Lisa Markwell: Beware ad people selling 'event TV'


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Television is not supposed to be an event. It's the electronic babysitter, the goggle box, the flickering distraction in the corner that you nod off in front of. So why is it that everything from Coronation Street to the Lost finale is being billed as "Event TV"? Surely it couldn't be a ploy by advertisers to stop us from recording shows to watch at our convenience and fast-forwarding past their sales pitches, could it?

We would believe, from the insistent promotion and trailers, that if we don't watch sociopath Tony Gordon go rampaging round Weatherfield in real time next week, that we'll be missing out. Sorry, this is a soap opera we're talking about, which is on at the time most people have their supper. Tape it and watch it later. It's not as if the denoeument will be announced on the News at Ten and spoil things for us. (Well, I say that. The level of self-importance on ITV1 is such that it wouldn't entirely surprise me.)

Perhaps I'm grouchy because I got up at 5am yesterday to watch the last-ever episode of Lost on Sky1. You know the one – it's the mind-warping plane crash drama that has delighted and infuriated for six long years. It really was Event TV in one sense, because it was being shown simultaneously in eight countries. Any fan not watching along with everyone else ran the overwhelming risk of reading spoilers on Twitter, Facebook and any given news website, as the show happened.

I learnt my lesson from a rare incidence of real Event TV – the party leaders' debates during the election. By making the mistake of watching the third one five minutes behind everyone else, having paused it to make a cuppa, I was befuddled by the snappy tweets unspooling.

Now, even the adverts themselves are, we're told, Event TV. That much-heralded John Lewis ad, for instance. And now Nike's World Cup offering in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney see their lives unfold in glory or obscurity depending on a match decision. They say "Write the Future" is the message. No, "buy our shoes" is the message – if you watch it, even at x6 on Sky+, you'll notice plenty of almost subliminal shots of footie boots, swoosh nice'n'prominent. There's no escape.

Save it for the beach (or the bedroom), Venus

Two men – one a fashionable thirtysomething, the other a buttoned-up sixtysomething – have both told me in the last 48 hours that they are finding it difficult to go outside. Hay fever? Fear of sunburn? No, no. They are suffering from that other summer affliction – the inability to look away when faced with the vast acreage of cleavage and legs that is currently parading around our streets and parks.

I can't feel their pain, dirty young and old leches, but sunshine does bring out the worst in us, sartorially. I'm dumbfounded that any woman feels comfortable in a skirt too short to sit down in on the train (what happens when she walks up the station stairs?) or in a flimsy glorified bikini top (so skimpy that I feel I should follow behind with a cardi for when the halter-neck gives way).

I get it, the good weather is joyous, but there's a time and a place for everything. (This includes men. Don't even think about taking your shirt off in a conurbation.) The worst crimes against summertime fashion marry these beach ensembles with high heels or, worse, cowboy boots. So it's not all about feeling free and breezy then, is it? It's just "Look how hot I am, and I'm not talking temperature...nudge, nudge".

Venus Williams's chosen outfit for the French Open falls firmly into this category. It would be an error to wear this self-designed, scratchy, sweaty black lace basque to a party, never mind play tennis on the world stage in it. Ladies, everyone can tell when someone has long, slim legs or an impressive embonpoint under clothes, you know. Do us all a favour, and I include the lads, and save it for the beach. Or in Venus Williams's case, perhaps, the boudoir.

Is this really the last we'll see of Griffin?

Must you leave so soon, Nick Griffin? What's that you say? You're stepping down, but not until 2013? Well, talk about puncturing our party balloons, Nick. It's just typical that the kind of good news we need to distract us from swingeing spending cuts turns out to be a red herring. Mr Griffin reckons it'll be time for a younger man to lead the BNP after the party has spent 18 months implementing administrative and political "building blocks". That may well be true, but it will take us to, er, autumn 2011, Nick. Perhaps his adviser is to diary-planning what Bob Bailey is to canvassing.

Of course, he might be looking around and feel that a spell in the political wilderness – yes, even further into the wilderness than where the BNP currently resides, post-election – could do his long-term career prospects a world of good. Go away, and come back stronger, he may be muttering to himself. After all, Diane Abbott's getting more press than she's had in ages, by stirring herself from talk-show sofas. Now Oona King, who left politics after George Galloway displaced her from her Bethnal Green seat in 2005, is back to stand as a candidate for London Mayor.

Don't know what you're waiting for, Nick. If you bugger off now, you might be back in time to make some noise for the next election. Or, let's face it, be first in line when they resurrect Celebrity Big Brother.

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