Thursday, May 12, 2016

Slow TV Therapy

I'm sure that it must be a sign of encroaching age that these days my favoured TV viewing seems to consist of watching blokes of a certain age rummaging in sheds and garages in order to discover mechanical stuff that they can buy cheaply, then restore and sell for a small profit.  Or a small loss, as Count Arthur Strong once claimed. It's a form of what I believe they now call 'slow television', although I've never sought to force it into any of those new genres the media are fond of inventing nowadays.  All I know is that watching Mike Brewer on Wheeler Dealers drive to Cornwall to buy a battered Mk1 Ford Escort, which Ed Chyna subsequently transforms into a gleaming yellow modern classic, is highly therapeutic.  Especially after a hot, sticky and somewhat frustrating day like today.  There's something quietly inspiring in seeing a vehicle as knackered and battered as some of the cars I've owned restored to something like pristine condition.  Particularly when it is a something workaday, like that Escort (the Mk1 is full of childhood memories for me, as my father had one), rather than some kind of supercar.

To be honest, I do think that 'slow TV; is a misnomer when applied to programmes like these. Sure, nothing dramatic ever happens (apart from the odd exhaust falling off, or a gear box breaking) but these shows, in reality, are speeding things up by compressing the whole buying, restoration and selling process into just under an hour.  The reality is that the restoration bit, in particular, takes many, many hours of manual labour, which the average episode of Wheeler Dealers, for instance, glosses over, usually just showing us the beginning and end of any process.  As an example, I recall an episode where they restored a nineties Bentley, which involved respraying the car, which, in turn required the old paint sanded back to bare metal.  A process which only took a few minutes on screen, but which Ed Chyna admitted took him some sixty hours in reality.  Not that such time compression affects my enjoyment of this kind of TV show.  A particular favourite at the moment is Shed and Buried on the Travel Channel.  I must have seen every episode two or three times, (thankfully, they've finally made a new series, which starts next week), and continue to marvel at the number of barns and sheds full of old cars, bikes and the like which Henry Coles and Sam Lovegrove manage to come across.  I encounter quite a few barns, sheds and rural yards myself, but I only seem to find them full of crap.  Often literally so.  But, once again, I find it all very relaxing, watching a couple of middle aged blokes pottering around these venues on my behalf.  I just know it wouldn't be as much fun if I had to do it myself - like restoring those old cars, in real life it would just be chore.  But on TV, it's therapy.



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