FILM crews know a thing or two about how to make programmes succeed despite the odds. I’ve worked with a few of them in my time, and the big secret is to let them get on with doing what they do best.
So when a film crew for the Britain’s Got Talent TV show came to do a spot of filming in Blackburn, West Lothian, they decided it was a litter-strewn landfill site that’s been left to go to wrack and ruin, and then get worse. Of course, the techies, cameramen, producer and director were too tactful to actually say that, preferring the phrase that it was “too bland”. Hence the reason that filming was completed in Bathgate.
Judge Piers Morgan, however, just came right out and said it – that he was appalled, and that the place was “a dump”.
According to the Herald and Post, local councillor Jim Swan was shocked to hear all this. Using words that smack of righteous indignation, he said: “That’s outrageous. That’s just not on at all. Blackburn is not as bad as that would suggest.”
Oh, really? I don’t know about you, but I find that rather worrying.
Here you have a team of technically proficient professionals – specialists who know how to take something that is tatty, and film it in such a way as to make it look agreeable – and yet they walk away from a village, unable to do anything with it.
Firstly, in TV land I was forever being told: “Don’t worry; we can always make it work.” Post production, cropping, editing and cutting can take something horrible and turn it into a work of art.
But in Blackburn they were beaten – they couldn’t make it work. What does that tell you?
Secondly, despite this evidence to the contrary and rather than being shame-faced, one of ‘oor cooncilors’ actually defends it because in his eyes the place isn’t as bad as it’s painted.
Oh, come on. You just have to take a quick drive through Blackburn to realise that – and I’m being kind here – it’s going to take more than a sweeping brush and a lick of Dulux emulsion to spruce it up.
This is not a slight on the people of Blackburn – who are just the same as any other residents in any other town in West Lothian – this is a look at the council’s failure (and not just this administration’s) to supply decent services and facilities to the Blackburn population.
Go on, take a busload of foreign tourists around the village and ask them what they think. I dare you.
And yet a council representative refuses to acknowledge the fact that there is a serious problem, preferring to denounce those who suggest the place needs some serious attention. All of which would suggest that Oor Cooncil representatives are either unable – or worse, unwilling – to see a serious problem in front of their very eyes.
Maybe, just maybe, Piers Morgan, the crew and the production team had a point. And maybe Oor Cooncil should face up to the fact that there are some places under their jurisdiction, and under their very noses, that need a long, hard look.
They need to accept that it’s their responsibility to actually do something about it.
Of course, simply rejecting the fact that there is a serious problem, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is an easier course of action.
Cowardly, but easier.