How to Make a TV programme

Maybe you want to make TV programmes but when you applied to a production company you would obviously have the wrong qualifications or no qualifications. Here is the winning formula, so you can make your own!

Warning, contains bad language!

If you want to make a half hour programme for Sky Television in their Entertainment section, for example Discovery Channel, here is the required recipe. Well, it’s what they do…night after bloody night.

Choose your subject. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough material for a full half hour. Only the BBC gives you an (almost) half an hour programme for a half hour slot. You’ll only need some 18 minutes of material for a half hour Sky programme, and you can always show some of that twice, or try to be "artistic" and slow it down. The rest of the half hour is filled by advertising crap, like Ocean Finance, and trailers for other crap you’ve seen before, which is on next Wednesday (again).

Like, how can you get SIX ½ hour programmes about two pratts building wooden sheds?

Once you have your subject, you need a couple of presenters. Preferably one, at least, should be known to the public. The other can be a total unknown, perhaps a woman to add a bit of glamour. Always present your presenters as though they are universally known and recognised. They may just have had a 2 minute part in local radio in London, heard by 20 people, but try to make out they are International stars. You should always ensure that one presenter at least is from the South East and has a London or sarf east accent. Get the word "mate" in plenty of times too. Oh, yes nearly forgot, mate, make sure someone mentions a "nice cup of tea" every five minutes. Gay men seem to be ideal for these sort of crappy programmes. I'd like to make it clear at this point I have nothing against gay men.

Try to mention "London" a few times, even if it is totally irrelevant to the programme. You might have been born there, or unfortunately live there now, or once drove through in a car when you were 2, it doesn’t matter, it is all pish anyway. Use the word "England" when you really mean Britain or the UK. If you are really pathetic you could try and mention England’s cricketers or the 1966 world cup squad.

For added pathetic-ness, mention "Eastenders" at least once in the half hour – for no particular reason.

Its all aimed at trying to make you "acceptable" to the viewer, one of the boys sort of thing, even though you’re pissing-off the 50 million other people who either don’t live in London or don’t watch Eastenders.

Every time a presenter stops talking out of their arse, play unsuitable, loud, synthetic music. Lots of synthetic drumming is required, don’t worry about a musician, just get a drumming noise from a keyboard. Play it loud and at every in-opportune moment. For extra annoyance play the music WHILE the presenter is talking, so no-one can hear what he or she is saying.

The rule of thumb is, the more drumming, the dumber the programme.

In newspaper or magazine circles there is a morbid fear of leaving any white space on the page. Compare "Motor Cycle News" of 30 years ago and the latest issue. Similarly, in TV there is a morbid fear of silence. They can’t bear to produce a programme which has any quiet spells, shhhuuuussssss…

If tools are involved in the programme, play a different noise for each tool. Every time anyone picks up a tool, play loud drumming. If it’s a cookery programme you’ll obviously need different tunes for pork and chicken, etc.

Home-make-over programmes need different noises for bringing down a ceiling or for painting etc…

The BBC used to be excellent for the music content in programmes, but even they are now doing the inane drumming bit.

In antique/houseclearance/clear-the-attic/car-boot sale -type crap you need some sad music when the item doesn’t meet the estimate at auction, and some happy music when the item goes over the estimate. If John is selling all his crap to buy a new wooden leg, make sure you repeat this fact a few times in case the brain-dead viewer can’t remember.

Your presenter can talk total bull-shit, it doesn’t matter. Any complaints by the viewing public are quickly deflected. Complaining to Sky is like shining a torch into a mirror. It comes right back to you as though its your fault. According to them, they only repeat the programmes because the public ask for them to be repeated. Yea, right! I’ve never met anyone who has complained, never mind contacting them to ask for "Open All Hours" to be repeated again. Remember, they’ve been repeating some 70 episodes of MASH for nearly two years, each one, I think, four times a day.

They keep adding more channels so that more crap can be repeated more times, 60 channels and nothing to watch, then I had 80 channels and still can’t find anything I want to watch or haven’t seen at least twenty times before. Remember I saw "Open all Hours" when it was new, and there can be very few people left in the UK who aren’t word-perfect on "Dinnerladies".

We have to go digital the Prime Minister says, so we get extra "features" like endless interactive repeats of the same news story, but we now cannot watch one programme and tape another at the same time. We also have to reboot the digibox every so often because the software can't be bothered to do what it was designed to do; or it all goes off in a heavy rainstorm. Such is progress, but I digress…

Remember we are talking lowest-common-denominator television here, because that’s what the public want to watch. Well, you haven’t complained, have you? Complain to the BBC and they respond, but probably don’t do anything but somehow you feel a little bit better than when you complained to Sky which is a total waste of ten minutes out of your life.

Any particularly technical bits in your programme, which the really enthusiastic viewer might just be interested in, can be glossed over in a few seconds with a bit of loud music or drumming to distract you. For example a motoring programme may show a respray, which actually took more than two weeks to do and is incredibly complicated and highly skilled, in about two seconds. The show’s producers don’t think you have the intelligence to really be interested in the subject matter which they have chosen to present to you and which you sat in specially to watch (well, the first time, anyway).

I’ve just seen the perfect example of the above paragraph. In half an hour this particular programme builds a kit car. One of the tasks is to cut right across the old chassis, remove 200mm and re-weld the two bits back together again. This would involve very skilled cutting, measuring and re-welding. What did we see? We saw some sparks from the cutting tool, then some drumming and then the presenter said, that’s done.

