Your chance to fight `dumbing down'

IT WAS billed as one of the great national shared experiences of the century. And once upon a time the BBC might have wheeled out a Dimbleby or two, or at least some of the best scientific names in the land. Yet its coverage of Wednesday's eclipse was regarded by many critics as dismally banal, left to the talents of children's presenter Jamie Theakston and the breathy Philippa Forrester, with help from the Pet Shop Boys and the Radio 1 Roadshow. No wonder the anchorman Michael Buerk seemed embarrassed at moments like these:

Jamie Theakston in Alderney:

"If the shadow is travelling at around 2,000 miles an hour, that means it should be arriving here at about... er... um... soonish."

Emma from the Radio One Roadshow:

"Suede are flying by helicopter, very, very showbiz, Pet Shop Boys are going to be here... so regardless of the rain, we will soldier on."

Tomorrow's World's Philippa Forrester, from the beach:

"Brrrr... I was in my bikini yesterday!"

Jamie again:

"I'm not seeing much."

Michael Buerk in the studio looking at a black screen purporting to show the eclipse:

"God, you've really got to have a good television set here."

Someone on a beach in Cornwall:

"People shout, people go mad... I mean it's just an amazing thing. In three- quarters of an hour, all these people are going to shout."

In the interests of deterring further dumbing down in the broadcast media, the Independent on Sunday is enlisting the help of its readers in a crusade to maintain standards.

Please write to us with any examples of dumbing down that you come across - not just in BBC television, but in the commercial channels and radio as well. We will publish the results. Write to: Dumb Watch, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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