Magazine article The Spectator

Sky at Night

Magazine article The Spectator

Sky at Night

Article excerpt

I will always remember what I was doing the night I tried to downgrade my Sky package. Scorched into my memory with pain it is, just like the day Elvis died.

It started ominously. I had turned on the television. I only turn on the television once every six months. Every time I do so I feel like a battered wife going back for more abuse. I thought I could make it work this time. But, really, what was I expecting from a series of channels called 'DMax' and 'Dave Ja Vu' and 'Movies4Men'?

On this occasion I was amazed to find an astonishing amount of excruciating idiocy including Monster Jam, a programme about trucks crashing into each other; Ninja Warrior, a programme about people crashing into each other; Home Video Heroes, people's home videos of trucks and people crashing into each other; Celebs Off Duty, which was footage of celebrities, using the word in the loosest possible sense, going to the supermarket; Rescue Chef, like Pet Rescue only with lasagne; and Pulse Yoga, like yoga only with . . . actually, it was just yoga.

When I got to the film channels, most of those that had once been free were encrypted and required a code to be put in before I could watch anything. Suddenly, I could see no use whatsoever for this £47-a-month box in the corner of my living room inhabited almost exclusively by Jordan.

I rang up Sky to slim down my package to include only programmes where people with correctly functioning brains talk about things that weren't invented by Simon Cowell. Broadly speaking, news and documentaries and More 4 should do it. I began my telephone call at ten to eight at night.

Like I say, I will never forget it. 'Press four to add channels . . . Press five to reduce your service.' Like a lamb to the slaughter, I pressed five.

I spent the first ten minutes thinking, 'No, surely they wouldn't put all the people wanting to downgrade in a longer queue, would they?' I spent the 22nd minute feeling so cheated I decided to cancel my subscription altogether once someone answered. But no one did answer. So, after about half an hour, I put the phone down and dialled again.

This time I pressed four. As if by magic, someone answered in one second flat. I told him I wanted to downgrade and he said, 'I'm not actually trained to reduce services, I can only add channels. …

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