Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Are We Live? The funniest bloopers from TV and Radio

Written by Omair Alavi

Cover of the book Are We Live? The funniest bloopers from TV and Radio. Photo: Amazon.com

If you thought that the Shoaib Akhtar and Dr. Nauman Niaz spat was something new, think again!

Television, like any other medium, has its highs and lows, especially when it is happening live. However, there are times when the lows become the highs and are tagged as ‘bloopers’. These incidents are sometimes so hilarious that they demand to be documented, and the book “Are We Live? The funniest bloopers from TV and Radio” does that in the most hysterical manner.

If you think that the Shoaib Akhtar and Dr. Nauman Niaz spat on national Television was something out of this world, you need to read this book. It will tell you that the world has moved on from such bloopers, whereas we continue to make news out of them. Compiled by Marion Appleby, this collection covers most of the unforgettable incidents that went wrong in a broadcasting studio, mainly instances from western countries where TV and Radio aren’t known as struggling mediums. And trust me, a lot of stuff mentioned in the book could have been avoided had the anchor not been drunk, angry, or insecure.

Whether it is a BBC weather report where the weatherman had no clue if he was on air or not, or a tongue-twisting name that proved to be too much for the host, everything gets a mention here. And yes, swearing on live television isn’t just limited to Pakistani TV, it happens all over the world. What else would a news anchor or a reporter say if something unexpected like a piece of the set fell on him or her, or when a live transmission was interrupted by a clueless bus. After going through this book, you might be tempted to think how TV is still ‘alive’ after providing so much comedy on channels the viewers are supposed to take seriously.

Just imagine how the viewers must have reacted when they read the tickers during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth’s mother, which read ‘We will now have a moment’s ‘violence’ instead of ‘silence’. Similarly, ‘poppies’ was replaced by ‘puppies’, the ‘Arch Bishop of Canterbury’ was presented as a badass person (go figure!), and many times an unruly celebrity guest or even a host disrupted the live show. But nothing tops ‘President Obama announces the death of President Obama’ on Fox News whereas it should have been ‘the death of Osama Bin Laden.’ Ingenious, isn’t it?

These bloopers aren’t the only thing that makes this book a wonderful read; a few comics here and there also add value to these pages. From depicting superstition as Super Tissues to an attack of the robots – TV-style, these comics are hilarious and eye-catching at the same time. Not only that, some of the best quotes regarding TV and Radio from celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, and John Lennon make the readers wonder whether having a TV in your house is a good thing or a bad one.

Surely, by now the readers must have realized that this book is unsuitable for children, and that’s ironic because what is documented here are mature individuals exhibiting childish behaviour. The world of newsrooms may seem like a serious place but after going through this book, you will not look at it in the same way. It can be as funny as your favourite sitcom or as embarrassing as your most loathed acquaintance, but it never disappoints. After all, unprofessional mistakes from professionals never go out of fashion, especially when you are able to watch these acts for free, in the comfort of your home.

In short, this book is a treasure trove of bloopers and should serve as an ideal gift to a friend who is obsessed with news channels. Being a short book makes it an ideal companion, whereas just having it in your collection will bring a smile to your face. The best thing about it is that the anecdotes listed here don’t go out of fashion, for every incident there is an equal or even better blooper mentioned within these pages. It also makes the readers realize that the media industry in Pakistan is quite backwards, and needs to learn from this book if it is to feature itself in the rat race of news channels around the world.

About the author

Omair Alavi