Posts Tagged ‘BBC Three’

Drinking With The Girls

April 22, 2009

Drinking With The Girls Cherry Healy BBC Three

Cherry Healy fronts a moderately entertaining documentary, if you can call it that, in which she seeks to discover ‘the real truth about women and booze’. She succeeded in finding out that women drink booze and little else, but still, this was a half-decent hours worth of entertainment from BBC Three. Better than My Life As An Animal or Snog, Marry, Avoid anyway. Mainly because it was this new Cherry Healy character fronting it and not that vain hair-do woman Dawn Porter the channel usually relies upon for insight-free docu-pieces.

Opening with a montage of Daily Mail headlines about bingeing and a few helpful shots of girls falling over onto tarmac, we also witnessed Cherry puking violently into a latrine, a roman-shower shot we’d ultimately see repeated a few times throughout the show’s runtime – sometimes from different angles so we could consume the deeper meaning inherent in the act.

Cherry outlined her quest: to go out boozing with female drinkers from different demographics.

20-Somethings
Hitting the road and arriving at Blackpool, Cherry meets Leanne and her pals, all slightly put-upon young women, Leanne a single mother with quite obvious signs of depression – that aspect of her dipsomania only covered in one three sentence interview. There was no time for it, as the Editor needed to kicked in with his procession of images framing what were once called ladettes throwing booze down their gullets, rubbing their groins against retarded males with manga haircuts and ultimately falling over car bonnets with their tutus round their ankles. The experience makes Cherry cry for a couple of seconds, then move on to her next night out.

Underage
14 year old Rio and her pal explain that they like to get pissed in the park after drinking heavily at home. Cherry joins them in Rio’s bedroom where they down what they’ve nicked from Mum’s cabinet through a straw. Impressively, they manage to quaff Lambrini, neat vodka, neat Bacardi and a glug of Baileys before asking Mum if they can make it home for half ten rather than the Draconian ten pm curfew that’s currently in place. Cherry explains that this is different to how she was at their age. The Lambrini would be Pinot Grigio and she’d buy it with money from her ample allowance, back in her day. I’m making presumptions there, as I have every right to do.

Students
Where’s that? Only Sheffield Hallam University! Your host Swine’s place of higher education and the scene of his worst period of alcohol abuse is where Cherry ends up next and horrible, cloudy memories surface in this viewer. To make it worse, Cherry was taken to Shag – an evening at the Sheffield Leadmill that seems to actively attempt to murder attendees with pints at 80p, double vodka and red bull at a quid and two-for-one alchopops. I was too busy trying to repress images of myself rolling around in my own vomit to actually absorb any of this part of the show.

30 Somethings

A civil partnership was the next destination of choice as Cherry went to a lesbian marriage between two tattooed ladies. A good time was had by all, because 30 somethings tend to know their limits a little better than those a decade younger.

Mums and Mid-lifers
Even more responsibly, the Mums in the next sequence managed to run functioning households before going out dancing and returning home slightly tipsy. The Editor must have been furious by now at the lack of upskirt shots he could throw in, accompanied by that song that goes ‘here come the girls!’
Single widow Ann was also well-behaved, despite drinking a hell of a lot of liquor and starting every day at 11.30 in the morning, but that’s because she’s old enough to pace herself.

Grannies
And finally, Cherry took a tipple with the Red Hat Ladies of Torquay. These old birds went on coach trips to taste wine and were less able to binge because of their need to spend a penny every five minutes. Jean, the ringleader, was an admirably batty old bird and more than likely the apple of many a Torquay-based older gent’s eye. And who can blame the silver foxes when there’s mature totty like Jean wandering around the UK’s South coast?

The documentary eventually wore itself out as it went along, parallel to how the advancing years of the participants caused their hunger for the grog to dissipate in time. From the outright chaos of kiddie-drinking to the measured, cheeky imbibing of the older generation, the process off slowing down was bound to happen before the show ground itself to a halt.

So, to keep the tempo up right to the bitter end, that shot of Cherry hawking her colon out of her mouth thanks to too many double vodka and cokes was distributed equally throughout the show to prick the interest when the ageing lushs got tiresome.

