Closedown The presenter wraps up the item, closes the show. Dyed blonde hair, she has that day-glow, daytime TV look. The next programme team – Sobriety’s the name, two men in suits, a woman with minimal make-up – comes into the studio and there’s a whole palaver of microphone unclipping and clipping; technicians assisting as usual, but also an abnormal amount of handshaking and embracing. Somebody’s last handover? Got a new job, or going on pater/maternity leave, maybe.
Studio’s off air; on air there must be titles/theme music playing out the old show, playing in the new. By now the new team is seated…..and Action: short intro from minimal make-up woman; cut to a split screen of talking heads.
Heads are cut off, never get to talk. It all goes dark; not even fade to black. At the flick of a switch, what was On has now been taken Off.
Was it ever that simple? The Greek government’s decision to pull the plug on its own state broadcaster prompted scenes reminiscent of Britain in the 1970s: mass mobilisations and long, lazy sit-ins; banners, beards and hours of waiting for something to happen.
During the day employees gathered inside ERT headquarters in Athens – a modernist, corporatist structure which looks like it belongs in Brussels. That afternoon – Athens in the middle of June – it rained. Clusters of TV people stood at the windows looking through raindrops at anti-government protesters getting soaked outside (among those inside and out, the relative absence of mobile phones adds to the impression of an earlier era). Some worked all-out to re-start and maintain programming on the Internet. Others paced the corridors or sat on the floor looking up at all those suspended ceiling tiles, all that strip lighting.
Were they waiting for Carl/Dustin Bernstein/Hoffman and Bob/Robert Woodward/Redford to walk in and get the real story? Nail it. Get to the bottom of it. Sort it out. Had they meant to keep the offices of the Greek state broadcaster looking like the Hollywood film set for All The President’s Men? Was it all a cunning plan to make the 1970s live forever?
But 2013 is the end of the movie. That’s All, Folks. No, it won’t all happen at the flick of a switch. But the waiting, the hanging around, the sitting on the stairs, even the sound of a noisy demonstration outside – it ain’t going to swing it. Sorry this sounds harsh, but it don’t mean anything much.