Archive for January 7th, 2009

James and Oz Drink To Britain / Three Men In More Than One Boat

January 7, 2009

I never thought I’d see the day. I found myself actively looking forward to seeing an essentially plotless vehicle for a car critic and a forgotten wine expert in which they get pissed on license-fee expenses. Weird, eh? Oz and James Drink To Britain is an undeniably fun programme, raises more than a chuckle and is well worth the half hour spent on it.

A solid drinking partner is hard to find. Spouses usually don’t work as they either can’t keep up, race off ahead of you or, even worse, are completely normal until the emotional extrovertism booze instills takes hold, at which point one of you goes completely wappy, threatening break up or marriage.

Usually, even a mate is too close to be a solid, all-day drinking partner, as
there are too many lines that can be crossed when intoxicated on the sweet, sweet boozy drinks. You might lightly mock their parentage for example, have a dig at an ex they’re still friendly with, or laugh at their dog. This can cause a gigantic upset and flung fists. I know this for a fact – I have experienced such fury.

No. A good drinking partner – one you can meet in the boozer for a midday kick off with a clutch of weekend papers under your arm, then continue to imbibe pint after pint for the next twelve hours with – is ideally someone you didn’t grow up with, can rip the piss out of without fear of repercussion and who has a similar disregard for their own safety as you do for yours.

That’s why Clarke and May make such a good quality, odd-couple style partnership and why the show is successful. It’s also why Three Men In More Than One Boat is borderline unwatchable.

In the latter, all involved are clearly somewhat in awe of one anothers’ talents, and the result is overtly fabricated. Besides – would you want to hang out with any of that lot? Dara O’Briaian is the most annoying thing to come out of Ireland since Bono, and Rory McGrath has always been the sort of bloke who makes you change channels in a hurry. Rhys Jones is alright, but not in that company.

With the Oz and James show, though most scenes are clearly a construct, they at least bicker convincingly. And they’ve got a central conceit that actually works. There’s a vague educational element to the show, on top of all the scenes of drunken, middle-aged arseholes sniping. It’s enough to make a man consider watching Top Gear.