Posts Tagged ‘BBC2’

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.

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The Culture Show: U2

February 25, 2009

Bono of the pop combo called U2

It’s easy to mock Bono. Everybody’s at it. Whether it’s his hat’s journey by jet engine, his pious preaching at Labour party functions, his forcing African kids to sing With Or Without you in a PR piece to promote his band or just outright laughter at the lyrics to his latest single, Get On Your Boots – only the creepiest U2 obsessive could really object.

This very defensive interview piece was fully aware of the public profile of the band’s frontman and seemed, from the start, to be an attempt to redress the balance. A good angle to come from, but royally ballsed up by Bono himself in protracted, oblique soundbites that did little to dispel how much of an oaf the man is.

Geldof didn’t help. He opened proceedings by insisting that ‘they’re not wankers’ – which, coming from a wanker as monumentally self-pleasuring as Bob, didn’t really help the cause. Later, when talking about how prolific U2 are, he said that those outside the industry might not realise that ‘great bands have to work at it’ which carried the implication that he’d ever been in a great band. ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ was alright, but don’t overdo it, Bob.

After an amusing clip of the fledgling band mucking about on Irish telly in the late 70s or early 80s, a parade of talking heads talked the band up, one of them asserting that ‘every band wants to be U2’. This statement is incorrect.

I’ve no problem with U2 the band – I like bits of Achtung Baby, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But when Bono ever appears outside of his day job it’s impossible not to wince at the man’s nerve. One man’s arrogance is another man’s genius, but for me his pomp and self-belief reek of smugness. He’s unbearable when he starts talking and by the time he’s finished you’re surprised nobody’s ever set fire to him.

He was sitting next to Adam Clayton in his set of interviews, whilst Larry and The Edge were cross-examined separately. It’s easy to imagine that Adam’s the only one who can actually bear the frontman, what with him having had the mental strength to cope with being around Naomi Campbell. The man must be coated with asbestos when it comes to fiery egos. Where Bono dealt in pseudo-enigmatic rhetoric when answering questions, Clayton was gnomic and as bland as skimmed milk.

Bono’s interviewee style was to patronise Laverne whenever she asked a question. ‘You’re right to ask that’, he assured her. ‘Geez, this girl is good’ he proclaimed, as though she landed the job based on blackmail. He was remarkably restrained but still indulged himself in that special line of bollocks he specialises in – the self-aggrandizing statement disguised as humility. One choice anecdote concerned a non-fan of the band who happened to attend a gig saying that the hairs stood up on the back of his neck when they played. Bono, keen to ground himself whilst simultaneously and paradoxically raising himself to Christ level, replied: ‘you know what? That happens to us too’. Because he’s merely a prophet, see? And the music is the message. Man.

Later on, he said they continue doing what they’re doing because their job is to ‘derail the rock n’ roll mythology’ – referring to his belief that U2 are put on this planet to prove great artists don’t have to kill themselves and leave a romantic myth to truly be great. Considering the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Christ – even Paul McCartney have already sorted that one out, the statement falls redundant to the stadium floor.

To finish, Geldof explained to us thickies that people are wrong to think of Bono as cliched in his political dabblings. He said ‘expressions only become cliches because you have to repeat them again and again’. He’s right – but only if the expressions are valid in the first place. If they’re trite and simplistic then they’re cliches from the start. Real insight only needs mentioning once, and can be revealed at any time – even when a new release isn’t scheduled for months.

Get on your boots, indeed.

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.

Maestro

August 15, 2008

So here’s the story: Drum ‘n’ bass star Goldie, Blur bassist Alex James, actors Jane Asher and David Soul, Newsreaders Peter Snow and Katie Derham and comedians Sue Perkins and Bradley Walsh are all learning over the next six weeks how to conduct an orchestra. Each week, one of them is voted off by the judges and the winner gets to conduct at The Last Night of the Proms.

This latest BBC2 reality show perfectly illustrates the Corporation’s ongoing dilemma. They’re required to fulfill the Reithian ideals to inform educate and entertain us in a responsible manner. But they also want a juicy slice of the giant reality TV pie. How can they do both without seeming opportunistic?

PRODUCER: Why don’t we just do the same shit as C4 – but y’know, with posh stuff like orchestras an’ that?

COMMISSIONING EDITOR: Brilliant.

At the start of this first episode, the contestants were all immediately thrown in at the deep end and asked to conduct one of the popular classics, Strauss’ Blue Danube, Bizet’s Carmen etc…

As conducting seems primarily to involve waving your hands about in the air and grimacing enthusiastically, Peter Snow was the obvious favourite after all those years of gesticulating away at the Swingometer on Election Night Special. But it wasn’t to be. Peter is virtually deaf and has absolutely no sense of rhythm. I’m not even sure he knew where he was half the time. I think they’d perhaps told him the whole thing was some sort of new election gimmick – Newsnight set entirely to music. ‘Keep waving your arms about Peter. That’s the way, old chap. The results from Wolverhampton are just coming in now.’

The still very beautiful and graceful Jane Asher and the demure Katie Derham both fared much better with the task, being naturally musical and both having learned instruments as a child. Similarly with the ubiquitous Sue Perkins. Comedian Bradley Walsh started off with gags and when that didn’t work, eventually settled on a conducting technique which appeared to be an homage to Norman Wisdom from his epileptic Mr Grimsdale period. The always likeable Goldie breezed through the exercise with his natural unaffected charm and instinctive musicality. A clear favourite from the start.

What to say about Alex James. He appears to be one of those chaps who begins each day by gazing lovingly into the mirror to check that he has just the right casual floppy-haired scruffbag look before leaving the house. No doubt in the miniscule world of art college, such attention to detail would have marked him out as some sort of deep and sensitive artiste. Unfortunately for Alex, evidence collated elsewhere, (i.e. that he was once the bassist in Blur and now makes cheese) tells another story. His irritating faux-modesty act got on my tits as usual, and not just because the posh twat’s shagged more girls than me. Though that obviously doesn’t help.

As for David Soul, the last time he held a stick in his hand, it made the tabloids. Luckily those hard-drinking days are behind him and he made a promising and impassioned first attempt with the baton. Soul also helped to get the emotional journey off to a much-needed start by mentioning his difficult relationship with his father within the first 30 seconds of being interviewed. I get the feeling, however, that he mentions this when ordering food in restaurants, dealing with cold-callers and waiting in supermarket checkout queues. So maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised. For me though, he’ll forever be the blonde one out of classic 70s cop show Starsky & Hutch. So best of luck to the grizzled old dog.

As part of the training, they were each assigned a personal mentor to teach them musical theory, taken out with a marching band to help with their rhythm and then spent time with a choreographer to loosen up their posture. This was all leading up to their first public performance with a full orchestra at the end of the week, after which one of them would get fired.

Guess who that was? Beloved old Uncle Peter, of course. But remember, it’s just a bit of fun.

I wouldn’t really bother watching this, to be honest. There were hardly enough thrills to sustain this first 90-minute opener, never mind another five episodes. I always used to imagine there was nothing much to conducting. That it was just waving your arms about in time and hoping you could bluff it through to the end. Turns out I was right. So unless David Soul goes back on the sauce and decides to drown Alex James in a giant vat of his own cheese, there’s nothing much happening here.

Dragons’ Den – 28.7.08

July 29, 2008

I think we can confidently say that long before yesterday’s show, Meaden twigged that she is desired by not one, but all of the Dragons.

Obviously the real battle for Debs is between Theo and Jonesy and, since the mahogany-skinned makeover and the lovely hair-do, Debs has proved she is more than up to micro-managing a love triangle. Last night saw her assertive and prickly nature reach boiling point in the early stages before she settled into a brooding, menacing sensuality for the rest of the show, watching the boys run rings around one another, all desperate to impress the Debsmeister.

Let’s jump in. Once the opening credits were out of the way it was time to get down to business. And by ‘business’ I mean REAL business, conducted in the business world by business men and business women. And Dragons, obviously. It is a tough and fickle world, the business world. Just ask Samantha from Manchester who went up first in front of the reptilian bastards.

She was trying sell them a strange idea based around home security. A little box with motion sensors would make a fake TV turn on whenever it was triggered, fooling hapless burglars (who obviously would never have heard of such technology) and scaring them into doing a runner. It was a dumb idea, already trumped by the fact that you can get those mains-timer things on the market to make your lamps and electrical goods switch on and off whilst you sip cocktails in Aberwystwyth. Debs stepped right up with her critique, safe in the knowledge that all the Dragons possessed a twitching semi with her name on it. She declared herself out swiftly and effectively. Theo managed to find out that this dotty trembler already owns a successful business so the general response was ‘stick to the restaurant, we’re out’.

