Channel 4’s fabulous new idents have received a big thumbs up from many Pres fans.
But if you’ve been keeping a close eye – or rather ear – on things, you may have noticed something a little more concerning.
The vast majority of continuity links before 7pm now appear to be very generic.
The announcer simply plugs a programme later in the week or something available online over the ident.
No attempt is made to bring the viewer into the programme about to start or whet their appetite for the next one.
On a typical day, some identical links are heard two or three times.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the individual links – there are only so many ways that even the most imaginative announcer can introduce the third episode in a row of The Simpsons – but it does start to call the purpose of announcers into question.
If they are not fundamentally there as the live link between the viewer and the broadcaster, what is the point of them?
The time could be spent on more promotions or be used to accommodate extra advertising if Ofcom gives the green light to proposals to allow more commercials on PSBs.
It is not hard to mount an argument that traditional announcers are no longer quite as fundamental to smooth presentation as was once the case.
Breakdowns are rare and Channel 4 rarely has last-minute programme changes.
But this argument would be very short-sighted.
At their best, announcers remind viewers that channels are living, breathing, live services – not the impersonal robotic product of a server loaded up hours earlier.
In recent years it has become common to pre-record some links on major channels – even, sadly, on BBC One and Two. There is no continuity on ITV 1 until 1.30pm.
But that does not mean this is desirable.
Some BBC announcers, such as Duncan Newmarch, are unsung heroes. His scripting on the night when Christmas was effectively cancelled in December 2020 was appreciated by many.
The role of a good, live announcer needs to be properly appreciated and celebrated. Otherwise the bean counters and marketing types will pounce and they will be gone.
PICTURED: BBC Wales announcer Leanne Thomas. COPYRIGHT: BBC.