10 O'Clock Live: The problem remains the 'Live' part
It's too soon to say if 10 O'Clock Live will remain so much longer; you get the distinct impression that, biased or not, the ‘Live’ bit remains the problem
I admit it. Last year, I really wanted Channel 4's 10 O'Clock Live to succeed. I've long been a fan of the Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, its off-shot, The Colbert Report and Bill Maher's Real Time, and bemoaned the lack of anything even slightly resembling a US-style satirical current affairs show in this country. I put it down to the fact that we simply don't have comparable talent to pull it off on this side of the pond.
So when C4 decided the only way to crack this satirical nut was to employ David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne and Charlie Brooker, it seemed they couldn't really fail.
But fail they did, spectacularly so as the show dispensed with any pretence of balance and quickly pandered to a rather tedious 16-34 year old left wing demographic, complete with a moronic braying audience and excruciatingly feeble scripts.
Despite pretty good guests of all political shades, ratings duly plummeted to a low of 610,000, as the show became a weekly dose of The Word meets Acorn Antiques.
But then I can remember the first series of the revamped Top Gear, with its standing audience of men in a cold shed, forming a circle around three middle age bores waxing lyrical about cars like some kind of lewd sex act at the Motor Show. That was then and the rest is history.
So C4 has stuck with Ten O'Clock Live and that's a good thing. Stuart Heritage in The Guardian even wrote a helpful 10-point guide for C4 to follow to secure the show's success. The 10 points were all too valid, 'Be less partisan' being one of them. When The Guardian suggests you're too left wing, it might be an idea to listen. Part of the problem remains the 'Live' bit though.
Live TV is a bit like travelling by plane. It's fine if you feel in safe hands. If you feel you're not, the experience is truly unpleasant.
This week, in Lauren Laverne's hands, we had one of those horrible moments when the plane hits turbulence straight after take-off. Jimmy Carr bravely tore into John Terry, and then misread the autocue. Charlie Brooker, on safe ground ripping into TV coverage on the Queen, did the same thing. Lauren then fluffed a line about the cost to the nation of the Queen. We were in for a bumpy ride.
But then Laverne's atypical piece suggesting that bashing bankers might not be a good thing, followed by a chat on banking and capitalism v socialism seemed to calm the nerves. Carr even vouched we should be critical of whoever gave Stephen Hester his contract in the first place, while omitting to say exactly who that was… And David Mitchell then appeared to agree with Rod Liddle's view that Sir Fred Goodwin should retain his knighthood as a twisted memorial to the age of Brown and the bankers.
So far, so less partisan, but a dose of reality in the interest of balance left the audience somewhat muted. Next week: why student fees are a necessary evil and really quite a good deal.
A discussion with Alastair Campbell and Burnley FC's Clarke Carlisle was mildly amusing if only to watch Mitchell's gentle ribbing of Campbell, subtly giving the spinner enough rope. In the end Captain David Mitchell took the controls and brought us safely down to earth with an excellent line about the Express not even having wi-fi.
All in all there were one or two chuckles amidst the more studenty fare but it's too soon to say if 10 O'Clock Live will remain so much longer; you get the distinct impression that, biased or not, the ‘Live’ bit remains the problem.
Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon is a freelance journalist who over the past 15 years has written for The Times, the Financial Times, The Sunday Times and Sunday Express
Read more on: 10 O'Clock Live, Jonathan Bracey-Gibbon, Lauren Laverne, Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr, 10 O'Clock Live left wing bias, Guardian 10 point plan for 10 O'Clock Live, alastair campbell, and Top Gear
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