Points Of View (BBC1, 1979-present)
This is a show that has a rather curious history. First of all, it exists because it’s your BBC, who decided to create a show where viewers could write in with their views on what TV was on offer. This originally ran for a decade, but this piece will concentrate on when the show returned in the late-70s, after a long gap. By now it was hosted by Barry Took and had begun to establish the style that it would become familiar for.
This was back when you had to contact by post, and Barry always anticipated a bulging postbag every week, with the highlights being read out by various voices. The era that I remember the most though was the decade that was hosted by Anne Robinson. By this point the opening theme was “When I’m Sixty-Four”, although this had gone by the 90s, and the opening sequence now consisted of some weird letters with legs walking around that made no sense.
Points Of View was often shown on Wednesday evenings, and usually only ten minutes long (but because of scheduling it could sometimes be five minutes long or even disappear for weeks). By now the show had settled down into various cliches. The commenters were not exactly all retired colonels to a bushy-moustached man, but most of them were definitely very middlebrow.
Most people seem to think that all the letters began “why-oh-why” (although I don’t think any of them ever did), or consist of “I am furious”, getting upset about nothing, and “It was revolting. Can we see it again?”, before being shown over the credits that consisted of about three people. You’d never know what clip would be pulled out of the archive. Anne usually called the management “them upstairs” and was rather blunt and mocking to most commenters, putting this style to better use on The Weakest Link.
As the years passed, there were more ways to contact the show, which became one of the first to use email. Also in the 90s there was CBBC’s Take Two, BBC Radio 4’s Feedback, and BBC1’s Biteback, a monthly show on Sundays that took a more in-depth look at the workings of the BBC, and usually featured a suit being questioned and having to defend endless repeats and the like.
Points Of View more than most shows is an interesting time capsule of what we call “attitudes”, and there have also been several parodies, one of the most memorable being Jasper Carrott’s Pointless Views. When Robinson left, the show moved to Sundays and Terry Wogan became host, before Jeremy Vine took over. Now there is no in-vision host at all, the comments are as inane as ever, and if it’s moved any further back in the schedule, it’ll soon be shown before Breakfast.