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|Points of View|
Title card c. 1980s
|Also known as||POV|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||49|
|Location(s)||BBC TV Centre, BBC White City (1961–2012)
Broadcasting House, London (2013–)
|Running time||14–15 mins|
|Production company(s)||BBC Features Northern Ireland (2013–)
BBC Productions Birmingham (1999–2013)
|Distributor||BBC Northern Ireland (2013–)
BBC Birmingham (1999–2013)
|Original channel||BBC One|
|Original release||2 October 1961– present|
|Related shows||Junior Points of View (1963–70)|
Points of View is a long-running British television series broadcast on BBC One. It started in 1961 and features the letters of viewers offering praise, criticism and observations on the television programming of recent weeks.
Points of View began in 1961 with Robert Robinson presenting viewers' letters to the BBC. It was originally designed as an occasional five-minute "filler" to plug gaps between shows. A critic for the Daily Herald wrote "I believe this marks an important turning point in the BBC's attitude to its audience". The series was regarded cynically by the public as some believed most of the letters were written by the BBC themselves. Kenneth Robinson (no relation to Robert) took over in 1965, though Robert Robinson returned in 1969 before the show was dropped in 1971. During the 1960s there was also a spin-off, Junior Points of View.
The show returned in 1979 after an hiatus of eight years, with the dry humour of Barry Took at the helm. Originally only being broadcast in the London area as a 5-minute filler part of the regional programming, by 1980 it was broadcast across the whole of the UK. Took left in 1986 and was replaced by guest presenters including Tony Robinson, Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Serle, until Anne Robinson (no relation to Tony, Robert or Kenneth) took over as presenter in 1987. For many years during this period, the programme held a slot of 20:50 on Wednesday evenings. In 1997 Anne Robinson left the series to concentrate on Watchdog.
In September 1999, Points of View was moved to a Sunday early evening slot presented by Terry Wogan and now included emails in addition to letters and telephone calls. In the 2007 series, Points of View featured diverse films, such as students from Sussex University making a passionate plea for the BBC to keep the soap opera Neighbours, John Leivers interviewing Roly Keating (the controller of BBC Two) on the channel's direction, and Jill Parkinson asking why there aren't more people with disabilities featured in BBC programmes.
The show has been seen as representing a certain passive-aggressive aspect of British culture; Victoria Wood once said "When the Russians feel strongly about an issue they form a bloody revolution — the British write a strongly worded letter to Points of View". Although, much less common now, the show has over the decades featured many a letter beginning "Why, oh why, oh why..." and signed "Upset of Uxbridge" or "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells", or something similar (these days, most, if not all, simply use their real names). Along the way the show has catered for those who reminisce about the so-called "golden days" of the BBC, featuring letters asking "Please, please, please could you show the clip where Vera Lynn sang to the troops on the 50th anniversary of D-Day last week", and the like.
The series has been criticised for featuring too much praise of the BBC and its programmes, and playing down criticism. This tendency has been sent up by many comedians over the years, including memorable skits in Monty Python's Flying Circus and Not the Nine O'Clock News. In the latter, positive letters said such things as "I think the (television licence) fee is far too low. I would willingly sell my house and all its contents to help the BBC."
Further criticism came from comedians Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in their sketch comedy show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. In a sketch where Fry had supposedly removed Laurie's brain, Laurie said that he was "off to write a letter to Points of View", the implication being that only the brainless would engage in such an activity. In a later episode, a woman claims she has had two letters read out on Points of View, and that "they say if you get three, you're automatically sectioned under the Mental Health Act." The programme became (around 1994) the first BBC TV show to invite contributions by email, and at one point, its producer Bernard Newnham had the only Internet connection in BBC Television Centre.
Junior Points of View
Between 1963 and 1970 Robert Robinson (later replaced by Sarah Ward, and Gaynor Morgan Rees) presented a version designed for children's letters entitled Junior Points of View.
- "What Use is This Internet Anyway?". Off The Telly. September 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2009.