Whole books have been written about Radio Times graphics, but it’s unlikely anything hailing from the last 12 months would find a place in their pages. Something seems to have really gone awry down at Brett Towers by way of cover art, reaching yet another all-time low with the issue out today.
The signs were there last summer when the call went out for a cover photo of two wrinkled old crones – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards selflessly standing in at the last minute for Gill Hudson and Alison Graham. Then there was that one featuring Dawn French and Tracey Ullman, as if the latter has meant anything to anyone in this country for the past 20 years.
2007, however, has already seen a stomach-curdling ensemble of Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean and Sandi Toksvig, which was wrong not just because it was promoting an ITV show, nor because it was a tatty ITV show, but mainly because Sandi was doing a Macaulay Culkin face, something which even looked wrong on Macaulay Culkin.
Then came that TOP GEAR group shot: three petulant-looking middle-aged men, one of whom was pointing at another for no reason other than to distract attention from his bland face, one who appeared to be in the middle of chewing an Opal Fruit, and the third who looked like he’d not quite recovered from a near-tragic accident, which was ironic given he was Jeremy Clarkson. It also featured the first ever appearance of profanity on a Radio Times cover. Then again, after that edition last year which talked about masturbation, you couldn’t call it unexpected.
This week’s issue boasts a photo of David Tennant which has been knocking around for ages, to promote a half-arsed thing about TV’s most wanted. And now the new issue has no fewer than four alternative covers, each showcasing Ben Fogle in hilariously-antiquated garb, to promote…a half-arsed thing about TV’s most wanted.
The days of obscure line drawings, weird electronic etchings, studious portraiture and painstaking parodies are indeed long gone, but surely something in the way of eyecatching, original and imaginatively-designed covers wouldn’t be out of place right now, when the magazine sorely needs to raise its game and become the best-selling TV listings weekly again. It’d certainly make it stand out from the rest and give it a bit of personality again. Besides, it’d afford Gill something different to write about in her column instead of how she lives her life. Anything to bring back those good times.