Dumbing down TV is no way to raise aspirations – by Nadine Dorries MP

nadine-dorries-mp-black-and-white1.jpgLast week, on my own blog, I mentioned that I had sat next to Andrew Rawnsley at a lunch.

Andrew is Political Editor of the Observer and presenter on the ITV Sunday morning programme, The Sunday Edition.

The day after the lunch ITV announced that it was about to axe the programme.

I found this news particularly depressing for a number of reasons.

Independent TV stations are the first to complain that they don’t operate on a level playing field, and, that the licence fee disproportionately finds in favour of the BBC.

They make this complaint the loudest when the topic of political/religious/ current affairs programming is raised – as do the BBC when it happens.

If Independent TV stations ever want to make a case against the BBC licence fee then dumbing down their own programming is the wrong way to go about it.

When I was a girl, one bad winter, my coat was provided by the church. I remember the coat well. It was off white in colour and three quarter length with a big collar. It was way too big for me. I knew that. I knew that everyone would know that it hadn’t been bought specifically for me; but I pushed that thought to the back of my mind because the coat was such good quality.

I aspired to buy a coat of my own just like it one day.

Despite the fact that I was living through what were very hard times we did have a television.

The television gave me hope. I knew that one day I wanted to be the mum on the cornflake advert who waved her husband off to work, then went back into her beautiful fitted kitchen where her perfect children were eating their cornflakes.

I watched Wendy Craig in Butterflies and knew I wanted to be pretty, funny, and yes, even scatty because I saw that as a virtue. I wanted to live in her nice house and make everyone laugh just like she did.

I went on safari with Survival and I never missed an episode of Angels.

The TV was my window on a world of which I knew nothing, but which I knew I wanted to aspire to.

Today TV consists of reality game shows and the karaoke wannabe equivalents.

It’s not all bad. I watch X factor and strictly come dancing along with the rest, they are excellent programmes. But what came first – TV’s obsession with fame and game shows or the public’s poverty of aspiration?

Independent TV will slowly become another name for Low-grade TV, and any hope the independent sector had of making a case against the BBC licence fee, will be lost forever.

And so will a generation of children. I sat glued to Angels and became a nurse. I watched Survival and lived in Africa. I never missed Country Boy and have a passion for the rural way of life. I watched Brian Walden on sundays and became an MP.

What will the kids of today who look around searching for inspiration become? Where will they look? Who will they be?

When they realise they aren’t going to be famous or a super model and no-one is going to give them a million pounds on a game show, what will they do?

As someone said to me yesterday, “remove hope and aspiration and society is so much easier to control.”

Makes you think doesn’t it? Or have I been watching too many episodes of Spooks!

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