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What annoys you most about TV programmes?

Which? Convo regular Alfa is here to debate a new topic – TV annoyances. What winds you up about telly these days? Is it the volume of ads? What about excessive narration?

I was watching Eggheads the other evening and they have introduced an annoying background beep. That got me thinking of other TV annoyances.

Let me jog your memory

‘Earlier in the program we showed you…’ – that is probably the one thing about TV programmes I hate the most.  Sure, a brief ‘In this programme…’ introduction at the start of the programme is no problem. And even an ‘in the next programme…’ at the end can work.

But why do programme makers think we need reminding before and after every set of adverts? Can we really not remember what we saw 10 minutes ago? Do we really need another reminder of what we are about to see?

I find Border Patrol and Nothing to Declare interesting programmes but the format of splitting storylines into several parts, only to then keep reminding you what you have already seen drives me mad! Why can’t they show a whole storyline then go on to the next one?

Even Countryfile has adopted this annoying format and I can’t be bothered to watch it anymore. I might actually watch more programmes right to the end if the repetition stopped.

Can you hear me at the back?

Then there’s the annoyance of filling most of the screen with what’s on next or worse, an announcement before the current programme has even finished – this completely ruins the end of a programme. Plus, sometimes I like to read the credits but they are unreadable when squashed on one side of the screen to make room for what’s next.

Having to turn the volume down when the adverts come on used to be a big problem.  This was greatly improved a few years ago but seems to be sneaking back again.

I also think the BBC are very bad at running programmes late and not adjusting their timings so the end of recordings are missing. I once wrote to the BBC when they ran a series finale late. I had recorded it on Sky and the climax was missing even though the extra 2 minutes were added to the end of the recording; their reply was a bit of an anti-climax.

Arrgghh, coming next…it’s over to you!

So, are you like Alfa – are you getting annoyed by TV? What are your top annoyances and do you have any tips to get around them?

This is a guest post from Which? Conversation community member, Alfa. 


I gave up watching lTV year’s ago finding that there are more adverts shown than program. Channel 4 and 5 are nearly as bad . Sky is too expensive.

Background music in documentaries that is so loud that it almost drowns out the narrator.

Excessive volume of audience laughter and applause on live shows, often drowning out the proceedings and requiring the volume to be turned down until it stops.

Over-loud harsh music at the beginning or end of a programme. There’s several programmes where the mute button has to be pressed while the credits roll otherwise you feel like you’re being blasted out of the room.

Squashed credits are a minor annoyance in comparison.

Couldn’t agree more. I would add programmes where the background music has been inexpertly added and drowns out part of the conversation.

Whre do I start? Fould language and violence – why are we obsessed with such stuff as “entertainment”? Reality TV that isn’t – who are these 3rd rate “personalities” who make idiots of themselves and why do we lap it up? And mindless USA programmes. Oh, and “music” accompanying almost everything – I wouldn’t mind perhaps if it was good music, but it isn’t.

Well, that’s some of them out of my system.

Hang on though – what’s this other button for on the remote control? Ah, it gives the black silent channel. Where’s my book.


James Lee says:
28 December 2014

Squashed credits is one of many things that annoy me,For example midsomer murders, When
the programe ends the credits start to roll before they can be read they are squashed while we
have to listen to some drivel or other,Then the credts come back full screen showing us the names
of the production crew which are meaningless,Crazy

"Meaningless production crew" says:
3 January 2015

The production crew might be meaningless to you but it’s not to the hardworking crew who would like to see their names credited at the end of the programme… Thank you very much!!

I’m sure that James Lee did not mean to insult the production crew. I’m sure he would be happy to see their credits but wants to see the squashed ones as well, as I would in many cases.

I always look for the accountants – the list gets longer with every film.

Gerard Phelan says:
28 December 2014

In programs such as the Portillo “Great Railway Journeys” every programme has THE SAME long introductory sequence providing an overview of the whole series of programmes, followed by a summary of the programme to come. Later at the end there is another long summary of the next programme. I routinely record such programmes and fast forward the junk, but it remains annoying.
The otherwise fascinating pre Christmas BBC2 daily series on Oxford Street used the multiple story thread technique Alfa describes as well as the above, which FOR ME detracts massively from the enjoyment. Like Malcom R I have a large book library and a DVD collection as an alternative to the worst formatted programmes.

In general I hate this practice as well. The only good thing is that, if we are looking for a quick 15 min programme before bed, say, recordings of these ones, with all the irrelevant duplication skipped, fit the bill nicely. I’m not sure the programme makers would appreciate that people only watch half though.

One thing has annoyed me on TV this week & that’s the Mrs Brows Boys Christmas special. Normally I like the show, but there was far too much, erm, sex toys. (not sure if I can use that word) so in the end I just had to turn off. Why does all comedy these days have to have swearing and rude things? We never had that in Dad’s Army.

