Stumbling across this picture in the paper, I thought ‘those children look annoying’ and then was shocked to realise that the still came from ‘The X Factor’, a show I have never seen and only faintly heard of. This is not snobbery, but an admission of failure on my part.
An old boss once told me that if I was to be a writer, there was one rule for remaining connected with the public. ‘If six million people have heard of something, you need to know about it too.’ Well, it turns out that nearly 20 million UK residents watched one episode of ‘The X Factor’, and still it somehow managed to pass me by.
How could this happen? I admit I don’t usually think of putting the TV on – it tends to be the black thing in the corner of the room – but I do watch DVDs, and will happily switch between the Olivier Assayas’ six hour ‘Carlos The Jackal’ and ‘Predators’.
I grew up through the dazzling TV plays of the sixties and the crap entertainment shows of the seventies, so I know good from bad, but I’m also pretty sure that the tautological ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is just a more spiteful, amped-up version of ‘Come Dancing’, which even my grandparents thought was old-fashioned.
So by screening out things which I think I won’t enjoy I make room for the good stuff – but I also risk missing gems. It took me a long time to realise that the new Dr Who was actually very clever, and I’m now ready to watch Danish TV series ‘The Killing’ because I’ve heard good things. I don’t have any interest in sport – nobody in my family does or ever did – and that hole is filled by books, films, dance, music, theatre and art.
Life is short – you have to choose and divide. The main thing is not to let your tastes be controlled by outside interests.