10 O’Clock Live: The Twitter Response

On Thursday 20th January 10 O’Clock Live went out (Live) on channel 4 (with a shock “15 minute delay” Tweeters deplored) – A delay is pretty standard in Live television Tweeters and a wise move considering the new shows formula is not fully tried and tested yet!


Some Tweeters liked the show, wondering “what all the fuss is about”, but a great many pounded on it before it had even had chance to show you all the great ideas it had. For that hour 10 O’Clock LiveThe Birds walking up the stairs into a blood-thirsty bunch of Twitterers. became the equivalent of Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock’s

What the show attempted to do was combine your commonly featured politics show, serious, male dominated, containing no one below the age of 40, and mixing that up with your topical, comedic, news panel shows (Have I Got News for You, Mock the Week), its most hyped up comparison being that of The Daily Show.

I personally applaud the idea of the show. Politics shows and debates are not accessible to the majority of the British public (note how I didn’t marginalise to ‘young people’ there), you need only to look at voting numbers for the 2010 general election to work that one out. Unless people actively seek out political knowledge they are unlikely to have any idea of the current debates that othertheir lives. people are having, that will, eventually, have a direct impact on.

10 O’Clock Live was hosted by Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne and was marketed as a topical comedy show, as a result it was likely to bring in audiences who were fans of 8 out of 10 Cats and Mock the Week and who were expecting more of the same. What, in fact, they got was a mixture of Newsnight and Question Time with an “annoying audience”, Tweeters complained, who laughed at all the jokes thrown in.

In a bid to innovate broadcasting, 10 O ‘Clock Live has the potential to make politics more accessible to audiences who struggle to pay attention to the, stereotypical, balding men talking about ‘policy’, and who will tune here, instead, in the hopes of being ‘entertained’. However, the result was a show that metaphorically attempted to conceal sprouts within a pie in the hopes that a child wouldn’t taste them. Unfortunately some Tweeters got a whiff of the sprouts, spat them back out, and changed the channel.

“It’s hideous, I can’t handle the combination of all the topical facts I don’t understand and comedy” one Tweeter shared. Whilst this comment would seem to some tiresomely ignorant it must be asked, is it really that person’s fault that they didn’t understand the political content?

Here, I’m assuming, is a viewer who tuned in because of the lull of the shows amusing trailer (which made it look more like a sketch show than a topical discussion show) and the appeal of the funny celebs hosting it. They are the ideal viewer to have the potential to inadvertently learn something from a programme containing material to which they wouldn’t normally be exposed. However, it seems that this new blend of ‘cometics’ was too much for one person to handle.

In a country where the government run the education system and do not include politics as core subject within that system can you really blame people for having no knowledge of politics or finding it too confusing when they encounter it? Instead the twenty-first century has to contend with a nation of people with increasingly short attention spans, helped in no way by television programmes which dull the brains of its audiences with easy to watch colourful images of over-sexed, shallow, superficial, content that doesn’t require them to think.

Other critical Tweets of 10 O’Clock Live accused it of having ‘boring unfunny lefty comedians’. Might I say to that, the audience were laughing, I doubt they had bouncers on the door checking audience members’ political orientation before letting people in… right wing? Sorry not allowed! Perhaps it was just the case that the majority of opinions on the show were generally agreed with because they were the most fair? If by being ‘lefty’ that automatically means that you’re anti-tuition fees (which was the topic in discussion at the time of this tweet) then by that estimation Labour would have won the 2010 election with a landslide. A high majority of people are anti-tuition fees and it is the role of a topical politics show host to question and challenge the current government’s policies that are in place.

For regular viewers of politics shows the tuition fees debate is now predictable viewing. However, David Mitchell commented at one stage in the programme “politics has never been more vibrant”; and in the instance of merging comedy with political debate, I would tend to agree. 10 O’Clock Live gives politics a vibrancy that simply just doesn’t exist on any other political programme. There is a clear gap in the market for this style of discussion and debate on television and that is why viewers should embrace this programme. Who said politics had to be boring? I hope for a new political landscape that is accessible all members of society and if bringing comedy into the political arena helps to achieve that then 10 O’Clock Live should be much praised for daring to take this new direction.