Yes, it's time for them to stop all of their sobbing
Who remembers Stop Your Sobbing, The Pretenders' debut single from way back in 1979? This simple punchy pop song, written by Ray Davies, launched Chrissie Hynde's new wave quartet into the world and it has been playing over and over in my head this week.
Why? I guess it was initially a subconscious response to the buckets of tears being shed on screen every time I switched on the TV.
The contestants were, of course, blubbing on The X Factor (ITV1, Saturday and Sunday) – whether they won through to perform on the live shows or were sent home with shattered hopes. If candidates can hold a note and have a vulnerable back story to plunder, then they are clearly top choices. There's one perfectly charming young lady called Hannah who has done nothing but weep since day one; frankly, I'm worried about her fluid levels.
The audiences are no better, and judge mentor Nicole Scherzinger shows so much teary empathy that she's surely going to need counselling at the end of the competition.
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If I hear one more snivelly "this means everything to me/us; it's all I/we've ever wanted" from a wet-behind-the-ears teenager, I'll... Well, I was going to say I'll switch off altogether, but I'm only dipping in to witness the progress of our Devon hopefuls Luke Friend and Shelley Smith. I'm not sure whether to wish them luck or not, to be honest. Win or lose, it seems to be a double-edged sword for most.
They all seemed slightly more controlled on the snippet I caught of Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, Saturday and Sunday), although I gather poor wooden mover Vanessa Feltz was overwhelmed to the point of tears after completing a particularly moving dance routine. To be fair the rest are probably all too puffed out to waste their breath crying, thank goodness.
Which brings us to The Great British Bake Off (BBC Two, Tuesday) and the lachrymose Ruby, whose trembling lips and red-rimmed eyes are as much a fixture as Paul Hollywood's empty stare. This week the multi-layered opera cake and a canape had the poor girl flustered from the off, but she's still managed to find her way into the final three.
If watching a talent show contestant whimpering has you reaching for the tissues, then Dogs: Their Secret Lives (Channel 4, Monday) would be upsetting if you're a canine owner.
This was actually a timely and fascinating documentary looking at how our beloved pets react when we increasingly, as a working nation, leave them home alone for hours each day. Cameras were set up in volunteers' homes to capture what their loyal chums really do once they've walked out the front door. Blood tests and sensors measured how stressed the dogs actually felt, regardless of whether they were howling, and the results were sobering; the vast majority do suffer, but in silence.
Watching camera footage of their pets in distress was too much for some of the owners – yes, more tears. Sensible and kindly host Mark Evans, former chief vet at the RSPCA, offered now only sympathy, but some practical help too. It can all be solved with the right training and some dogged persistence, apparently. But not by crying about it.
Altogether now: "If there's one thing you've gotta do, to make me still want you... you've got to stop sobbing, yeah, yeah..."
On a serious note, I'm not sure how we can justify public outpouring of emotion attached to flimsy and preventable voluntary competitive challenge. It's certainly a First World phenomenon; this trivia seems to move us more than life-and-death issues happening daily across the globe.
I can entirely understand and respect Stephen Fry's subtle tears, shed as he watched shocking footage of gay men being hanged for their "illegal sexuality" in Iran, as part of his excellent two-part documentary on changing attitudes to homosexuality – Stephen Fry: Out There (BBC Two, Wednesday and Thursday).