The other thing that gets me is the adverts on ITVPlayer, I understand we need adverts, but we have the same 5 over and over again. So annoying. I’ve had a Corrie catch-up this weekend so watched 18 episodes over 2 days, normally this is no problem as I can manage a full DVD box set in 1 day. But the same adverts over and over again, I was gong mad by the end!

Hehe! You can use the words if relevant to the debate – and they certainly are on this occasion 🙂 I think sexual themes on the telly are probably a concern for a number of others too. I remember my mother changing the channel anytime any thing ‘inappropriate’ came on. It would take a bit of channel hopping before she found something suitable. Thank goodness for Little House on the Prairie when we were growing up!

Sally says:
29 December 2014

Music played over dialogue and natural sounds is my biggest bugbear. However, I also get really annoyed by credits that scroll down so quickly it is impossible to read them. Why are the programme makers so arrogant that they think we have no interest in reading the credits?

Sophie Gilbert says:
29 December 2014

What everyone has said, plus:

Bad editing in order to show ads in the middle of a film. Did I dream this or was there really a film director once who forbade his films being shown on TV if they were to be cut by ads? You wouldn’t show half a painting and cover the other half by an ad, and then show the other half of the painting and cover the first one by an ad, would you? Or have I just given struggling museums an idea?

The increasing use of ‘next time’ at the end of programmes. Also the apparent need to keep recapping at the beginning of each part of a documentary following adverts

All references to Soccer ( Football) should be on a new speciality channel. This to include live or recorded matches, results of matches and any news pertaining to the subject such as managers that have been appointed or sacked and comments on the individuals involved in the world management setup.

I agree with Dave! Why do news programmers assume that we are all avid followers of this world religion?

Why do we continue to see the same announcers, presenters, newsreaders, and “experts”? Are there really no outside and more refreshing possibilities that could be introduced for these positions?

We seem to get children of past news readers, vets and other presenters with no discernible talent who have been shoe-horned into jobs simply because of their parents past exposure on TV. This seems regardless of whether their parent’s performance had been reasonable or downright mediocre.

It begs the question just why “The Media” presumes that because their parents somehow survived that their offspring regardless of ability would also survive. Isn’t this instituting increasing mediocrity?

We also now have resistance to retiring female news readers with limited ability and intellect who are hanging on simply because any attempt at removal would invoke an Anna Ford response who should not have ever been retired as early as she was. Anna is a league ahead of this squinting BBC newsreader.

Then there are the “failed actors” who are somehow re-treaded as “comperes” in moronic panel games.

We have also to mention the over-paid failed DJs running brainless celebrity shows.

Then there are the useless introducers who seem despite past manifold transgressions of “generally accepted standards of acceptable reasonable taste” are somehow still retained to appear on car shows.

It is a poor comment on the increasing mediocrity of UK TV that we have to see too many of the same faces that are certainly not the best. Many seem only to there because of their parents relationships with companies or because of inertia by “bone-lazy” producers who are scared of change and perhaps an altogether far too “cosy” a relationship with lazy Agents.

However there are limited opportunities for the audience to express a view. Perhaps this is one opportunity?

I’m in the Channel 4 Panel too alfa, it’s only been going a few months tho and as with other panels they spend the first 6 months trying to weed out all the fakes etc. ITV, BBC, Sky and the rest did it this way too.

Did you get the one on 23rd December about films being show ad-free on a Sunday under the film 4 banner & asking us how we fee about a film 4 logo being on the corner of the screen?

As I said in another Which post I do 100’s of these panel things & the more you fill in, the more they trust you and the more they invite you to special ones like the film 4 one. They normally send stupid ones to weed out the fakes & time wasters.

I’m sure you have seen the ITV one before, but this is what we get everyday asking about the previous days telly. They ask for as much info as possible. https://twitter.com/NewtBeaumont/status/548073659882278913

The attachment is just the logo, they are pretty rubbish in that way haha.

“I joined a Channel 4 “panel?” that said have an input to help make our programmes better.”

Could someone please enlighten me as to the meaning of this sentence?

Vanessa says:
3 January 2015

It will be an online forum whereby you get sent emails telling you they want your input on a particular subject/programme and then you log into the forum online and type out your opinion. Like a focus group but online and some organisations give rewards eg Virgin Media Round Table give a £5 Amazon voucher each month if you make sufficient contributions in terms of giving your opinions on adverts, offers and products that Virgin media and their competitors use.

