On Flash Photography

We have always lived in a nanny state, and poor old Auntie Beeb is the most old fashioned and protective of all our national nannies.

Following the disastrous events of the last few years, the BBC is quite literally frightened of its own shadow, and the sight of the corporation desperately over-compensating for its Health & Safety misdemeanors, day after painful day, is quite frankly a pitiful spectacle.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons the corporation currently seems so utterly obsessed with one particular on-screen health warning: “This report may contain some flash photography.”

Newsreaders say this because flashing lights, at the very precise frequency of 25Hz, can on rare occasions trigger epilepsy. About 5% of people with epilepsy have been diagnosed with the photo-sensitive variety of the condition and that amounts to about 2,250 UK residents.

So let’s be precise about this. In the unlikely event that the BBC records a group of paparazzi photographers collectively activating their flash bulbs at a frequency of exactly 25Hz, and one of that tiny sample of viewers happen to be watching, while sitting at exactly the right distance from their TV, in perfect lighting conditions, then there is a slim chance that that viewer might have an epileptic attack.

I’ll bet if you put fifty photographers in a laboratory for six weeks, and asked them to flash their cameras for 12 hours a day, they would not be able to maintain that exact frequency, even for a few fleeting seconds.

Forgive me if I’m being a little harsh here, or coming across as uncaring, but if I was one of that tiny group of sufferers, I would not need Fiona Bruce to continually remind me about the dangers of photo-sensitive epilepsy. In fact I’m sure I would be extremely careful while watching the television, particularly news bulletins and movie premieres.

Because of the potential risks, I suspect I’d avoid watching TV news altogether and consume my current affairs via the excellent and informative medium of radio. Furthermore, every time I heard one of those annoying warnings I would be terribly embarrassed, mortified in fact,  feeling that I was being somehow picked upon, bullied even, by the BBC’s over-zealous, nit picking obsession with my medical condition.

If the BBC continues to issue warnings about anything that just might be dangerous to our health, perhaps it won’t be long before weather bulletins are preceded by disclaimers stating that if we insist on leaving our homes and engaging with the weather we are at risk of suffering from sunburn, wind burn, frost bite, falling trees or lightning strikes.

Personally I’d like to see an announcement at the beginning of Strictly Come Dancing, warning that some viewers may experience a little bit of sick rising at the back of their throats while watching Lisa Riley.