Friday 3 January 2014

A Christmas Medley

Including Dr Who, University Challenge, the British class system and gender difference; together with a comparison study between the seventies and now...

I didn’t see much TV this Christmas. I don’t know anybody who did, except that Alex disappeared at 7.30pm on Christmas Day to tune into Dr Who in his room. When he came down he was skipping, and chanting to a tune of his own creation, “Matt Snow is gone”. It seems the current team in charge of Dr Who have turned Alex’s passive adulation into something like betrayal, with poor Matt Snow as the lightning rod of his seething resentment. So the Doctor’s regeneration was the cause of celebration. For me,  Dr Who is too slick by half - some of the Christopher Eccleston episodes are among the best TV ever (oh, those children in their gas masks!) - and a return to wobbly sets would be welcome. 

Anyway, the one exception to the TV ban is Christmas University Challenge, which I catch up with on iPlayer. I’ve gotten into the habit of tuning in at lunchtime. I’ve found Paxo goes well with soup. 

What happens here, as I'm sure you know, is that competitors are drawn from the past alumni of some academic establishment rather than the current crop. I like it because it conclusively demonstrates how the great and the good, the opinion-formers, the Oxbridge elite and the chattering classes are actually very, very dim. Or, to be fair, they're just as thick as the rest of us. 

This might be intentional. Jeremy Paxman, a master of scorn, once exposed the hollowness of power with a book called Friends in High Places: Who Runs Britain (I seem to recall). Now he's utilising the quiz show format to make the same point. 

As I get older, I grow more impatient with representatives of the ruling classes, even liberal ones; even those who donate their services free to the BBC. Poor loves, public ridicule is a price worth paying for self-publicity.

I come from Middlesbrough, a magical place where the middle classes didn’t exist. Sigh! 

Meanwhile, a poll the other day showed that a majority (I can't say how many exactly: my attention wanders when numbers are mentioned) believed that the world would be a better place if women ruled. 

It seems obvious to me that the world would be nearly as bad, but in different ways. I have a suspicion that the changes that have crept into the workplace - the rise of Health and Safety, the new Calvinist work ethic, the smiling exterior that masks bad behaviour and skulduggery - are simply the outward signs of women’s higher status in the workplace. The problem is, it’s the wrong women who gain power. 

Back in the seventies, when men dominated, the day’s labours ended as soon as the pubs opened at eleven o’clock in the morning, and we had power cuts for four days out of seven and no one noticed (at least I didn’t, even though I know all the words to ‘All Right Now’ by Free). And Saville and Hall et al went around molesting girls with impunity. Hmm!  

1 comment:

  1. If its any consolation Savile was first decorated in the New Years Honours at the time of Ted Heath, and benighted by Mrs Thatcher, after being given special responsibilities at hospitals by Edwina Currie. Stuart Hall's OBE only 2012, so the present government saw that particular misjudgement on their own shift. Quite where that puts the gender split as regards the dispensing of honour and trust, I'll leave you to judge. The Alumni edition of University Challenge was an all-Cambridge final, which would have satisfied any possible bias Mr Paxman may have, but clearly the one not to be associated with the Bullingdon Club is less dim than the others. But I worry about the Matt Snow reference: is it an agglomeration of Matt Smith and President Snow of the Hunger Games trilogy?


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