Apart from already getting mouths yapping by appointing the veteran, and very colourful, broadcasting personality John Bundy as its CEO, PBS have once again fanned the flames of controversy by announcing that both the political discussion programme Times Talk and Salvu Mallia’s lively and beloved historical documentary series Madwarna will be axed from its new slate.
A justified editorial decision? Or a “revenge move” by government, as the Opposition are claiming?
In light of this messy state of affairs, here are our own suggestions for programmes that the public broadcaster should have axed instead, if it was really looking to focus on upping the quality of its broadcasts.
1. Hbieb u Ghedewwa
Not that Malta’s tight social circles don’t merit the soap opera treatment — especially ones that really zone in on the dynamics of local friendship and rivalry — but maybe it’s time to give this show a rest?
Honestly, how many cringeworthy social entanglements can we take before it all gets a little stale?
Still, neither can we say that they don’t know their audience…
REPLACE WITH: ‘Hbieb’ (no Ghedewwa)
We need a Maltese take on Friends: taps into 90s nostalgia, and does away with the excessive melodrama to let some much-needed comedy in.
Apart from the instinctively infuriating appearance of its presenter, the show’s interminable discussions — 30 minutes on the carnival, really? — need a bit of a shake-up. And don’t even get us started on the ‘VIP Lunch’, with the cardboard cutout Sliema seafront backdrop…
REPLACE WITH: Malta’s take on ‘The Graham Norton Show‘
Close your eyes and think about it: a likeable presenter who can bridge the generational divide, relevant guests who are up for a bit of fun and an actual cap on the discussion running time. Bliss…
Look, we know that this trusty old holdout probably enjoys a healthy audience among the older segments of the population. But by God is it a depressing, and often tacky, sight.
REPLACE WITH: A handy round-up of both the best deals in physical shops and markets around Malta, and their online variants.
Either that, or just give Corazon her own satirical Teleshopping show, as sampled in the video above.
4. Hadd Ghalik
The background noise to many a lunch at nanna’s, this Sunday variety programme is also a clear representative of all that is wrong in local TV production, with warmed-over concepts stolen from TV shows across the world over, and ‘celebrity’ cameos that milk cringeworthy for all its worth.
REPLACE WITH: A Sunday variety show with an actual team of writers on board.
It would be a start…
Nobody can deny the practical benefits of a home decor programme, but with the internet providing a steady supply of info on that front, audiences should be given something with a bit more of a specific edge. Something like…
REPLACE WITH: ‘Modern Elegance’
If we can’t have a Times Talk programme, why not have a programme based on another publication that has since been discontinued? Modern Elegance boasted style, flair and a clear editorial line. Why not resurrect it on TV?
But if you want an even better example of a programme that has lost all relevance thanks to the internet, look no further than Mixage. A collation of popular music and movies, it doesn’t offer anything you wouldn’t find while scrolling your Twitter or Facebook feed on any given day.
REPLACE WITH: A good programme shifting the focus onto local music (easy) and film (harder, since there aren’t any).
Even having a semi-charismatic presenter would do, provided they know their stuff and can deliver it to their audience in a succinct manner.
7. Ghadwex Illum
It seems a little heartless to call for the axing of this long-standing love letter to Malta’s sister isle, as Ghawdex Illum has been on our airwaves for a whopping 28 years. And far be it from us to deny the aesthetic appeal.
But a slight shake-up of its format may be in order.
REPLACE WITH: ‘Vice News – Gozo edition’
Who wouldn’t tune into an in-yer-face breakdown of the weirdest, wackiest and most memorable happenings on Gozo, an island renowned both for its beauty and eccentricity?
Many will consider letting go of Xarabank — Malta’s own current affairs discussion programme, as powered by Jerry Springer — as blasphemy. Just as many would consider it a no-brainer. And this is precisely the kind of stark division among the Maltese populace that the hugely popular Friday night show has exploited to ensure its undefeated ratings success.
But it’s also been rightfully accused of banalising every issue it tackles, with interminable discussions that often descend into futile shouting matches, and a stream of regular and exploitative programmes that tug at the audience’s heartstrings while placing the misery of the marginalised front and centre.
Quite simply, it has to go.
REPLACE WITH: ‘In The Outback With Mark & Peppi’.
Peppi Azzopardi and Mark Laurence Zammit are at the forefront of Xarabank’s interviewing and investigative team, and to this effect — and the effect of the show’s unprecedented popularity — they’re also two of the island’s most incorrigible know-it-alls. So why not test their ‘skills’ by taking them to an extreme? Let’s see how these popular-opinion-wranglers make do when faced with an exotic spider bite, or some other beastie the Australian outback throws at them.