At their best, hashtags are seriously enjoyable. If radio and TV are leaving you jaded, you can pep things up by climbing aboard Twitter and following programme ‘tweetalongs’, for an injection of ironic humour, impassioned debate and sheer, unbridled silliness. Here is my selection of the current best on the net.
The Archers: #thearchers
The crème de la crème of ‘tweetalongs’, every Sunday morning a dedicated band of Radio 4 listeners yawn, bleary-eyed, and gather diligently around their radios for The Archers Omnibus. Sometimes ribald, frequently irreverent and always tongue-in-cheek, the ‘tweetalongers’ make this audio soap terrific fun to follow. Comments vary from the standard audience exasperation at Susan, Jennifer and Helen (in fact, pretty much all the characters) to the new editor’s Eastenderisation of Ambridge. If you like a good double entendre, you’ll love this hashtag. Tweets continue throughout the week, during and after each episode.
@ArabellaSock: “Helen’s going out with the hunt?” A bit of misspelling there I think.
@JonReed: Susan: “Rob and Brian Aldridge: two randy peas in a pod!” Helen: “What?” Susan: “I mean – 29 pence change. Enjoy your antiques…”
Any Questions: #bbcaq
There’s only one thing worse than a fool, and that’s an opinionated fool. On Saturday afternoons Little England finishes its gardening, makes a pot of tea, switches on its Roberts radio and girds its provincial loins for an hour of political debate. Paradoxically, although you’d expect to witness knee-jerk comments from ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’, these seem to be restricted to the panel; on the hashtag, many of the tweets are intelligent and dissenting – even critical of the programme itself. Either way, you can picture the puffed chests and muffled outrage behind those computer screens. These people aren’t saving it for Points of View.
@MacKenziePeterR: Am listening to #bbcaq from England and feel that I am in a time warp back 40 years. Scotland so very different.
@GerryHassan Why does #bbcaq end up in affluent, middle class areas? Because they wait to be invited. In their own guidelines.
Strictly Come Dancing: #scd
Ever since the release of the movie Strictly Ballroom, Britain has been in love with the glitter and glitz of ballroom dancing. More precisely, it’s in love with watching ballroom dancing, since most people haven’t attempted it. Even so, primetime viewers aren’t backward in coming forward with their opinions on the skill levels of the celebrity contestants. This is no more evident than on #scd, where experienced tweeters provide informed comment, while others who wouldn’t know a foxtrot from a foxhunt shout out for their team favourites. Some people will not be silenced, but I suppose in a free country that is their inalienable right.
@BBCRadio4: Is there really a curse of Strictly? We commissioned a maths lecturer to investigate.#scd
@quaristice If #scd did away with all the dramatic pauses, it’d be over by now and something else would be on.
Downton Abbey: #DowntonAbbey
As an Upstairs Downstairs reboot, Downton has been incredibly successful in garnering both enthusiastic viewers and wry comments. This hashtag is so full of zingers it gives the Dowager Duchess a run for her money – some of which cannot be repeated here for decency’s sake, but very entertaining nonetheless. In addition to the viewing public, the characters’ own Twitter accounts chime in during the broadcasts, with scheming footman Thomas Barrow’s (@DowntonThomas) tweets a particular stream of devilish amusement.
@theLadyGrantham: Mrs Crawley is never happier than when she has a chance to use her guiding hand.
@KirstieMAllsopp: “Tell your friend Brica to stop flirting with Isis” Lord Grantham sounding like an El Shebab leader.
Great British Bake Off: #GBBO
The storm over #bingate (which erupted after the eviction of bearded hipster and Baked Alaska dispatcher Iain Watters) goes to show just how passionately people feel about cake. Well, we are British: if anyone messes with our teatime provender, they’ll have the Great British Public to answer to. The programme has ramped up the pressure on the contestants this season, making the showstoppers and technical challenges harder than ever – and the tweets reflect this, from mildly sardonic to unrestrained cheerleading and downright indignant. There’s a bit of corporate pushing on the hashtag, but if you ignore this it’s still good entertainment.
@rugbycupcakes: Friendships can be determined on how someone pronounces ‘chorizo’
@NikeshShukla: Next time I need to receive bad news I hope it’s delivered by Mel and Sue.
X Factor: #xfactor
This ‘tweetalong’ pulls in a significant Twitter audience; if you aren’t into the show you can pretty much forget about looking at your timeline when it’s on. Even if those you follow are normally conscious and considered types – they’ll be throwing their twopenn’orth into the pot as well. Everyone who’s anyone contributes to this hashtag, so if you can’t beat ’em, you may as well join ’em. The tweets are more entertaining than the programme: we all know how constructed X Factor is, so it’s refreshing to see the Twitterati’s ironic take.
@AuntyMartin: Fleur sounds like me when I sing to the kebab man at 5am
@brokenbottleboy: If she was a character on Downton, Chloe Jasmine would get locked in the cellar by a scullery maid
Gardeners’ World: #shoutyhalfhour
Those at a more mature stage of life, who prefer a night in with a bottle of wine to being bottled in a wine lodge, take to Twitter on Friday nights to discuss this green-fingered televisual offering. Affectionately monikered ‘shouty half hour’ in honour of Monty Don’s softly-spoken delivery, this hashtag takes a sideways view of anything from pruning your azaleas to a damn good top dressing. The tweetalong’s worth catching both for the genuine gardening tips and the amusing banter. Don’t forget your wellies.
@EmmmaB: Here are my jobs for the weekend: do feck all. Drink wine.
@GreenJimll: An expert in growing grass. I bet he gets some “interesting” spam emails.
Happy hashtagging, everyone.
Lisa Cordaro – October 2014