Jayne Dowle: Vision failure serves up a new brand of banality

I'LL never forget the moment when I realised that television is now, officially, rubbish. It was halfway through The Royle Family Christmas special. I used to love this programme. Watching it was like walking down any street in Barnsley, peeking through the curtains and observing all that was funny and moving about working class life. A life I recognised, in some cases, almost word for word.

When Nana died... when Denise went into labour... when Antony brought his posh girlfriend home for the first time. The Royle Family had given us some priceless TV moments. But now, what were they doing?

Living their lives by The One Show. The intro music was the cue to settle down for the night, time to ooh and aah over its hosts, Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles. On one level, it

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was a shameless plug in one BBC show for another.

But on a deeper level, it was an indication of everything that is wrong with our society. Real, meaningful conversations replaced by an annoying Brummie with rubber lips and a super-annuated WAG wittering over some two-bit actress flogging her fitness DVD.

I think someone clever once said that society gives us the celebrities we deserve. But what can we possibly have done to deserve these two? Obviously, I have no idea what Chiles and Bleakley are like in "real life". But if their on-screen personas are anything to go by, he is the sort of bloke with an opinion on everything you would back away from in the pub. And she is stepping out with footballer Frank Lampard. And because she has a proper job, of sorts, she has been deified as some kind of super-WAG. So not only a WAG, but a WAG with an attitude problem.

I won't bore you with the tortuous details of their departure from the BBC, except to say that just when you thought it was safe to turn on your television again, up they pop on ITV's new breakfast show, Daybreak for a sum reported to be in the region of 10m. Presumably, studio bosses set a lot of store by their "chemistry". Which means that they sit very close together, roll their eyes and squeeze each other's knees as they tell the nation the breath-taking news about funny-shaped carrots.

If you believe everything you read in the tabloids, their chummy on-screen camaraderie hides a smouldering passion that they struggle, at times, to keep under control. Call me a cynic, but I do wonder if half of these stories end up there because Chiles has a very clever and determined PR.

I mean, come on, in real life would a bloke like that be able to pull a girl like her? She might be vacuous, but she is relatively attractive. In fact, the only time my husband has ever paid more than sarcastic attention to Strictly Come Dancing was when she was a contestant, but his justification was that he likes brunettes in red dresses.

To be fair, he didn't even know who she was, because in our house, the opening chimes to The One Show

is the cue to flick the remote to Channel 4 News, sometimes accompanied by bitter mutterings about what we pay our licence fee for.

I realise that all this is making me sound impossibly snobby. And I'm not. It's just that these two really get under my skin. It's not only because he is not a quarter as funny as he thinks he is and she looks so smug, but because they

have been packaged up by programme-makers who so clearly under-value the intelligence of their audience.

It's as if they have been moulded into the "couple we would most like you to live next door to". In fact, it can only be a matter of time until some enterprising publicity-seeking estate agency does a poll.

This isn't Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, it is a celebration of all that is banal about modern Britain. And although we might not immediately realise it, they are as much of a brand as any other consumer product, packaged up and sold on a plate as something we should all aspire to.

In fairness, I am probably not

really in their target audience. But

the worrying thing is that millions of people are. There will be toddlers out there whose first words will be "Adrian" and "Christine". They will grow up thinking that these two are a real couple, and that in an ideal world all mummies and daddies would be like this.

We had the Sex Pistols telling Bill Grundy where to shove his microphone. They have Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley cutting short an interview with Tony Blair for an update on a skate-boarding dog. And we call this progress.