Posts Tagged ‘BBC 2’

Grow Your Own Drugs

March 3, 2009

Do you like cooking?

Are you a keen gardener?

Oh – one other thing… do you like homeopathic remedies?

If you ticked all of the above, you’ll love BBC2’s new cooking, gardening and homeopathic remedy show: Grow Your Own Drugs.

It’s a strange mixture of all of these elements squeezed into a format similar to Nigella Express or Chinese Food Made Easy. The only problem is, where those are both straightforward cookery shows, Grow Your Own Drugs’ presenter, James Wong sets out to squeeze in a factual basis for what he’s doing, growing the plant, cooking or preparing it and then, with the clock ticking away, providing a little bit of testimonial as to whether or not it worked. It’s a lot to slot in. Where Ching-He Huang migh collar a builder, cook for him, then eat with him, Wong has to jump through several hoops before he’s even at the hob.

Not only that, he’s also legally bound to provide disclaimers throughout. He starts the series off saying he’s ‘not some weird hippy’, slightly defensively, and proceeds throughout the show to warn us that he’s ‘not a doctor’, explaining that the tests aren’t ‘clinical trials’ and telling viewers not to smear pulverised fruit on their face if they’re worried that they might have allergies.

It comes across as incredibly restricting, as though Wong can’t get into his stride because he’s fenced in by indie-intros, justifying his own existence and explaining that he’s not a dispenser of pharmaceuticals. With half an hour to try and cure insomnia, constipation and dry skin using just a fruit bowl, the poor sod was always going to be up against it. The Naked Chef first appeared over a decade ago, but still the BBC are using this tired and stilted format for a large percentage of its factual TV, even when the content isn’t suited to it at all.

However, you don’t have to take my opinion as fact as I’m not a qualified writer. Always see a certified critic before watching gardening, cookery and homeopathy based television shows.

Masterchef – Tonight’s Final

February 26, 2009

masterchef final

BBC2 have served up another sublime series of Masterchef this year and it’s difficult to choose which of the three finalists should win. In fact – I want them all to win, buy an island together and set up the most chaotic restaurant in the world, overcooking pies and not allowing cheesecakes to set until their hearts are thoroughly content.

But there can be only one – and my personal frontrunner at the moment is Andy, who last night managed to serve up what looks like a small, pastry panda sitting on a potato-bamboo raft (pictured above).

They’ve been through the tough times and tonight all they have to do is cook their best three-courser to seal their victory. They can count themselves lucky they’ve got past the stage where they have to cook for the critics. Anyone who has to go face-to-face with Jay Rayner without vomiting has been challenged, and being able to leave a meeting with that gorgon Kate Spicer without being turned into a miserable statue is a win in itself.

Let’s have a look at them in more detail…

* * *

Chris – The Small Boy:

Chris is a hapless little man, 24 years of age, who falls to amusing pieces when asked to lead a group. With the most unconvincing self up-talk of the bunch, you can’t help but feel sorry for him when he’s onscreen gazing at squid-ink pasta with an expression that reads ‘I am terrified of food’.

Reason to back him: He’s the youngest, is fresh-faced and seems like a decent chap.

Andy – The Comeback Kid:

Despite initally seeming like a bit of a braggart, Andy’s won us over despite his awkward swagger. Having failed last series, he’s returned stronger and is constantly rescuing Chris from disaster like a catering child-minder. Andy is pretty selfless and pretty bloody good at the old cooking. He’s earned his place in the final.

Reason to back him: The ‘comeback’ angle gives him the kind of story  Producers loves to put out there.

Mat – The Happy Egg:

Mat’s the oldest and probably the most accomplished of the three, with the best palette on the evidence provided. He’s also endearingly weeble-like, and his goatie somehow makes him even more humpty like. After listening to him speak every day for the past two or three weeks, I still can’t place his accent, mind you.

Reason to back him: He cries all the time. Happy or sad, Mat’s your best bet for a blub-off. The cameras love an eye-dribbler.

* * *

Who will win?

Who deserves to win?

One things for sure – ‘whoever wins, it’ll change their life’.


Horizon: Cannabis: The Evil Weed?

February 4, 2009


Hooray! Wacky baccy!

But is it really so wacky? Or is it, in fact, the trigger that unleashes all kinds of fresh madness? Why do some folk have a toke and find they remain an average bloke? How come some dumb-dumbs fill a lung and turn into voice-hearing bums?

Horizon decided to seek answers, last night with their enquiry, Cannabis: The Evil Weed? They turned to that flaky, unreliable thing we call science to help them out.

