Camera down the wrong trousers

Click to follow
The Independent Online
After Janet Street-Porter's cabaret act on Friday night, Rory Bremner kicked off proceedings proper on Saturday morning with a review of the year. It had been a year, he said, in which Tony Blair had left his mark on Rupert Murdoch. "It's lip-shaped and in the back area." Television had, through a Desmond Morris documentary, brought an entirely new view of the human orgasm "when it put a camera down Michael Grade's trousers at his salary review meeting". Next year, meanwhile, promised an exciting new film about BBC management called Only Fools on Courses.

t t t

The M people are fighting back (they're the middle-aged, middle-brow, middle-class, mediocre, male executives that Street-Porter, md of the cable channel L!ve TV, blamed for stifling creativity in British TV). One of the 300 who squirmed through her tirade said: "It was the excitement of playing to a bigger audience than L!ve TV has had all year."

t t t

And who precisely are the M People? Most male execs will confess to some of the Ms, but no one is admitting to all four. Alan Yentob, controller of BBC1? Not quite middle-aged, and determinedly high rather than middle brow. Nick Elliott, ITV's drama controller, owns up to all bar mediocrity, though he's evidently piqued by Street-Porter's onslaught, saying her experience of the world consists of little more than the inside of the Groucho Club. Well, he should know. By the small hours of Sunday morning, fingers in the George Hotel bar were pointing at Mike Southgate, ITV's director of network finance and business affairs. His smile suggested either Street-Porter's attack had all the wounding qualities of cotton wool, or too much lager.

t t t

Assemble several hundred programme makers away from the reproachful gaze of the broadcast watchdogs and the bounds of taste and decency are going to be pushed. And we're not just talking about dress sense. One well-attended session - "Beyond the Pale" - examined what is acceptable on screen. It called on a chunk of shocking film clips, some of which had been cut from original transmission. In fact, so shocking were they - one featured a state hanging in the Middle East - that at least one hardened TV type fainted.

The venue for the session was switched from the Church of St Andrew and St George at the last minute when some bright spark realised that a sequence from the Channel 4 comedy series Who Dares Wins showing Jesus on the cross smoking a cigar was not entirely appropriate for a place of worship.

t t t

In all the macho bare-knuckling, it is forgotten you don't have to have a willy (cribbing Street-Porter vernacular) to offend women in television. Sara Ramsden, a Channel 4 commissioning editor, provoked mild outrage when she said: "I do not know how you can be 100 per cent committed to children and to the programme at the same time."

Comments