Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Are they really our heritage?

A country house in need of rescue
I was watching the quite entertaining Country House Rescue the other night, where bossy hotel and events expert Ruth Watson goes and tries to persuade mildly bonkers country house owners to become more commercial if they want to stop their properties falling around their ears.

So far so good - and I particularly love the derivative background music, which has influences both from the computer game Seventh Guest and from the Harry Potter movies. However, I have two problems with the content of the programme.

One of these applies to almost any of this kind of output. They appear to be made for people with an attention span of 10 minutes. Every time there's a commercial break there has to be a recap when we come back. We were just watching it, guys! We can remember what happened 2 minutes ago. What's more, many of us are watching it on DVRs and have whizzed through the adverts, so in practice, we only have to remember what we heard 15 seconds ago. Give us some credit, please.

However, the thing that was beginning to niggle me watching this particular show was the way that the voice over person kept saying that this work or that effort or whatever was necessary if this piece of 'our heritage' were to be saved. Now, I sorry, but in what sense is a country house in Devon run by an ex-hippy with a penchant for over-the-top childish reactions to GM crops (including dressing up as a failed genetically modified potato) part of my heritage? I'm from Rochdale. My biological heritage is the Co-op, Cyril Smith, Gracie Fields, mill workers and meat and potato pies on a tray with gravy. My intellectual heritage is John Bright and the wonders of science.

This decrepit building is not my heritage. It belongs to that ex-hippy. It's his heritage. I've nothing against that. he's welcome to it. But don't suggest I get any personal benefit from his finances being sorted out, because I don't. Okay?


  1. Well said! I have often thought that the owners of some of these properties are not necessarily the best people to 'save' them and the best thing they can do if they value the property is to sell it to someone who can do it justice - but are they doing it on behalf of my heritage - I don't think so!

  2. This type of programme follows on from those done by Gerry Robinson and John Harvey Jones some years ago when they'd look at some failing specimen of British business and pontificate on what could be done. I didn't like those either because it's easy to swoop in and make pronuncements on what to do; even I've been known to do that - but it's much harder, and takes more time, to make the changes that everyone knows are necessary.

    Give me a science programme any day although if you want to blog on the latest Brian Cox extravaganza please feel free to do so as his presentation style makes me fall asleep; too little content presented in a dramatic style with music for the masses.

  3. Thanks, Lesley!

    I know what you mean, Ian, about the pontificating, though these people clearly do need help from someone.

    From the times I've met him, Brian Cox is a lovely guy, but I confess I haven't been watching the programmes as they do seem a bit simplistic for my tastes. But I think there are many people who are getting a lot from them, and more power to his elbow. Science on TV has been in the doldrums, but it does seem to be recovering a bit.