Cheap & Nasty TV: BBC3

The recent series of programmes celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who has caused me to tune into a channel I otherwise rarely patronise: BBC3. As it’s a Yoof channel, I’m nowhere near its target demographic as I head all too rapidly into middle age. I find most of its programmes execrable.

While channel hopping recently, I stumbled onto a particularly repellent example. It was a sort of reality TV meets fly-on-the-wall thing, passing itself off as a documentary. Its targets were two STD clinics, one in Yorkshire, the other in Devon. As well as watching the staff, the viewer was treated to a selection of patients. These were all young people, many of whom were serial visitors who seemed to regard attendance at the clinic as a badge of honour. It seems none of them had heard of contraception. I was staggered by this level of ignorance (or is it just plain stupidity?) There was little embarrassment on show at having what used to be called “a dose of the clap” and little awareness or concern over the risk of HIV. The young often complain about how they’re misrepresented, but this programme only reinforced the view that they are a bunch of promiscuous and stupid fools.

Unlike that awful right-winger the late Mary Whitehouse, I exercised my free will and changed the channel. I do have to wonder which manager at the BBC thought it worthwhile to make such a programme, and then to present it in this way. Perhaps the makers didn’t want to be preachy and thought they were presenting a balanced view. If that was their intention, it was a failure. The programme tacitly approved of the youngsters’ behaviour where it could perhaps have suggested that they take precautions as next time they might catch something that can’t be treated.

A part of me has always resented the TV Licence fee. However, if it’s the price of keeping adverts off the BBC, then I will put up with it. However, I would rather the BBC concentrated on making quality programmes and leave this sort of populist lowest common denominator rubbish to ITV.

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