James Delingpole James Delingpole

It makes you fat and stupid

I was waiting to go on The Jeremy Vine Show to explain why it was I thought Dave Cameron had done the right thing by evading the drugs question when I got talking to the next guest, an American scientist who has just written a book on the biological effects of TV on the brain. ‘That’s biological,’ he stressed, in case I’d missed the point. ‘Not social.’

What this chap had to say was really quite extraordinary. Of course we all know instinctively that watching TV turns you into a moron. But this chap had the scientific evidence: TV literally makes you fat; it literally makes you stupid; it damages the frontal lobe, especially in young children, which is why no child under three should be allowed to watch any TV ever. Apparently, it’s all down to editing speeds. In the days of Muffin the Mule, TV was quite safe. It’s the advent of things like those souped-up Japanese cartoons such as Yu-Gi-Oh! that my seven-year-old loves to watch that has done the damage: kids’ brains just can’t cope with the sensory overload.

‘Love your Speccie column,’ said Jeremy Vine’s producer, as I was leaving. ‘Especially the ones where you don’t write about TV.’ Yeah, too right, I thought to myself. Not only am I doing all my fans a favour in those weeks when I can’t be arsed to get the tapes in; but I will be making my brain much sharper and wittier, thus ensuring that I delight them with copy far more amusing than if I had sullied my mind with moving pictures on a screen.

This week, though, the plan was almost scuppered by the veritable cornucopia of interesting things to watch: the new Jamie Oliver series; the one about the David Blunkett scandal (which obviously I would have slagged if I’d seen it, out of loyalty to the Dear Leader); the Israel and the Arabs documentary series from the ever-brilliant Brook Lapping team; a decent-sounding undercover report from the Dispatches team on life inside North Korea; the new Ray Winstone series Vincent, which I think — from the posters I’ve seen — is about a man who used to be a heavy, who buggered his junior cellmates in prison but has now turned into a private detective.

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