Leading article: Tune in. Turn it up?

Share
Related Topics

Is television drama getting more difficult to understand? Or are we all getting older? Our report today on the concerns of the respected Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) pressure group suggests it might be the box, rather than our deteriorating hearing, which is at fault.

The VLV has complained to the controller of BBC1 Jay Hunt that the extensive use of ambient noise and background music in many modern television dramas is leaving an increasing number of us unable to follow what is going on.

Some might be tempted to dismiss such complaints as springing from the same reactionary mentality that powered Mary Whitehouse's "clean up TV" campaign in the 1960s. It is certainly true that sound design in television drama has evolved considerably in recent decades. The manner in which innovative programmes such as The Wire and The Office use background sound is integral to the artistic vision of their creators. Who would want to see such programmes subject to stifling bureaucratic restrictions on sound?

Yet it would be wrong to dismiss any complaints about comprehensibility levels as narrow-minded conservatism and a desire to turn back the clock to the days when BBC technicians wore white lab coats. The fact that some programmes have used background noise and music to powerful dramatic effect does not mean that all film makers are equally adept at it. The generous use of ambient noise, whatever its artistic merits, also surely defeats its very purpose if the majority of the audience cannot follow the drama.

These complaints about the noisiness of television drama also feed into broader concerns over the sound levels in other entertainment media. It has been well-chronicled how cinema multiplexes have cranked up the decibels to ear-splitting levels in recent years. And many a hand reaches for the remote control when an advert break comes on in anticipation of the noise level shooting up unbidden.

Like Iain Duncan Smith, entertainment forms seem to have been turning up the volume of late (with equally unappealing results to those of the former Tory leader). So Ms Hunt is right to participate in a study into the extent of the problem in as far as it touches television drama. It would help to have some hard evidence of just how widespread audience disaffection is over this matter.

It would surely not do commercial broadcasters any harm to get involved in this consultation either. After all, the primary purpose of all programme makers is to please viewers. If comprehensibility is indeed a growing problem it would be in the interests of them all to fix it.

Like the dialogue in television dramas, the concerns of audiences surely ought to be more than just so much background noise.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing