Posts Tagged ‘BBC3’

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.






Blood, Sweat and T Shirts

May 7, 2008

It’s actually quite difficult to know where to begin with this – with people who don’t know they’re born, who don’t know about human suffering and who don’t understand anything other than their own desultory, vapid existence – and even struggle with that.

This mini-series was made as part of BBC3’s Thread project – a worthwhile but not-very-well-publicised campaign for eco-clothing and fair trade. It’s not something I’m particularly interested in, as it happens. I describe my own style, my own personal sartorial vibe as ‘tramp de la jour’ or ‘affluent curmudgeon’. Basically, I tend to find clothes in dustbins and discarded in puddles so that I end up looking like a tramp who’s one rung up from rock bottom. Despite this detachment, it’s hard not to applaud any movement that attempts to grab those twats who spend two hundred quid in Primark every weekend by the shoulders and shake so much sense into them that their brains haemmorhage.

I remember the glory days when fashion would only take up a couple of pages in a newspaper at a maximum, once a week. Now it’s dripping off every current affairs periodical, with comment, discussion, adulation and piss-taking in every margin of every wretched page. I couldn’t tell you why. Fashion is the the most pointless of all industries. It’s people dressing idiotically in the vain hope they might catch another idiot’s eye for five minutes. And after that five minutes is up, the look becomes ‘so five minutes ago’, making the whole exercise more transient than a transit van going at full pelt along an empty runway.

So – and I think we all agree on this – even a tiny smudge of a passing interest in anything to do with fashion is the mark of an idiot. With this in mind, let us look at the central premise of Blood, Sweat and T Shirts.

Six Westerners, all of them fashion victims, are sent over to India to see how their garments are made. The four parts take us in sequence from the higher class of factory in episode one (still paying workers a pittance, but at least hygenic and safe) to, as I write, part three which took our travellers to a cotton plantation where they picked the cotton buds from the source, before working to gather it and bundle it. Living conditions are very, very basic and work is hard, strenuous work. Part four will hopefully see them losing a hand in some rusty machinery because, to a man, these are the worst group of snivelling idiots you could ever hope to see. And three of them are particularly odious examples of the offspring our nation is plopping out.

Okay, so Georgina is just a little bit thick. Fair enough, Stacey is your unremarkable airhead, and at least she puts in a bit of work. I’ll admit that Tara actually appears to be learning something from the experience – so fair play for that. It doesn’t make them any more likeable, but I admire the fact they got involved.

Despite these three showing, at last, some vestige of being adjusted and functioning, the remaining three are grade ‘A’ arseholes. Irredeemable twats. Especially Richard. By Christ, especially Richard.

First off, Amrita is a spoiled little rich girl who I believe is of second generation Indian ethnicity. Ok, so that might be too distant for her to feel genuine empathy for people from her own background, but still it was surprising to see her slagging off the natives of the country where her ancestors were born for being ‘dirty’ and ‘rude’. In fact, I’ll go further. It was fucking disgusting and she should be beaten with a fucking stick for her callous twattishness. She’s a posh little devil who honestly thinks she deserves the priviledge she was born into. Last night, after working in the cotton field for five minutes, she was delighted her eczema flared up, meaning she couldn’t continue and had to go back to the flat they were renting to do fuck all.

Slightly less irritating, but only because he’s so thick he’s unaware of what his huge, farting gob is going on about, is Mark. Mark lives with his Mum and is clearly unable to do anything for himself. At times Mark has put some effort in but he tends to throw tantrums the minute anyone touches him. He also dresses like any clone who walks out of Next or Top Man and he talks in mono-syllables. Luckily, he’s quite easy to ignore. Unlike Richard.

Richard wants to look like Alex Zane (fuck knows why), and he pulls this off – he too looks like a berk. But where Alex Zane is presumably capable of logical thought, Richard is a toothy, weepy, fuckhead with nothing going for him whatsoever. Apparently he runs his own ad agency and is on fifty grand a year (must be a small ad agency then)  – but I refuse to believe this on the basis that he is utterly, utterly stupid. The world has never known stupidity like this. Seriously.

