Pantomime; The terrible lightness of the Graham Norton show.

Because my wife is French, the televisual backdrop to our New Year’s Eve gatherings is usually the traditional three-hour-long family variety fest presented by Patrick Sébastien on France 2. It is great fun – a succession of acrobats, dancers, singers, knife throwers, magicians and performing dogs interspersed by chat round a table with a succession of studio guests culminating in the welcoming in of the New Year to a catchy sing-along dance-along rendition of the can-can by all present. There is an artist on hand to sketch the performances, and the audience, young and old alike, is immaculately turned out – men in a variety of dinner jackets, women elegantly dressed, sat round tables bedecked with wine glasses. The audience are noticeably engrossed in the performances and it is amusing to watch their alternate expressions of amazement and horror as the acrobats land the right way up on the seesaw or the blindfolded knife thrower narrowly misses his glamorous assistant. There was even a raffle. The other year, Petula Clark was one of the guests, and French cinematic legend Jean-Paul Belmondo made a walk-on appearance at the end to tumultuous applause.

Switch over momentarily to British terrestrial television and the contrast is striking. The choice is between the master of PC smut Graham Norton, his twenty-something guests (admittedly there was a comedian dressed up to look old, who, if that wasn’t funny enough, talked hilariously about ‘shitting her pants’) interspersed with the latest pop groups, the audience consisting of alternately bald and bearded men in loose-hanging button-down shirts and fat women in old T-shirts and leggings; and the master of cool Jools Holland introducing a succession of edgy rappers and soul artists, a few people bopping manically near the front and the rest of his hip audience laced with ageing rockers standing round looking bored out of their minds. The evening was rounded off, as usual, by a tasteless cacophony of fireworks around the ‘Coca-Cola’ London Eye to the incessant beat of anodyne pop music.

Nothing wrong with being alternative, edgy, hip hop cool, or indeed owned by foreigners. Except that there was nothing for the rest of us – the normal, the conventional, the mainstream, the family-minded. We might as well not exist.

I seem to remember that popular entertainment around Christmas used to consist of shows that everybody could watch, and that almost everyone did. The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show was invariably the highlight. Then it was Only Fools and Horses. Val Doonican did not appeal to me too much as a teenager, but he was beloved by millions including my mother – and why should rebellious adolescents call the tune?

Sherelle Jacobs put her finger on the problem in a recent article in the Telegraph. The ‘cleverly disturbing’ dramas of modern British television, the stand-up comedy routines of ‘unshaven thirty-somethings who tap into the smugness and self-loathing of the liberal class’, speak of a culture that reflects the appetite of a metropolitan minority, a privileged elite which is determined to repudiate the easy-going popular culture of our shared past. Meanwhile, our culture, what’s left of it, is relegated to specialist channels, where classic films, however innocuous, are preceded by warnings of ‘offensive’ or ‘inappropriate’ language’, or YouTube, where we can still find the sitcoms we used to laugh at. Funnily enough, the more ‘inappropriate’ the language and ‘stereotypical’ the characters, the louder we laughed.

Times change but when our shared past is banished from public view, one wonders what there is left to hold the nation together. A shared love of diversity and ‘the other’? Despite the ravages of mass immigration, a succession of incompetent presidents, and the postmodern post-structuralist anti-establishment musings of Parisian Left bank intellectuals, the French people have never forgotten who they are.

Why have we forgotten who we are?

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9 Comments on Pantomime; The terrible lightness of the Graham Norton show.

  1. Our past isn’t shared. That’s the problem so far as the metropolitan elites are concerned. It’s all white, all truly British; right up to a few decades ago.

    Heroic efforts are being made by said elites to change all that, however. Black people are turning up anachronistically in the most unlikely fashion, all over our history. Suddenly, eighteenth century aristocrats are black; medieval kings and Queens are black. Shakespearean characters are black. Including Othello who is actually a Moor, ie a North African of Berber / Arab descent. This cultural appropriation in spades (so to speak) even extends to Myth. There has been a black Achilles .

    Just imagine the outrage if some figure from non-European history was played by a white perison- Ghandi or Martin Luther King, for example. But it matters not if white peopke are grossly offended by the theft of their history and culture.

    • Quite right. Othello, awful as it might be to say this, could have been almost, if not completely, white. Olivier didn’t need to have got himself into a spot of bother with the bien-pensants thanks to a generous application of the tar-brush. Just turn up as yourself and you’ll do perfectly. They’re screaming for a black James Bond now – well, let them have one. James Bond, as portrayed on screen, long ceased to be James Bond and became one action man amongst many albeit rather more tired and predictable.

    • Well said; it’s such a relief to read such good sense and truth telling in the midst of the sub-Orwellian nightmare being woven about us by the left – an increasingly hysterical and out-of-control left, at that. I just wish there was some way we could bring it all down and restore a measure of safety and happiness to our public lives.

    • >white people are grossly offended by the theft of their history and culture.
      Not all are. The greatest enemies of Western Enlightenment values are actually the numerous mischievous white people, such as the scientifically illiterate Prof. Mary Beard, who are aiding and abetting the dismantling of Western Civilization. We in Asia are actually nonplussed by the abject, mea culpa, craven, sackcloth-and-ashes attitudes and behavior of some of your compatriots. No civilization in history has had an unblemished record (the more recent ones being unfortunate in that their scribes were more reflective and self-critical than those of the distant past, who simply wrote victors’ histories), but British moderates seem to have painted themselves into a corner where no one is allowed to take an objective view any longer without being hounded and pilloried by the mob. You need to bring a halt to this nonsense before the show trials begin and before “dissenting” academics are publicly humiliated and sent to the countryside to be re-educated. We’ve seen this actually happen in Asia – don’t think it can’t happen in the UK!

  2. An excellent article Mr Miller, and similar to what I have myself noted, as I spent the New Year in Spain.

    It is sad that the “mind-moulders” in modern Britain are so self-loathing and intent on re-creating British culture in their own selfish and depraved image.

    To them, “family-viewing” is merely an anachronism, since the post-modern “family” is whatever anybody wants it to mean.

    “Mother, father and children sat down in the same room together or round a dining table? Bah! How patriarchal and discriminatory!”

  3. The banality of 90% of British television has to be seen to be believed. The dishevelled comedians fishing for laughs with four letter words in place of wit – the barbaric music.

    Actually, Ghandi was played by a white actor, but the general thrust of the article is spot on.

  4. Many years ago, BBC managers used to be responsible for creating programmes they’d be happy for their own children to watch. These days they make programmes they’d be horrified for their own children to watch, as some of them have apparently admitted in private.

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