Terry Wogan killed the chat show

WARNING: This is a rant

I don’t usually write stuff like this… personal stuff… you know…

But this assertion has been going round my head for a few years now.

You could call this blog post: “From Parkinson to Kyle in a few easy steps”.

So, excuse me for a minute, or if you want to know why Terry Wogan killed the chat show, read on.

In the ’70s

In the ’70s, as far as I can recall, chats shows were populated by interesting people… intelligent people. They used to come on to these shows because they genuinely has something to say. They gave a little of themselves to the viewer, providing an insight into their lives, their beliefs; we understood them as people, not celebrities.

It used to be a little like this.

(Longer version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkUyDr97NU4)

For me, that’s a real chat show.

In comes Wogan

Unfortunately, in 1985, Wogan’s chat show was moved from its Saturday night slot to a thrice-weekly weekday evening slot. And that was the beginning of the end. Now, I’ve nothing personal against Terry Wogan, let me make that clear, but there is a reason that he was voted the UK’s most popular and least popular man in 1992.

When the show was on three times a week, apart from boring children like me stupid, it also created a lot of space that needed to be filled. You could no longer select from the finest guests, mixing and matching them for the best result and taking time to prepare thoughtful and illuminating questions; you just had to take whoever you could get to fill the time.

So in came the fillers, the celebrity endorsements, the non-entities with nothing to say, and at worst, the embarrassments. These were people who knew that they had the upper hand. The time needed to be filled and they would fill it, for a price.

Most of these people will be forgotten now, but a few still linger in the memory.


These were embarrassing, but worse was the ones we don’t remember. The guests that should never have been there in the first place.

Out goes Wogan, in comes worse

Eventually Wogan was canned – the show, not the man – but that wasn’t the end of the story. The floodgates had now opened, now anyone could be a guest, regardless of talent or intelligence or a modicum of self-respect. And there was always the endless flow of celebrity endorsements – thinly veiled adverts that purported to be interviews. Most of the time they could have just shown a picture of the book or the trailer for the film.

The worst of these was the cringe-worthy interview with Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger during the opening of the first Planet Hollywood in London, the three of them parading around in endorsed baseball caps and jackets. We learnt nothing about them except for their restaurant and the titles of their next movies. Michael Aspel was the unfortunate ‘interviewer’. Feel the cringe at 4 minutes and 15 seconds, as Don Johnson and Melanie Griffiths get involved.

And further down…

Finally we reach rock bottom. Jeremy Kyle – the UK’s answer to Jerry Springer.

I’m speechless, witness the spectacle that is ‘Mad Dog Deon’ and his ‘talent’: a skull face tattoo.

Or, to make you proud to be human, Charlotte and her measured reaction to being accused of cheating on her partner.

It’s mind-boggling. It’s almost unbelievable.

How far we’ve come, and how far we’ve delved into the gunky morass that is the general public. There’s nothing to aspire to here, only a sense of schadenfreude and ill-judged superiority. Maybe there is an argument for the ‘dumbing down’ of TV. If so, it only makes it more important that we strive to save channels like BBC Four that offer an alternative to this guff. Because, in the end, that’s exactly what it is.

Thanks Terry.


The future of the internet isn’t mobile…

But surely it must be? With 230,000 iOS devices and 200,000 Android devices activated every day how can it be anything else? Even Facebook is building a phone.

The near-future of the internet is mobile, but as B2B marketers we must be aware of how internet usage is changing in the long-term, and what this means for our campaigns and communications. Thinking in terms of individual channels and devices will only limit our ability to fully deliver for our clients in the future.

So how is the internet changing?

1. Our ability to access the internet is becoming ubiquitous
The most amazing thing about the internet is arguably not the content, but the creation of the infrastructure that carries it. Millions of interconnected computers, millions of miles of cable to carry data between them, and all the protocols and hardware that direct traffic from one place to another. This process hasn’t stopped yet, and being ‘online’ is becoming a more and more ubiquitous experience. The data on the internet is available through many channels and in many locations.

2. We are increasingly using web-based services, not web-based content
More and more we are basing our internet usage around key services and applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, Netflix and Spotify. Users are blending these services together to create their own online experience: Facebook for social life, LinkedIn for professional life, Delicious for bookmarks, Remember the Milk for tasks, Spotify for music. These services feed information to us, rather than us having to seek it out, which makes our online life more integrated with our offline life.

Some of these services are tied to a single device, but the majority are available wherever you are, and it is this portability that makes them so useful. For example, Netflix allows you to watch movies online, but not just through your PC, you can access them on your Xbox, PS3, Wii, iPad and internet-enabled TV or Blu-ray player as well.

3. The content available on the web is changing
In 1990, most traffic on the web was based around FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which took up 57% of the available bandwidth, but twenty years later video owns 51% of this bandwidth. Standard web-based traffic such as web pages and other downloads is now only 23%, down from approximately 55% in 2000. Video is the big growth area and the available content is growing rapidly. The ability to access this video-based content is also growing, with users no longer restricted to their PC. Cisco’s latest forecasts see 66% of mobile data usage being video-based by 2014 (see Figure 2 here)

What do these changes mean for those of us in the business of creating content?
It’s important that we aren’t overly rigid in our approach to creating content; we mustn’t think in terms of devices. Today we are producing mobile apps and web-based sites to deliver our services, but in a few years’ time we may be looking at a completely different landscape where it is impossible to know exactly where and how our content is being viewed. Some of these changes – Internet TV for example – may be game-changing as the distinction between online and broadcast blurs even further.

In some cases, we may well be faced with the decision to concentrate on particular devices and channels at the expense of audience numbers, or to take a more general and less tailored approach that can be viewed across the widest spectrum.

Regardless of which route we take, the ability to deliver a consistent experience across all channels is paramount, and our ability as an industry to understand the options and deliver this consistency will be crucial.