The weather is cool and rainy, and I've caught a bit of a flu bug. I feel lucky that I don't have to worry about calling in sick to work (one of the advantages of not having a job yet) and being planted on the couch under the blankets has given me a chance to experience the full range of British television. And what a range it is.
Feeling sentimental for the soaps of the 80's? Falcon Crest is on every day at 9am. How about a good episode of Magnum P.I.? Yep - you can find that too - that's on at 10am. There are the traditional daytime chat fests with peppy hosts and cooking demonstrations and Jerry Springerlike slingfests, but Globe Trekker comes on every day at noon, which balances it out. (I miss my Travel Channel and PBS, so this comforts me). Certain channels offer "+ 1"s which I don't really understand yet, but I know that this means I can watch Barefoot Contessa at 9am on Food Network - and if I miss the end, it will air again on Food Network + 1 an hour later. Sort of like having a constant case of deja vu.
My favorite discoveries - I stumbled upon a rerun of Stephen Fry's "In America." A beautifully done documentary on his journey across the 50 states. It made me homesick in the best way, and I won't lie - I'm plastered to every episode of the reality series, "UK Border Force". (I am AMAZED at what people do to get around immigration rules. Getting my visa was no picnic, but I wouldn't ever dream of going around the system. You don't mess with the UK Border Control.)
I learned when I first arrived about the TV licensing tax that everyone who watches television in this country has to pay (a pricey 140 pounds which is a challenge for the student budget) but it funds the BBC, and I've seen some excellent documentaries on their channels. Most recently, this one .
Channel 4 is recognized for their reality series - and I'd say they take the cake. For a country known for its reserve, would you ever imagine seeing a closeup of one man's hemorrhoids or listening to a woman talk about her inability to leave the house because her diarrhea is so bad? It's a juicy, juicy show (pun intended) called Embarrassing Bodies and I have NEVER, EVER seen anything like it. Mostly because the topics aren't just discussed in interviews - the cameras go where I'd imagine no cameras have ever been before in prime time. I'll spare you the description of tonight's fungal toenails and lice infestation.
Channel 4 also introduced a new interactive documentary series this week called "Seven Days" . The inagural installment focuses on a group of people living in Notting Hill, and follows them about in daily life. The twist is that viewers can weigh in on challenges this group is facing and provide real-time advice via something called "ChatNav". It's an intriguing idea, and one that I think we'll see more of as our electronic worlds collide, but I have to say I didn't find the first episode all that enthralling. I'd compare it to being out for dinner and eavesdropping on a slightly interesting conversation at the neighboring table. You might wonder for a minute what happened when the man in the suit yelled at the dry cleaner for losing his best Ralph Lauren oxford shirt, but would you care enough to email him on how he could've perhaps handled that differently? Nah.
So there ya go. I'm ready now to be better and off the couch. It's Friday night - which makes tomorrow "Get Out of the Flat and Explore London" day, and for that I am really happy.