I tuned into this expecting yet more anti-weed propaganda and was pleasantly surprised. After an informative opening in which we learned that cannabis first evolved in Kazakhstan, developing THC to protect against ultra-violet light, there was futher explanation of how the chemical make-up affects the brain which was more extensive than any documentary I’ve seen on the BBC on the topic before.

That’s not that impressive, however, when you consider that the only item on this subject I’ve seen the BBC handle before was Michael Buerk’s hilariously sensational treatment on 999 – where the treatment of bong-discovery was akin to the uncovering of a decomposing five-year old, in a gritty black and white reconstruction.

Credit to John Marsden, he constantly reiterated that the really serious side-effects were only present in a tiny minority of early-adopters, but all the same, the editorial decision to include the story of ‘John’ from Manchester was a mistake.

Completely incomparable to the sad story of one young lad who developed schizophrenia (which merited inclusion), this psychologically-addicted John character was pictured complaining about how he can’t get a girlfriend or a job because of his spliff-habit.

He said, at one point, that he’s smoking ten joints a day – but when the camera caught the sight of the flapping rizla-mess between his fingers, it was apparent that he can’t even roll a bloody bifta. Also, the fact that his flat was plush and his clothing quite smart in conjunction with the assertion that he’s supposedly frittering away at least a tenner on skunk a day, it made it impossible to believe that his case actually exists. And even if it did, all he needs is a good talking to. Weed’s not the problem – he is.

The ultimate irony of the show, which served to demonstrate that there’s far more to this plant than the press let on, is that cannabis houses an anti-psychotic which sits naturally alongside the THC – which balances the potential for psychosis. So if it was harvested properly, away from the black market, it could actually be used to treat those who went mad because of it. It’s enough to fog your head.

Anyway – it’s a sad day for me – I’m having to give up writing this blog. The skunk’s taken over my life and I’m selling my computer to get a bumper pack of Golden Virginia. I’ve pimped the missus out so I can get my grimy fingers on some hash and, by the time you’ve read this, I’ll be injecting green skunky serum into my eyes with John and his mate, Michael Phelps.

Goodbye, friends.

Gok Wan: Too Fat Too Young / Horizon: Why Are Thin People Not Fat?

January 29, 2009

abdominal fat

Yet more food-based television for you.

Bet you can’t wait. Like the TV Execs who commission this stuff endlessly, I reckon your hunger for this junk-TV is insatiable. TV is your feeder and you, reader, are its BBV (Big Beautiful Viewer).

So first up, Gok Wan. Channel 4’s Mr Charisma – otherwise known as ‘him again’ – manages to tell us very little of any substance over the course of fifty minutes apart from the fact that he was once absolutely bloody enormous. 21 stone of Gok. If you didn’t see it, all you missed out on were a few historical Gok-shots of Mr Wan when he was obese, wobbling about on a stage with a 90s curtain-cut. Not amusing, not particularly revelatory, just a little bit voyeuristic. All the stuff surrounding it left no real mark, so this ended up as just an anti-vanity piece by Gok – a slice of self-flagellation cum self-congratulation with no real purpose other than to strengthen his resolve not to eat pork pies ever again. Bizarre.

And so we move to BBC2’s latest Horizon offering – Why Are Thin People Not Fat?

I switched this on whilst eating two quarter pounders, chips and mushy peas. It’s a moronic question to which the only logical answer I could muster was ‘because they’re thin’, through a mouthful of masticated junk-cud. Swiftly followed by ‘now stop asking stupid questions and put a sitcom on’.

The brief for this show was to feed a handful of skinny students shitloads of cake and monitor them to see if they put on weight, which they did, in varying  amounts. One kid’s extra input turned into muscle (the lucky swine), one kid grew a massive gut and most just grew love-handles. It was another tiresome example of the Spurlock Effect, in which lazy Producers, lost for ideas, nick the format of Supersize Me for the umpteenth time and film the predictable result.

Some vaguely amusing shots of the young ‘uns gorging themselves to the point of nausea aside, the rest of this was straight-faced fat-facts. It essentially comprised so many differing schools of thought on why some folk are pre-disposed to weight gain that it rendered them all meaningless, with no discernible conclusion amongst the wildly opposing scientific theories.

Pah! Thanks a lot, ‘science’!

The kids lost the weight without any effort after two weeks. Gok lost all his girth years ago. BBC 2 and Channel 4 lost all their substance when this obsession with food robbed us of decent televisual output, which snowballed the minute Jamie Oliver, the Naked bloody Chef, made food trendy – and for that I reckon we should burn the bastard at the stake.

The Culture Show

January 28, 2009

culture show mark kermode lauren laverne bbc2

I like the fact that, among the programmes about thin people purposefully getting fat for scientific reasons on BBC2 and their numerous reality television broadcasts about food, they still find a place for a magazine show about intellectual stuff. It’s good that high-minded people have an outlet for their frustrations. The Culture Show is that outlet.