The object of this show is to replicate the experience of your average sweatshop worker – and even then I’m sure they’ve sanitised it somewhat. When Richard felt a little bit tired, in the middle of a crowded cafe, he began a tirade against the dirty, disgusting, rude, peasants he worked amongst (his words, not mine). He was so loud, he disturbed those around him, one man in particular took offence (and rightly so) and attempted to assuage the anger, only to receive more hot air from the stupid cunt.

Richard’s threatened to leave a few hundred times and I’m sure I’m not alone when I wish he’d just piss off and leave the others to it. He’s incapable of learning anything about Indian culture and he refuses to engage with the workers. His reasons for feeling no sympathy for the workers early on was that they, he reasoned, could surely find a way out of the slums. Citing his own climb to ‘the top’, he said that any man could make their own way in the world, forgetting that he comes from one of the wealthiest countries in the world and was surely given more than a leg up from his old man. Even the slightest bit of research would tell you that these people have no choice. You don’t even need evidence, Richard! Look around you!

To add to this, he also didn’t realise cotton comes from plants. Richard is the personification of our idiot youth – that percentage of our kids who are over-exposed, over-priviledged and who deserve to be flogged.

The final episode is next week. For editorial purposes, there’ll be the inevitable end of ‘the journey’ tears and a montage of edits wherein all the participants are shown to have learned something. Don’t believe it. Amrita and Richard in particular are learning fuck all. They haven’t got the capacity to see beyond their own material, pointless lives. They’re dumbed down dickheads and they should be left to survive in the slums. They haven’t an ounce of the dignity of the people they work around in this series, and if left to their own devices in that environment, minus camera crews and production staff, they’d be trying to eat their own shit and living in trees, so devoid are they of common sense.

You might be able to tell, this show upsets me a little bit. The final edit is trying to tell its own story – of six youngsters realising where their easily gained possessions come from. But the programme does more than that, as despite attempts to cover over the cracks, what we actually see is a handful of pig-headed twats realising nothing and revealing everything that’s bad about our throwaway culture. At least, for an hour per week, we get to see them suffer.


November 26, 2007

A Fat Teen, Yesterday 

Hold on to your hats, folks, the countdown has begun. That’s right – we’re almost 12 hours away from the next instalment of BBC3’s latest reality TV fest ‘CAN FAT TEENS HUNT?‘! It’s the show you’ve been waiting for since your birth – admit it.

How many times have you been idly wandering around the supermarket, unable to even place a firm grip on the items you want in your trolley because you’re too preoccupied with that one query that niggles right into your frontal lobes on frequent occasions…

I bet you’ve lost count of the amount of times you’ve been walking the dog, let the little fella off his leash and then lost him in a small forest as you’ve been too mentally congested with that overriding concern…

How regularly, during a bout of unsatisfying sex, do you have to stop and disengage from the wetpiece or prong you’re flapping with in order to try and ascertain the solution to that nagging issue…


Thank Christ Auntie’s seen fit to answer this ageless riddle with this fascinating sociological experiment cum reality TV entertainment vehicle / anthropological investigation / chance to laugh at little waddling chubs getting all lost, tired and emotional in the jungle (though that’s clearly not the intention of the producers, honest guvnor).

Episode one, which I saw half of, involved introductions to the cast of FAT TEENS, all of whom stood in their undies and showed off their stretchmarks, interspersed with shots of them gobbling down crisps and sweets. It was a chubby-chasing paedophile’s dream come true, I should imagine, and made for quite uncomfortable viewing for those of us not too easily acquainted with the grotesque.

