Signed….Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

Anyone watch the first episode of the second Downton Abbey saga? Watch, that is, as it was broadcast?

Seems as though there were two different sets of outcries from viewers, annoyed not with the broadcast itself, but with the number and length of the adverts which accompanied the story. The first set of attacks centred around the number and length of the adverts, which ITV chose to air for a total of 23 minutes out of a total programme time of 90 minutes. As the Daily Mail cartoon observed “They spoil the adverts by having little bits of drama in between”.

The second set of complaints were founded in the insurance company Aviva’s broadcasting of life insurance ‘stories’ whilst images of trench warfare, death and violence were showing, as part of their blitz upon the viewing public.

As for the first complaint, there does seem to be a case for ITV to answer, mainly because they did over-run, in strict terms, the usual time allotted to advertising. The episode was billed as being 90 minutes long, but the viewer only gets 67-odd minutes of drama. They might reply that the show was broadcast in Prime Time, 9.00 p.m. on a Sunday, they are a commercial broadcaster and they have sold the slots to maximise exposure to their clients’ products and services.

The second series of complaints is perhaps a little more tenuous in origin, based on the Aviva adverts for a ‘story’ of a injured motorcyclist who presumably gets all the support he needs because he signed up with Aviva.

We are ‘blitzed’ on an daily basis by the advertising profession, and I defy anyone to state that their behaviour has not been modified by one advert or another. The adverts which I remember best are the ones which make me laugh, but doubt whether I have ever actually purchased a product based upon my rather twisted sense of humour! The fact that we can, at the ‘click’ of a mouse determine whether others have had a good or lousy experience with any item or service says at least that most adverts have to be at least honest in their claims. I wrote a novel once which had ‘subliminal advertising’ as a theme or rather a sub-plot. It is because of my own limited knowledge of psychology that I know that the ‘subliminal message’ just could not work, a fact for which we should all be truly thankful!

As for Downton Abbey, I enjoyed the whole of the first broadcast without watching a single advert. How? Simple, I recorded the whole thing, watched it later; and fast-forwarded my Sky box whenever the dreaded ‘advertising breaks’ commenced.