Turn on...tune in...drop off? Council TV’s first episode

THE story so far . . . Downturn Abbey is facing financial ruin after the family’s fortune was invested in a disastrous rail project.

All hope for the future now appears to rest on an unlikely marriage between the heir to the dynasty and a well-
connected outsider; yet just months ago they pursued other suitors and fought tooth and nail in public.

But will the price be too high as the newest member of the family is forced to abandon his principles for the good of the abbey? Watch on . . .

Yes, truth is very often stranger than fiction.

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The first episode in a new drama series at the City Chambers – otherwise known as Labour/SNP coalition politics – aired yesterday, kicking into shaky camera action shortly after 10am.

Viewers – assuming a plural is appropriate – were met first with a view of the plush wood-panelled Chambers – an opulent setting into which you almost expected the Earl of Grantham himself to wander. Instead, the lord of the manor, Provost Donald Wilson, took up position on the throne and declared that the “webcam is armed”.

Tea and biscuits at the ready and off we go. Like Downton Abbey, it started slowly, went on to pack in an unlikely number of parallel plot lines and left a mountain of unanswered questions.

The early action was dominated by the thorny issue of the closure of Waterworld and the community campaign to save it. Two campaigners had the audience captivated with a moving plea to save the pool for future generations.

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Their performance was rightly met with a round of applause in the Chamber and immediately sparked a lively debate . . . time for a second biscuit.

It’s edge of the seat stuff as we wait for an outcome, will the campaigners win the day? The tension mounts as we wait... and wait, and wait. A string of councillors get to their feet to make their own important but – let’s face it – dull contributions, and we wait. All the biscuits are gone.

Despite the early promise, you feel that for the majority of mid-morning viewers, the attraction of Homes Under the Hammer or Jeremy Kyle may have proved too strong.

But then, this is democracy in action. It is not meant to be – and on this evidence certainly isn’t – entertainment.

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There are lighter moments, laughs, and the odd rammy as the meeting goes on, but nothing you feel is going to end up in a DVD boxset. There is no theme tune for a start.

What it is, is a valuable way to allow the taxpayer to watch how important decisions about their community are being made and by whom.

Will the marriage of the Labour and SNP be enough to save us? Tune in next month to find out . . .

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