Dom Joly: The more gaffes on television, the better the show

Share
Related Topics

I was doing a Radio 2 panel show last week and we had a heckler. Well, to be fair it wasn't exactly heckling, more mumbling. It all started really quietly, when the comic Robin Ince was going on about Jordan and Peter Andre. There were mutterings from the back of the crowd about how he ought to "leave Jordan alone". It was said so quietly that Ince pretty much ignored it. Then the voice asked him to "leave Peter Andre alone".

We carried on, but the voice started to get louder and less clear and wanted to have an opinion on everything in that drunken, certain way. Finally, the voice was urged to leave by floor staff – it turned out to belong to a very tipsy woman who had mistaken the show for a vodka bar.

More chaos ensued when she left her seat and hung around alongside the panel while looking for the exit. Her friends didn't want to leave, but eventually accepted that they would probably have to if they didn't want her to end up under a bus. The audience applauded as they left, but I have to admit to feeling a little sad. I wanted her to join the panel – it would have been brilliant.

I really quite enjoy things going wrong. Almost all broadcasting is so formulaic and predictable that it isn't surprising reality TV and "bloopers" feature so heavily in "golden moment" segments. Oliver Reed was always my favourite. I happened to be on the set of After Dark, the portentous but groundbreaking late-night, round-sofa talkathon show in the late Eighties. I had blagged a day's work experience, and what an experience it was. Reed was sitting in the middle of a gaggle of intellectuals and feminists and getting quietly drunk. It was like watching a time bomb ticking. When he eventually blew up and started insulting the feminists and scaring the intellectuals it was magnificent – hypnotic TV. YouTube it – it's fabulous.

A couple of years later, Reed staggered on to Michael Aspel's talk show clasping not a glass, but a jug of vodka and orange. He was completely blotto – did a weird dance, sang terribly, and made everyone very nervous. It was curious, though – you could see Michael Aspel thinking: "Uh oh, he's really drunk." But you could also see him thinking: "Hooray! This boring programme is going to make the news and become briefly watchable."

I never understand why TV doesn't have more of these incidents. All executives pay lip service to "responsibility" and "professionalism", but they all know that audiences love chaos. I think the problem is probably with the presenters. Their job relies on carefully crafted shows that do their best to hide the fact that they are mostly automatons with no real personality beyond the autocue.

Anything out of the ordinary or unexpected will, most likely, not make them look very good, so they don't encourage it. Greatness comes from those who happily thrive on the unexpected and go with it.

I've done my share of interrupting programmes. I used to regularly stage "incidents" behind the news cameras on College Green at Westminster when they went live there during moments of political turmoil. They got so fed up with me that they built a raised dais on which to put their guests and presenters so nobody on ground level could be seen. I was not defeated. One telephone call to an acrobaticics group and, an hour later, I had seven gymnasts forming a human pyramid and appearing live in shot. It was one of my proudest moments.

So come on, people: bum-rush those live outside broadcasts and interrupt panel shows. Take back television from the dullards. Let's make "live" television really live and worth watching again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Upper KS2 Teacher

£120 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Upper Key Stage 2 teacher ...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + ?110 - 130: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher ...

KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Young Syrian refugees gather around a small fire at the Minieh camp in Lebanon  

Cameron and Obama may want to ‘destroy’ Isis, but what will they do about the growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria?

Kate Allen
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments