TV stinks: is there any future in ‘smellyvision’?

Wil the return of scratch-and-sniff' change TV for the better?

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If you caught a whiff of something unsavoury in this week’s Radio Times, most likely the source of the pong was a scratch-and-sniff card designed to “enhance” your experience of viewing BBC2 documentary Filthy Cities (5 April).

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But as Dan Snow points out the sights of 14th-century London (brought to life in CGI), it’s difficult to look at this hunky historian in the same way. He just doesn’t seem so engaging and masterful with the ripe stink of “sewage sludge” No.1 curling back the nostril hair. Suddenly, I’m not listening any more…everything goes dark…

OK, so the smell isn’t bad enough to make you pass out. In fact, the technology associated with scratch-and-sniff has not come on in leaps and bounds since the 80s sticker fad (mm, peppy mints!). Realistically, that slightly nasty tang of SS No.1 in your nose hole could never match the full-on, roaring assault of umpteen thousand plague-infested plops rotting in an open sewer. So, what’s the point?

Surely, this “learning tool” would be better applied to cookery shows. That way, when Nigella wafts a cloud of steam in her face, we may be assured that the aroma is really that arousing. And it might make sense for gardening programmes too, so that we may stop and smell the roses with Monty Don – as long as they’re not bedded in manure…

If this is the start of a trend, where do we draw the line? Consider watching the following programmes in glorious smelly-vision…

1. Lambing Live (starts 4 April, BBC2) – Kate Humble on a farm, running around after newborn lambs? Oof! She’s bound to get a bit sweaty. And unless they plan to roast those babies with a fistful of rosemary, viewers will be switching off in their millions.

2. The Apprentice – Whip out your cards for the climactic boardroom scenes when that nervous upstart begins to squirm in his seat. Finally, you’ll know why Alan Sugar always has that look on his face, like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street…

3. Embarrassing Bodies: (8 March, Channel 4) – See that embarrassing sore weeping in extreme close-up. And scratch it too! The urge would be irresistible…

4. I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! – This could be your very own personal Bush Tucker Trial; getting caught downwind of 12 celebs after two weeks in the jungle, wallowing in beetle pupae and their own slithering self-pity.

5. Newsnight (weeknights, BBC2): Those clammy politicians might be difficult to stomach, but watch how they recoil from Jeremy Paxman. His interviewing style is laughably petulant, so maybe it’s a bad case of halitosis that makes them crack..?

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Is there a future in smelly-vision? If so, which celebrities would you most like to smell? Post a comment and let us know.