With the exception of Christmas, general elections and Eurovision, summer holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. And as is usually the case, there's nothing that underlines the "we are having a good time" vibe better than television.
At one point, summer morning television was a big deal. But now, nobody seems arsed. A cursory glimpse at erstwhile standard bearers Channel 4 will demonstrate just how little arsed they are. If you were roused from your slumber this morning for instance at 7:45am, you'd be treated/subjected to a Friends double bill. That Channel 4 seems to insist on showing Ross wearing leather trousers or Joey getting locked in a cupboard until we all reach Nirvana is intensely annoying, but fair enough, I suppose it's not the worst way to fill an off-peak hour. Having 90210 on at 8:40am, however, takes care of that nicely.
If The OC's more obnoxious cousin isn't bad enough the misery is compounded in little over an hour, when C4 takes the spoilt vapid brat genre to strange new places with cut-and-paste faux-fly-on-the-wall turbo bollocks Made In Chelsea. Add in another double bill of Friends thereafter, all interspersed with links from a roster of indecipherably homogenous hipsters, and you've got yourself a schedule as compelling as a range of Tupperware endorsed by John Redwood.
It seems astonishing an audience as historically large and loyal as young people off on school holidays are being pawned off with such ill-conceived scheduling. Alas, it's a growing trend. Saturday mornings' place as a refuge for kids (and their parents with an appreciation for subtext) on BBC1 was nigh on Holy Scripture for about a quarter of a century, but now youth programming has been replaced by celebrity chefs and exquisite old gents cruising for antiques, relegated to BBC2 where it's a disjointed shadow of its former self. Did Dean Cain's career die for this?
It's the lack of theme that really grates. The likes of Live & Kicking and indeed The Bigger Breakfast were shows with a purpose and a clear sense of itself: their remit was varying degrees of entertainment, games, interviews and US imports, but it felt like one big cohesive programme. Thought went into it, and it was appreciated. A pairing of turgid glamour dramas welded together by nominal links bookended by a sitcom more plentiful than oxygen is none of those things.
The worst thing about it is that Channel 4 has an enormous roster of quality shows dispersed across their various outlets. We don't even have to hark back to the days where we used to spend our summers off school watching Americans in school who implored us to stay away from the drugs. Rather than narrow appeal programmes that don't seem to realise Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was a pastiche, why not show Beaver Falls, or The Inbetweeners, or Gilmore Girls or any of the other shows at their disposal, and make a genuine go at the bits in between? And would the odd cartoon here and there kill them? Granted, these kind of shows can be seen individually at various points in the week, but the whole point about summer morning TV was that it was a deliberately different proposition from regular schedules, an irresistible combination of a number of separately good parts. And that's what made it so much fun.
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