If you're someone who yearns for the quiet television programming of old (i.e.: Bob Ross, his little happy clouds and "The Joy of Painting"), sit down, relax, and get ready for the BBC's new lineup of "Slow TV" programming.
So what exactly is Slow TV? Believe it or not, the concept stems from Andy Warhol's 1963 film "Sleep," which gave viewers a live feed of poet John Giorno sleeping for more than five hours. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corp took the concept in a more interesting direction this century with a seven-hour broadcast of a train ride along the Bergen Line. It has also broadcast 12-hour marathons of instructional knitting, wood chopping, drying, and stacking, and an unbelievable 60-hour broadcast of the "Hymn Book, minute by minute" involving more than 200 choirs and 4,000 singers.
While such long-duration television runs counter to the majority of the fast-paced, loud and commercial-laden content out there, it's proven to be extremely attractive to audiences, with several of Norway's Slow TV efforts breaking ratings records.
“Slow TV is very different from the way everybody — including myself, to be honest — has always thought that TV should be made,” said NRK producer Rune Moklebust last year. “TV has mostly been produced the same way everywhere with just changes in subjects and themes. This is a different way of telling a story. It is more strange. The more wrong it gets, the more right it is.”
Ever-watchful of new trends, the BBC has announced its own foray into "unhurried television" with a programming event called "BBC Four Goes Slow." Each segment, while not the day-long affairs of its Norwegian counterpart, will be devoid of voiceover, added sound effects, and in some cases, even commercials.
"This surprising selection of programs is the antithesis to the general direction much of television is going in," BBC Four channel editor Cassian Harrison said. "Slowing everything right down gives us the time to really observe things as they happen, and this series of programs celebrates the simple pleasures of life in the slow lane."
Inspired by Norway's train ride broadcast, the BBC will air "The Canal," a two-hour, uninterrupted boat trip down one of Britain's historic waterways. For art lovers, a three-hour broadcast of the behind-the-scenes workings of the National Gallery will show off everything from board room meetings to exhibition spaces. And finally, for the interested crafter, three half-hour productions will take what Deadline is calling a "quiet look" at the making of simple objects like a classic steel knife and a wooden chair.
Want to experience Slow TV yourself before tuning in to the BBC's version? Check out the three-hour Part I of Norway's Bergenbahn train ride special that aired in 2012 below.
Related on MNN: