Back in 2002 or thereabouts, Top Gear did a short feature on the Isle of Wight. It was only a five minute wonder featuring Clarkson driving around and saying risque things, but I only recently saw it myself and it did inspire a new game which I'm developing called "Isle of Wight on TV Bingo".
You see, it turns out that almost every time the Isle of Wight appears in the background of a Mary Berry cookery programme, a tedious One Show feature or a grey horror film, the same few elements are featured.
We always start with a shot of the ferry, or occasionally several ferries in a confusing order (as in Fragile). In the Top Gear feature, it was a Red Funnel ferry, which was notable for being otherwise completely empty. Perhaps the producers feared that Clarkson would not be keen to queue for the hot food onboard (sorry, that's a cheap dig, for which I feel a little dirty).
Following this, the Aston Martin took a drive around East Cowes, and then Cowes before engaging in a strange discussion about whether a local resident would rather have a house in Gurnard or an Aston Martin. I am a very boring person who was just thinking about a) the practicalities of living in a cramped sports car and b) the depreciation of the car in contrast to the growth of the Gurnard housing market since 2002. I think I may have missed the point.
Another Isle of Wight TV appearance favourite is the sweeping shot of the Military Road. In Fragile they somehow made the whole thing look pretty dreary whilst in Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson seemed confused as to which side of the road he should be driving on.
Finally there was an entertaining snippet which broke from the norm and involved Clarkson drove along the seawall at Freshwater Bay, which I would advise against.
Other favourites which weren't featured were the classic shot of The Needles and the Alum Bay chairlift or a fudge box shot of Godshill, which usually pads out a few seconds.
The problem with this TV-by-numbers is that they paint the Isle of Wight to be a bit limited in its appeal. You rarely see TV producers making any kind of effort to dig out other natural wonders or curiosities.
The problem isn't unique to the Isle of Wight. Try to find a national TV piece about Brighton which doesn't start with a shot of the Pier, or a feature based in Blackpool which doesn't include the presenter scoffing an ice cream with the Tower in the background (usually whilst tenuously comparing the cost of donkey rides to the challenges facing the Labour party).
Come on TV producers. How about featuring The Pepperpot near St Catherine's Lighthouse? Or Bembridge Windmill? Or Kitesurfing at Brook Chine? Or canoeing into smugglers caves at Freshwater? Or the golden sands of Priory Bay or Whitecliff Bay? Or the rarely seen coastline of Whale Chine or Hamstead? Or Bestival?
Until then, I will continue to develop the Isle of Wight TV Bingo game before launching it with a feature for the One Show starring Gyles Brandreth onboard the Alum Bay chairlift.
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