TV Dramas That Changed the WorldChannel Five21 November, 10pmBroken NewsBBC 221 November, 9.30pmAirtime filled by the world of news, the endless speculations, recaps and reviews of yesterday’s or even last week’s papers, is the target of satirical attack in BBC Two’s new comedy Broken News.We meet the very serious Katie Willard, whose report on teenage crime is carried out with such a pace that her interviewees barely begin answering her questions before she moves on. Then there is the presenter using every possible strategy to pad out a story by delivering the news standing or strolling around the studio or interrogating the correspondentat Wwashington, whose fate it is always to be live when the key figure fails to appear.In the style of The Office, the show follows the fashion for comedy that is cringingly perceptive. Never slipping into the ridiculous, the scenes remain realistic to the point where you could be duped into thinking that you had tuned into the news. The comedy is slick, sharp-witted and well-acted, but the problem that immediately strikes you is how the series can sustain such quick-paced sketches for a whole six episodes.A similar series, The Day Today, the 1994 comedy which featured Steve Ccoogan, parodied the news but broadened its target of ridicule to feature celebrities like Noel Eedmunds, who was shown being rescued by helicopters as he ran amok on the roof of his house. Broken News, however, is a show based mainly around one joke, albeit a good one.TV Ddramas That Cchanged the Wworld taps into another zeitgeist; the trend for television shows about television shows, using the familiar formula of television parading its achievements, shocking, sexy or otherwise. This is television taking a long look in the mirror to admire itself or, as this programme would have it, to positively grin with pride. The programme sweeps through the twentieth century’s television dramas which, with the help of some tabloid-style narration, boast their ‘revolutionary’ influence on society.Admittedly, the programme has a good case for a few of the dramas that it picks out. The 1991 drama-documentary Wwho Bombed Birmingham? which dramatised the case of the six Iirishmen wrongfully convicted for the Birmingham pub bombings in 1974, had a direct impact on public opinion. Ddespite Margaret Thatcher’s stand in parliament that “we do not have trial by television”, the drama significantly raised awareness of the injustice and the men were released the following year.However, there is a hint of barrel scraping for many of the programme’s examples. Wwhen Sstar Ttrek showed a kiss between Ccaptain James Kirk and the sexy black Lieutenant Uuhura, the narrator makes a bold claim that it “helped move racial relations on by light years”. Aat the height of the Ccivil Rrights conflicts in Britain, the kiss thrived off its controversy rather than bringing about radical changes. More often than not, the programme mistakes the reflection for the object; the drama reflected changes rather than shaped them.As is always the method with these types of programmes, trendy but interchangeable media types appear to deliver their sanctified opinion on the topic. Wwithout any kind of historical grounding, a line or two of inane, heavily exaggerated commentary suffices to qualify the drama’s position in the canon of ‘world changers’. Filling up television space with, ultimately, pretty vacuous content, TV Dramas That Cchanged the Wworld looks strangely akin to some of the shows that Broken News pokes fun at.ARCHIVE: 6th week MT 2005