Dave. Dave. ‘Dave’. Several months after launch, it still doesn’t quite sound right. We’ve already established that Dave is one of the biggest PR cons of all times (over here). But by now it’s a bit late. It’s in our heads, it’s in our homes…and you can never get away from it.
Dave only have eight shows that they screen. They own far more, as they very, very occasionally pop up. But take any six hour block on the channel, and you can guarantee that at least five hours will be back-to-back Top Gear, QI, Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You. They’re all good programmes in and of themselves, but they all have fundamental problems with them. But, in order, they: buy into a concept of enforced blokeiness that is inflated tenfold by being on a channel called ‘Dave’; exist as a not-quite-good-enough-for-Radio-4 parade of decontextualised trivia; make a sequence of cheap gags made at easy targets; and make a sequence of cheap gags made at easy targets.
Being samey is a charge that can be levelled against most TV channels. The day that someone steals the crates marked Friends and Scrubs from E4, the channel will go into meltdown. But Dave is different. Dave is the default channel for any house that has a combination of 18-34-year-old housemates in it. At any given scheduling point, one person might want to watch some in-depth documentary on Channel Four, but the others are tired from a day at work; another wants to watch ER but someone else says it’s boring. So you have to go default. You have to go to Dave.
And bringing these two problems together means that Dave soon gets rather annoying. Mark Lamarr making jokes about how useless Geri Halliwell is. Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie doing the same skit on Whose Line Is It Anyway where Colin pretends to be Ryan’s arms. Alan Davies turning up his Mockney dial to 11 and acting like a grating little sod. Night. After. Bloody. Night.
The ads for Dave were right in some ways. Everyone knows someone called Dave. But everyone also knows someone called Dave who is always around, who is always ‘there’. No matter what the occasion, no matter whether someone invited him, Dave will be wisecracking away in the corner. And deep down, everyone thinks that Dave is a bit of a wanker.
Also, while we’re on the topic, there are the programme bumpers for Dave, featuring a motley crew of mansion-dwelling, models in their thirties, who spend their time flirting over fancy dinner parties, having snowball fights with fake snow, and sleeping in tents – indoors! The worst is the tosser riding an elephant past said mansion, while his collection of slightly-too-old-to-be-ACTUAL-model frenemies whoop about their rich kid existence like a bunch of eighties city bankers. They are, to put it mildly, a collection of Daves.