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What does the tenth dog eat?

Lena Davis

Lena Davis

Lena has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.

Now, think about this carefully before you answer. How often have you been asked officially which programme you have just watched on television? As the evening is drawing to a close have you ever had a knock at the door, a tap at the window, a telephone call or an email from an official asking just what programme it was you watched at a certain time? No?

So where do the viewing figures come from? For instance, the new Bake Off boasts of eight million viewers for its inaugural programme.  Does this mean there are millions of sets connected to some sort of device that can tell if the owners are watching cake making, Holby or any one of the hundreds of channels? Or are there millions of viewers who are trusted to put their choice of programme online in time for the morning papers?

It seems that the brief return of “Blue Peter” had no viewers at all. Does this mean that even the people who made it and those who appeared on it didn’t bother to look in? Or does the counting only start with a certain amount of hundreds, thousands or millions? In the old days I am sure they could have at least counted on Shep the dog’s loyalty.

If the skills exists for this kind of technology what else do “they” know about our peccadilloes? How do they rate those times when the television is on and no-one is either looking or listening? For instance during the Queen’s Christmas speech. Do they know when we nip off for a toilet break and decide to make a quick cup of tea and bolt down a packet of crisps before our return? Do they know when we are texting and not looking? Do they know about the times we nod off, particularly during Swedish dramas?

Does this get you thinking about all the other “facts” we swallow so trustingly?

Who are the nine out of ten dentists who want us to shell out for an electric toothbrush? And, if they exist, what avenues are open to the one in ten dentists to express their views?

Who are the thousands of viewers who phone in to anoint the winner of TV’s “The Voice”? And, more importantly, where are all the winners hidden? Aren’t the Police worried that some years have now passed and not one of the winners have ever been heard of again?

Many years ago I used to work in partnership with Karl Dallas, not only in writing songs, but also providing photographs and articles for many magazines. Karl was a fascinating man whose many talents included being Folk Music Editor of “The Melody Maker”, Jazz Critic for The Times and, most bizarrely, the actual editor on the monthly clothing trade magazine “Tailor & Cutter”. One evening, after many glasses of wine, we decided to provide the readers with not only a “Best Dressed Man List” but also, for the very first time, a “Worst Dressed Man List”.

We came up with the name of Prince Charles and the magazine went to press. What we did not expect was the interest this provoked throughout the National and International press. This increased even more when Prince Charles attended an important occasion impeccably dressed in a tuxedo but with his old shooting jacket, complete with holes in the sleeves, on top. From then on both Karl and I were looked upon by the media as an important part of the Royal Circle! The point I am making is that at no time did anyone, including Prince Charles (who we had never met), ask us how we came to make the list, what right we had to make this list and who we had consulted.

So, to this day, it seems anyone can fling statistics about with abandon. I even saw an advert that said nine out of ten dogs preferred a certain dog food! Who are those dogs and, once again, shouldn’t we know which dog food the tenth dog is enjoying?

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