30 DECEMBER 1972, Page 18


Dark reflections

Clive Gammon

In the dark pre-dawn of the year, one is entitled to some liverish reflections and I do not intend to deny myself the opportunity. So let us start immediately with the new-style BBC 1 nine o'clock news which has brought down much justified criticism on itself. I've never been one of those who see something holy in the news on BBC, a carry-over from the war when they gathered round the blind plywood and fabric face of the wireless set to listen to the beacon of freedom etc etc.

But a bit of decorum doesn't come amiss. -I suppose the portentous music at the start, a curiously old-fashioned adaptation of the Morse Code so far as I can judge, can't be helped. I think it's meant to make us suitably; nervous before they start bashing out the trade figures and the latest assassinations. But it is becoming very hard to live with. So we have someone to read the news. That's fine. And some gifted expert or far-flung correspondent to interpret it. Good, too. Not so good as film of the event but perfectly justifiable. But the new-style news is not content with that. The topic is flipped from one earnest gentleman to another very often via a third contributor. I think that maybe they are striving for the impression that they are really tackling the thing in depth, to use a phrase I didn't have to search very hard for.

Please, can't we go back to being given the news straight? Ah yes, and one more thing. Would Kenneth Kendall, for pity's sake, cut out that little quirky smile he gives us at the end when some light item, on ladies' fashions for instance, has been broadcast?

Now let's turn to Z-Cars and Softly, Softly — Task Force (if that is its current title), two programmes dedicated to the proposition that the police are human. I'm well aware of how refreshing, original etc they were said to be (how many years ago is it now?) and I will admit that I've fallen under their spell myself. I'm not under it any longer, though. Both programmes have now become unbearably cosy, if such a word can be applied to the police. Jock McClaren and his splendid RugbY Union commentaries apart, sport presentation continues to be as irritatingly silly as

ever. Turning the sound off and switching on the radio is sometimes quite effective, though that would seem to be going against the accepted notion that there is too much talk going on across televised sport.

The Plastic Plays Department operating from its secret headquarters close to the set where they make the Oxo commercials, has been as active as ever of late. As a matter of fact, I find myself less and less able to distinguish between the longer advertisements and most Sunday-night plays.