Friday, 7 January 2011

Why 6,000 Eastenders Viewers Should Be Ignored

Now I have to start by saying that I am not an Eastenders viewer. It must be pretty good to have been going for so long and winning critical acclaim from plenty of excellent TV writers but I simply haven't had the time to get into any of the soaps. Hopefully that doesn't stop me from commenting on the latest news that the BBC is to change the planned story line as a result of 6,000 complaints from viewers.

Clearly the producers struck a raw nerve to upset so many people by running a drama involving a bereaved mother of a sudden infant death syndrome child swapping her dead baby for a neighbour's newborn son. But isn't it the point of a good drama that it should create interest and stimulate discussion. Surely, in developing this fascinating plot, the BBC has continued in its tradition of making Eastenders television that millions want to watch. Presumably the bereaved character has mental health issues which could be explored as the story unravels. Instead, in bowing to public pressure and curtailing the plot, the scriptwriters are left with more anodyne alternatives.

I know that with X Factor, Strictly and I'm A Celebrity we viewers are all interactive now and can influence the outcome of the shows we watch but if we are going to start influencing drama I'm not sure that we'll get better TV. Can you imagine how things might pan out? The BBC runs a religious drama at Easter and in response to public outcry Pontius Pilate changes his decision and crucifies Barabbas instead of Jesus, Oliver asks for more and gets it and the Titanic misses the iceberg.

Let's leave the stories to the BBC (and anyone else making TV drama for that matter). If the public don't like it they can always switch off but, with up to 17 million viewers at times, those 6,000 complainants are a drop in the ocean and should be taken as such.

It was good to see a couple of adverts in this week's viral video chart sent to me by those wonderful unruly media people. We haven't had too many recently so here goes with two great but very different offerings from Intel and Lego.