Next up, the Sinclair C5 of rollerblades as one Dragon put it. Pedal-powered skates that looked too much like hard work and failed to inspire anyone. Theo had a go as he knows what makes good telly, stumbling about on these monstrosities for laughs. All he needs is a pencil thin moustache and some round-framed spectacles and he’d make a great silent movie comedy-hero. Anyway, they all opted out. I’d have opted out too – that kind of rubbish reminds me of the imbecilic berks you see in Central London roller-blading, skateboarding or even tin-scootering down the middle of a busy dual lane in rush hour traffic.

Clive was up next with his opportunity to join him in a venture he called DiamondGeezer.com (I’ll not include a link unless he pays me for advertising). This was essentially a retail website selling posh-rocks. His manner wasn’t particularly endearing despite the potential in his venture. And to add to his woes, Meaden, cushioned by the certainty that all in the Den hold a blue-veined baton with her name on it, screamed that Clive’s been in touch with her before which is AGAINST THE RULES. She was out immediately, bless her. Bannatyne then rather unfairly laid into Clive with a stream of disconnected questions. He was oot.

But then Clive’s luck changed and the other three opted in for a 40% stake. 30%, countered Clive. The Dragon’s did not waver and Clive idiotically turned down the offer on a business which is currently only making him three hundred quid per calender month.

Greetings cards for dogs, one would think, is the preserve of batty old eccentrics. And ol’ Debs proved this to be true by admitting her horses, cats and dogs all receive christmas gifts. More money than sense. The rest of the Dragons, like us right-thinking folk, thought it was ludicrous and kicked it out of the Den.

Impact Items went next with their Space Putty. The boffin who’d created this stuff had dyed his hair and goatee purple, thinking this was a surefire way to secure investment. In the event he got laughed out of the room. Probably a good thing, as I had a sneaking feeling I’d seen this putty stuff before. And I had.

On the theme of kids’ stuff, the next pitcher was asking for trouble with his sinister notion. Tokens kids have to earn through good behaviour in order to buy TV, DVD and PS3 time struck me as being completely unethical. One of the great joys of being a child, though we don’t realise it at the time, is to be completely free of money-worries. Those decisions are made for you so you’re free to kill ants, hang around in abandoned houses and go foraging for pornography in bushes. Why any parent would want to introduce a complex system of capitalism in their own parlour is beyond me and was beyond Bannatyne who told this chap he hopes he fails. Harsh, but probably fair. Jonesy said it wasn’t a bad idea – it was ridiculously mad. Add to the fact the guy could have financed it himself and it seems we had a bit of a slippery snake on our hands. And he seemed so nice…

The apple juice lolly that followed looked tasty, was healthy and was already selling well. But as it was 100% apple juice, packaged tastefully and completely inoffensive, it obviously wasn’t cost-effective. Quality rarely is these days. So everyone was out.

The penultimate item was an illuminated Baby On Board sign which, sadly, was unreadable during the day. So one presumes you’re meant to stick the Baby On Board sign that lights up next to the Baby On Board sign that can be seen in daylight. Weird. Jonesy used this as a platform to mock Baby On Board signs in general, which I reluctantly agreed with him on. They are bloody stupid, when you think about it. Jonesy, sensing he had everyones’ attention, also had a pop at an enthusiastic Bannatyne with ‘when was the last time you drove anywhere in the last 20 years?!’. ‘Fair point’, responded a humbled Dunc.

So – lastly we saw some girl who appeared to have stepped out of the Grazia magazine my missus left in the toilet. She was after money for her venture which went by the dreadful name ‘Neurotica’. She wanted to make fashion for the leading high street stores and was already making headway in the area. Unfortunately, like the apple lolly people, she was only just breaking even. Peter Jones broke all the rules and offered more money than she was asking for in a twist that left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth, from where I was standing.

Jonesy’s always trying to be the cool one. Whether it’s his dalliances with Levi Roots, his foray into publishing with the nauseating rag Wonderland, trying to rock out with Hamfatter or this adventure in fashion, he wants to be a scenester.