Jessie Bell says:
3 January 2015

I should like to add the annoyance in Wildlife programmes of having the camera swung away from the interesting birds/animals after a brief discussion of their activity and re-directed to the Narrator’s face. I don’t mind listening to the narrator[s] discussion and information about the extremely interesting behaviour before them but why would we wish to see their faces rather than the animals we have turned the television on to see and may never see in real life? The only person who has never kept intruding himself is David Attenborough. Also he can be relied on not to anthropomorphize his subjects or whisper what a great “privilege” it is to be accepted by these creatures – a truly gagging comment!

Alan Roberts says:
10 January 2015

Quite so – it is as if, these days, the narrator is more important than the wildlife he is talking about. So please cut it out and concentrate on the wildlife and not the “gaga” faces of the commentators. And while I am at it, cut out the overwhelmingly loud, inappropriate music too! I want to listen to the wildlife and background noises of the animals/birds etc that I am watching, not Beethoven’s Fifth! Ta.

rose howell says:
29 December 2014

Background music on documentaries is always so loud that it prevents you from hearing the narrative. There is no need for ANY music. Why can’t we listen to the real noises of the places we are learning about..the wind in the trees, bird song, the water, the animals, the rain etc. I tried to watch a David Attenborough documentary the other day and had to give in because of annoying background music. I can’t understand why he goes to all the trouble of making such good films and then spoiling them with music. It is like an artist painting a masterpiece and then scribbling all over it.
Also drum rolls and music on the news are very irritating.

My bugbears …
1) Having to zap the volume down every time there is an ad break – why do adverts have to shout at us all the time?
2) The increasing number of on-screen mumblers, or poor sound production – the end result in both cases is the same in that it’s impossible to hear what the characters are saying. Noise atmosphere is all very well but when it means you can’t hear the actors then it has failed.
3) All the ‘in programme’ repeats (ie the ‘before the break, we saw blah blah’ bits), the ‘last week reminders’, and the ‘next time’ trailers at the end of the programme. They treat viewers increasingly as idiots who are unable to retain any info for more than a minute.
4) Credits which scroll down the screen too fast to be read, or in very tiny typeface, are which get squashed so the broadcaster can share some utterly irrelevant information with us. Tell us if you must but wait until the credits have rolled!

I agree with all your bugbears and add segmented programmes to the list. They broadcast a few different stories within an hour but each story in two part segments and they repeat some of the first part when they show the second part of the story. This is not to refresh our memory (within an hours programme) but to ‘pad out’ the hour so the original content is only 45 – 50 minutes long. It is the BBC’s equivalent of commercials.

I take an occasional interest in consumer issues. Hence I tried to watch “Watchdog” when I could but I found it so infuriating with the segmentation of the stories and the banal and hammy repetition of the intros that I have given up on it and on several other ‘magazine’-type programmes. I was told some time ago that the BBC had to make its programmes editable down to fifty minutes so that they could be released on foreign stations where adverts were the norm. I can’t see how that applies to “Watchdog” which is probably of no interest to most of the UK population let alone those in any other country!

… and why do the programme makers feel they have to make a serious consumer programme humorous. Watchdog does that all the time and puts me off watching it.

Gerard mentioned Michael Portillo earlier. We will all have our preferences and dislikes for “personalities” but I regard MP as a good example of a decent presenter. Interesting and entertaining programmes – both UK and Continental railway journeys – and a sensible and believable performer on “This Week” (after the appalling Question Time!). James May is also in my top ten, together with Ian Hislop. They present well, informatively and have well-written scripts.

I wonder why so many other programmes have inexpert presenters accompanied by such sloppy material. Reluctantly watched Angus Deaton last night with a miscellany of Christmas disasters – “You’ve been framed” type clips. I reckon I could have produced better comments than were scripted.

The remedy’s in our hands, but like other topics we are too lazy to vote with our feet so get fed a diet of rubbish.

Perhaps I’m just feeling grumpy as another years rolls by. (6)

I agree on Michael Portillo and you thoughts on Agnus Deaton and Ian Hislop. However, whilst we will never always agree on who should feature or present on these programmes, I am pretty sure that if there ever was a forum that would exclude vested interests such as present incumbents/their Agents/TV Programme Producing Companies/TV Companies that a load of the present mediocrities would be voted off.

Yes, we can vote with our feet but there really is not a forum to make our views known.

Oh then of course we have the classic on that BBC Top Gear Car Programme in Argentina and the number plate “accident” whereby the BBC really take us all as idiots claiming still that it was all a coincidence.

Hmm pet peeves. As people have already mentioned above.

The number and length of adverts during a program. This has increased in recent years 🙁
The fact that adverts seem to be louder than the programme you’re watching.
Background music is too loud.
Many programmes are too dark.
The what’s coming up next and they this is what we showed earlier bits of programs like BBC’s Watchdog.
Not every program has subtitles and even when they do, they’re quite often wrong. Fans of South Park will know what this should have been “OMG they killed kelly”

I wish they could pour gunk over politicians when they avoid answering a simple question.