Last night the show was all about the Scotch (I’ve no idea why), so we were treated to Robert Carlysle talking gibberish under the guise of reciting some Burns poetry. Victor Meldrew talked about if for a bit and then the bloke out of Idlewild did a nice little song.Then they talked to the cumulatively irrelevant Franz Ferdinand and finished with an obligatory (but decidedly non-Scotch) African musical collective.

All very nice, inoffensive and aimed at a specific market. Most folk will prick their ears up for the film bits and the musical sections, then go back to their copies of Titbits when an item comes on about theatre – King Lear last night – presented by the woman with the unmoving mouth, Miranda Sawyer.

My main issue with The Culture Show lies with the presenters. The odd couple being, of course, Lauren Laverne and Mark Kermode. The chemistry between these two is really, really odd. When it comes to Kermode’s film reviews, Laverne indulges him with mock-shock gasps when he says something supoosedly scathing and tickles his fancy with scripted questions with blindingly obvious answers so that he can do that thing he does. That thing where he acts like he knows absolutely bloody everything about everything.

Admittedly, Kermode is a very intelligent bloke. He knows a lot about films, but there is one major issue with his style, which is that he’s started to resemble Michael Portillo’s Spitting Image puppet.

His hair is a plasticated lump that looks like it’s been nicked from Gunther Von Hagens’ spleen collection. I can’t get over his ridiculous quiff no matter how hard I try, and whenever I look at Laverne, I can’t get past the fact she works with Steve Jones over on Channel 4 on a weekly basis and doesn’t smash his blasted face in to a mushy pulp to save us from the builder-in-a-skinny-tie idiot.

For my part, I’ve been brainstorming better presenter couplings for the Culture Show – and here are some ideas:

  • James Bardem and June Brown
  • Jermaine and Latoya Jackson
  • Cosmo and Dibs from ‘You and Me’
  • Avon and Stringer from The Wire
  • Karl and Susan Kennedy from Neighbours
  • Harold and Lou from Neighbours
  • Toadfish and Stonefish. From Neighbours.

If anyone at BBC 2 wants to get in touch, I reckon I’d revolutionise your casting sessions. Email at the usual address.

The Friday Question: You are MASTERCHEF!

January 16, 2009


It’s a simple conceit. For today’s Friday Question, you, humble reader, are THROUGH to the final stage of the quarter final. It’s time to demonstrate your ability to the two spoon-loading pudgers with your signature three-course service.

So what would you cook up for Greg Wallace and John Torrode if you magically found yourself in the studio?

What do you cook best?

We’ll need a starter, a main and a dessert.

Then it’s over to Greg and John who are just like, hanging out at mine today (by coincidence) and will instruct me on what they think of your complex flavour combinations.

What three courses would you cook for Masterchef then, eh?

Lurkers, now is the time to show yourselves!


April 8, 2008


The reputation of the clown is officially safe.

Yes, folks, peel away the greasepaint and you’ll be staring into pitiful depths of a person who is at once depressed, lost, desperate and aggressive whilst suppressing homosexuality, failure and alcoholism. As per.

The clowns in question were the professional personas of four men, Tommy Tickle, Pirate wotnot, Mr Pumpkin and Velco Violence, or something – the latter retired on account of smacking a kid in the face after he was being… well… a kid – and now resigned to dreadful nursing home gigs in front of splay-legged old dears who still think that nice Mr. Chamberlain is Prime Minister.

His house was a shrine to vaudeville, the dead dreams of the magician whose talents weren’t called for in 21st century England. An old hand, his dying stock of trade lay scattered about him like the twilight of the piss-soaked care home which had become his stage. It was desperate stuff.

Pirate wotnot was a right mess, a ball of confused loneliness who was a blatant disappointment to his aged mother. We were privy to her watching him in action, wearing a face like a butcher’s dustbin – his act was diabolical. Pirate Thingy couldn’t even be pissed to don make up and stood there gurning fatuously and flailing his limbs as if being gassed. The children were indifferent to him; he’d the personality of faded indifferent memory. It was all in the eyes, vast pools of angst and fear that will haunt me to the grave. I reckon he collects kitten-heads.

