28 JUNE 1963, Page 15




TRIVIALITY, of course, is largely in the square eye of the be-

holder. Take Hot Ice, for instance. In this programme, the BBC has had the extremely odd notion of combining the trivial sound of pop music with the trivial spectacle of ice- skating. The end-product is triviality not merely doubled, but squared. l like it.

It's as soothing and undemanding as a doodle or a warm bath. I know I should disapprove of it; that we high-domed critics ought to be lashing

television into a sense of purpose and meaningful- ness and, ah, dah, communication of the, ah,

human condition. But if I need an excuse (which-I don't) my excuse is that even we sometimes doodle and takb warm baths when nobody's looking. It's part of our human condition.

Stars and Garters (A-R) must nowadays be classed as a borderline case, between triviality and '

profundity. Beer is trivial, pop music is trivial. But now that the masses are turning to Babycham and Musak, we longhairs have developed the convic- tion that the old low-life pleasures were probably folk pleasures, whose triviality contained uncon- scious cultural elements we hadn't noticed at the time. Stars and Garters is in fact an intensely cunning piece of banality. The pub atmosphere has an unstrained reality, the girls are ludicrously ouddlesome, and the boys are having a swinging time. This programme, I am sure, could not have been done ten or fifteen years ago. It's only now that we have all developed—performers and viewers—to the condition where we genuinely relax in the presence of the cameras because we hardly notice them any longer.

Trivial too is Granada's Take a Letter, a quiz contest based on crossword puzzle clues. This can hardly deepen our understanding of the questing

human spirit, but I am not alone in being a cross- word hog, in moments when I've had enough of

the questing human spirit. Therefore I am involved in the programme. Therefore I'm involved in mankind, I suppose.

The only thing that bothers me is the number of excuses I keep having to make to myself for

my taste in triviality. I groaned piously when A-R disinterred that weary old charade nonsense in Don't Say a Word. The BBC battered that idea to death in the old days before commercialism.

And having groaned, as required by the union rules, I rolled about watching the programme.

Again, the passage of time has relaxed people. A-R's version is therefore crackling with trivial excitement and hysteria. It could very well go on for ever.• A glance at the programme papers this week I Will show that both channels are genuinely aiming at serious and important standards in a respect- able number of programmes. And it goes without Saying that this is what they ought to be doing.

The reason why I think triviality needs some encouragement is that we're all in danger of going high-minded beyond the point of reason.

A television controller, unlike a theatre or a Mtn producer or a publisher, is in charge of a compendium. His product has to contain every- thing; not only good serious material, and not only good light material (if there's any distinc- tion), but unashamed triviality. - It's reasonable to attack triviality only when it pretends to be something else. The first film in the new Dick Powell series, for instance, which affected a pregnant seriousness but which was the kind of war-heroics sludge which was actually satirised during the war.

Also Going My Way, which sets out to sell spirituality by wrapping it in garbage, and then forgets to include the filling. I prefer Hot Ice.