Cricket, gardening and other gratuitous smut

'David Attenborough can show more animals mating openly than anyone else can show clandestine kissing'
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The Independent Online

The Other day there was a newspaper preview of a TV documentary that went something like this:

The Other day there was a newspaper preview of a TV documentary that went something like this:

"The Georgian terraces of our historic towns are the ultimate symbol of bourgeois respectability nowadays, so much so that it's hard to believe that many of them were in fact based on the proceeds of... "

Of what? Well, it's not hard to guess. Slavery, of course. We ritually flagellate ourselves for our past based on the profits of slavery, even if most of our forefathers never saw any of those profits. It's only us in the West, mark you, who have to make public apologies. William Dalrymple was investigating the historic links between India and the Arab world on TV the other day, and said casually that one of the big links was slavery - the Indians, that is, buying the slaves brought by the Arabs. I wonder if Indian TV has many documentaries on the awful history of Indian slavery.

But I digress.

I digress a lot, in fact, because the missing word at the end of my second paragraph was not "slavery". It was "sex". Yes, incredible, isn't it? The programme previewed on BBC 2 was a programme about the way our Georgian terraces were built on the proceeds of sex, in the form of prostitution, brothel-keeping etc.

I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Not slavery. Sex. A programme about Georgian architecture and sex. Is there nothing TV people won't drag sex into?

Well, to be honest, no, nothing, as the following minutes of a top-level BBC TV commissioning group show.

Chair: Well, that's it in a nutshell. My boss wants more sex in more programmes, but he doesn't want us to make it blatant. Any ideas on how to get sexier programmes?

Producer: How about a series on prostitution? We haven't had one for months.

Chair: I didn't say we want more programmes about sex. I said programmes with sex in them. In other words, programmes that seem to be about other things, but are really about sex. Like Charlie Dimmock and gardening. Like David Attenborough.

Writer: Is he about sex?

Chair: Yes. He can show more animals mating openly than anyone else can show clandestine kissing.

Junior producer: You mean, taking something unlikely and finding a sex angle? Like cathedrals or something?

Writer: They already tried that. They sent Janet Street-Porter round all the big cathedrals.

Junior producer: That's not exactly what I'd call a sex angle...

Producer: How about cookery?

Writer: Well, there's already a series called The Naked Chef. Admittedly there isn't any sex in it, except in the ludicrous title...

Chair: Careful. I dreamt up that title.

Writer: Heavens, sir, I'm sorry! I had no idea! Look, it's a brilliant title!

Chair: No, it's not. You're quite right. It's a ludicrous title. But that's what our bosses want. Ludicrous titles.

Writer: You're right. John Birt got a title. It doesn't get more ludicrous than that.

Producer: Yes, well... How about cricket'n'sex?

Chair: I'm sorry? I'm not with you. Is there any sex in cricket?

Producer: All those years of recording Test Match cricket, there were plenty of streakers. Thing was, we never let anyone see it. We politely let the main camera drift away from the nude person running across the ground, and the viewer never saw the breasts wobbling or the genitalia doing a windmill action. But it was all caught on camera number two! It's all there on tape! We've got it all in the archives! Make a super series! We could call it S ex and the Single Wicket, perhaps...

Writer: Or Let It All Hang Outfield...

Producer: Or Definitely Appealing...

Chair: Yes, ha ha, very funny. Has anyone got any real ideas?

Junior producer: What about history?

Chair: Come again?

Junior producer: Thanks to programmes such as Timewatch and The History Zone, we've made history mainstream. History is the new...

Chair: Don't say it!

Junior producer: ...rock'n'roll. But we've never done a series on love-making through the ages. Why not?

Chair: No.

The discussion continues, endlessly...

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