Posts Tagged ‘BBC1’

NewsGush: TOTP Unlikely To Return

April 1, 2009

A sad day(?) as the BBC confirm they won’t be reanimating the twitching, half-rotten corpse of their once-flagship music half hour, Top Of The Pops.

Do you miss TOTP?

The BBC seem to have noticed the affection the public hold the anachronism in and take every opportunity to milk that nostalgic twing. The Comic Relief Does Top Of The Pops resurrection was a self-indulgent outing, spoiled by those flailing smarm-mistresses, Winkleman and McCall, dancing like uninvited, pissed spinsters.

“It’s got a mythical status… but I don’t think we should get hung up on that one programme.

“We are a long way from [BBC1 controller] Jay Hunt recommissioning Top of the Pops in its old-school form on BBC One,” said Andy Parfitt.

“The days are gone when we can make a programme and just put it out there,” he added.

The Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve programmes attracted around four million viewers.

Personally, I don’t miss it.

Maybe the thirteen year old me would like to see it return, but as I’m a thirty year old with a broadband connection, I’m happy looking at music videos on Youtube (while we’re still allowed to ) rather than watching a band – hungover and miming – going through the motions on TOTP as some confused teenagers make an effort to look interested on the floor in front of them.

There’s not really a place for Top Of The Pops on TV any more unless it ups its game a little and takes itself a little bit more seriously – but that would be at the expense of the pop-fluff that made TOTP what it was.

Clearly, the future for the disposable music show is online. A TOTP website is the only way forward – hosted by Jimmy Saville and DLT, forever trapped in the matrix of the interweb.

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Let’s Dance For Comic Relief – Ep. 1

February 23, 2009

I apologise.

I said harsh things about Let’s Dance For Comic Relief before it had even aired and, having watched it, I feel a bloody fool. For its opening twenty-five minutes, this was decent Saturday night television. Apart from one section, which bordered on indecent, as you can see in the Youtube link above.

Twenty five minutes’ amusement during  a show that goes on (and on) for over an hour and a half may not seem like much, but three items of televisual gold accompanied by Steve Jones managing not to be a complete cock can’t be bad. Jonesy was actually better than bearable – and Winkleman was alright too. What the hell is going on?

The show opened with Eastenders’ Minty (the fat mechanic) and Christian (the gay stud) taking part in a High School Musical routine with such gusto and effort that it was impossible not to be swept up in its charm. Christian, in particular, had some eye-opening moves and Minty, television’s nicest fictional character, was gamely trying to keep time. With the feelgood blast of the High School Musical enterprise in the background, only a hard-hearted bastard could’ve complained.

Next up, Christopher Biggins and Nicki Chapman, whilst not carrying the same charisma as the previous pairing, provided some entertainment – mainly stemming from the fact that the spherical Biggins chose to walk through the set rather than dance, still managing to work up a slick sweat despite his inertia. Wearing a black Glitter-wig and running his hands over Chapman’s body, Biggins looked like a genial sex-offender. Which is pretty much his schtick anyway.

But it was the third act that caused a dangerous level of hysteria in this household. Lincolnshire lad, Robert Webb’s routine as the welding girl from Flashdance was so far out there it sent the viewer into confused spasms. The leotard, the Frank-n-Furter wig were frankly disturbing but the way they interplayed with the precision of his dance-moves… for a couple of seconds I honestly thought my other half was going to pass out, either from laughing, shock or desire. I had to press pause so we could gather ourselves. It was so far out there that it’s impossible to describe, so watch the clip if you haven’t seen it. I still think watching Webb’s act has damaged a small part of my brain.

After that, and with an hour left to go, the rest of this extravaganza was plops, I’m afraid. Well worth the entrance money for Webb’s dance alone – but the fact that Dick and Dom won out over the Eastenders twosome with their tediously by-the book Blues Brothers wackiness is nothing short of a national disgrace. A plague on Dick and Dom.

NewsGush: Let’s Dance for Comic Relief!

