Taking a second look at the endless parade of drivel on television

when did we, as a nation, become obsessed with talent shows and cookery programmes?

Or has it always been that way?

In my house these days the rooms ring to the sound of The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

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Throw in seemingly endless series involving celebrity cooks and my enforced leisure viewing ricochets from prime-time TV karaoke to celebrities dancing like left-footed farmers by way of “edge-of-the-seat” cook against the clock epics.

It’s rubbish, isn’t it?

And, what’s more, there’s no escape.

If it isn’t wannabe pop stars or D-list celebs cooking up a storm, it’s home renovations, tat in the attic space, or how to dress like a chav and still look (vaguely) like a human being.

This is when I’m grateful for the movies.

I’ve often vented my spleen in this column about the lack of intelligent product on our cinema screens but at least in one aspect I share a point of view with the world’s producers and studios: talent competitions and cookery shows don’t translate to motion pictures.

Of course that’s a huge generalisation. There have indeed been films of that ilk.

Think of American Dreamz, a fearless satire on the American reality TV phenomenon with Hugh Grant as a self-loathing Cowell-esque pop svengali. Or even Scary Movie 3, in which the real Simon Cowell, gamely playing himself, is judging a rapping competition but winds up taking a fusillade of bullets when his acerbic comments fail to find favour with his audience.

If I am to watch this stuff I want to see eccentrics like Fanny Craddock and Johnny, her monocled and perpetually pickled hubbie. You couldn’t make that up.

I was momentarily intrigued by Andrew Lloyd Webber, sitting on his throne like a giant bullfrog, when he weeded through the multifarious contestants to select a new Maria for The Sound of Music.

Now it’s all got a little too predictable, cheesy, and mannered.

I’m a tad hesitant to jump aboard the bandwagon that claims Downton Abbey is the saviour of televisual drama, but there’s something throbbing away in the back of my head that is gently prodding me in that direction.

Becoming annoyed – nay, volcanic in my vituperative explosions of exasperation – is now a weekly event when I am forced to witness yet more screeching karaoke amateurs. I blame the missus...

Turn it off, I hear you say. Don’t watch it. Go for a walk. Tsk, say I. This drivel is everywhere.

It permeates our lives, our every moment. It’s on breakfast TV, Radio 2, online, in the newspapers, everywhere. Like I said: no escape.

Thus the cinema provides a distraction. Sometimes only wallowing in fluff can take away the bad taste of the trash on my TV screen.

Personally I’m looking forward to the movie of Glee. Can anyone resist those angel-voiced teens belting out Don’t Stop Believin’ with a power and purity that could make Julie Andrews jealous? I can’t.

Oh, hang on. Glee is a series about a talent competition, albeit fictional with a hint of cruelty at its core. My defence is that the kids starring in it have a genuine gift. But it’s good. Maybe I need to give The X Factor another look.

Some you win, some you lose...