The Critics: Cries & Whispers

IN AMERICA, last Thursday was a bad night for burglars, restaurateurs and every TV channel apart from NBC, as 75 million people (according to Dennis Lim, see American Graffiti page 10) stayed in to witness the final episode of Seinfeld. In Britain, the world's most popular sitcom isn't quite such a hit. Only a million people watch, the reason being that BBC2, instead of giving it a plum slot at 9.30 on a Friday night, sneaks it on to our screens at 11.15 on a Tuesday, in a double bill with The Larry Sanders Show - snooker/football/ party conferences permitting.

Every journalist who has ever written about television has raged about this unfathomable scheduling (including, if you want to be pernickety about it, me. But I've grown to appreciate Seinfeld's being where it is. While BBC2 has buried many a gem at two in the morning, an 11.15pm slot hardly restricts Seinfeld to insomniacs. No, it's an urbane, man-about- town sort of time for a programme to be on. You can enjoy an evening out all the more, knowing that you'll be home for the start of Seinfeld. The real question is why there isn't more must-see TV on this late. Friday's bilateral mid-evening laugh-fest is all very well, but it does force a sizeable percentage of the population into an obscure branch of orthodox Judaism: thanks to Friends, Frasier, Ellen, Father Ted and Shooting Stars, I haven't left my armchair after sunset on a Friday since 1994.

Be thankful too that Seinfeld and Sanders aren't on Channel 4, where they would be interrupted by commercials, instead of being the high-concentration 45-minute comedy fix they are on BBC2. Worse still, each segment would be bookended by mini- sketches from the show's "sponsors", surely the most extreme torture that television has yet devised. I didn't think anything could be more hideous than the giggly, shampoo-flogging bimbettes who fight over a sofa before and after Friends, but that was before I saw the fifth-rate Woody Allenisms that separate the ad breaks from Frasier. They must have done wonders for the ratings of Have I Got News For You, which is on BBC2 at the same time.

Infinitely preferable is the quaint way that BBC2 welcomes us to The Larry Sanders Show. Not only do the continuity announcers warn us about the rude words, presumably mistaking 20-to-midnight for the nation's teatime, but they do so in a sweetly sheepish, jocular way. Lord Reith must smile down from television heaven whenever he hears "We're warming up for some heated language on The Larry Sanders Show!" Or my personal favourite: "Ouch! A certain ego is being severely dented now on BBC2. It's enough to make anyone swear!" At a different time or on a different channel, these words just wouldn't be right.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz