GUESTS: THE INTIMATE
SECRETS OF TELEVISION AND RADIO
Taylor & Bob Mullan
THE DUSTY academics and
so-called experts who would have us
believe that television is an undesirable
palliative, a tool of manipulation and
cause of all kinds of violence, while
seeking to impose draconian restrictions
on our viewing choices, spend so long
refining their vitriol that they probably
never have time to watch the stuff
frequently want to grab these specimens
by the coat tails and scream NO! IT'S NOT
LIKE THAT I WATCH TV AND AM NEITHER A
PSYCHOPATH NOR A ZOMBIE!
Uninvited Guests might save me
the trouble. It charts virgin territory
because its intimate secrets (the title
is used with an ironic tabloid-esque
glee) come from the viewing public
themselves, arranged in discussion groups
and probed meaningfully about their
relationship with the box.
results is like much of the most cogent
sociology it tells us what anybody
with an ounce of suss already knows but
puts it in the context of serious
research. Taylor and Mullan gather
responses to soaps, quizzes and comedies
and intersperse these with curious asides
like viewers' favourite positions. Alice
(35) doesn't like to slouch when watching
the news; meanwhile Janet (37) likes to
sit by the radiator so much that she's
burnt her back.
always known that Bet Lynch isn't real
but as a raw youth strode purposefully
into a pub for the first time and ordered
simply "a pint" a la Rover's
Return. And the kernel of the findings,
particularly in regard to soaps, points
to audience recognition of that
half-ground between fact and fiction.
Angie Watts can become a real part
of a viewer's life without necessarily
being perceived as a 'real' person (and
her lack of acting ability needn't make
her part less enjoyable in fact it
sometimes enhances the pleasure!).
Instead she projects a metaphor of real
person. Just as Dallas projects a
metaphor of a particular lifestyle and
its attendant intrigues.
pains me deeply when people are accused
of 'believing' all this gunk.
Disillusioned Louise (42) I went
to America and was expecting to see all
these beautiful women walking round with
really outrageous clothes wherever I
went. But they weren't. They were all
fat. No different to us"
happily emerges as the exception rather
than the rule.
Uninvited Guests presents the
British viewing public as individuals of
flesh and blood not as a great amorphous
mass immobile and wide-eyed before the
downside, the authors do gloss over the
interesting area of 'TV guilt' (e.g.
feeling that not watching in the morning
is penance for watching in the afternoon)
and devote little space to the impact of
any bored readers can amuse themselves by
pondering the relationships between the
likes of Lucy (27), Bob (35), Jan (51),
and just who is the father of Jessica
almost as much fun as television ...