Saturday, 15 February 2014

Raining on the BBC's parade

I wasn't the only person who, last last night, heard a plane making a terrifying noise over north east London. Storm-force winds were battering the capital and for a couple of spine-chilling moments, there was the fear that an aircraft might be in trouble. Thankfully, all was well and for more than one reason, let's be grateful that nothing more came of it, otherwise we would now be knee-deep in over-the-top news coverage.

The rains came this week and the unfolding horror story of swollen rivers and flooded homes was covered, particularly by the BBC, with a manic zeal. In order to emphasise the Armageddon factor, BBC news teams were sent to the front line. Cue a never-ending roster of rain-soaked, wind-blown reporters, flailing around on promenades, wading through living rooms, striding through sodden farmyards and generally over-egging a rather damp pudding.

Most of us are grateful that there is coverage but some of it seemed inane and more than a little dangerous. Do BBC reporters really have to stand on a beach with fearsome sea waves crashing around them? Are we to continually be treated to some hapless woman clutching at her North Face jackets whilst attempting to interview a member of the local council? Add to that the BBC new anchors, forever gesticulating and slowly shaking their heads from side to side in amazed reaction. "Can you believe it?" they seem to emoting as they stride around their red, plastic set. Seemingly the days of a straightforward presentation of the news are long gone. Sky News is a non-stop visual nightmare of BREAKING NEWS captions and whooshing sound effects, a constant babble of non-entities sat on the sofa while a disinterested anchor peers down on them from some form of news throne.

Luddite that I am, I hanker for the days of the restrained tones of Kenneth Kendall or Richard Baker, of correspondents safely seated in the studio or observing from a distance, of news studios decked out in beige. I really don't need every utterance to be preceded by a screeching orchestral fanfare prior to the appearance of an over-emoting news anchor whirling their hands around like a windmill in a gale. It's not clever. It's not interesting. It's not Jan Leeming.

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