Well, sorry Pete. You’re a seven-foot corporate tit who does crap ads for BT and sits in Simon Cowell’s pocket. You’re about as far removed from the notion of ‘cool’ as it’s possible to be, so leave that stuff to Bannatyne – the beating heart of Dragon sophistication. In a couple of weeks time, Meaden will see the error of her ways and lurch towards Dunc’s inimitable, brusque stylings – mark my words.

Eating With The Enemy

July 23, 2008

It must’ve looked fairly appealing on paper.

Great idea for new reality / cooking / lifestyle module – a Dragons’ Den vs Masterchef fusion. Import the same chefs who mete out the nasty judgements on Masterchef and get them to judge food made by the Great British public. Like Masterchef without the constructive criticism. Like Dragon’s Den without the real business opportunities and vast sums of money. A chance to see restaurant critics really lashing out on poor, unsuspecting, non media-friendly fools. Guaranteed success.

It looks like a ratings-grabber on first sight but after five minutes viewing, the obvious flaws poke out like impetuous tongues.

Sweet Baby James presents Eating With The Enemy, playing the exact same role as Evan Davis in the old double ‘D’. He’s the go-between who liaises with the judges and cosies up to the contestants. He’s the viewers’ representative. It works with affable Evan, who humbles himself in front of contestants, folding his fists in front of himself and smiling from behind those kind, slightly off-kilter eyes. With Sweet Baby James it doesn’t quite work the same way, given his abrasive attitude. He spends the show mocking the efforts of the contestants to their faces and getting in the way. Yesterday he made a scene when he got splashed with a tiny dribble of custard, the big jessie.

The judges are vaguely known restaurant critics. You’d recognise them if you saw them. They are:

Toby Young – Probably the most famous. Likeable buffoon.
Kate Spicer  – Evening Standard food critic. A sour-faced grunt of a woman who starred in possibly the worst television show ever, Super Skinny Me.
Jay Rayner – Son of Clare. Observer food critic. Pompous man-mountain with ludicrous hair and facial trim who appears to climax every time he makes a weak, food-related gag.
Charles Campion – Miserable, fat knacker who looks EXACTLY like Peter from Family Guy.

The show’s structured really badly. Dragons’ Den is so straightforward you’d have to be lobotomised to misunderstand the formula. Masterchef is slightly more confusing – with semi finals here and restaurant rounds there – but usually we know where it’s at.

Eating With The Enemy has so many segments that we seem to meet the contestants three times, say goodbye to them twice and have the main courses described (in some detail) endlessly throughout the shows fifty minutes.

Another flaw, possibly intended, is that the food is bloody awful. Walid, a Lebanese gentleman, made steak with a ‘stilton vein’ running through it and bacon wrapped around the outside. It was completely over-complicated and rammed with essence of cardiac arrest. His sparring partner was Sam who made ‘rag pudding’ which seemed to be a weird arctic roll made out of mince and fat. Not to mock Sam or Wally – I probably couldn’t do much better myself – but surely it just meant we were going to have to watch culinary assassination as the non-professionals lined up their wares in front of people who talk shit about high end food for a living?

In the event, the judges shrank from the task and praised the dishes where they could. The rubbish in front of them was barely worth comment so they opted for the positive. And therefore the ‘fearsome’ judges pretty much turned the show into an irrelevance. They’re referred to throughout as ‘The Enemy’ in the same way Theo, Jonesy and pals are called ‘The Dragons’, but it doesn’t make any sense as they show sympathy, which is weakness, which drains the element of threat from proceedings. The closest they got, really, was asking Walid why he’d attacked an ‘innocent bit of meat’ and saying he’d ‘pushed it off a cliff’.

So what we have here is a redundant piece of programming. A pretty despicable concept in the first place – four twats who get paid to be pissy to waiters criticise some nice normal folk for giving something a bash – is then completely weakened when ‘The Enemy’ go all soft and praise food you’d clearly send back if you were served it even in a greasy spoon. So what, my friends, is the fucking point?

