Friday, 29 July 2016

Thoughts on: Trainspotting Live

Normally i wouldn't put thoughts on television shows on this blog nowadays since i have a separate blog post for that (sorry posts over there have been quiet lately) but considering what this show is about i thought i would make this one exception.

 I know this blog post is somewhat rather late but because i haven't done many blog posts like this lately other than linking the latest videos on here i thought it was time to get a proper blog post up on here

So we come onto the three episode programme that recently aired on BBC 4 called Trainspotting Live, to say the least its a Marmite show, there are those that like it and those who hate it. For me personally i did enjoy the show for what it was but this is not to say the show couldn't have been better still for what it was and being honest i do think the show could have been better.

Firstly to some degree this is a show i feel we rail enthusiasts can relate to, why? well simple, i am a rail enthusiast and the show is aimed for rail enthusiasts or trainspotters as they are referred to and the show is about trains.

They aren't too many shows on TV nowadays that are to do with trains, yes we have Great British Railway Journeys but its not exclusively to do with trains, we haven't had a show to do with trains for ages so naturally i was excited when i first heard about the show.

Regardless although i liked the show for what it was there are some problems i do have with this show. Firstly and this one concerns the trailer of the show is that i thought it was a tad misleading and thats from the one line ''come and explore classic locomotives like a d1000, its a beauty!'' at no point in the show do they explore any locomotives in such a way let alone the fact that no d1000 (the class 52 Westerns to us rail enthusiasts) we ever featured in the show let alone explored.

To bring this up for example there was a feature in the show about the 125 Group and the prototype HST power car but even this feature wasn't really as such exploring the prototype HST, instead all that happens in the show is the presenters going out to spot certain trains or locomotives and then they challenge us to take a video or photo of a certain train or locomotive for example class 43, 66 etc. Even this isn't exploring the locomotive or train in question, to tell you the truth i was expecting the show to have been a programme where each episode they talk about certain classes of locomotive, yes we to some extent got this on the show but not in the way as i were expecting having seen the trailer, they don't talk about the locos history, where it was built etc. This is what the show could have been and it wasn't.

Also the show shouldn't really have been called Trainspotting Live, this is a minor niggle but half the features in the show aren't what you'd call live, the feature on the Prototype HST power car and the Severn Valley as an example weren't live, they only parts in the show that are live are those of the presenters Dick Strawbridge and Tim Dunn looking out for certain locos, trains and the presenters at Didcot Railway Centre,and at some points in the show the presenters talking to other rail enthusiasts whilst watching trains at various stations that is it. Even the pics and videos sent in by other people during the show aren't live either.

But the biggest problem i have with the show itself is the fact that it doesn't at any point acknowledge why we as rail enthusiasts are rail enthusiasts and why we do it as a hobby, if you are going to make a show centered on rail enthusiasts  (sorry trainspotters * air quotes*) and trains you should explain why we do it as a hobby and this was an important factor of the show that was never explained away and forgotten about, you cannot just make a show and leave out the explanation of why a hobby is a hobby to other people.

You have to explain it to the viewers especially because there are bound to be people watching the show that aren't what you would call rail enthusiasts by definition or at all and they would watch the show and not have an idea or know why we do it as a hobby, especially because rail enthusiasm is a hobby that is rather misunderstood by other people and to be fairly honest this show doesn't help much to explain it away to them. I am not saying this show is portraying us as being sad or pathetic but its bad enough that there are some immature and pathetic people out there who just  think of the hobby as being a joke, something of which some who think they are clever think its okay to take the mick out of rail enthusiasts, it isn't cool and this show doesn't help to explain why we do it as a hobby.

I couldn't care less and don't what they might think of me for doing the hobby i love and see as a passion but there are people who do get upset and offended by what other people say and think of them and this still needs to be acknowledged and explained in the show so that people would understand more why we do it as a hobby we love and yet the show fails to do this at any point and there was plenty of opportunity to fit it in.

Another thing with Trainspotting Live is that they presenters only go to stations on the national network to spot certain classes of locomotive and its the same story when they challenge us to film and photo certain locomotives and trains, as a rail enthusiast we don't just dither down to every station on the network or our local stations to spot, photograph and film trains. There are heritage railways up and down the country for rail enthusiasts to enjoy whether its special events or normal running days we enthusiasts go to hertiage trains to see the locomotives of quit frankly times gone by and ones you don't see all too often on the main line, yes you do get mainline steam but this isn't an every day occurrence where as on a heritage line its a rather different kettle of fish, we go to heritage railways and enjoy them and enjoy going to special events and enjoy seeing, filming and photographing the locomotives that they run and look after they they have preserved.

The only heritage line that got any such exposure to some degree on the show other than the Didcot Railway Centre was the Severn Valley, at no point does the show offer any such variety and it was rather lacking from the show, it seemed that whilst the show did have a few steam and classic locos in it it seemed that it was mostly focusing on the modern locos and trains, its the same when they give us challenges they don't challenge us to get any heritage or steam locomotives, but looking back on them now i find the challenges rather pointless, they could have had a lot more variety than what they had, railways don't just have the trains and locomotives of the modern era which thunder up and down the lines each and every day, railways aren't just about the modern traction, classic or heritage traction also runs on the network and it was the likes of the heritage traction especially steam that began it all, for me personally whilst i do like some of the modern era locomotives they aren't and never will be as good as steam or the heritage traction which for me is alot more appealing and this comes to the eyes of many enthusiasts to, they could have had and shown a lot more of the heritage traction, this is where the heritage lines could have played a relatively big part in the programme and yet it didn't other than the Severn Valley and Didcot despite the latter only being used for the main setting of the show.

Another thing, i thought that some of the presenters hadn't fully gotten their act together and i say this because whilst humorous the lines Dick spotting live and well spotted Dick are still playing on my mind, again though thats a minor niggle.

Going back to railway preservation though whilst on the feature on the Severn Valley they did feature some of the volunteers of those who help to run and look after the line but again they didn't explain this away either, among st the many other reasons about railway volunteering that we all know about and won't mention in his blog is that volunteering on a heritage railway is one great way of getting people interested in railways and helping them to look after what we are preserving for the nation in order to keep it alive, well and running and again they at not point mention any of this either which is just as important to explain as it is on why we are rail enthusiasts.

If you were to ask me what this show has done well i would be stumped at explaining it away but if you were to ask me what this show has not done well its simple, its explain and getting across to other people why we do the hobby, why we love it and why we are so passionate about it, i secretly didn't like the way our hobby was portrayed on telly either but i'll lets sleep and dogs lie on that one.

and the show isn't without mistakes such as labeling an LNER K3 as a Black Five, and that piece of footage filmed in the Winter which at the time of when the show first aired was made out to be live. Also unless it just me but did they acknowledge any HSTs running on the ECML? Because as far as my memory serves it were mostly the HSTs on the GWR that were featured, i think i probably saw only a couple but it was almost as if HSTs on the ECML in the case of the show were a rare sight even though they thunder up and down the ECML every day of the year.

So to round of this blog post then, yes whilst i did for what it was to some degree like the show somewhat but i would of enjoyed the show considerably a lot more if the show had been better than what it was and had considered everything that i have mentioned above then i think the show would have been a lot better.

and even though at the time when the last episode of the show aired i thought it were a shame as the show could have progressed i am now glad the show only had three episodes because to tell you the truth the majority of the show didn't really work, some parts did which is the area i enjoyed the show but the majority had areas which were a red flag for me.

If any of the TV channels commission a show like this in the future again i really do hope they consider everything i have said above and everything that others have said about the show, i like the idea they were going for but had they considered everything above maybe just maybe the show could have been better

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