February 17, 2009

steve jones comic relief lets dance

Because Fame Academy is rubbish and Strictly Come Dancing is for old people, Comic Relief have invented a new format for 2009’s reality-performance strand. And this is it. It’s basically loads of famous but not that famous people dancing  to old songs from films. Acting the giddy goat for coin, essentially. ‘So open your purse’, they’ll say, ‘and spray us with sterling’.

And look who’s hosting! It’s only E102-charged, fringed twig Winkleman – daughter of the violently disagreeable Eve Pollard.

And who’s that beside her?

It’s that big lunk, Steve Jones. Steven ‘Berluddy’ Jones – the half bred offspring of a tree and a bull with damaged sperms. A lump of bum-muscle. An oafish, grinning tit, with his skinny tie and three-steps-behind-indie stylings. And YES. I would say that to his face. Before running away and jumping down a hole.

I can’t fucking wait!

So, who’s dancing? You asking?

I’ll tell you. The list is as follows, lovingly cut and pasted from this here press release:

Jo Brand, Robert Webb, Dick & Dom, Keith Lemon & Paddy McGuinness; Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden from Dragons’ Den and Blue Peter presenters Tim Vincent, Anthea Turner, Mark Curry, Diana Louise Jordan, Peter Duncan, Janet Ellis and Helen Skelton. Also, the cast of Hollyoaks (names to be confirmed), chefs (Paul Rankin, Sophie Grigson, John Burton Race, Nancy Lam, Kevin Woodford, Sophie Michel, Tony Tobin, Reza Mohammad and Silvana Rowe), Les Dennis, Neil Fox, Angela Rippon and Nancy Sorrell

So, that’s seven ex-Blue Peters, three Dragons (where the hell is Caan? Lumbago got the better of him?), Jo Brand, Robert Webb, that bouncer off Phoenix Nights, those two morons off Saturday morning TV and the Bo Selecta man.

We’ve also got some Hollyoaks kids I won’t recognise, some chefs I might recognise, but only just, Neil ‘Foxy Doctor’ Fox, Vic Reeves’s missus, Les Den and Angela the Rippon.

It’s win win. The charity gets a boost, the celebs get fantastic PR and we, the lucky audience, get some quality entertainment packed with laughs, proficient presentation and funky moves.

Actually… now I think about it, is that technically a three way win? Can’t help but feel someone’s got the bum end of the deal…

Are you excited?

Eastenders, 2009

January 6, 2009

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Regular readers may well roll their eyes at the sight of Eastenders in the headline again, but as anyone who tuned in over Christmas will tell you, the sitcom has drifted from regular melancholy into the absolute zero of acute depression.

A few of the current threads seem designed to make viewers slit their wrists. They may as well slot split-second banners in the film reels saying ‘END IT NOW’ in a bold black font, just to kick the public that little bit further into the pit of despair.

So, put on your party hat, pull out your party poppers and get down with us as we celebrate the most miserable Eastenders threads of 2009! (so far).

Dotty, Dot and the Non-reformed Nasty Nick

Even casual viewers will know a bit about Dot’s blighted past where her son is concerned. He’s tried to poison her, always stolen from her and is generally a complete, drug-addled bastard. So, at Christmas time – a time for giving – writers decided to bring back the malevolent offspring. For one episode he was convincingly reformed and I expected a slow-building but subtly well-written build up to his dastardly intentions. Instead, by New Year, a hundred heavy-handed hints made the blatantly obvious oncoming conclusion plain, meaning we’ve months of watching Dot tragically kid herself ahead as dramatic irony looks wearily on from the side of the stage. Happy new year.

Max, Tanya, Lauren and Lies

At the centre of last year’s Christmas-time borderline-incest infidelity scandal, this story is running and running. And running. Then meandering a bit and now faltering to some sort of conclusion. After alcoholism, a confusing bit with a gun and an intentional road crash, Tanya’s banged up in the least secure prison in Britain, where it seems to be perfectly legal for a woman on trial for attempted murder to socialise, unobserved, with the bloke she’s accused of trying to kill in her cell (not even through the bars, as might be a bit more realistic). Everyone knew young Lauren had done the driving when she admitted as much, and I don’t think I’m far wrong when I say that every viewer is probably hoping young Abby (the little shit) gets put away for life in some weird twist of fate in the next couple of weeks.

