22 January 2010

BBC2 The Review Show - reviewed

I've just finished watching the latest incarnation of BBC2's Newsnight review programme - which has conventionally looked at traditional arts subjects such as novels, plays, films, TV programmes, and even music.

Everything about this programme has declined in quality and execution over the last few years. It used to hosted by a serious and well-briefed chair who orchestrated opinions from four guests who had differences of approach, but who articulated them in an intelligent and sophisticated manner. They would agree to disagree, speak one at a time, and respect their differences.

Now, under the non-control of the over-paid Kirsty Wark, the show is a complete shambles - with at some points all four people talking at once. There is very little visual content to the programme - so it might as well be on radio as on TV. The chair is intrusive, undisciplined, over-emotional, and the result is no better informed than a saloon bar rant with occasional name dropping and insider references.

In the end I simply switched off, and I will not watch it again. I'm not sufficiently well informed to know where a complaint would have most effect. The BBC has programmes (such as Feedback) which are specifically designed to pour cold water onto any complaint made about the way it conducts is business.

And this business, we should remind ourselves, is conducted at our expense. They receive millions and millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to run these shows.


Anonymous said...

I was so glad to read this. I was so furious about the programme I could barely sleep. This is what Arts programmes on BBC have been reduced to. If she were a teacher she would fail her PGCE for poor lesson planning and lack of classroom management. If you took your eyes off the screen you could make out nothing of the shouting and barracking. Yes, where can we complain?

MANTEX said...

As a fellow teacher, I entirely agree with the excellent analogy.

The BBC do not make it easy to register complaints, but I eventually found my way through its labyrinthine web site and sent them a copy of this blog post and your comment.

If you want to complain more, go here -


Accidental critic said...

Agree with both of you. I watched it for the first time last Friday, wondering what the new format would be like and it has certainly got much worst than it was. Not only were the different guests talking over each other, but they had absolutely nothing interesting to say beyond the kind of platitudes which you would expect to find in a tabloid rather than in what is supposed to be a quality programme.

I too was quite furious after watching it and this was definitely the first and last time!

MANTEX said...

For those interested, here's the reply I got from the BBC, more than a week after I had pasted the contesnts of these comments as an official complaint:

Dear Dr Johnson

Thanks for your e-mail regarding BBC TWO's 'The Review Show'.

I understand that you feel this programme has declined in standard and I note your comments about presenter Kirsty Wark.

I'm sorry if you've been disappointed with 'The Review Show' as I can assure you we're committed to the highest standards with our TV output. Kirsty has been appointed based on talent and experience and I can assure you we wouldn't have appointed her if we didn't feel she was competent and could meet the specific tasks required of her.

Nevertheless, feedback like your own helps to inform the discussion about our programme's content and the reactions of our audiences are closely studied by our producers and senior management to ensure the right judgement is being made about what's acceptable to the audience in general.

To that end I'd like to assure you that I've registered your complaint, about falling standards and about Kirsty, on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including programme makers, members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.


Craig Thompson
BBC Complaints