To paraphrase that delightful young man Eminem; readers, let us clean out the cliché closet. It’s the start of a new year, so it’s a good time to haul out overused and meaningless television sayings and pack them into bin bags.
Yes, I know, it’s a dreary job that no one enjoys doing. But, like cleaning behind the radiators or removing bits of uncooked spaghetti from between the cooker and the worktop, it must be done.
You doubtless have your own loathed and creaky clichés of the type that make you weep into your crisply ironed handkerchief every time you hear them. Mine have only comparatively recently infested television shows like plague rats, but they have to be stopped before their poison seeps even further.
So, on our trip to the dump, I would like to dispose of talent-show staples, which are spreading like cow muck across fields. I want to stop the endless use of “I’m really proud of you” and praise for “hard work”, plus the ghastly “you’ve nailed it”. Cumulatively, they have turned us into a nation of weeping, dripping, hugging, weedy big girls’ blouses, mewling attention-seekers who can’t take criticism, and who need even the mildest barb larded with icing sugar.
Everyone does it. You’ll remember on Strictly Come Dancing, Tess Daly (above) always banged on about contestants’ “hard work” (the contestants were dancing, not mining bauxite), and in The X Factor Cheryl Fernandez- Versini was so proud of everyone at all times she sounded like an over-eager mother at a school production of Annie. But the infection has spread.
In The Big Allotment Challenge (Friday BBC2), prim host Fern Britton (below) praises gardeners for their “weeks of hard work” (it’s a hobby, so what?), while last Sunday on Phil Spencer: Secret Agent (C4), Spencer congratulated a couple for buying a house with “You’ve nailed it!” before giving them a hug. Strewth!
Honestly, I don’t want to hear mimsy declarations of pride at a financial transaction or praise for working hard at a pastime. If people are going to compete at anything on television I want to see them work until their fingers bleed and their eyes close through tiredness. What’s more, I don’t want anyone to shed a single tear.
In fact, if anyone cries or is hopeless but is still praised for their “hard work”, I want to see them lowered into a well for two weeks with only an apple and a copy of Olly Murs’s new album.
Hard work is living on a Nicaraguan rubbish dump and eking a living from selling garbage; it’s not growing zinnias for a bouquet. Hard work in itself isn’t necessarily worthy of praise; we should all do it, without expecting anyone to give us a hug and a hatbox full of compliments. Well, not really. A hatbox full of chocolates with salted caramel centres would be nice.
Contestants, get over yourselves and toughen up. You CAN make us proud, but only by having fun and not treating anything that requires doing something you enjoy on a voluntary basis as if the hopes of the known universe rest on your endeavours. Stop being so feeble.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news