Sean, Roxy and Jack’s Three-Way Disaster

Poor Sean had mended his wicked ways when he discovered he had a daughter – and the fact she was premature even seemed to strengthen him. He was almost completely sane by the time he found out (on Christmas Day, round the table, naturally) that the kid wasn’t his. It was it’s mother’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s. This resulted in lots of laying about depressed in the launderette, baby-kidnapping, falling into an icy lake and tons of screaming and wailing. I think we were meant to feel sympathy for Sean – which was misjudged really, considering most viewers are still reeling from the period of time in which Sean was dealing coke, being a complete sod to everyone and physically torturing much-loved character Gus. Good riddance Sean then – even if he was a well-acted figure of fun.

Bianca, Whitney and the Sex Offender

And now to possibly the most depressing story of the bunch. We all know Whitney was abused by her adopted mother’s boyfriend. Well, Bianca found out, Tony got arrested and now we’re having to suffer the consequences – a damaged teenager, Bianca at a loss, Ricky looking confused (plus ca change…) and lots and lots of crying. The only light at the end of this particular tunnel came with the recent arrival of Janine Butcher (Godbless her), the best ever Eastenders pantomime villain we’ve had for a while. A good move by bosses, bringing her back. Last night she delivered a nasty line to Bianca when told she’d upset  Whitney: ‘Oh – is that my fault? But I’m not the one who bought a paedo into the house?’.

What an awful woman.

So, if these four tales of warm, hard-grafting East End types from the working classes don’t fire up the cockles of your heart, I’m not sure what will.

Oh!
Knees up Muvva Brown! etc…

Eastenders – 10.12.08

December 10, 2008

Eastenders bosses saw sense, eventually. Rather than drag out the paedophile story until Christmas day for a freaky, festive finale, they opted to have Tony leg it a couple of weeks early. They also spared child-of-the-damned Lauren from his sneaky clutches, mercifully. Not sure how, but Lauren manages to be a realistic character, despite the fact the girl who plays her is somewhat dead around the eyes. Saying that, having your Dad cheating on your Mum with a girl less than half his age and then having your Uncle shack up with Mum as soon as she’s separated, dated an ex-squaddie half her age and tried to bury Dad alive in an urban forest, I suppose your senses might be a little numb.

Tony went out with a bang in an episode focused on Pat’s house. For one of the poorest threads in Eastenders history, it was surprising that the game was upped and the revelation episode was, in fact, genuinely affecting. If you didn’t see it, you won’t believe it, but Patsy Palmer – that shouting, rust-headed, walking mardy put in a bravura performance for once in her life. Bianca and Whitney’s interactions were horrifically believable, and Tony’s blank-faced nastiness went down well too.

I say ‘went down well’, but that’s hardly the right phrase. The thirty minutes left the audience nauseous as Bianca had what was occurring spelled out to her multiple times. When Tony’s amusing attempts to wriggle free failed (causing a cheer in my house), Bianca ran to the toilet to vomit copiously, just as I popped a roast potato into my mouth. Don’t they realise this is tea-time telly?

When Bianca pleaded with Tony, asking her to reveal if he’d touched little Tiff, he stalled when asked ‘why not?’. I can’t have been alone in wondering if he was going to specify the girl’s hair colour as the reason for his not advancing on her. It was even possible that he might have used the ‘Paedogedden’ reason given by Simon Pegg on Chris Morris’s Brass Eye special that he simply ‘didn’t fancy her’, but he left it, vaguely, at ‘that wouldn’t be my style’.

Making light of it is easy, so I’ll stop as this was actually a moving episode. Bianca’s character reacted exactly as the audience has come to expect – at first entirely selfishly and then, ultimately, believably sympathetic. It reminded us why she’s got such a strong role in a leading soap.

Tony was chased off at the end after making a crucial but mistimed return to the scene of the crime to pick up his passport and it’s genuinely good to see the back of him. At first the whole plotline was little short of comical, before turning more credible as Tony began to ‘go off’ his young prey as he watched her mature.