Mr. Pumpkin was a latent homosexual. He seemed like a nice chap, he spoke to his audience as if he was one of them, his concertina-mouth hidden from view by a headset featuring a microphone the size of a football, he lisped and skipped though his set. He was saved somewhat by the fact the children seemed to genuinely enjoy his act, though to watch it as an adult inspired spine-snapping cringing. Mr. Pumpkin had himself a family which confused me; he referred to his wife of 25 years as Mrs. Pumpkin (I wasn’t expecting him to be married, really) and his kids as Pumpkin One, Two and Three (kids too, blimey) but held a rather, well, gay, infatuation with his ailing mother over and above anything. He missed her cuddles when he was feeling sad. It was awful to watch, a grown man who’d never experienced what it was like to be one. Did I mention he had a family?


Tommy Tickle was genuinely funny. A cross between Keith Allen and Brian Glover, he was possibly the shittest kids’ clown ever to have donned a red nose. He terrified the kids, in some cases reducing them to tears, drunk himself to oblivion every night and punctuated his parlance with curses as blue as the deep proverbial sea.

He too was married with kids, but Tommy Tickle had family problems in the form of a wayward 13 year old daughter who lived with Tommy’s former partner. She had a twinkle in her heavily eyelined eye, was bright and affable but was clearing suffering her teenage years without her dad of whom she was very fond.

We see Tommy sloping about town in his clown-clobber, screaming abuse at traffic from his car with a thunderous roar, leaning outside pubs, inhaling two pints simultaneously, one cider, one lager and occasionally making balloon animals to bewildered children. Of all the acts his was the only one that said ‘clown’ to me and he epitomised the clichés therein but he had genuine comedic talent, just not as a kids’ clown.

This may have had something to do with the way he spoke to them, he didn’t talk down to kids, he didn’t patronise them which is perfectly acceptable when one is being an adult, but dressed as a clown and shouting aggressively with a voice that Lemmy would’ve found hard to out-rasp he became a perfect nightmare, the sort of clowns that visit you in dreams with a flick-knife and an erection.

We left Tommy in a pub with his recently expelled-from-school daughter; speed-drinking beer, discussing her future. They spoke to each other with affection, he taking on the role of ‘dad’ amid large gulps of ale. After he while he suggested clowning as a career and handed her a balloon which she took with a smile.

‘Blow into it with the air from your cheeks, not your lungs’, he advised fondly, she seemed pleased with this prospect, but really she was just happy to be with her dad.

I wish them all the best.

Arrange Me a Marriage

November 30, 2007

Aneela Rahman 

Stereotypes are great, aren’t they? It’s brilliant reducing a certain kind of individual down to a distorted essence, then getting a magnifying glass and making that essence seem like their entire being. Even better if you do it with a whole nation. Great stuff. Not offensive at all. Nice work BBC2.

I tell you what – on top of portraying the British as a bunch of pissed up idiots who only procreate when off their nuts, let’s also look at the culture of arranged marriages through some rose-tinted specs, ignoring the fact that it ends in complete disaster on occasion.

And so we turn to Arrange Me a Marriage, one of the most stupidly ignorant pieces of television ever commissioned.

Apparently, according to the Asian Gillian McKeith, Aneela Rahman, we Brits have got it wrong when it comes to courting. We go out and get pissed and end up with some slob/wench we’d never have even considered if we hadn’t had a few beverages. What a bunch of idiots we are. We have so much to learn, in fact, that Aneela is on hand to find some lonely, vulnerable middle class English boilers to give a proper going over.

Her remit is to set up a network of family and friends who will use their knowledge of the victim to select the ideal husband. It’s this search which makes up the bulk of the show, after about twenty minutes of Aneela blathering on about how arranged marriages are way better than anything Westerners have come up with. Which would be great, if she was right.

Last night, because the lady in question loved horses, the main point of contention in interview appeared to be whether or not the bloke was allergic to the horrible creatures. Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that a bit of a minor point? And apart from that one specific criteria, every other line of questioning was wishy-washy bullshit-nothingness. ‘He seems very nice’. ‘He’s very fit and athletic’. Blah blah blah. The show is doomed to failure and was from the voiceover at the beginning. The fact that the two didn’t get together at the end was the only satisfying thing about it.

It may not have worked, but apparently now Lynn’s family and friends are always actively matchmaking for her. Yes – matchmaking for dates is very much an Asian concept – we never do that in the UK, ever.

So what exactly has Aneela contributed? All she’s done is stopped Lynn’s family and friends from thinking of her as a hopeless case. She’s done nothing in terms of arranging a marriage. No marriage has been arranged. The families were boozing on champagne at the first meeting, which kind of backtracks on Aneela’s constant sniping at our drinking culture. The only nod to Asian culture was the fact that they wore flowered garlands round their necks while being introduced. The arrangement, inevitably wasn’t followed through. They weren’t coerced into going through with it. They were given a choice, which many young Asian men and women aren’t.

What’s next? Arrange Me An Honour-Killing?

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