The diagnosis? Murder. In terms of daytime television nothing comes closer to meeting a variety of audience expectations than the BBC’s staple part mystery, part medical and part crime drama. The show revolves around Dr. Mark Sloan, portrayed by the ever-endearing Dick Van Dyke, a medical doctor who moonlights as a criminologist, aiding his homicide detective son (played by real life son, Barry). What ensues is an often-formulaic plot; complete with a Scooby Doo style reveal at the end of each episode. Nonetheless, the show has a lot of heart, largely due to the affable Van Dyke, who embraces the small screen with the same exuberance that can be found in his cinematic youth. In addition, woven into the dialogue of this farfetched premise is an assortment of cheesy jokes and terrible puns that are guaranteed to cause a few guilty mid-afternoon laughs.
The Great British Bake Off
Despite being in my early twenties, I couldn’t help but heavily anticipate Tuesday evenings when a group of middle-aged women would compete for the title of ‘Star Baker’. The eagerness to see if contestants could cook the perfect scone or if their pies had soggy bottoms soon took over. Mary Berry became Simon Cowell in a pinny and it was difficult not to be captivated by the amazing creations that escaped the ovens. The amount of men and women crying over spoilt quiches and macaroons heavily outweighs the drama from your typical Eastenders episode. Everything about this programme asks for a middle-aged audience but the emergence of more cookery shows and the lack of anything to do on Tuesday evenings provides the perfect combination to get sucked into the phenomenon that is The Great British Bake Off.
Tucked away in the BBC 4 schedule is a gem of a TV programme. Usually on at 8:30pm, just after University Challenge has finished on BBC 2, this quiz show makes Paxman’s intellectual feast look like The Weakest Link. The tagline is that it’s a quiz in which knowledge will only get you so far; players must work out what it is that links various clues together in order to score points rather than simply give an answer to a question. The two teams consist of trios of peers linked by a common interest (usually something along the lines of model train building or world crossword champions). Victoria Coren (sister of Giles, daughter of Alan) is the extremely dry and witty host who lacks a studio audience to chuckle along to her quips. All this makes Only Connect a ponderously awkward 30 minutes viewing that delights nonetheless.
There is something I cannot quite put my finger on that makes Time Team such a guilty pleasure for me. It could simply be the fact that it is Tony Robinson presenting, or even the over-enthusiastic archaeologists, such as the eccentric Mick Aston, that accompany him. But I think, deep down, it’s all because the archaeology student in me just loves it. Admittedly, watching something from centuries ago being reconstructed from the ground up might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I think it’s fascinating. While to some it seems to be a bunch of men digging around in the mud and rain for sixty minutes, to others it is so much more than that. Over the years it has gained something of a cult following, with a lot more people watching it than they might admit to. And this may just be the reason for its 17-year long run on Channel 4.
Malcolm Remedios, Charlotte Hoare, James McAndrew & Chelsea Wright