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Around 20 million people watched it and many many more words have probably been written about it. The X Factor has finished its series, but if you thought you were in for a break from the incessant drone of popular culture you're wrong. We've got the Strictly Come Dancing final next week and after that a Christmas TV schedule rich with opportunity to veg out and switch off your brain. You may argue that programmes like these are just a bit of fun - water cooler moments that we can all share and enjoy; that in a fragmented society offer us a small piece of common ground. But has our addiction to popular culture got out of hand? Is it like counterfeit currency, driving out quality and any programme that attempts to engage you mentally beyond having to punch a few numbers in to a phone to vote? Is that elitist, patronising snobbery of the worst kind or have these sorts of programmes now become so powerful that they've elevated the cult of celebrity to something we aspire to and admire, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the moral turpitude that so often goes hand in hand with that culture. Post the cultural studies revolution, who now argues that Bach is of more moral worth than Britney? Is that the triumph of democracy or demagoguery? Have the arts given in to the forces of cultural relativism and sacrificed the intellectual high ground in their quest for a wider audience? Or is the problem not the power of programmes like the X Factor, but that those in the arts industry are more interested in talking to each other rather than championing intellectual excellence. How do we judge the moral worth of art?

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Clifford Longley and Michael Portillo.

45 minutes

Last on

Sat 18 Dec 2010 22:15
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