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IT'S GOODBYE FROM HIM . . . Take one settee, one TV and one dinner.Now add blood and gore...; ARE YOU LISTENING TV BOSSES? COLIN WILLS HAS A SENSITIVE TOPIC HE'S BEEN FORCED TO BRING UP ...

I'll have to have a sharp word with the people who plan the TV schedules. They're making a terrible mess of my digestive tract. Call me paranoid, but can someone please tell me why they always seem to put the most bloodthirsty programmes out just when I'm sitting down to eat.

There's nothing worse than having your dinner in front of Casualty. For some reason, until I changed my routine, I always seemed to be eating when the first accident victim arrived at Holby General.

There I'd be, with a forkful of shepherd's pie on the way to my mouth when some poor bloke who'd been impaled on a park railing was brought in pouring blood, Charlie shouted "Crash!" and nurses started running frantically all over the place with tubes. Somehow the appeal of meat and two veg wasn't quite the same after that and I took to eating an hour later.

You never got that kind of realism on Emergency Ward Ten. The so-called blood-spattered victims merely looked as though they'd brushed lightly against a newly-painted traffic bollard or bitten too deeply into a hamburger and spilled tomato sauce down their shirt front. It was about as realistic as the Teletubbies or Bruce Forsyth's hair.

In any case, in the old days, you could plan your evening to avoid it. There just wasn't the emphasis on blood, gore and wriggly bits. The nearest you got to seeing anyone's internal organs was when Sooty fell off Harry Corbett's hand,

When Your Life In Their Hands started eavesdropping on actual operations at least you knew where you were. Anyone who sat down to a plateful of spaghetti bolognese during a sequence featuring intestinal surgery deserved everything they got, and that normally included fainting into the parmesan cheese and having a glass of mineral water thrown in your face.

Now it's everywhere. A couple of weeks ago - and I swear this is absolutely true - I was having a sandwich in front of the BBC lunchtime news when on came an item about head lice.

It was bad enough during the BSE crisis when they always seemed to show that film of the mad cow staggering about in the farmyard just when you took your first bite out of a beef baguette. But head lice! At lunchtime! I ask you.

Another sure-fire appetite killer is the wildlife programme. If its not David Attenborough poking round in a dung heap, it's a Great White Shark tearing a baby seal to shreds. Either way you are unlikely to do full justice to the succulent offering lovingly prepared by your nearest and dearest.

It pays to keep a close watch on the subject matter of nature programmes before tucking your bib into your collar. Anything with a title like "Cold-eyed killers of the Serengeti" should set the alarm bells ringing. It's certain to include cheetahs running down wildebeest and vultures poking their beaks into the carcasses of fly-blown warthogs. In fact it'll be even bloodier than Jeremy Paxman interviewing William Hague on Newsnight.

On the other hand, something called "Australia's parakeets - beauty on wings" should be all right. Except that, presumably to get the ratings up, they've taken to cross-cutting scenes of intense violence into the most innocent of programmes. One minute there the parakeets will be, chirruping away, and suddenly the commentator will say: "But these cheeky chappies share their bush home with some very unsavoury creatures." Next thing you know, the camera cuts to a salt-water crocodile devouring something cuddly in a flurry of gore and foam.

Fortunately, there is a positive side to this. Television can actually help you get over a tummy bug. Remember when you were in agony with stomach cramps and your mother said: "You'll feel better after you've been sick." And you were. With the astute use of TV, this can happen again.

In order to bring this miracle about, I suggest you rummage through the TV listings . . . and find any programme featuring Selina Scott.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wills, Colin
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 16, 1997
Words:666
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