I rarely watch terrestrial television.
Generally speaking, it's a terrible mish-mash of pointless, putrid, lowest-common-denominator programming which does nothing but give malteser-munching sofa-cattle something to look at while they silently creep, slack-jawed, towards an inevitable heart attack / bowel cancer related death.
There are, of course, exceptions. I'm a sucker for Dr. Who, and anything with Charlie Brooker in it is well worth a look. For some reason, I identify with his caustic brand of hatred and disdain. In fact, I'd venture that they're probably my favourite two emotions after extreme rage, scathing bitterness and schadenfreude.
Brooker's new show 'You Have Been Watching' was on this evening at ten, so I wandered into the living room, blew the dust off the remote control and put the TV on. Unfortunately, I was several minutes early and had to endure the closing moments of Big Brother.
Some sort of Wolverine lookalike was laying next to an instantly forgettable, generic brunette, engaging in a vigorous bout of 'personality-jousting', each vying to be the most memorable and/or important. Moments later, I discovered that four people are up for eviction, one of whom is inexplicably and ridiculously called 'Dogface'.
Apart from instantly flickering into my usual state of intense irritation, I was suddenly and astoundingly jolted into a rare moment of sadness as I realised just how much Channel 4 has become a shadow of its former self.
Way back in 1982 when the station went live, it was a breakthrough in British television. It had an impressive record providing programming on the performing arts, and made a significant contribution to film. Indeed, I seem to remember such highlights as Alejander Jodorowsky's 'El Topo', various works by The Brothers Quay (usually co-funded by Channel 4) and a host of other amazing programmes and movies. It was providing content that wasn't available elsewhere, and wasn't afraid to take risks.
Now, the jewels in Channel 4's crown are Big Brother, Embarrassing Teenage Bodies, and Hollyoaks. What the hell happened? Where are the challenging programmes? Where is the worthwhile content?
Sadly, it's all gone. Channel 4 has, in common with the other channels, become nothing but a combination of banal serials, carbon-copy reality TV, and cookie-cutter game shows.
Jan Svankmajer has been replaced by Brian Belo. Aki Kaurismaki is gone, Noel Edmonds has stepped up to the plate. Peter Greenaway has left the building, Chris Moyles has installed a beer cooler in his dressing room. The music of Michael Nyman and Philip Glass has been forgotten; instead we have Lily Allen being piped into the ironically-decorated lifts.
Yes, Channel 4 probably have more viewers as a result of their dumbing down, but I genuinely believe we're very much poorer for it.