Click Online is the BBC's weekly look at all things IT. The program mainly discusses Internet-related news and developments, but does make stints into other territory as well, such as gaming, computing history, computer components and even Linux.
A weekly half-hour package of BBC-quality reporting with a unique twist is what makes up Click Online. With staff on both sides of the Atlantic, and occasional excursions into IT-related events elsewhere in the world, the show caters for the viewer quite comprehensively. Of course, the content cannot compete in speed of reporting with the net, nor can it equal the depth allowed on the web. Despite this, most shows do offer quite comprehensive detail on a subject (for the average user, at least), and acknowledging any limitations posed by the rigid time frame, directing the viewer to online sources of further information.
Click Online is probably not the tech show for the average noder. However, it is a tech show for someone in between being interested in the Information Technology world and being a geek. I do personally watch it, and while I might not gain any useful computer related knowledge as such, I do appreciate the little tidbits of information and the personal style of reporting.
The team behind Click Online are clearly special. Instead of doing cold, simple reporting, it is clear that they enjoy what they do and, most of all, are learning while doing it. While this may sound like it would give an amateur slant to the program, fear not - the fact that the Click Online team don't know everything there is to know about the subject matter makes the reporting start at a down-to-earth level. Again, while the show's time constraints might not allow for a full-blown report on Linux and its flavors, the program does allow for an informal, laid-back interview with Linus himself. This, in turn, has an effect of hooking people: "So, what's this thing that this sympathetic Finn created? I might just find out a bit more..."
A typical format for the show is to start with a hot issue and interview someone at the center of it. This can be then expanded with a technical report on the issue, or some information on how it is affecting people around the world or Internet users in general. The last segment of the program deals with either technical issues or featured world wide web sites, depending on the week.
An example from October 2002: Click Online interviews Linus Torvalds. In a later segment, the technical staff give a description of modern-day Linux, light on the hard core tech stuff. The kernel is mentioned, though. The report ends with: "The verdict's still out on whether users like you and I will ever switch to Linux in preference to Windows, but already it hasn't done too badly for itself."
Next, the show features some sites "worth visiting". The week after this, this segment will be replaced by "Rob's Click Tips" where problems that viewers have sent in are dealt with and resolved.
These last two segments are interesting to note separately. Firstly, the laid-back, informal attitude of the whole show extends to both of these, allowing for interesting developments - I remember a featured site of the week (presented by a female, mind you) being "Girls with glasses", a site with eyewear-donning girls in various stages of undress. "Rob's Click Tips" feature spyware-removing tools from time to time and I seem to remember WebWasher being mentioned as a "useful program".
Other features in Click Online have in the past included an introduction to HTML and web publishing spanning several episodes, and a "Build your own PC" feature done in a similar fashion.
All in all, Click Online does have an audience. What attracts me to the show is the insightful, interested reporting style that differs from the BBC norm in just the right way. Personally, I don't learn much from the show, but it does hook me nonetheless.
Click Online shows on BBC World around the globe at various times during the week. Check the schedule at http://www.bbcworld.com. It is also possible to view the show as a video stream.