I’ve not even started on some other major weaknesses. Dragons’ Den works because the prize at stake is a large amount of money. Remove the return and you’ve kicked your programme in the groin. Masterchef works because those participating already have some degree of flair. Serve up two shit cooks and you’ve gone and slapped your show’s arse. Use restaurant critics as your judges and you’ve pretty much decapitated your own creation.

Restaurant critics, as any fool knows, are generally sniffy berks who lack any experience or expertise in what they do. They’re professional moaners. Where the Dragons have all worked their way to their personal wealth, this lot are promoted hacks who are now so far removed from the man on the street they think writing cynically about a fucking pudding represents a meaningful existence. I remove Giles Coren from that generalisation, as he barely even mentions the food, preferring instead to waffle on about his life – which is generally far more interesting.

These four ‘enemies’ and their supposedly daunting presence is acceptable when they’re asked to bitch for three minutes in Masterchef, but try and extend that three minutes to fifty and the whole thing collapses like an undercooked cakey pie.

I just hope they don’t make this rubbish prime time.

Dragons’ Den

July 22, 2008

A new series of Dragons Den then. A kind of apology for The Apprentice having ended. The wafting hand clearing up the final aroma strains from an Alan Sugar trump. No changes to the line up this time round – it’s the same sour faces as last time sitting in a moody row on plush leather seats in a miserable loft conversion. And, of course, perma-grinning Evan Davis scuttles around downstairs like a friendly cockroach to apply soothing balm to those contestants who descend the stairs shell-shocked and pitch-beaten. Unless they’ve won – which is a rarity and depends on a Dragon’s mood. It also depends on how the result of the inevitable game of one-upmanship between the four bastards turns out.

It’s the dynamic between the Dragons that’s made this show work since the first ever episode graced our screens. Remember when that weird sideburn man who runs disgusting Japanese food-theft disaster, Yo! Sushi was in it? Thank God they got rid of that corporate hippy. And thank God they got rid of the Red Letter Day woman – purchase ledger nightmare that she turned out to be – and replaced her with the woman of all our dreams, Debbie The Bombshell Meaden.

So, to briefly analyse the interpersonal relationships between the mediators…

James Caan: The silent shit. Caan is an outcast who keeps his balls to the wall and strokes his top lip like a semaphore artist waggles his flags. His body language attempts to say ‘I’m taking this all on board’ when it actually clearly says ‘I haven’t a clue what to do as nobody likes me’. His independence means he can’t as easily arrange split ventures with other Dragons, so he’s prone to making easily usurped offers. All sympathy for the outwardly pleasant Caan drops when you realise he made all his money in the slime-soaked recruitment industry.

Duncan Bannatyne: Everyone’s favourite male Dragon. Looks like a washed up 80s crooner – is in fact the head of a fitness empire. His cute quiff, gangly legs and gruff Caledonian manner make him a lovable bastard. He has a tendency to call a spade a spade. In fact, he has more of a tendency to call a spade rubbish, before demonstrating how flimsy it is by cracking it over his knee. He pretends he gets on with Caan (he has to – he sits next to him) and has the respect of the others, but really this guy is the very definition of ‘loner’.

Deborah Meaden: How do I love ye? Let me count the ways. Meaden takes no bullshit, because she knows bullshit like the back of her bullshitting hand – and you’ve got bullshit all over you, you bullshitty bastard. Deborah is transparently in love with Theo as she’s always trying to find ways of striking a deal involving the two of them, and she visibly crumbles when he mentions ‘Missus Paphitis’ in jealous despair.

Theo Paphitis: Despite being loyal to his enormous wife (he said it, not me), Theo is battling constantly with the true love he can’t conceal for enormo-breasted Debs. Well-liked due to his being a tiny little man, Theo often plays the fool before kicking in with a hard lesson in the steely world of business. Never mess with the little man.

Peter Jones: The villain of the piece. Everyone despises Jonesy. Everyone. He’s a physical and financial giant the other Dragons simply can’t measure up against. More likely to make a big money deal on his own than with any other player – he’s occasionally up for splitting the odd deal but is more likely to go off on his own, like some demented cyborg. You mess with Jones, you mess with the force of death. N.B – Jones’s pubes are shaved into a perfect circle – click here for evidence.

A brief rundown of last night’s episode:

Hamfatter
Likeable indie lads with a generic sound got signed up by Jonesy in a three-way stand off against a Meaden/Theo vs Dunc/Cann pair of alliances. How a band can be treated as a business I don’t quite understand, but Jonesy has contacts in Sony, apparently. Don’t expect them to be number one just yet.

