Jenny Eclair on the battle of the remote

"Why would anyone in their right mind put Call the Midwife up against Top Gear? Don’t they realise that couples who view together, stay together?"

This column is entitled View from the Sofa. Hmmm, I don’t watch telly from a sofa – I watch telly from an ancient brown leather bean bag that leaks polystyrene pellets all over the floor.


One day, in the not too distant future, when I’m old and leaky myself I will not be able to get up from this bean bag and I shall be stuck, watching telly until I know every episode of The Big Bang Theory off by heart. I can’t wait.

Comfort viewing is very important. Come evening time, when I’ve signed off from writing duties and I’ve had my 7pm bath, I like to get into my pyjamas, take up bean-bag residency and yes, I’m going to admit it, when I’m not gigging, I eat my evening meal in front of the box.

I know, I know. The old man and I should be sitting bolt upright at the dining room table, discussing important issues of the day with some classical music playing gently in the background.

Unfortunately, I’m 53 and I’ve yet to hear any classical music that doesn’t instantly remove the enamel from my teeth. In fact, I’ve decided should I ever get invited onto Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs I’m going to insist on eight Status Quo numbers as a one-woman protest against Strauss and the gang.

Anyway, being a rubbish cook, most of my meals aren’t really table-worthy, so it’s a bit of a waste of time getting the napkin rings out for a breadcrumbed cod loin from the supermarket freezer cabinet.

And so I squat on my bean bag, wine in one hand, remote in the other, waiting for the nine o’clock rule (eight o’clock on Sundays)!

The nine o’clock rule has been instigated to overcome potential male v female scheduling clashes. Why do the TV controllers do this? Why would anyone in their right mind put Call the Midwife up against Top Gear? Don’t they realise that couples who view together, stay together? It’s hard enough keeping a relationship going without having bust-ups over bonnet dramas and bike racing.

Yes, my old man likes the Tour de France; he also likes Police Camera Action! This is a programme that basically involves the police catching idiot drivers. It keeps Geof amused for hours: “Hahaha,” he chortles, yet if I drive a few feet the wrong way down a one-way system he goes all po-faced and doesn’t find it funny in the slightest!

Men and women have different viewing taste buds, hence our nine o’clock rule, which, put in simple terms means that at 9pm I have

control of the telly for an hour. No discussion, no argument, even if it means him having to watch babies emerge from birth canals – “Hahaha,” I chortle.

I think Geof is very pleased when I go out to gig.

Of course, in the Venn diagram of male and female telly there are some crossovers: hurrah for Scott & Bailey, The Apprentice, anything Danish and those really good music documentaries on BBC4.

So next time the BBC decides to put Top Gear up against Call the Midwife, could they not at least compromise by having a midwife deliver a baby in the back of a reasonably priced car, preferably driven around the track by Dawn French?

In the meantime, hurrah for the five new Poirot treats lined up for us over the coming months, the first one (screened last week) merited myself on the bean bag, complete with best silk pyjamas and a glass of champagne. Class.


Jenny Eclair goes to the Edinburgh Festival 3–17 August with stand-up show Eclairious. Her novel Life, Death and Vanilla Slices is available to buy now.