Thursday, 7 May 2015

Slow TV

BBC4 has been broadcasting a string of documentaries that simply show something happening, very slowly, with no commentary, no music, no nothing. There was Frederick Wiseman's typically leisurely three-hour stroll around the National Gallery, three rather shorter films showing people working with glass, metal and wood (half an hour each) and - the big successes of the series - an hour devoted to the Dawn Chorus (beautiful) and a two-hour canal trip, with nothing to see but the canal and its ever changing banks, nothing to hear but birdsong, the faint drone of the motor and the susurration of the narrowboat's prow easing through the still water - on which, from time to time, captions floated past, giving snippets of information.Needless to say, I didn't have time to watch it myself, but I would have loved to.
 The success of the Canal Trip has no doubt taken the BBC by surprise, but I hope it is making them think of the possibilities of Slow TV. There is, I'm sure, a big unmet demand for this kind of television, the ultimate in restful viewing. There really ought to be a 24-hour channel devoted to it - it would be a public service, improving the nation's mental health no end.  

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