Vanessa says:
31 December 2014

The continual Americanisation and dumbing-down of programme content. I don’t watch any chat shows these days as the presenters are so infantile and annoying and the conversation invariably concerns the most inane or sexualised aspect. Long gone are the days of Michael Aspel and Parkinson, who gave their guests a proper hearing and asked respectful, interesting questions. I feel TV these days is created by morons, for morons and in the case of the BBC I strongly resent being made to pay for it!

My biggest TV bugbear concerns the sound. It seems that digital technology and multiple microphones, sound effects, music tracks, jingles and other sound sources have given the kiddies in the editing suite too much to play with. There is such a difference between live broadcasts and recorded material. It is just not possible during a live transmission to play around with the sound mixer to the extent that is possible when compiling a programme from recordings – it’s enough of a job making sure the correct microphones are switched in for the respective camera shots [and there are millions of bloopers that show how this can go spectacularly wrong]. Now, however, over 90% of TV content is pre-recorded and assembled from multiple cameras positions, personal microphones attached to the participants, and ambient background and atmosphere sound signals plus music and sound effect tracks, so there is a massive editing job and not enough really competent sound specialists to do it – especially for the cheaper programmes and the ‘reality’ (!) stuff. The result is what I call “blink editing” where the available images are digitally cut and spliced so rapidly to get reaction shots and to capture every momentary snippet of body language, facial expression and retort. This makes for quite exhausting viewing. Luckily the programme is usually so inconsequential that it doesn’t matter if you miss something but the devotees might feel short-changed. Another problem with this cornucopia of sound tracks is that the editors feel they have to constantly fade in and fade out the background music or effects and voice volumes to isolate the speech segments but they end up either overrunning them or crashing them into each other making for a very jerky and disharmonious sound profile. Running the sound from the subsequent scene over the ending of the current one is an old cinematographic technique that many famous directors have used to good effect but in the hands of the demented digital DJ’s at the desk that we have nowadays the results are dreadful. High-gain microphones are also giving us every gasp, whimper, snivel and croak from the characters and there is an overlay of bings, whooshes, plinks and thuds in case we missed the action or needed reminding of the plot-line. And the music score is not much better with its atonal concoction of acoustic torment [probably a fairy accurate recreation of the sound of an early caveman’s kindergarten].

The comment about live recording is almost correct but, as someone who has to wear hearing aids, I am fairly certain that tweaks are still made. The one that bugs me most is Have I Got News For You, which is one of my favourite programmes but causes me severe problems that detract from my enjoyment. My aids react to the sound aimed at them, but obviously not instantly. They adjust the sound so I listen to the dialogue perfectly, then the audience applauds loudly. The aids then register this and turn the volume down a bit, just in time for me to miss the next bit of dialogue. My husband, who has very good hearing, agrees with me that the audience applause has been artificially enhanced, a ploy that is used in cheap sitcoms to make us believe they are funnier than they are, but is not necessary for HIGNFY. Pointless, another live recording I watch, does not seem to enhance the audience volume, I hear the whole program perfectly and still hear the audience at a realistic level.

I believe both the shows you mention are partially rehearsed as well as being subject to post-recording “enhancement” before transmission [if only to prepare them for a family audience!].

I think the only popular mainstream entertainment, truly-live-as-it-happens, programmes are X Factor Finals and Strictly Come Dancing – although that contains many pre-recorded segments and I am convinced is time-lapsed a little to avoid any embarrassing language or costume malfunctions [which they would save for later!]. The SCD Results show is pre-recorded following the main programme [they don’t even shuffle the audience around to add verisimiltude to the scene].

When I was a guest on The Alan Titchmarsh Show I found it funny how they shuffle the audience around between episodes.

The 3.00pm show is 100% live and when it’s finished they shuffle the audience around and film another episode at 4.00pm. What I found funny is Alan Titchmarsh didn’t change his clothes, when I mentioned this the floor manager said the per-recorded show they film at 4.00pm and for the following week so it doesn’t look like he has the same clothes on for 2 days.

They think of everything!

I pre-record everything I want to watch, so that I can fast-forward through the ads and the tiresome and unneccessary recaps of what we’ve just seen. For this reason I hardly ever watch a programme at its scheduled time.

Ditto Esther – we’re usually a week or so behind the action, but you can’t zap out the irritating sounds and noises in the residual programme [it’s nice to do an hour’s viewing in forty minutes though and probably adds years to your life].

Perhaps a compromise would be for shops that insist on music to play it every other day (not Saturdays) and have a sign up advertising their noise-free days. I know some will complain they can only shop on certain days but clearly we cannot please everyone. I’m only trying to mediate!

I am still amazed at how this conversation eclipses so many others with what I had imagined were far more important issues. 😮

Whoops – wrong conversation! :’)