Brace yourselves. The last thing I want is for anyone to shed tears into their bottomless brunch, but I have a sad tale to tell. In a tragic twist of laziness and poor academic achievement worthy of the most heart-wrenching misery memoir, I was never a student. Life denied me that joy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience it through daytime television. If cliches are to be believed, a large proportion of the daytime TV-watching populace are students. Never mind that most students I know are writing several 4,000-word essays a day between holding down jobs as baristas, running a small record label and T-shirt-printing business and struggling to find a reason to carry on: if society tells me I can get the full student experience by watching Jeremy Kyle and eating cold beans out of the tin, well by golly that’s what I’m going to do!
The natural start to my daytime TV viewing should probably be This Morning (Mon to Fri, 10.30am, ITV), the magazine show that’s as slick as a high-flying middle manager despite basically catering exclusively to the unemployed and the elderly. As we know, though, “morning” is a time no student since 1963 has been witness to, so my day starts with Judge Rinder (repeats, Mon to Fri, 2.35pm, ITV2).
Rinder, recently seen limbering up for a Paso Doble on Strictly, is a daytime godsend. Borrowing the TV trial format from the right honourable Judge Judy, he presides over his courtroom with a gavel of steel. Rinder’s USP is that he doesn’t take any excrement from the proles hauled up in front of him to make small claims over holidays gone awry, broken garden fences and personal loans. Of course, Jeremy Kyle has long since primed audiences to accept desperate people being belittled for entertainment. The difference here though is that while Kyle is a vampiric disease who serves to shame all of humanity, Rinder is catty and posh. Watching him deliver his withering verdicts feels like catching up with a particularly acidic pal, which makes me forget all about the £40,000 debt I’m amassing.
Before long, though, the conflict starts to wear. Maybe it’s my Pot Noodle and Red Stripe comedown, but I feel as if I need some comfort. Sadly I can’t find any in Couples Come Dine With Me (Mon to Fri, 5pm, Channel 4). While I love the dauphinoise-based aspiration of Dine’s usual format, the addition of romantic partners changes everything. Ultimately, anything involving couples in Barratt homes with a chocolate fondue quickly develops a worrying swingers party subtext. You don’t get that with Doctors.
The night is drawing in and all that’s left is The Chase (Mon to Fri, 5pm, ITV), the gameshow where four anxious contestants with humble dreams of a canal holiday have to compete against “Chasers”, smug trivia experts plucked from the nation’s pub quiz teams. As I watch them being picked off by superior beings, I start to wonder whether this is a metaphor for Man’s grim Darwinian struggle. If these are the thoughts student life leads you to, things must be tough.
As the end of my daytime purgatory is signalled by the herald Angels Matt and Alex on The One Show (Mon to Fri, 7pm, BBC1), I feel hollow and sad, yet strangely attached. In truth, no one, student or otherwise, really enjoys daytime TV, but its quotidian churn is hypnotic. I feel stuck in a co-dependent relationship with something I don’t respect and which doesn’t respect me. Maybe it’s time to give Judge Rinder a call.