Posted tagged ‘Reality TV’

Detector Detectives

February 4, 2010

The golden days of tightly-plotted, watchable dramas and TV specials are over; they’ve been replaced by the dreary spectacle of reality TV. These shows feature implausible members of the public or D-rated celebs in a jungle, an enclosed house or a Space Station.

A different sort of reality TV programme is the real life documentary style show. This fly on the wall type of series has titles like, Cops on the Beat, Animal Hospital, Airline, Miami Ink and erm…one of my favourites, Ice Road Truckers. As bloggers worldwide blog about blogging and bloggers, the BBC in its infinite wisdom decided to do a show about itself. I was invited to watch the first episode being filmed. This was to be a candid portrait about the detectives who pursue TV licence dodgers and the show was to be called “Detector Vans are prowling about your neighbourhood and we’re on your trail so come out with your hands up.”

For insurance purposes I was garbed in the full SWAT outfit. I was introduced to the two top detectors in the business; a couple of likely lads with the names Bodie and Doyle. I sussed that we were on a shoestring budget when I saw their “van”; it was a 1950’s Police box. Who’s kidding who, I thought. On entering stationary vehicle I was surprised to find it was huge inside but empty, save for some doughnuts, Chips and a Cracker.
“Just how are we supposed to catch the non-payers in this?” I inquired.
“We listen.” Said Bodie or Doyle or Starsky or Hutch.

So we sat and listened, presumably for a TV. And we listened some more and listened some more again. This surveillance lark is not a lot of fun and there’s only so much listening your ears can take.
“What if we hear a TV and that person has a license?”
“SSSHHH!” Said Cagney or Lacey.
I shut up and listened and soon I heard an ice-cream van on Hill Street playing the chimes of “Eye Level” from Van der Valk. I’d give all my shares in Setanta for a Mr. Fifti 99 with raspberry sauce right now or a trip to Amsterdam.

Still listening I figure this is not going to be a ratings grabber. Three men in a box sitting doing nothing except listening. Then again it’d still be better than Eastenders. Then it occurred to me that it would be really hard cases of the Jack Ford ilk that don’t pay their license fee and if there’s a confrontation I might end up an unconscious objector. My country’s flag might be the Lion Rampant but I’m more the Lion out of the Wizard of Oz. The silence was soothing.
Suddenly a loud siren blared and Crockett or Tubbs said.
“Let’s get ready to RUMBLEEEE!” That’s definitely not one of Kojak’s.

I was caught between a Rockford and a hard place as I was swept along with the tide as the three of us were full of action running on the street, pushing pedestrians out of the way and showing them our Blue Peter badges until we arrived at an enormous set of high-rise flats that looked as tough as anything on The Wire. We surveyed the building, there was a lot of TV’s here. My now acute hearing could hear every one of them and they were all watching The Bill.
“Time to start breaking down doors and getting medieval.” Said……….. (Fill in the character of your choice; I’ve fainted)

To be continued…

“Detector Vans are prowling about your neighbourhood and we’re on your trail so come out with your hands up” will be shown this summer. Watch this instead of the World Cup.