Unless you watch TV with a child, you’ll be blissfully unaware of how many programmes wilfully flout the watershed every single evening.
Introduced in the Swinging Sixties, it’s meant to indicate the time when television goes from being suitable for a family audience to more adult viewing.
In its truest sense, a watershed is the invisible line flowing between two rivers – so it therefore calls for a certain amount of gentle blurring. Yet when it comes to television, we’re often hit with a deluge of swear words and explicit images as soon as 9pm comes around.
Perhaps far more worrying though is the drip-drip effect that comes into focus from as early as 7pm. If you’re a soap fan, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Emmerdale, EastEnders and Corrie may stay clear of the cussing. But the themes running through most of these half-hour shows are so far past what the spirit of the watershed intends, you might as well do away with the guidelines altogether.
Now it’s a long time since Emmerdale concerned itself solely with the comings and goings of life down on a Yorkshire farm.
But all the gentle drama of old has been replaced by bed-hopping, assisted suicide, murder and adultery. Sadly all things that exist in society, but rarely in such a concentrated medley of misery.
Until the soaps can learn to conduct themselves in a manner more in keeping with their traditional role as the nation’s early evening form of escapism, hefty fines should be introduced.
And parents should turn over – even if that means missing out on their favourite soap opera. Viewing figures and soap awards are the trophies of success for these kinds of shows, so it’s best to hit them where it hurts.
There’s no point in expecting Ofcom to do any more than collate the complaints. This toothless tiger has already proved the only thing it’s good for is issuing half-hearted warnings.
Swear words are never pretty. But adults can decide for themselves whether they like their drama to be a heady mix of raunch, violence and hysteria.
It’s not right that more impressionable minds should be subliminally submerged in it.