The “did you see test”

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It’s strange how, in these times of high definition, full colour, three-dimensional television, so much of its output seems flat and grey.

I’m speaking metaphorically and not about EastEnders, with its unremittingly grim diet of despair, ill-humour, simmering violence and discordant harpies. Even programmes which are heavily upholstered by canned laughter, dramatic chords and coruscating studio lights, somehow manage to be downbeat and uninspiring. This is especially true of commercial television and the blame must rest with the producers.

They get fixated about the alleged qualities of certain presenters, then the herd mentality kicks in and they seem fearful of launching any show without having at least one of them at the helm – Phillip Schofield, Christine Bleakley, Holly Willoughby, Vernon Kay, Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones.

They are all much of a muchness – but unfortunately there is not much to their muchness.

They are an unedifying confection of glossy hair, iridescent teeth and empty smiles, pumped up with a throbbing sense of their own self-importance and carried along on a sickly cloud of empty bonhomie.

In my experience, none has ever passed the ‘did you see?’ test, which is a staple of water-cooler conversation and bar-room discourse.

Neither have I ever watched a programme especially to see them in action, though I have avoided plenty.

Dancing on Ice – that inferior, refrigerated genuflection in the general direction of Strictly Come Dancing - is a perfect example.

It was never must-watch television, but in the end I could no longer tolerate another Sunday evening witnessing Schofield smirk himself into a state of almost terminal self-adoration, while Bleakley stood there as if hoping to catch the eye of any passing producer.

The biggest pat on the back this week should be reserved for former footballer turned professional boxer, Curtis Woodhouse.

He turned in a below-par performance in his latest fight, and was immediately assailed on Twitter by a troll, those inadequates who snipe anonymously from the depths of the social media jungle.

Mr Woodhouse immediately offered £1,000 to anyone who could identify his abuser then frightened the little chap to death by naming him on-line and tweeting progress reports of the journey to his front door.

This quickly elicited a gibbering apology from one James O’Brien, who insisted it had all been a joke, a bit of harmless fun etc.

Such a response is the last recourse of bullies everywhere.