Let’s face it, Friday night telly can be a bit of a strange beast. It tries to appeal to the widest cross-section of the country on the bizarre theory that those who don’t choose to get arseholed in the local pub would like nothing more than juvenile celebrity based entertainment as a way to unwind. Thankfully things right now aren’t as bad as during the Autumn run when we have to contend with the reprehensible ‘Friday Night Project’ – a show so irredeemably awful that every week I have to sell my television on the off-chance I might catch a few seconds of national fucktard Justin Lee Collins, and his partner in setting back in the cause of gay rights by a decade Alan Carr.
Right now Peepshow fills that slot. This is a show I used to like very much, and to a certain degree still do, but since the godawful ‘Mitchell and Webb Look /Experience / Endurance’ I’ve found it very hard to watch. In hindsight, I should have chosen that programme as it’s still one of the best written things on TV, but the popular rule of the house this week chose Jonathan Ross and who am I to go against the tide?
No-one does the chat show quite like the Americans – overlong fillers for the commercial breaks they may be, but they are anchored by genuine talents and personalities like David Letterman. Over here we have sexual tyrant Jonathan Ross, a man severely lacking the fundamentals of what it takes to be on TV – charm, wit and an approachable demeanour. Quite how this fame pervert rose to the enviable position of the BBC’s flagpole presenter is beyond me – his lucrative contract being the equivalent of executives dancing round the public rubbing the licence fee cash over their naked bodies.
Last night’s edition followed the usual formula; Ross comes out in a bad suit, makes homophobic jibes masked as good-natured-ribbing to his in-house band Four Poofs and a Piano and then moves onto introducing his guests. Normally the running order of chat-shows is dictated by the relative fame of the guests – lesser-known hasbeen first, homegrown favourite second, huge star third. The whole point of this order is to keep the audience watching until the end, to make them sit through the boring stuff until they get to the megastar.
Not this time, though. The main guests were phone slapper Toby Maguire and tit-slipper Kirsten Dunst from Spiderman 3 and the booking deal that came with them clearly dictated they go first – there was no way Sony were going to let potential cinema-goers turn off half way through the scatty ramblings of Sarah Brightman before having had maximum exposure to their product. And so these Hollywood stars were churned out first, and forced to endure the constant masturbation jokes, arse-licking behaviour and out-and-out vanity of Ross in the name of movie-promotion.
It is at this point that a new form of celebrity death-match was invented. Instead of brutal plasticine violence, we had a competition to see who could present themselves as more bored, uncaring and indifferent to the task at hand. I felt kind of sorry for Maguire and Dunst, truth be told, as they were clearly slapping on a plastic smile and trotting out the same old shit on what is, to them, another in a long line of publicity appearances. That said, it’s hardly any justification for the frigid behaviour and lack of will to say anything other than thee movie’s press release.
All three were odious people; Maguire as closed off and cold as a corpse, utterly disinterested in anything other than fulfilling his contractual obligation to be there. Dunst looked like a strung out crack whore, all bones and a perm and giggling like a three year old with mental problems. Ross was his usual charmless self, convinced that self-deprecating humour wavered any thoughts of homophobia, misogyny or sexual obsession. The interview was a self-fulfilling prophecy of mistrust, cliche and banality with Ross’ questions so insipidly basic that they could only have come from the contract with Sony, and the stars’ answers a rehearsed informality which far exceeded patronising.
When Ross deviated from the promotional details Maguire and Dunst clammed up, visibly concerned that Ross’ only interests were Maguires masturbation habits and the colour of Dunst’s hair. One 30-second sequence saw the majority of questions burnt out with a succession of one word answers and uncomfortable pauses, and the only telling moment came when Ross asked Dunst how she dealt with promoting films she didn’t care about and doing interviews she hated, “you just fake it” she replied. The audience applauded the honesty, Maguire looked shocked and Ross, missing the point entirely, simply held his hand out toward her and shouted “women, ha, women.”
The trailer shown, the film lauded as wonderful by Ross and their 10 minute obligation fulfilled, Maguire and Dunst scuttled off to supposedly spend the rest of the hour in the company of the confused audio mess that is Jamie T and his Hoxton support band. After a few minutes the camera stopped cutting back to their reactions, presumably because their immense fame meant they didn’t have to suffer through the rest of the show like the usual B-list celeb plebs forced to hawk their shit on Ross’ show.
Bill Bailey was reliably amusing, although confused as to why Ross kept insulting him in such an unnecessary way. Sarah Brightman was slightly insane but also very charming until the point she mentioned the size of Andrew Lloyd Webbers penis and her credibility dropped in direct proportion to the rise of bile in my stomach. The only truly entertaining section was the scales which tell you which celebrity you weigh the same as, Dunst equalling Fozzy Bear and Bill Bailey somewhere between Ricki Lake and Mr T.
Jonathon Ross is one creepy motherfucker. He isn’t nearly as clever, depreciating or ironic as he has convinced himself he is, and he reminds me of the sort of person that has to legally introduce himself to the neighbour when he moves into a new area. He is seedy, stalkerish and the sort of personality that makes you want to avoid him at parties. It’s about time the BBC dropped this outdated format and presenter and actually tried to make Friday night TV something other than a vacuous indulgence in one mans ego.
Next week I’ll watch Peepshow.