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  • Philip Bryer

What's Not On TV

On a cruise around the Sky Channels we were struck by the number of programmes that we used to watch but have given up on.

TV Choice

Pawn Stars

We realise now that this totem to venality wasn’t quite the fun half-hour we first believed it to be. Where expectant saps were disabused of the notion that their photocopy of the Declaration of Independence was going to see them become coast-to-coast TV stars and walk away with a sackful of gold coin.

Actually Pawn Stars is less of an instructive peek into the backstory of an historical item and a friendly haggle over its selling price, and more of an unsettling look behind the curtain, where a dysfunctional family feed off each other, subsisting on a diet of greed, bullying, and humiliation.

Then it became increasingly contrived so we abandoned it.

Deadliest Catch

Quite the novelty to start with. Catching crabs in Alaska. Towering seas, waves crashing over decks as easy on a sailor’s boot as an ice rink. Indolent fresh-faced juveniles – who have apparently never watched the show – bluff and hearty old hands with big red noses, the chain-smoking, debt-laden skipper praying for the jackpot of a big haul, all the regular stereotypical crew. Let’s set sail on the morning tide me hearties and, “Ho! Thar she blows!”

But come the day you realise that every episode is the same…

Ice Road Truckers

All of your favourites are here. The Nice One, the Cocky One, The Optimist, Old Misery Guts, The Hard Case, Captain Cock-Up, and The Quietly Capable Blonde (I think the colour is a contractual requirement) Woman.

But the game’s up once you realise it’s Deadliest Catch on Ice Without the Crabs.


Basically, too much shouting would have eventually seen us off anyway. But we also felt that after they’d gone to Africa (not a continent famous for fine dining, it must be said) for the final, and the bald one who is qualified to perform the shouting role turned up in a short-trousered safari suit and a Carry On Up The Jungle hat, well, whatever happened after that couldn’t top it.

You’ve got TWO MINUTES to switch it off.


Nothing to do with the Toksvig. I quit during the Fry tenure due to getting fed up with it. When you kick something into touch during the introductions because the fact that so-and-so’s in it outweighs any possible enjoyment, then it’s time to go.

Have I Got News For You

Who am I to criticise Merton and Hislop, you ask? Nobody, I reply, and I agree with you. There were still moments of inspired comedy and incisive comment. But not enough to make me stay.

Mountain Men

I stumbled across the closing moments of one episode, and was engaged by the unusual sight of a skinny old bearded geezer sitting, legs akimbo, in a tiny tin bath on his front porch while all around was snowy waste with a side order of bleak.

Now, I don’t have a thing about skinny old bearded geezers legs akimbo in tin baths, but it was an arresting image.

Anyway, then it became increasingly contrived so we abandoned it.

Match of the Day

I didn’t mean to get all misty-eyed about football in the Old Days. But seriously, a proper studs-at-the-ready punch-up between Derby County and Leeds United in the mud-heap of The Baseball Ground excitingly condensed into 20 bruising minutes, or an interminable 2 hours (including added time for application of hair gel) of be-gloved ninnies shoving each other in a spat over the moisturiser, hurling themselves to the ground for no apparent reason, and while sitting weeping on the turf like a toddler who’s carelessly thrown all of the toys out of the play-pen, telling the poor, put-upon ref that their dad’s a policeman?

Storage Wars

I would say, then it got increasingly contrived so we abandoned it, if it hadn’t been already.

American Pickers

Two blokes drive around the USA and buy things from strange people who live in sheds. One bloke likes motorbikes (“I’m a motorbike guy”) and the other bloke likes old signs (“I’m an old sign guy”).

There’s also a tattoo’d lady who works back in their shop, where they sell old signs and motorbikes, and she rings them up sometimes and says things like, “There’s this place in Georgia. They have signs and motorbikes”. Although I fear she is starting to get restless.

Then it got increasingly contrived, and we decided we had been told enough about old signs and motorbikes so we stopped watching it.

Judge Judy

Like The Jerry Springer Show being refereed by Anne Robinson.


Jack Hargreaves (there’s one for the teenagers) on Out of Town used to be content to just talk to an expert craftsman while expert craftsman was being filmed carrying out his craft expertly. Unfortunately, Countryfile believes the viewer is being shilled if we don’t hear this every few minutes from a wide-eyed presenter, “Can I have a go?”

Like Out of Town meets The Generation Game.

Dragons’ Den

I’m out.

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