A woodworking show can gloss over the involved shaping of a piece of wood, making it last two or three seconds with a bit of synthetic drumming at the right moment.

Try to work in as many references to London or the South East as possible. Don’t worry about it being broadcast nationally. For example a motoring programme would have to mention the London to Brighton run, or Beaulieu autojumble, or a car club in Reading or Slough, or the M25; you get the idea. Am I repeating myself? Possibly, but you must get this sort of meaningless crap into the programme to make it broadcastable.

If you have to visit an "expert" for anything make sure he is based in the South East, or Milton Keynes, or bloody Hampshire. Americans refer to these as "pros" so we "visit the pro’s shop", little realising that to me pro means prostitute.

Remember, according to the "media" there are no intelligent life-forms outside London and the South East — so there could not possibly be an expert on gearboxes, or oak carving or long-distance hamsters, or cooking or whatever, anywhere in the North, or Wales or Ireland.

If you do mention anywhere "up north", make sure you piss off further everybody who lives there by mentioning "way up in xx" or "all the way to yy," as though you’ve travelled to the outer rings of Saturn to get their contribution. If its Scotland, Wales or Ireland, make sure you take the piss again. Get someone with a kilt, or someone with a strong regional accent to rip the piss out off. Take it from me (I lived in Scotland until I was 30) you can go for months if not years in Scotland and NOT see anyone wearing a kilt. Its only when the London media get involved you’ll find a kilt.

When you’ve done your token "non-London" item, make sure you get back to the Home Counties as soon as possible. Visit beautiful Hampshire and see some old gits’ car, or visit Bognor or Brighton or bloody Basingstoke to see a woodworking workshop, or whatever.

The above should be a winning formula, after all that’s what we’re being presented with every night in life on Sky. Oh yes, nearly forgot to tell you. It’ll be repeated up to six times in one day, be on again the next day and should make another repeat appearance in about ten days time. Make sure you negotiate your repeat fees…With a bit of luck they’ll still be repeating it in four or five years time. If you can make say, six or ten shows like that they’ll string them all together on a Sunday and call it a "stack". All interrupted every six minutes or so for some banal advertising.

Using the above formula you can also make a subject which might be worth 30 minutes stretch out to an hour. After six minutes of advertising the viewer is so brain-dead they’ll have to be reminded what they were watching with a short re-cap of what was on before.

Anton Fitzpatrick (?) sorry might have got his name wrong, did a series of programmes called "Dreamboats" where he actually built a little sailing dingy. I’m not really into boats, but it was a pure joy to watch from the wood-working angle, although there is one sequence I’ve watched several times and I’m still not quite sure what he’s doing, buts that’s by the by. However, they even had to spoil this little gem by diverting your attention from the task in hand. I can just about understand them showing you all sorts of woodworking tools, but to interrupt each programme to show you some rich git’s million pound yacht just peed me off. It was then further spoilt by the standard ingredients of short programmes and long advertising.

Mark Evans restored an E-type Jaguar, a Triumph Bonneville and did several other projects all using the above crap-formula. Music, miss out important bits, divert attention by looking at other people’s vehicles etc. etc.

Sky Advertising

For years we had the same Ocean Finance call-up-and-get-a-loan-you -can’t-really-afford advert. Some presenter who we’ve never seen before but must be famous really because he’s on telly, wobbles onto the screen as though he has something unpleasant lodged in his arse.

He punches the air twice to show sincerity, about as much as a three-pound note. We then cut to a number of alleged customers, chosen for their lack of intelligence, who tell us how easy it was to get the loan and how easy it was to fill in the forms. I actually was able to name most of these characters, after all I was seeing this dozens of times a day whatever channel I happened to be watching. Captain Pugwash, the dumb blonde, middle aged woman 1, middle aged woman 2, young git with earing, young git needing a shave with semaphore eyebrows, Mr and Mrs Fat Git, Hi Di Hi, in a yellow dress, all of them looking as though they had just got a bit part in a second-rate advert.

Just to add variety to our lives, they would often change the phone number we need to dial to get this loan. The smug presenter would repeat the number twice, just in case we had not noticed it across the screen for the last 30 seconds. He would then fade out with a sickly little smile of sincerity. Would you buy anything from this man? Luckily, we have only heard this ad a few times, although we must have seen it twenty thousand times. It must be the most repeated ad in the history of TV.

We always turn the sound off when the adverts start, so we have actually heard very few ads! It’s the only way to get back at the bastards.

They’ve just replaced this ad, swapping the unknown man with an unknown woman, and a new range of "customers". There’s even more small print on the bottom of the screen now, four lines in fact. And she is walking towards the camera very carefully…

Nobody could afford to pay the full price for these ads that are on so frequently. Maybe they pay 20 pence a time.

I did a search on the internet on Ocean Finance and it seems I am not alone. Its been singled out by others as the most boring ad on television, and been included in the top ten most aggravating adverts – ever!

It is all just C*R*A*P. I cancelled Sky in February and survived.

Complain?? It does no good!!

Update: Just complained to Channel 5 about a crap programme re the Terminator films, filled with people we have never heard of, talking shit. Got no response. 

Just complained to ITV 3 about repeating "A Fistful of Dollars" at 9pm and at 11.50pm the same night. Got an automated response saying how busy they were, but don't expect anyone has actually read or taken any notice of what I said.

Complain?? It does no good!!