The Third Leader: Best on screen

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Being an Independent reader, you might not see much television, having rather more pressing interests, such as galleries, theatre, concerts, lectures, philosophical discussions on licensed premises, or a nice cup of tea while contemplating freshly painted shelves. Indeed, many of you will probably be as one with the late Sir Noel Coward, who believed it was not for watching but for appearing on.

Being an Independent reader, you might not see much television, having rather more pressing interests, such as galleries, theatre, concerts, lectures, philosophical discussions on licensed premises, or a nice cup of tea while contemplating freshly painted shelves. Indeed, many of you will probably be as one with the late Sir Noel Coward, who believed it was not for watching but for appearing on.

The not-quite-so-late Peter Cook took the opposite view. Once, when telephoned by Sir David Frost and invited to dinner, he replied, "Oh, dear, I find I am watching television that night." But members of both persuasions have always agreed with that proud article of national faith: "British television is the best in the world."

Now, though, a more contemporary seer has spoken: Jerry Springer says British television is 10 years behind the United States. Well. My first, highly indignant, reaction to this was, "Hang on, what about Celebrity Love Island?"

But, then, when I read further, I found Jerry was also saying that we were still the best at "TV with a stiff upper lip." And he's right: we should be concentrating on classic British programming, not all this fancy new stuff. Where, for example, are the shows involving quirky eccentrics and crimes in interesting settings? Other good ideas: more Austen/Dickens, more bow ties, and dubbing Alan Titchmarsh. What about remakes of old classics, like Dr Who?

Finally, how about one that would charm Cowardians and Cookists alike, show we can unstiffen the lip a little, and involve the Duchess of Cornwall: It's A Big Brother Royal Celebrity Island Farm Get One Out Of Here Knockout!?

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