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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine