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
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk