|What do Yvette Fielding, Anthea Turner and Dave Vanian of the Damned all have in common? They have all launched themselves as TV presenters on Sky TV, that's what.
As you'd expect, with all the multiple choice available on satellite TV stations such as Sky, it is inevitable that the rubbish is going to multiply as well. When there's all manner of shopping channels, 'lifestyle' TV programmes featuring defunct BBC presenters (Yvette Fielding, Anthea Turner), then your life looks as though it will be swamped under the deluge of trite time-wasting waffle that passes for entertainment. Chris Anderson explains in his book The Long Tail how endless choice in today's consumer society is creating unlimited demand: 'The secret to creating a thriving Long Tail business can be summarised in two imperatives: 1. Make everything available; 2. Help me find it.'
Even if that includes low-budget, alternative-gothic/EMO rock music television stations. Yes, it has happened: at the end of November 2005, Redemption TV was launched, a chaotic mix of low budget music videos, and band interviews by any one of it's lovely pierced-lipped purple-eyed presenters. The blonde and buoyant Lenore, Redemption TV's main presenter and anchor looks vaguely like Gwen Stefani - but only after a sordid night out at some decidedly dubious Goth-club. Which is what a lot of the programme's viewers would be doing, sigh, if only they weren't either watching the recorded version, as they had to go to work the next day (Redemption TV is on between 10pm and 3am every night on Channel 368). It would be too easy to dismiss this channel as a pile of detritus as it is still in its early stages; it would be like kicking a puppy. In this day and age of packaged, record-company driven pop and rock on MTV, it can be refreshing to see something a little more homegrown and organic, even if it comes out in ugly or bizarre forms sometimes.
A highlight of the channel is a slot called Dave Vanian's Dark Screen. Old punks don't die; they just go and launch a TV career. This programme is a perfect platform for the ghoulish lead singer of the Damned to exorcise his creaky 'horror host' persona; the raised eyebrow; the black eye make-up, which even in the badly lit studio you can see has smudged quite severely. "Good evening, my name is Dave Vanian, and welcome to my Dark Screen" he introduces in his erudite, London-tinged twang. He has the slightly creepy demeanour of a University lecturer; you certainly wouldn't want to bump into him in a dark, empty video library. Or you may run the risk of being given an hour long talk on the merits of Polanski and Hitchcock films, when all you really want to do is get down to some serious, ahem, drinking in the bar downstairs. Such is student life, which no doubt a lot of its viewers will know an awful lot about.
The half-hour programme is basically a platform for amateur film directors to send in their 10-minute efforts at directing; the winner gets to show their film at a cinema at Leicester Square, which is a pretty good prize for any amateur director trying to get started.
In this age of MySpace and the Internet, it surely bodes well for the future of music, and for creativity as a whole, that the unsigned bands, and the more diverse and 'alternative' are being given a niche to broadcast themselves that don't require much money or special effects. As legendary programme Top of the Pops goes under, will the polished and glitzy format of music entertainment give way to something a little more rough and ready? The future isn't just orange, but there's a whole palette to choose from. But then some just prefer Gothy black anyway, and they'll write bad poetry and sulk until they get it.