And just when you thought it was all over, right at the end and before the closing credits…

vomit Cherry Healy BBC Three Drinking With The Girls

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My Life As An Animal: Pigs

April 20, 2009

My Life As An Animal BBC Three

My Life As An Animal is a show in which two seemingly intelligent people, untainted by mental illness, agree with BBC Three Producers that they will live with pigs for a week. They do this either because they’re so desperate to be on television that they’ll happily smear themselves in wet, gluggy manure to get there or (less likely) they’ve been badly advised on what the content of the show will be.

The format can be broken down like this:

  • Two Members of the Public meet Terry Nutkins
  • He tells them what pigs do.
  • They watch pigs snuffling about all day and doing very little.
  • MotPs are thrown into the pig pen where they live for a week.
  • They make friends or enemies with pigs, snuffle a lot and eat pig-feed.
  • They watch pigs get killed in the now-compulsory abattoir shot.
  • The end.

So – a sublime journey. How deeply will the human psyche be probed? What valuable information will we gleaned as we make adults scamper about on all fours, sleeping in straw and making grunting noises?

The contestants, Richard and Lyndsey, began by being ordered into clothes from a wheelbarrow that had been smeared with pig urine and poo. ‘It smells!’ they cry, stating the profoundly obvious. And they continue to state the obvious throughout the show.

– ‘This is literally a pigsty’
– ‘They smell’
– ‘They keep banging into me’
– ‘Urgh, it smells round here’
– ‘Oooh, it really stinks’

Richard – the first contestant – appeared to enjoy the process. He learned that ear-sucking on a waxy lughole is the very tenderest of intimate expressions among piggies, and he set to work nibbling ears like a pro. Soon enough he was kipping among them like he was one of their own, having grown worryingly close within a matter of hours.

Lyndsey, a Radio Five Live DJ, had a harder time living as a pig for a week. There were tears and tantrums during the early part of her stay when she realisd she’d be sleeping among them. She wanted her own sty, she complained – not realising that would obliterate the whole point of this stupid outing. Later, when a piggy nipped her on the lower leg she roared like a baby and demanded she get to go home. But then, persuaded by the crew, she got back into it and spent the rest of the day running around haystacks. The soppy cow.

Aside from that, ‘having totally immersed themselves in their pig-lives’, they watched pigs do sex and then snuff it in a slaughterhouse. They swapped places so that Lyndsey could see she’d actually got the better end of the deal as she sampled the non-organic pen. But still it was impossible to work out what we’re meant to have learned. Something about farming techniques? Something about human nature?

Whatever it was, it completely escaped me. The suspicion is this is another outing in which the title and concept are all, and that the actual content of the show doesn’t actually matter.

Did it not occur to anyone that the idea is completely and morbidly pointless? ‘It’s a new low!’ they seem to be shouting over in BBC Three-land. ‘Let’s celebrate it! Here – smear yourself in some shit!’

Watching the show, when the contestants complained – particularly Lyndsey who took to punching her stymates on the snout – you wanted to grab them by their lapels and dash their heads against the nearest trough, screaming at them that, as they’ve decided to live like pigs, they should stop complaining (in human) about how much they hate it. And what’s more, if they were going to do this bullshit experiment properly, they should be stark bollock naked. And the only human contact should come from the farmer. And if it was unwelcome contact they wouldn’t be able to complain beyond a terrifying, shrill squeal.

But then you realise that hidden camera footage of an obese farmer boning a mute, naked media type in a cold field wouldn’t make great television – but then, neither does this shit.

One Minute Review: Snog Marry Avoid?

March 24, 2009

Over to BBC Three land, where dunces are served hand-pumped goblets of drivel. Snog Marry Avoid? is a confused show which lacks a brain, in addition to all those missing commas.

The format is as follows:

  • We’re introduced to a supposedly tragic individual – underdressed, over-accessorised, half-naked, exhibitionist.
  • They’re interviewed by a sarcastic machine called ‘Pod’ who mocks their dress sense.
  • ‘Pod’ shows them footage of men who, having seen a photograph, have decided whether they’d snog, marry or avoid the contestant – generally revealing more about themselves than the person they’re judging (i.e. I would marry someone on the strength of a photograph).
  • The contestants are made to remove all their make-up – and all of them react as though this will kill them.
  • They are ‘made-under’ – and dressed like the clones in Grazia magazine.
  • The ‘snog, marry, avoid’ process is repeated.
  • They like it.
  • The end.

