The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

A View on Entertainment in Britain

Category: Leisure

BRIAN CARTER, a student, is not happy with entertainment in Britain. “British audiences can be interminably irritating with their frequently snobby, haughty and smug attitudes”

It is perhaps ironic that it should be possible to write about what is irritating and loathsome about entertainment in Britain; entertainment is supposed I to be diverting and enjoyable but this is decidedly not always the case.

Take the cinema… To see a film you have either to go to one of the huge multiplexes that has sprung up on the outskirts of towns over the last couple of years or to stick to the high street movie theatres which have either remained unchanged and poorly maintained since Charlie Chaplin’s heyday or are old dance halls or bingo palaces converted to cinemas sometime around 1952 when orange and brown were apparently considered the quickest route to tasteful interior decoration: they are all ugly and dilapidated with moth-eaten, creaky and cramped seats. A visit to the multiplex is a little more enjoyable, because at least these cinemas usually have hot dogs.

The British seem not to have grasped the concept of what is and what is not appropriate snack-food for the cinema. The whole point about popcorn is that it doesn’t crinkle in a wrapper and it doesn’t crunch in your mouth. In Britain, though, cinemas sell crisps and candy in plastic wrappings. Little is more frustrating than trying to concentrate on the screen when you are sitting next to Mr and Mrs Greedy with Junior Greedies stuffing their faces with crunchy food from crinkly wrappers, saliva drooling slowly down their chins.

The theatre is little better. Although Britain has a theatrical tradition that is richer and more varied than almost any country in the world (this is, after all, the nation that has produced Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier and a sector of London — the West End — packed with more theatres and original productions than you could wish for), British audiences can be interminably irritating with their frequently snobby and smug attitudes. Worst of all are the regulars of the Royal Shakespeare Company who derive immense pleasure from spotting — or pretending to spot — the most intellectual of puns (plays on words) or witty quips. They then laugh ostentatiously in a theatrical manner to show the surrounding audience that they, and only they, have the intelligence to understand the true meaning of the play that they are watching. You can always spot these characters because they glance discreetly around themselves a few seconds after they have finished laughing to check that their neighbours have noticed them.

A similar situation exists within British television. On the one hand, the Briton enjoys some of the best TV in the world. Soap-operas like Eastenders are vastly more enjoyable and believable than their standard America equivalents because they concentrate more on characters, acting and plot than on the immaculate hair styles of their stars.

On the other hand, however, Britain’s TV producers still manage to let everyone down by making some utter garbage. There is a particular group of British ‘comedians’ — men like Brae Forsyth and Ronnie Corbett — whose humour ceased to be funny a long time ago (if it was ever funny in the first place). Why are they still on the TV? They’re rubbish. To make matters worse, all these dreary and tedious shows are broadcast at peak times on Friday and Saturday nights. No one wants to watch them; what is there to do but go out and drink a pint of warm beer…?

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