Travel Cushion
Nice enough idea – but you wouldn’t buy one. Labelled stupid by the Dragons who rounded on the poor sod because he worked at ASDA. Doesn’t really seem fair. We’ve all got to start somewhere. Death nell sounded when, pushed for financial reports he stated he was ‘never a fan of maths’. Derided by the Dragons for that, elevated to hero status for me.

Air Oasis Ltd
Water from air, apparently. These alchemists (and ex-hoover salesmen) claimed they could make water from the atmosphere then demonstrated their magical abilities. Unfortunately Barry their salesman was a rapid-fire arse and he sank the pitch, even before the water was declared to taste awful – with much theatrical mouth-wiping from the Dragons.

Baby Supporter
Nice couple who aimed to convert all children into couch potatoes in infancy. Didn’t get very far.

Strike Trainer
Unimpressive punchbag that counts calories burned. Shot down in flames.

Lay Line Sheet
A comical item, suited to the novelty rack in Urban Outfitters. This sheet had a territory line marked for couples arguing over bed space. I could relate to this one and might’ve made it a whimsical stocking filler. Clearly the Dragons sleep in separate beds to their partners as they weren’t buying it and made a mockery of the Morgan Spurlock fellow who was trying to flog it with his lovely wife. Weirdly, Debs gave them hell despite her involvement with You Doo doll – a similarly amusing and novelty project made by friend of WWM, Sarah Lu. ‘Let’s draw a line under this’ said Theo, in the first weak pun of the series.

Graduate Social Networking
An unprepared contestant tried to sell this idea that nobody could understand. Bannatyne unfairly dismissed it as he’s grumpy he had to pay his kids’ university fees.

Paradise Panels
Stupid, sub-kitsch panels that display exotic backdrops in your back garden. On your fence. ‘Don’t take offence (a fence)’ said Theo, doubling his crap joke quotient.

Party Organisers
If there’s an industry which is based more in nothingness, I’d be keen to hear about it. Party Organisers are usually good-looking, horribly trendy idiots. Yet these two were likable types, and James and Duncan won the battle to get involved despite another multi-Dragon stand off. I couldn’t see the attraction, but then I don’t go to the types of parties where moving trees and silver living-statues are part of the backdrop, thank Christ. Having said that, I don’t go to any parties at all as I’m a miserable turd.

And that was that. By episode three I’ll wager Theo and Meaden will be on the floor in a naked embrace, as Jonesy and Evan Davis slyly thwack their bald marmosets through pocket-lining.

Pre-order that Kleenex, boys and girls.

Glastonbury on the BBC

July 1, 2008

Aha! Festival time! The season when all publications pull out their stock book of cliches and plagiarise themselves in a transparent effort to seem at one with the zeitgeist! Huzzah! Boomshanka!

As if you weren’t sick of it already from the endless coverage in every publication other than music magazines (that shithouse NME aside), as if you hadn’t puked real tears from your colon upwards upon seeing ‘style thermometers’ in the broadsheets recommending which designer wellies to shove on your pointless feet, as if you hadn’t already ticked off which hopeless, mediocre, electro-punk-fuzz rock/pop fusion supergroups you were going to lap up in lacklustre fashion like an artificial indie drone when you finally got to the hell of the desecrated countryside, they then go and put Glastonbury ON THE FUCKING TV as well.

For the purposes of this blog and in the vain hope of seeing a half decent performance (in comfort rather than from the back of an enormous marquee while trying to avoid a flag some South African twat keeps waving), I tuned in. I V plussed the whole lot and forwarded a hell of a lot of the crap.

That’s a lot of forwarding. A hell of a lot. My forward finger’s gone all bent.

Before I start, I should point out that I don’t for one moment think that watching all of the BBC’s output gives any insight into the festival itself. I’m clear that this is a BBC production and that many of those who went to Glastonbury won’t have seen any of the crap outlined below and will have had a jolly wheeze. This is really a criticism of the rubbish on BBCs 3, 4 and 2 more than Eavis’s garden fete. So if you went, don’t get all defensive.

