It was The X Factor and Pop Idol that really changed Saturday night TV in the opening years of this century. But luckily they are going down the pan and losing viewers. Simon Cowell wants to know what's going wrong. I'll tell him.
"It's a crap show mate, it's not a contest anymore, just heated debates between judges who have no right to be judges, acts who you'll never hear of again (and that's the final 12 including the winner) and treating the audience as complete idiots."
There. Got that off my chest.
Shows like Blind Date and Stars in Their Eyes had long since taken the crap show to new depths. I don't watch X-Factor or anything like it, but I know a lot of people do, it has wide family appeal and it's the closest thing to cross-demographic TV that there is on ITV, apart from the news and weather. Simon Cowell is apparently trying to recreate the big spectacular variety shows that were on when he was young, like Sunday Night at the London Palladium. That's why shows like X Factor and BGT are so over-produced and pompous. What you say about X Factor is of course 100% correct, except that it's never been a contest, it just used to look like one. But for many people it's still a show everyone in the family sits and watches together, even if they are only sitting there and ripping it to shreds.
Modern day TV crap is better produced and pretends to have high values, in the old days shows like 3-2-1 could barely pay for the second-rate joke writers, let alone good sets, and Blind Date was pure cheese. But at least in those days the shows didn't go on for a couple of hours, so if you didn't like one show there would be a different one coming soon.
I think it's true to say that Saturday night TV has always been mostly crap. There seems to be a fairly high demand for it. That said, ITV was always more down market than BBC in the past, now BBC is really competing hard for that title with Richard Hammond's Secret Service and Claire Balding's soporific Britain's Brightest. ITV has two shows which are so bad they're good (Splash and Take Me Out). RHSS and BB have no such redeeming features.