One of this paper's many campaigns (we do try, you know) has been against excessive packaging. We meant in shops, supermarkets, that kind of thing. But would it too much of a reach to extend it to the telly? In this digital wonderland of our making, surely it's not too much to ask to have a facility that edits out the padding.
TV companies take a dim view of humanity. We're clearly unable to watch, say, a bit of top-level competitive skiing without the whole thing being dressed up as an entirely different kind of show altogether, the kind fronted by Michael Palin or Judith Chalmers. In fact if they were to introduce out-of-competition drugs testing for sports programmes Ski Sunday (BBC 2) would surely cop it, as the new series has been pumped up beyond its natural musculature with a cocktail of TV growth hormones and travel-show steroids.
One surprise is that they've left the theme tune, "Pop Goes Bach", intact – given the thoroughness of the revamp you'd at least expect a Chemical Brothers remix. But that's where the similarity with the old Ski Sunday ends. It lasts an hour – but 40 long minutes have very little to do with skiing.
The first half was two travelogues and a celebrity section. Two travelogues – it's as if, at the planning meetings, someone piped up, "let's do a travelogue!"
"Good idea! What else?"
Long pause. "Er, another travelogue?"
So we got Ed Leigh taking the Siberian Express for a spot of snowboarding (of which we saw 20 seconds) and Graham Bell walking the Alps – in the summer. The summer? Not much skiing there, then. It's like covering darts by sending Sid Waddell on a pub crawl – to pubs without dartboards.
As for the celeb bit, featuring cooking's Mr Weird, Heston Blumenthal, looking uncannily like Gazza in his goggles and helmet, I can only say that the following night on Fifth Gear (Five) he was apparently cutting vegetables with a knife tied to the front of his car. These people will do anything.
There was 13 minutes' competitive skiing, from the downhill at Kitzbühel: the first five finishers and the two worst crashes. Then more travelogue slush from Siberia. Next week: Fiona Bruce does the giant slalom, Jade Goody becomes an Olympic champion ski-jumper and Liza Minnelli tackles hangboarding in the crater of Mt Vesuvius. I may have misheard a couple of those.
Watching the BBC's African Nations coverage, by the way, is it the set down my local or is Garth Crook's head getting rounder by the day? Perhaps it's become subject to the earth's magnetic forces and is being squeezed into the shape of a sphere. Which would mean that when the poles undergo one of their periodic reversals (one's overdue, by the way, and it'll be ugly, so get burrowing) his head will disappear up his – hang on, it's there already...Reuse content