Column: October 5, 2011

I DO not have Posh Telly, so I am occasionally left out of conversations. “What did you think of Treme last night?” people will ask me.

“Oh, is that how you pronounce it? I thought it rhymed with cream.”

“You don’t have Posh Telly, do you, Gary?”

And they move on, keen to discuss The Greatest Long-Winded American Import Since The Last One with other people willing to shell out a million pounds a month to watch repeats of The Sopranos and every second of the action from the pulsating Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City clash.

I do, of course, have Freeview, which gives me as many channels as I am able to manage, so I understand the concept of channel identity in a multi-channel world.

For example, if I want to watch an episode of QI from 2008 – which I never do – I know I can find it on Dave, or if I want to think “Friends isn’t on any more,” I can do that by watching E4.

The company behind Dave perfected this stratification of programming by splitting its output into very distinct channels. I am sorry for that sentence, but I am in the media and we do actually talk like that. Good Food is about food, G.O.L.D. is repeats of Gavin & Stacey and Fawlty Towers, and Yesterday is documentaries about the Nazis. It is a good system and we all know where we are.

But it is becoming a bit confusing. It all started with Yesterday, which decided that there weren’t enough documentaries about the past in the BBC back catalogue, and started showing episodes of All Creatures Great And Small, presumably on the grounds that it was set in the past, and was also on the television in the past, so that is a double whammy of being-in-the-past-ness.

Some would consider that a spurious argument, but there is little more subtle than the intellect of a television scheduler. It is not for us to question these decisions, only marvel at them.

Nevertheless, I was astonished to see a trailer on the channel Really for Being Human.

Now, Really is a channel of documentaries. That is why it is called Really. The bar is set fairly low, admittedly; we are not talking Shoah. We are talking Help! I Eat Too Many Pasties, Betty: Sex Addict At 83, and My Mum Has A Gigantic Head.

But Being Human is not strictly speaking a documentary. Strictly speaking, it is a drama series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living in a shared house. Admittedly, it is filmed in quite a naturalistic style, but it is very much pushing at the boundaries of what would normally be considered a documentary.

The only explanation I can think of is that the controller of Really has watched so much Twilight and True Blood and, I don’t know, the Count on Sesame Street, that he or, more likely she, given the Twilight viewing habit, believes that vampires and werewolves are real. I am going to call her Roz because I cannot be bothered checking on Google and I am comforted by the fiction.

And Roz has seen Being Human on BBC Three and got it mixed up in her head with the constructed “reality” shows The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea, which is reasonable, as Being Human, with its tooth-centred murders and exploding lycanthropes, is often more believable.

I don’t know how she explains the fact that various people featured in Being Human resemble actors who appear in other shows. Nor do I understand how she explains the change in the appearance of the ghost between the first episode, in which she resembled the white actress Andrea Riseborough, and subsequent episodes, in which she resembles the mixed-race actress Lenora Crichlow. Maybe she thinks it is one of those inexplicable supernatural phenomena.

Perhaps Roz is even now planning an original show for her channel, “Crikey! I’m A Supernatural Lookalike Of A Prominent TV Actor.”

If that were on Posh Telly, I would definitely subscribe.

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