First off, what I’m about to list aren’t really guilty pleasures: they are purely examples of things I can watch without wanting to throw bricks at the TV. For instance, live football. I couldn’t really care less about football (what exactly is the point of watching a bunch of super-rich thickos kick a bit of leather about?), but there’s something wonderfully stultifying about watching it – the same thing happens over and over again for ninety minutes. It’s hypnotic, slightly boring, ultimately unsatisfying – a bit like any TV drama produced with early Sunday evenings in mind (which I can’t watch as they annoy me too much).
Football is often a default position for me: after flicking through thirty eight channels of cack, it’s one of the only things I can sit and watch without getting annoyed. That, and cookery programmes (although I have to draw the line at Jamie Oliver).
I can also quite willingly sit through any programme that features endless clips of real life police chases, but when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. That, and any programme on Bravo about how much us Brits like to drink thirty pints of Skol before going out and picking fights with the local constabulary.
The one thing I’ve noticed about these programmes is that they all feature a great deal of repetition. Perhaps my attention threshold has gotten so bad I can’t concentrate on anything unless it’s repeated over and over again just to ram the point home, like a senior's version of Teletubbies – which makes it quite strange that I can’t stand things like Big Brother and I’m a (Z-list) Celebrity. The problem with these shows is that they annoy me so much I can’t help shouting at the TV like some mad, wild-eyed drunk (one of the last clips I saw of Big Brother was when one of the slack-jawed contestants described the show as a ‘celebrity factory’, which begs the question: why aren’t these people smothered at birth? My first exhibit, your honour? Michelle Bass. I rest my case).
Even adverts wind me up: that flippin’ Pantene advert with Anna Friel that’s started a re-run for some bizarre reason (hmmm: she’s not going in Big Brother’s Celebrity Christmas Jungle Farm, is she?). Why does the unbearable smugness of it all make me want to swear loudly and pointlessly at inanimate objects? Why does Friel’s voiceover sound as if she’s sucking on a handful of pebbles? Arrrgghh! For the love of god, turn it over before I implode!
That said, I think I’ve just seen my ideal television programme: on the set of Saturday Kitchen (it’s Saturday, we’re in a kitchen: glad to see that imagination isn’t dead in teevee land), behind the genial host AWT there was a flat screen television showing a roaring log fire – nothing else, just one long shot that played for the entirety of the show. Now that I could watch.