Monday, 11 May 2009

Sensible solutions for the South Bank Show

So the South Bank Show is folding after 32 years. To those outside the UK or under the age of 50, this was a ground breaking arts magazine on British TV for many years, covering a broad spectrum of interests in a lively way. Now it's being canned. Hordes moan, especially, it seems, people who didn't watch the show anyway, and were part of its decline.

So it's good to read some practical common sense from Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph. (I finally caught up reading). His solution is to put the best programmes on an online archive, so those who really want to watch it can do so as and when they can. Much better than being forced into a specific timeframe and never seeing the show again. Plus it would generate a decent income.

The arts won't be damaged by the show's demise. No way, when there are so many other factors around. The real problem is that technology has moved on. Way back in the early 70's, sitting in front of the box watching whatever was on worked because there was no other game in town. Thus, thousands of people who might never have consciously chosen to watch arts programmes became hooked on the Jacqueline du Pré documentaries. Suddenly, the world discovered that classical music was fun. Those Nupen films probably did more for music in the long term than most other things in the media. But television is no longer a medium of choice. The Jacqueline du Pré films are now available on DVD, where they can be watched at will, and repeated as often as one wishes. That's probably the way to go, cherry picking the best of the hundreds of SBS back issues and making them available. Then if people still don't watch, it's on their own heads.

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