When they got to the jungle, all manner of chaos ensued. One of the teens is a muslim who gorges on his Mum’s curry. He was subject to a bout of bullying from the other rotund members of the crew because ‘they couldn’t understand his religion’. This lack of comprehension (centred around why he refused to watch a pig being slaughtered) resulted in all the white trash, crisps-for-dinner, future scumbags haranguing the poor little sod in the dark, in the middle of nowhere, as the camera crew filmed on without judgement.

Sadly, I was made to change channels, so I never got to discover whether or not FAT TEENS CAN HUNT. That’s why I’ve been on tenterhooks all week. My weekend break was sullied as I sat, head in hands, trying to equate teen-fatness with the ability to hunt. So I, for one, can’t wait until 10.30 tonight, when BBC3, that example of shamelessly self-descriptive programming will hopefully finally give me the answers I’ve been searching for throughout my entire, wretched life.

(I bet they can’t).

add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: ::

BBC iPlayer

October 17, 2007

2 pint overload 

Since broadband was available for a reasonable price throughout the UK, people have been downloading films over it. My friend downloaded a wobbly copy of Episode 1 of Star Wars months before it came out over here and got to discover that Jar-Jar Binks was shit way before anyone else. That was in 1999. I’m saying this so that you can get an idea of how behind the times ‘Auntie’ is in launching a program downloading service.

The BBC have realised the internet exists and now let you watch shows through BBC iPlayer. The sign up process is confusing, but provided you have at least a PhD in Computing and the sort of relentless optimism that got Haig through the Somme, you should be able to manage it. Your computer will be filled with a bilious slob of a program that will swallow up resources and works very slowly.

I bet at this point you’re thinking ‘well at least I’ll be able to watch my favourite programs whenever I want’. Well, no, you can’t. You can watch a tiny selection of programs for about seven days and then they are gone forever. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you don’t get to watch the programs you have already paid for whenever you like because the production companies have realised this might dent their sales of compilation DVDs at Christmas. So all the programs are limited.

The searching is clunky and slow, you can’t download a series in one go, or even a few episodes from a series. You have to find a program, click the first one on the list, go into the item of it and click download. Then you have to go back to the menu, find the program again and click the second one on the list and then go into it’s page to download it.

It doesn’t even realise that if you always download Mock the Week, you might want to be able to ‘subscribe’ to it and get it whenever a new one comes out, as Podcasts have done for a while. Is that too much to ask?

Oh and it’s just full of crap at the moment, the image above is an actual screen shot from their ‘comedy’ selection. Provided you like watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps you will be delighted. What makes this worse is that there are naughty websites on the internet who provide this service illegally and they do it much better. You can be sat at your desk at work at watch classic episodes of Dr Who or the second season of Heroes with only the occasional danger of adverts for ‘hot girls in Slough’ flashing up.

The BBC does some things brilliantly. In my head the license fee I pay is split between Radio 4, the BBC website and the cast of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

Singing With The Enemy

October 15, 2007

I don’t know if, like me, you’ve ever mislaid the synapse that gets your brain and body working after too much two-quid plonk. I often find, in that state of mind, it’s a challenge to focus on the buttons of a remote control and you end up watching any old shit. Shit like Singing With The Enemy, a reality show in which two bands (both of whom will make you sit up shouting “never heard of ’em”) are managed by a famous manager (“never heard of him”) and made to collaborate on a one-off single. The point is that the bands are complete opposites. A hip hop collective might be expected to record with a gay cabaret act perhaps. Or, as I witnessed through waves of drunken nausea in the early hours of Sunday morning, they might pair a godawful ‘punk’ band with a technically able but woefully out of touch Christian hardcore group.

This was really, really poor programming which may, just possibly have succeeded were either band even moderately well known. Or if the hotshot Manager was a recognised face. Sadly I can’t remember his credentials but the fact is it doesn’t matter, as his only input was to turn up every other day, swear a bit and tell either band to buck their ideas up before claiming the ‘success’ of the final recording as his own when the conclusion happily stumbled into view.

