I CAN imagine that, in centuries past, Romans conscious that the days of the mighty Empire were coming to a close would look down on the spectacle of gladiators hacking bits off each other and muse that you can tell a lot about a society by the choices it makes in terms of entertainment.
Yes, they will have said to themselves, when we started flooding the amphitheatres to stage mock sea battles, I could tell it was going to end badly. Pass me a fiddle and box of matches, will you, I’ve got an idea...
It’s a state of mind I recognise when I glumly survey the biggest hits of today’s media landscape.
How else are you supposed to react when, after a lengthy search, hours of prime time TV and doubtless millions of pounds, the verdict is in. Apparently Britain doesn’t have talent after all, but someone in Britain has a marginally talented dog.
I don’t want to tramp on young Ashleigh Buter’s dreams here after her triumph at the weekend, but there are two big obstacles in building a glittering showbiz career on the back of a shaggy dog that can stand on two legs and will perform tricks for treats.
First, where do you go with it? The poor girl has probably devoted hours to coaching her dumb chum towards his current level of animal expertise, but that’s now been seen by millions and they’ll want something new. Yes, he’s a cute critter, but what else has he got?
More worryingly, if you’re a teenager embarking on what you hope will be a long career in showbusiness, it’s not a smart move to hitch your star to a partner whose lifespan is pretty limited in the great scheme of things. It would be like Adele teaming up with Engelbert Humperdinck, but stranger things have happened, I suppose.
The one thing that’s in Ashleigh’s favour is that she’s got four-legged protection.
The likes of Paul Potts, George Sampson, Diversity, Spelbound and Jai McDowell may have been chewed up and spat out by the Simon Cowell fame machine after BGT triumphs in recent years, but none of them had a cute mutt on the team.
It’s all very well being dropped by your record label when you fail to shift enough units, but Britain won’t stand for a pooch getting dumped on from a great height.
However, just because he’s the flavour of the month, there’s no reason why life won’t get very sticky indeed for Pudsey if it’s ever revealed that he has been playing fast and loose with the ladies or, heaven forbid, dumping his millionaire-rated mess in a public park and not getting his people to pick it up.
But I digress. If Britain’s got talent worth discovering, it’s in the fields of science, innovation, manufacturing and the like – stuff that will help us out of the hole we’re all in.
However charming, a perky teenager and her dancing dog doesn’t deserve a stage any bigger than a village hall talent show.
What we need are some solutions to the stew we’re all in, but as nobody seems to be working on that let’s all just surf through the channels looking for something to take our minds off the grim reality all around us.