Despite Chris Coghill’s good showing, I’m glad we can move on from the era in which Eastenders became Beastenders.

All that revolting conversation at a time when me and the missus are settling down to dinner. What kind of time’s that to be airing such nastiness?

It’s a bloody disgrace.

Survivors

November 26, 2008

survivors

Watching BBC One’s shiny new drama Survivors is a strange experience. Having grown up watching the usual glut of zombie movies, I expect to see them jump out at the characters at every turn. You see, the show – which sees a group of people survive a worldwide pandemic that wipes out most of the earth’s population – has all the elements you’d expect of a zombie movie … just no zombies.

It’s weird.

Take last night’s episode for instance. It had a classic zombie movie set-up:

A young boy goes into an empty sweetshop and starts filling his boots with the array of goodies he finds inside. So distracted is he by his good fortune, he doesn’t see the danger lurking in the shadows.

Now, in a zombie movie, the kid would be attacked by a wailing goon and would either be killed, bitten and infected or fight off the zombie using Sherbet Dips and Flying Saucers. The scene would end with the undead monstrosity crashing back into the display cabinets with a packet of Refreshers buried in his head. Job done – move on.

But in Survivors, this is not what happens. Where you’d expect a relentless cadaver raised from the dead, you actually get an old man with a baseball bat. Where you expect lots of screaming and bone crunching and blood ‘n’ guts, you get the old fella pushed into a display stand and then dying. And that’s it.

How shit is that?

Maybe it’s just me? Maybe I should get it out of my head that the armies of the undead are just around the corner? Maybe I should see this show for what it is – a survival story that’s a mildly distracting way to pass the time before the news comes on?

BUT I CAN’T!

Every time I see the characters get out of their cars on an empty motorway, my zombie movie watcher head shouts,

“NO! Get back in the car! The zombies are coming!”

Every time I see the plucky band of survivors go foraging for supplies, the part of me that sees shuffling corpses round every corner bellows,

“WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING IN THERE? DON’T YOU REALISE WHAT’S IN THERE? ZOMBIES, THAT’S WHAT!”

And then sod all happens. It’s really odd.

So, to sum up, if you’ve ever seen a zombie film, or a futuristic mutant film or one of those films where a nuclear war has turned most of the world’s population into flesh-eating, cyberpunk shitbags, then Survivors is a disappointingly anticlimactic experience. If you haven’t seen those sort of films, you’ll probably get on with it. To me, there’s something missing at the show’s heart – something that can only be stopped with a blow to the head.

Or a packet of Refreshers.

Merton In India / Fry in America

October 13, 2008

How To Make a Television Programme
#16485 – Drop a National Treasure in a foreign country

Michael Palin’s spine is not what it once was. Apparently he can barely take a 168 to Hampstead Heath without buckling.

Ustinov’s dead.

So who could the BBC and Five send off on a jet plane for their travelogue programming? Which safe pair of hands could deliver quality footage, fit for a series at only the cost of their fee, their expenses and a handful of first class plane tickets?

Time to get out the Handbook of National Treasures…

David Jason’s too grumpy, Robbie Coltrane won’t fit on the plane and Parkinson’s not very interesting. In the end, stuck for options, Five chose Paul Merton whilst the BBC, probably thinking itself slightly superior, plumped for Stephen Fry.

Paul Merton in China was a bit of a drab affair. It was Merton’s first outing in the travel format and he didn’t look altogether comfortable. His constant asides to camera occasionally came across as slightly patronising towards the Chinese and the imported comedy moments, set-pieces created purely for camera, didn’t do it any favours. It still had a lot of good moments and thankfully the second series is a further improvement.

Paul Merton In India is a different kettle of fish. Merton’s in his element here, as the atmosphere is markedly more chaotic. This gives him the scope to make his witticisms to camera without so much of a reaction. The general hubbub around him means he is ignored, to some extent. He’s part of a constant movement rather than the focus and the show benefits from this change.

