what we watch on the telly is affected by the prosperity of the nation. I bet The Island isn’t half as popular in the Amazon as it is in Acton.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close