Derek Smythler, Head of Commissioning at Channel 5+1 has a lot of DVD’s stacked up in his office. And despite what the TV industry regards as a crisis, he is strangely upbeat: “Look – here’s ‘Celebrity Hoarder Bake Off’ he declares; “‘Help, I’m a Transgender Hoarder’, and this one’s good as well, we’ll put this on air pretty soon ‘AC/DC play OC/DC Benefit’ which is a charity gig for people who can’t throw stuff away. My bet is there’ll be plenty of merchandise sold at that one! Oh yes, and two series of “Hoardy Hi!” about a man and his massive collection of holiday camp ephemera, with a voice over by Sue Pollard”
But Smythler’s not the only one in TV who has been amassing huge amounts of similar hoarding programmes. One BBC commissioning editor, Sue Smytherington, who preferred not to be named, was asked to get medical treatment after commissioning a second series of “ “The Hoarder they Come,” which is a Caribbean-themed show about a man who has sixteen thousand Jimmy Cliffe records, cassettes and CDs, most of them duplicates. The first series was commissioned to appeal to hard-to-reach Afro British hoarding-show lovers. “Not that popular, yet, but we think it’s a sleeper!” said Sue, from her hospital bed. The doctor treating her wouldn’t confirm that she was not taking her medication, but just stacking the pills up in random piles.
“I know, I should have got rid of a lot of these shows,” Sue confessed, “But I’m proud to have invented the first cookery hoarding show, in which people have to cook and eat recipes made out of food with amazingly old sell-by dates, that they couldn’t bring themselves to throw away. And “Welcome on Hoard” about a seagoing Chinese compulsive collector who put all his junk on…you’ve guessed it – a junk!”
Head of BBC Archive-retrieval Jeremy Smytt argued that despite plummeting ratings, hoarding shows will stand the test of time. “We have put aside £13 million pounds of licence payers’ money to organise and store all these shows. In the future, once we have got the archiving right, people will be able to watch them and get a real idea of what it was like to live in the second decade of the 21st century. Yes there has been a hiccup. We’ve had to sack the company which was organising and digitising all the material, because we found that the MD had used the money to fill a small warehouse with BBC coffee mugs and pens and copies of the Radio Times and canteen menus, some of them going back to the Hairy Cornflake era. He just had an obsession with it.”