Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The many layers of TV's fakery onion

TV's fake. Right, we know that: people in wilderness adventures pretending they're not accompanied by a film crew (and probably a catering crew and Winnebago too, for all we know); people arriving at houses and greeting the inhabitants with tones of surprised delight even though they've spent all morning together getting the shot right; supposedly live phone-in competitions that are pre-recorded meaning all your premium rate money's wasted (oh, hang on, that's banned now).

But TV's fakery onion is a many-layered vegetable. Just as I was beginning to forgive TV for its sins, I've been brought up short.

I learnt tonight on 'Who Do You Think You Are?' that Davina McCall was estranged from her mother. Sad but insignificant? Not when one of your most memorable advert moments is Davina in her Garnier Nutrisse ad chatting with her Mum about how her hair conditioner-nourishing-colourant stuff has done wonders for her bonce. And could do the same for you, Mum.

But then this could be quite complicated, not just pretend for the sake of an advert script. Is there a subtext here? Are we witnessing a moving reconciliation? Seemingly a light-hearted conversation but freighted with significance? Or is it a sort of wish-fulfillment for poor Davina? In any event, we're only now getting the full, complex story.

In fact, I'm beginning to view Davina and her Garnier Nutrisse moment in a totally new and quite a moving light. It becomes even more poignant when we learn, during what was actually a very good and moving WDYTYA, that her troubled mother died last year. In fact, I think I must have something in my eye, and it's not hair conditioning stuff.

Then during the same programme I learnt from someone who knows that even though people on TV flicking through old tomes in the Public Records Office are always filmed wearing white gloves, if you go there for real they don't require you to wear them. No idea why this fiction is maintained. Do the BBC's phone lines light up when a gloveless paw is impressed on old parchment?

And this follows hard on the heels of learning that Jools Holland's Hootenanny is recorded. Yes, recorded. So when they do the count down to midnight, they're doing it some time in early December, whole shopping weeks before the Christmas holidays. And it's not even midnight in early December, it's about 10pm.

All those guests telling Jools what they'll be doing on New Year's Day, what their New Year resolutions are, even whether they had a nice Christmas are all fibbing. And with straight faces. I'm thinking they're even pretending to be a bit drunk. Oh, and remember: some of these fake party goers will be your musical heroes. TV does that to people.

The fakery onion is an everlasting onion; layer after layer is revealed but you'll never reach the core. The onion core of truth. Just occasionally, though, it can provoke a tear; and mysteriously, despite all we know, it's a real one.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Hmmm, re Davina McCall & her mum, I suspect that the hair shampoo-conditioner-nourishing thing is itself fake. Have you ever tried washing your hair with a bar of soap? It's pretty much the same effect!

Gaw said...

Ah, but, Gadj, you probably don't have the luxuriant mane of a McCall. She just has to be using a volumiser too.

I have lovely long hair, all down my back.

Not on my head, just down my back. Ha!

worm said...

great read!

I didnt see the programme last night, and I didnt know about an estrangement - but I did know that her mum had died a while back, so I have been puzzling over that 'mum' advert for a good few months now...

especially after they changed it from actually showing a person who might have been her mum, to just a discombobulated voice.

Thats why 'who do you think you are' is such a good programme - because you can watch people who you assumed to be shallow having to confront the really big issues of life and death. good tv!

there is a current advert which goes beyond the usual advertiser's remit to tackle the really big topic of death and mortality, even though it doesn't really make sense

on the subject of fakery - I just can't believe that basically the whole nation still believes there is truth in the Top Gear challenges - they are so very, very fake. When they open the envelope and act surprised at the challange ahead I want to scream

Brit said...

It was a devastating blow to learn that the Hootenanny is recorded - the truth came out a couple of years ago, didn't it? Ruined the whole thing.

The Jules said...

It was the . . . I'm still upset about this . . . the Blue Peter cat naming scam that hurt the most.

Socks? SOCKS?

I voted for Sprayer.

Gaw said...

Jules, it beggars belief. Could they stoop any lower? I suppose rigging which window was chosen to look through on Play School would be worse. Surely that wasn't a fix?