“Coming up….!” These are the two words I dread when watching any TV programme these days. Producers seem to think that every programme, whether it be drama, news, documentaries, car shows, holiday programmes, you name it , has to be prefaced with a summary of what you are about to watch so that you can see what you are going to see before you see it.
This never used to happen. You used to be able to settle down in front of the television secure in the knowledge that you could watch a programme from start to finish and enjoy what was to come without having already been told, against your will, what was about to unfold. But now TV schedulers are so desperate to hang on to their short-attention, flick-switching, phone-fixated audience that they feel they have to lure them in and sprinkle little snippets of enticement into their eyes before the programme has even started. This ruins the surprise element that forms a major part of the enjoyment of most TV viewing. “Coming up, Jeff and Linda love the third house we show them and put in an offer”. “Coming up, we talk to Mark and learn how his training helped him win the race we haven’t shown you yet”. “Coming up, will the ambulance crew rescue a man from a bridge?” (accompanied by a clip of the man being rescued). “Coming up, TV viewer smashes set in frustration at being told what is coming up”. You get the picture.
Cliff-hangers at the end of each drama series are also ruined when the programme ends with a ‘next week’ teaser segment which shows the heroine has clearly survived falling under the horse because there she is, right as rain, running after a handsome man.
The BBC News hasn’t helped the situation by giving a 5 minute news summary at the beginning of every 30 minute news bulletin, accompanied by the heartbeat theme tune for dramatic effect. But do you really need to hear lengthy preview extracts from interviews and correspondents that you then find yourself watching again almost immediately? Couldn’t the time be better spent with a more in depth news coverage later on?
My theory as to why this has evolved is that it is borne from greater choice. In those golden olden days when you had just three channels, you stuck with a programme without knowing what was ‘coming up’ because you knew that there was nothing better on the other two channels. Nowadays, if the first minute of something you are watching is not tickling your fancy and you have the attention span of a weevil, you have options. You can channel surf until you drown. So programme makers feel they have to give you a carrot on a stick. The problem is that they have ended up feeding you most of the carrot almost before you have had time to sit down.
Now, coming up later in this article there won’t be anything because I’ve finished now.