Drifting in and out of wakefulness and sleep, I was channel-hopping the other night. Obviously having some sort of brain matter I skip between BBC2 and Channel4 lest my entire universe is punctured by witless bilge on ITV, but that evening something happened…
A familiar voice? That can’t be Mike Reid – cockney national treasure lost to the nation a few months ago – stood in front of a crowd of windswept people telling them how they’d won (and ultimately fucked) his heart can it? It is! (or was)
To separate this bloke from his character in Eastenders (and for older readers, he even said ‘runarairnd’ at one point) is as impossible as wanking off a gnat with a hammer. There was no Frank Butcher, just Mike Reid talking his little red cockney barnet off…
Here he was again, looking heavenwards with a grimace, shaking his head at his shoes, perpetually removing his glasses to pinch the top of his nose, his overt sincerity shaking with emotion. Deadly serious -save a twinkle in his beady eye.
Needless to say the crowd thought he was gorgeous. Which was nice.
What the fuck was I watching though? (this is a now a rhetorical question, don’t write in). I checked the Guide. ‘The Baron’ it said, but no more than that.
Using my deductive powers it seemed that ‘celebs’ were trying to get voted into some sort of position of power in a small Scottish Island community. As far as I could ascertain there were three. Frank (I mean Mike), a small blonde person who used to be a poptart and now just has a fat arse and, the real reason I stayed watching, Malcolm McClaren.
We see Malcolm ambling over rugged terrain, urinating into a rock pool, his usual terse self, moaning and sarcastic, mumbling about turning the local church into a den of inequity, proposing ‘sin for all’. He wants to bring back the darkside, he said so himself, out of his mealy mouth, spat forth from his thin lips.
Before his speech Malcolm ‘met the community’. A group of little girls in leotards rushed up to meet him, probably because of the cameras. Malcolm stopped in his tracks. ‘You look ridiculous’ he said, sagely. The plump little Scottish dancers gave some gob back, Malcolm liked this.
It was speech day. Mike had done his skit (‘I grew up in ‘Ackney, we was bombed by the Germans, I lived in 4 diff’rent ‘owses in as many days, but this place, you lot, this is ‘ome this, you see me, right, you see me and come an’ say ‘ello… etc…). The poplet’s attempt was one long, blonde giggle and now it was Malcolm’s turn.
All the villagers had turned out, hundreds of them, fat smiling community people, farmers, fishermen with their wives and children. If you were to diametrically oppose the Sex Pistols then these people were it. These were good people, a dying breed free from the corporations and smash-and-grab attitudes of the West. Salt of the earth workers, churchgoers…
In went Malc. ‘What this place needs is more drugs’. Instant booing. Suddenly I perked up almost not believing what I was seeing. Was it 1977?
‘We need more sin and drugs. I suggest a bank holiday for debauchery…’ More booing and now anger directed at Malc. The shot cut to Frank. ‘Oh gawd, you can’t say that, you pillock’ he said, before looking heavenwards with a grimace, shaking his head at his shoes and removing his glasses to pinch the top of his nose.
Maintaining a smile of sorts, the MC went in to intervene, ‘come on he said, that’s enough, there’s kids here’ and attempted to usher Malc away, but Malc wasn’t going anywhere. ‘I must have my say – it’s my right’ he protested. The MC was now physically trying to persuade Malc to get off, but again, he was rebuffed by more coercive ‘I have my rights’ flannel and the MC reluctantly let him continue. By now the crowd were getting really angry and chanting aggressively.
Seizing this opportunity for one last snatch at glory he yelled ‘don’t you people know that Jesus Christ was a sausage?!’. I nearly vomited with laughter, but I was alone.
The MC snapped into a fucking rage. He grabbed Malc who was fearfully protesting this physical contact and flung him from the stage. A scuffle broke out, some of Malc’s bouncers materialised from thin air as the crowd came in for some too, it was getting nasty. It was getting nasty in only the way religious people get when you make a joke at the expense of their particular figment of imaginings.
The show ended (though I think there is more to this series so do look out for it) with Malc, some bouncers and a cameraman piling into the back of a car with Malc shrieking ‘They’re going to lynch us, Jesus, they’re coming, get in!!’
Priceless television – who’d have thought ITV would come up with this?