Competition between channels to secure the limited attention of the viewing public on a Saturday night has been rife in recent months. People unable to read a book have forged the advance of popular culture for drip-fed circus-maximus entertainment towards the likes of The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent, and Freak Show-disguised-as-documentary. The media war for viewing figures has even taken to the front line (and front pages) of newspapers. Skirmishes there have been fought and lost as celebrities, involved in sneering at the very public they seek to court, revealed fatuous details about their sex lives. Rather than, say, news. Yet every attempt to revitalise the format viewing figures have dropped them ever further. However last Saturday’s graphic display of Simon Cowell butchering with a bayonet a selection of actors and writers caught up in burlap sacks to literally bleed the last chance of any real drama returning to our screens has seen a scramble across the airwaves.
Coming this autumn (and each trying to trump the other) aspiring hopefuls are to be set on one another in a big cage. Two contestants will enter one will leave as flaccid mums from Dagenham compete with starry-eyed sixth formers to disembowel their fellows with chainsaws and rusty-iron gardening tools. Yet even this format is not a new one, originating as it was in Holland with Veel Plezier Moord - ‘big fun murder’. Judging will be performed by briefly-shining stars and old crooners who will (depending on the national phone vote) deliver the coup de grace to the defeated aspirants to fame and limited fortune by stamping on their barely-alive faces with spiked heels and bags full of spanners.
The sneering classes are already sneering at the coming spectacle, with a sneer; The Observer’s Gaius David Mitchell has already Twittered three simple words, ‘Needs more lions’.