The major issue with the show is that the prey are all teenagers. Teenagers who are meant to look stupid. We appear to have reached a point where teen girls are expected to dress like graceful secretaries from Mad Men, but when I was 17 all the young ladies I knew dressed like military goths or slutty Polly Pockets. The boys in Snog Marry Avoid end up looking like utter arseholes from GAP adverts, but surely the teenage boy should be a greasy, shabby mess of hatred and resentment?

And the other thing that makes this show borderline unprocessable is that it moves along at such a zippy rate and is so inhumanly chirpy that it feels like you’ve danced through time and are watching ceebeebies in the early morning.

Maybe it’s meant for children.

Avoid. Like the plague.

Naked: Office Workers

February 25, 2009

It’s as if the people over at BBC Three have created a programme on their Acorn Electron – a Future Commissions Generator, if you like – which gobbles up stats on past successes and then, based on the shows that got people talking, mocking or jeering, reformats them using as little originality as is electronically possible.

So, thanks to the FCG we’ve reached the point where Freaky Eaters has dispensed with the food theme completely, leaving us with just the ‘freaks’ (which is BBC Three-speak for people with hang-ups). Obviously they can’t make a show on that premise alone or they’d just be transmitting artfully lighted shots of a handful of neurotic people babbling in a white studio and bumping into one another, so they’ve nicked the ‘nudity’ from How To Look Good Naked and chucked it in to see if it works. And whether it works or not, they’ll put it out regardless.

The Naked strand is the result. Naked: Nurses, Naked: Office Workers, Naked: Tramps, Naked: Eunuchs – these days all you need to do to empower people is to convince them to take all their clothes off and, bingo! They’re walking, talking superbeings! Balls to logic and dispense with common sense – just strip to your duds and feel at one with the universe!

In Naked: Office Workers, Isha is a working mum with body issues. Victoria has the sense that her bottom is too big. So far, so Gok Wan – but the other participants are all concerned with issues outside of self-image. John feels he’s too short to be taken seriously. Noel is crippled by shyness and Victoria isn’t over her ex. It’s never explained why public humiliation will help these seemingly decent folk confront their issues in any depth or with any insight – it’s just an uncertain dive straight into the tasks with mentors Jonathan Phang and Emma Kelly, and we’re expected to go along with them.

Phang is an Image Consultant who has apparently ‘worked with supermodels’. I don’t know what that means, but he looks like an overweight Ronald Reagan. If his job is to guide people on how to present themselves, he clearly doesn’t listen to his own advice.

Kelly is his right-hand girl and she’s a psychologist, presumably at amateur level, and she’s there to gee people up and work them into a state of hypnotic suggestibility so that they’re prepared to bite the bullet and ‘move forward with their lives’. In layman’s terms, her job is to persuade them to get their kecks off.

A series of pointless tasks follows. A primal scream session, a period of smashing up computers taken straight from Office Space, the keeping of a ‘mirror diary’ and some public speaking in front of people who were presumably on their way home from the pub and had nothing better to do. There was also abseiling – just to fill in the gaps – and finally, before the money shots, some Big Brother style, at-home bickering between contestants. The fight, incidentally, had absolutely no substance but was treated with epic grandeur by the presenters, who acted as though savage war has broken out. They behaved as though, if the fight was allowed to carry on, there’d only have been mutilated corpses to photograph naked the next day.

After a lengthy, year-long hour they all had their photos taken, slipping off ill-fitting bathrobes and grinning stiffly. One contestant, John, dropped out at this point and it was hard to resist giving him a round of applause for not getting steered into the exploitative route the others were dragged down.

Finally the shots are displayed and some uplifting music kicks in. The viewer is presumably meant to be left convinced that the last hour has given everyone a good feeling about themselves. Stronger and more assertive. Viewer, programme-makers and contestants, all bettered by the sight of some nobodies getting their normal clothes off and standing sheepishly naked in a stately home.

Personally, despite the fact I look like an adonis under these stained garments, I could never go on one of these shows. Obviously I believe they work wonders for all involved, but I get on rather well with my neuroses. My hang-ups have been keeping me going for years. If I wasn’t a paranoid, insecure mess, I wouldn’t be where I am today – so hold back on the approach, BBC Three. I’m simply not interested.