Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Family

The bathroom mirror in our holiday hotel was a magic mirror. I looked so handsome, I could look at myself all day. I wish we could have brought it home with us.

But one thing I could not bear, no matter how flattering the image, is to watch myself on the telly, interacting with other people. Even if the camera operator is as sympathetic and unobtrusive as Paul Watson.

An evening of BBC4 is devoted to Paul Watson, documentary film maker/nosy parker. Not that there's anything wrong with that, we all like a good nose, we all like to see how the other half live.

Paul disclaims any responsibility for the rise of the reality show, especially Big Brother. Which is fair enough as in Paul's programmes the people involved already either live with each other or are close friends. They're also not in competition with each other to win a prize. So it's a bit harsh to call him the father of the nonsense currently filling our screens.

Of course he's an artist, he's not just showing us the boring minutiae of life. The film-making is all in the questions he asks which we don't hear and in the editing, the juxtaposition of different scenes. We get Paul's version of things.

We get the grotesque real life soap that is Sylvania Waters, the harrowing effects of Alzheimer's on a relationship in Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story, the puke inducing rich at play in The Fishing Party and the working class every family, The Family from 1974.

In 1974, they are just like us. We have broken marriages, we live together before marriage, we piss away state benefits into the pub urinal, we are a long way down on long council housing lists, we have nine people round a dinner table built for four, we buy beefburgers, cakes and tinned potatoes, we argue most of the bloody time and we don't watch the telly in the evening even though it's always on.

That was the way we was that was.


  1. Hi Geoff. I found your entry regarding Paul Watson an interesting read as I've just entered a blog entry myself about the same BBC Four programme. If you fancy a read of it, it can be found here:

    I hope you don't mind, but I've linked your blog entry from mine.

  2. Thanks, MLP. It really deserved a larger audience, didn't it? A good antidote to all this unreal reality crap.

    Enjoyed your post and will visit your site in future.