In episode one, Merton visited a gentleman called Bubbles who saved a city from exploding using guile and breathtaking bravery. Rather than focus on why missiles were being driven nearby and how one of them caught fire, we followed the story from Bubbles’ point of view and discovered that he put it all down to his worship of a Goddess. A Goddess who protects rats. He led Merton and his charming guide to a nearby temple where they hung out with the rodents and it was all very sweet, if not a little odd.

Things took an even stranger turn when PM hung out at a religious festival in honour of Shiva which featured naked disciples twisting their penises in all directions. Five didn’t shirk from showing this footage. I’m glad I wasn’t eating my dinner when the sight of a block of cement suspended from a bell end flashed on screen, filmed from behind, from the vantage point of the disciple’s arse-crack. Merton was speechless. The viewer was speechless. When offered a chillum packed with weed, PM toked on it like a man possessed, presumably to soften the blow of the visual assault. By the end of this sequence, he was visibly stoned out of his face – like an aged, slightly flabby Bruce Parry, intoxicated in the near-wilderness. It was great stuff.

On top of all this, having sat through a bizarre, faux-accident in a weird, nightmare flight simulator, Merton accidentally jumped out of the emergency door the wrong way, bounced on his head and fell arse over tit. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year. The programme was littered with these amusing little accidents and it triumphed as a result.

Over on BBC1 in a Sunday night slot made available since Martin Clunes stopped fannying about with his dogs on ITV, Stephen Fry pretended to drive around America in a black cab. In Stephen Fry in America, he started his journey in Maine, speaking to fishermen engaged in catching lobsters. We didn’t learn much from this exhange, except that lobster-catchers in Maine are apparently the best in the world. But then, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

  • Later, Fry went hunting deer with some men who covered themselves in deer-poo. No deer made itself known, in the event, so Fry moved on.
  • He went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory and made some ice cream. Visitors to the factory enjoyed his mixture.
  • He went to Washington and talked to a satirist you’ll not have heard of.
  • He went to a Casino to act as croupier. He spoke to a Vietnamese lady who couldn’t understand his accent.
  • He went to speak with Sting, the self-styled Englishman in New York. Sting likes it in New York (when he’s not loitering in European brothels). This section was absolutely infuriating.
  • He spoke to an old man who pretends to be Abraham Lincoln for a living about the Gettysburg address.

And that was about it.

With Fry’s effort it didn’t seem items were linked by anything other than the location of the States – and several of these were completely glossed over with a fleeting apology. This was an episodic array of set pieces, all featuring Fry as he met with everyday, unremarkable Americans. There was something missing here. As with Dave Gorman’s recent America Unchained series, the central premise was flawed so momentum wasn’t allowed to build. Was Fry studying the history of America? The social relations between Americans? Was it an effort in cultural understanding? Or was it just a shallow toe in every one of those puddles, with too little exploration for it to be as engaging as it could have been?

If it was none of these things, then it should have dropped its game and opted to go for the same silly approach that Merton’s crew took. As it stands, Fry’s effort was a touch too earnest and less entertaining as a result.

His series may well improve as time goes on and Merton’s may well degenerate, but from episode one of either vehicle, Merton leads with a goal to nil.

NewsGush: Emmerdale Hit By Credit Crunch

October 9, 2008

Due to financial shortages, Emmerdale is the latest soap to enforce cutbacks in the form of AXING background staff.

There are genuine concerns on the back of the job losses that viewers who have grown used to the gritty, rustic realism of the series will now notice a shortfall in the amount of people pretending to sip fake pints of beer at the back of The Woolpack.

Television watchdogs are preparing for floods of calls via their specialist helplines from ITV-viewers who may have become disturbed by the lack of non-speaking characters tutting under their breath when an argument kicks off in the street.

Experts say the potential devastation that may be caused by the absence of unusually silent characters finishing their transaction in Viv’s post office at the very beginning of a scene, who then walk out before anyone says anything, is impossible to calculate.

Rumours that Eastenders is about to suffer the same fate, placing WWM favourite, stall-holder Winston Smith in the firing line, have not yet been confirmed.