THE LAST WORD

Share
This week, the American version of Cold Feet, a big telly success in this country, has gone right down the toilet, ratings-wise and is being pulled off the network. Now, devastated as I am that some shareholders and some fat-cat boss somewhere have missed out on big bucks, I am always quite pleased when this sort of transatlantic effort comes to nought, because it reassures me that, despite all the evidence that we are the 51st state of America, there is still the odd, very important hiccup in the exchange of cultural fluids. If Americans don't like some of the stuff we send them, then perhaps it's all right for people like me to resent the never-ending stream of tosh piped over here from the good old US of A.

In America, commercial success is everything, which means the programmes that attract the biggest audiences rule the roost, despite the fact that these programmes tend to be populated by hairy half-man, half-sheepdog, wrestling types or talk show hosts whose smugness shines out of every orifice.

The majority of the population in America like weird things. I must admit I have never been able to see the attraction of those huge truck-type appliances with immense wheels that lumber down a track for 20 yards and then fall over while the thousands of people in the crowd get hysterical to the point of incontinence. I also wonder if there is any possibility of the Americans letting up on these TV series for children which involve groups of teenagers hitting or kicking each other very hard for an hour or so. Whether you're a shell-suited Power Ranger or a gothic Buffy chum, sustained assaults on your rivals do not an interesting plot make. To me, virtually the only fun to be had from America's less impressive offerings musically or dramatically, is that misunderstandings tend to occur on a reasonably frequent basis. For example, there is a single around at the moment, the chorus of which appears to be "You bugger me" sung in as heartfelt a way as a girl-band can manage. I'm sure it's meant to be "You bug me", with the American "ah" added for effect, but when I first heard it I thought perhaps it was the theme song for a new American cartoon series in which the lead character spends his time sodomising his acquaintances. Well, after South Park, it's not far from chocolate salty balls to anal penetration, is it?

I am more interested in the television that has failed in America and ends up on our networks, because you can pretty much guarantee it's going to be subtle, dark, obtuse, difficult and brilliant. Take The Larry Sanders Show for example. Tucked away late at night on BBC2, it is the best of American comedy. It also happens to have people in it who aren't immediately recognisable as advert fodder.

Unfortunately though, the Americans will never be content with just being a success in their own country, big as it is. They have an abiding need to spread their tentacles all over the planet until we are suffocated with their culture. They have even sent ambassador Jerry Springer here to these shores to try and get us to behave like we are all on a mixture of hormones, alcohol and whatever it is that turns your brain into that of a personality-disordered extra from the film Deliverance. If only we'd all known that "squealing like a pig" was the only skill we'd require for our 15 minutes of fame, then we wouldn't have bothered to go to school.

We appear to welcome this emotional illiteracy along with morally simplistic answers all mixed in with a great big patronising dollop of know-it-all- ness by smarmy characters who are no better qualified to pronounce on human relationships than the Queen's children.

I believe our attention spans have probably shrunk as much as is healthy and that any more damage and all we will be able to cope with is small doses of MTV with a sprinkling of Men and Motors. But that of course is what providers of gormless television are banking on. Making television for addled brains is so much cheaper than making television for enquiring minds. Maybe this sounds like a plea for support for the BBC, but it's not really ... it's a request for commercial telly to stop making such crap before we all metamorphose back into simple-celled animals and start starring in our own version of Walking With Dinosaurs for future generations who will puzzle over why we let our well developed brains rot away to nothing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
In 1215 the Magna Carta forced the English King (at the time King John) to respect the laws of the land and guaranteed rights and protections to his subjects  

Magna Carta will be 800 years old next year – the perfect reminder of the rights and freedoms we must hold dear

Nigel Farage
David Cameron and George Osborne tour building works at Manchester's Victoria Railway Station  

There’s more to the Tories caring about the North of England than meets the eye

Chris Blackhurst
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there