The first band was Paparazzi Whore, a name which was either born out of their sense of irony or via simple wishful thinking. I doubt the paparazzi will ever allow The PWs to whore themselves in any shape or form as their music is completely terrible. The band’s rhythm section is made up of two long-haired, scared teenagers who, to their infinite credit, kept their mouths shut throughout as they sat in the midst of arguments looking far too cool to get involved. The lead guitarist was an early-40s ex punk who looked just that little bit too old for all this. They were finished off with two singers. For singers, read ‘shouters’ or ‘low moaners’. The guitarist’s girlfriend, Micci, thought herself to be an anarchistic sex pot with the look to match. In actuality she was about as edgy as a spherical Alan Titmarsh and looked like that male model who used to front Menswear.

Her partner on the mic was Suzy, apparently her bit on the side in real life, a dreadlocked crustie whose look was about ten years out of date. The Levellers have all got tidy haircuts these days – apart from the idiot who played bass – and I reckon Swampy’s probably a recruitment consultant by now. Suzy was even worse than Micci in the vocal area, incapable of carrying a tune and even when shouting lacking any form of menace. Perhaps sensing her complete pointlessness, Suzy left the band by the end of the show.

The ‘story’ aspect to the show was shaped around Suzy’s exit. Dweeb, the Christian rock group who they were due to work with, apparently showed her the light when lead singer Tim read from the Bible midway through the bands set. Tim is a risible, untrustworthy dickhead who is one of those types who, though unqualified to even preach, thinks they’re the second coming. He’s a David Koresh in waiting. Either that or just a cheesy born-again speck of idiocy from Coventry who, if he should ever read this, would smugly forgive me for bad-mouthing him, wrongly thinking that being platitudinous and forgiving would make him instantly better than me and would earn an extra stamp on his passport to paradise.

What kind of name is ‘Dweeb’ for a band anyway? It raises the hackles even thinking about it. The fact they put brackets round it try in order to try and make it somehow different smacks of even more fervent desperation. To add to all these problems, their music is slick, Chilli Peppers-lite rubbish, so contrived it’s not even worth remarking on how unremarkable it is.

The Christians lapsed into self-parody on a number of occasions. When Paparazzi Whore brought strippers on the stage in their gig early on, (bringing brief visual interest to a show dominated by goon-faces) the Dweeb boys left the floor and went to the bar with their colas, discussing their commitment to god and refusing to ogle boobies like any self-respecting, red-blooded male should. One of them spoke behind his gingery sheepdog curls to camera stating that it would be wrong to look at the stage as he’s engaged and he didn’t want to disrespect his fiance by becoming involved in temptation. Struck me as odd. They were strippers, stripping in public, not paid up prostitutes attempting to envelop him in their pre-paid holes.

Their prayer-meetings were also unintentionally amusing. Watching teenagers pray, decked out in T Shirts and jeans, with wacky haircuts and skater trainers is odd. Where their peers would be talking about Beastie Boys rarities or Tony Hawk’s ollies and grinds, these chaps nattered about, like, how incredibly awesome the holy spirit is, yeah? as though they were showing off new pegs on their BMX. It just made them look incredibly phoney.

The final outcome was that the bands recorded a pile of drivel together, something about how the listener should believe in whatever it is they believe in and respect what other people believe too. Which is a bit wishy washy. It also suggests we should respect those who believe in Jihadi terrorism. Or ritual sacrifice. Or enforced abortion. Or all kinds of things. The vocals were appalling, needless to say – Tim Dweeb totally overegged the pudding, wailing like a banshee over Micci’s tuneless rumbling. When they gathered together to play it live, with Suzy watching in the wings, the sense that everyone had just wasted a couple of weeks of their lives was tangible with Suzy potentially about to waste the rest of her life hanging out with a bunch of born again berks.

You can hear their collaborative effluents here, if masochism’s your kink.