Trying to keep a chronological list of what I viewed would’ve been logistically difficult, so I’ll highlight and lowlight what I absorbed.

Full-on, MOR bilge

Mark Ronson, step right up. Hours were dedicated to this little shyster playing his coffee-table cover versions. Except he wasn’t really playing – he was whacking a cowbell while a team of session musicians joylessly flapped about behind him. To distract the audience from this fact, special guest after special guest was invited out to ruin perfectly good songs. The best example of this was Lily Allen shitting on the already shitty Oh My God by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Flat, atonal, vocally weak, if this wasn’t an abject lesson in why famous peoples’ kids shouldn’t be indulged on the strength of their name, I don’t know what is.

In addition to this, we suffered KT Turnstile, James fucking fuck’s sake Blunt, Will Young (?!), Goldfrapp, Crowded Fucking House and yes, Vampire Weekend. Despite claims to the contrary, this band are as middle of the bloody road as a centrally plonked white line in a central motorway along the equator. So, so dull. Sting. The Police. Get lost.

Rubbish, weak, noughties indie

Pigeon Detectives. Kate Nash, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Get Lost. The Enemy. Editors. All of these were showcased on the BBC while interesting bands (interesting because I quite like them) such as Los Campesinos, Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Young Knives were all overlooked in favour of the flavour of the month, which inevitably left a bitter taste on the buds.

A handful of highlights

A song each on the main coverage from Spiritualized, Band of Horses, The Verve, MGMT, The National. Despite the fact that the latter were rather sullied when Edith Bowman made out she’d invented them. A few full sets on the red button (including some of the above groups) were alright as well, but were also non-recordable – which was handy.

Hip hop at Glastonbury

I’m a fan of a fair bit of hip hop music but as I’m middle class and from the midlands I try not to talk about it in public for fear of sounding anything like Tim Westwood. Jay Z’s set was alright, considering live hip hop usually sounds abominable. What was hard to digest was the constant adulation the BBC presenters gave businessman and occasional rapper Jigga.

He’s made a few great to excellent tunes, fair enough, and he’s sold a lot of records, but he does put out a fair bit of shite. Anything he’s done with that berk Pharrell is unlistenable. The constant ‘bringing hip hop to Glastonbury’ celebration the presenters brayed about was ludicrous – hip hop has been at the festival for years. Why don’t the likes of Roots Manuva get the honour of bringing the genre to a festival it’s already at? Nonsense.

The bloody presenters

Mark Radcliffe dithered but was amiable. Lauren Laverne was her usual geeky self – likable but irritating simultaneously. Phil Jupitus was wheeled out for nostalgic reasons. That Rufus chap with the comedy moustache had the unenviable task of showing the odd stuff that goes on away from the music at Glastonbury to entertain people on drugs and pierced bozos. All of these I could bear. Even that Grimshaw fellow was alright. The rest of them were horrible.

Jo Whiley, a woman who seems to be permanently wincing, kept trying to tell her audience that they were missing out by not being there where all other presenters were trying to convince them that they were better off at home watching footage. I’ve followed Whiley’s career from the off. I remember her first ever transmission where she kept talking over a live Teenage Fanclub set on Radio One and she’s not improved. Not one jot.

Annie Mac looked extremely vacant. She earns bonus points for having passively dissed Mark Ronson, but aside from that she was nothing more than a curly blur. Grimshaw (is that his name or have I made that up?) kept her afloat. She was clearly on hyper-intertia-drugs.

The booby prizes undoubtedly go to Edith Bowman and Zane Lowe.

It’s baffling to me why these two are in gainful employment. Edith talks so earnestly and joylessly about stuff that’s completely pointless that it makes the viewer roll their eyes frequently enough for it to resemble epilepsy.

Zane Lowe, on the other hand, sits like a twatty teenager thinking he’s above everything. His wisecracks are second-rate, his wannabe laidback style conceals panic inside and his attempts at cool come off as horribly desperate. Putting these two together was a low shot from the BBC, designed to annoy the sit-at-home festival goer so much that they got to the point of watching the stuff on the red button, just to prove that people use that neglected function.

Apart from that – nothing to report. Amy Winehouse was a coked up, furry, stick-insect arsehole again – but what’s new? I wish that fan had punched back.

CAN’T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!

 

*BANG*

 

*thud*