Posts Tagged ‘BBC4’

The Friday Question: Never Ever?

April 3, 2009

There’s a new show over on BBC4, along the lines of Room 101, wherein celebrities admit to never having partaken of four or five cultural experiences.

I’ve never seen any of the Godfather trilogy, read a Dan Brown novel or listened to the music of The Grateful Dead. The idea is – were I one of those famous celebs – that they would invite me on and I would try these things out – then rate them out of ten.

Much laughter would ring through the studio as I expressed my bafflement at the popularity of my experiences or raved about my newfound discovery.

We haven’t got the time or patience to have you try out the things you’ve never done, and we certainly can’t hang about whilst you bang on about whether you enjoyed yourself or not.

Probably best then just to own up to some popular pastime or entertainment you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying so that we can all point and laugh at you – or tell you not to bother trying it, whatever it is.

So – what cultural phenomenon have you never, ever experienced?

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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*

Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe

October 11, 2007

Brooker 

Right, we’ve been skating round this one for long enough now.

Early on in the days of WWM, some little tool piped up and, in other words, called we contributors ‘Brooker-lite’. Needless to say, he was subject to a written stream of abuse and pretty much to this day the names ‘Charlie’ and ‘Brooker’ have become WWM’s equivalent of paedophilia-scat. Piss.

The main issue here is that Brooker does pretty much what we do. He slags off telly using lots of hyperbole, metaphors, cynicism and witticisms e.t.c… for the sake of amusement and largely at the expense of genuine criticism. Yet we don’t mention him on here, which is a bit weird seeing as I’m betting that most of us watched Screenwipe on Tuesday night and found it fucking funny. Why do we dare not speak his name? A sense of pride? Jealousy? Competitiveness?

Brooker has two weekly columns in The Guardian, his own TV show and is turning into a bit of a celeb. He’s fucking won already. Pretending he doesn’t exist (and we do whether you acknowledge it or not) is bizarre.

Here I go then. Firstly, this series isn’t as good as the last one.

Already I am putting myself in the firing line by suggesting Brooker has lost it, is past it, is somehow not as good as he was, when I’m merely saying he’s going over similar ground from series one and the first time round it was funnier. That’s all.

In the first series there was something self-deprecating about the way he presented himself. Innocence, if you will. He was clearly uncomfortable being filmed yelling at the TV and couldn’t help smirking at his own overacted rages. There was something rather, well, endearing about it and about him, like Stephen Fry crying himself to sleep.

Now Brooker has had a second series commissioned and probably a third because it’s jolly good, it leads one to thinking that all of his ‘oh isn’t the TV biz awful’ stuff is a tad misleading, even divisive. I mean he whacks off in perpetuity about how shit it is getting into TV, yet there he is on TV after essentially getting known through a short Saturday column in one of the less popular broadsheets. Indeed, my brother was a runner for about a year before ending up with a great job at the BBC as an editor a few months back. Yes, it can be a bit shit but doing anything for the greater good is, right?

Brooker is now becoming a pastiche of himself. Now, this needn’t be a bad thing. To be frank it’ll probably work out well but at the moment I’m still watching the transition. He’s polarised between the real Charlie, a funny defamatory TV critic, and Brooker, the shouting TV comedy reviewer actor-clown. Christ – he even tried slapstick last night.

So, this series isn’t quite as good as the last one. So what? Despite a few niggles, it’s by far and away one of the best, and funniest, shows on TV.

Flight of the Conchords

October 10, 2007

Flight of the Conchords 

I like Flight of the Conchords. I first saw them at the Edinburgh Festival around 2002 (or maybe 2003) and laughed a lot out of my mush, so I was glad to see they’d made a splash in America and had, as a result, put together a series with HBO, a channel that usually come up with some pretty good programming. That very series is now on BBC4 and is, as hoped, very amusing. My problem’s not with Flight of the Conchords. My problem is with the BBC’s relentless advertising campaign for the series, which is about as subtle as a ram raid on a fluorescent klaxon and puts me off my dinner.

I’m glad the boys are being pushed and making lots of money, but when it comes at the expense of my sanity I feel I must do something about it. Exactly what I should do about it I’m not sure. Shout at the television perhaps, or write an ineffectual blog about my annoyance that will barely be read by anyone. Yes, that’ll do it.

I fire up BBCi to catch up with the news, read a bit of football gossip and maybe copy myself a nice Last of the Summer Wine wallpaper for my monitor and the first thing I see upon hitting their site (and it’s been like this on and off for weeks) is an advert for Flight of the Conchords – a programme which I watched last night, along with all the other fans of the show I’d assume. So the advert is pointless.

It doesn’t stop there though, obviously. There are some bloody awful inserts between shows where the Conchords themselves are forced in front of the camera without a script and made to ad lib about why you should see their show. The viewer is made to feel as uncomfortable as the performers as the desperate crap that comes out of their mouths is clearly the result of a contractual obligation. The bits of you that don’t squirm start to wince as they drop unfunny clangers, actually turning you off the idea of watching the bloody thing.

Just to curl your toes that little bit more, the announcer for BBC4, bless her, introduces it as ‘cult show Flight of the Conchords’. You can’t market it as a cult, can you? Not this soon – surely? It’s only been on for three weeks. Hardly enough time to form an obsessive fan base – in the UK anyway…

That’s not enough for the BBC. Oh Christ no! In this age of viral marketing and online teasers, BBCi want to further get in on the act, like a grandad showing off a new pound-shop walkie talkie when his grandkids have already got mobiles. I was made aware of this last night when, at the end of the show this continuity woman invites you, the viewer, to go online to the ‘Flight of the Conchords microsite’ to view clips from next week’s show. Y’what? ‘Clips’? Not the whole thing? What’s the point of watching clips of it? I want to watch the whole show. It’s only 25 minutes long to start with! If I’m looking forward to chicken kievs and chips for dinner, I don’t go eating the kievs at lunch time, do I? It’d ruin the point of dinner!

So, BBC, stop trying to ruin my dinner, or there’ll be hell to pay.