Posts Tagged ‘Comic Relief’

Just a Thought: Comic Relief

March 16, 2009

In the past it would’ve taken an iron will or three VHS tapes to get through the nearly-annual maelstrom of goodwill they call Comic Relief. Luckily, in times of broadband and fibre-optics we can press the relevant button and watch it all back at our own pace. If you’ve paid your money, you makes your choice – and there’s no shame in avoiding such a long stint on the couch if you’ve already coughed up.

But is donating ample justification for having a pop at the format of a show founded on what is undoubtedly a good cause? Or is it churlish to criticise the production values of a well-intentioned telly marathon?

Well – that depends. It depends on whether or not the stuff they put out in return for your charity is insultingly manipulative and needlessly shallow.

With the best will in the world, and with the complete understanding that telethons are fired by the contribution of funds from the viewer, this year’s Comic Relief was borderline unbearable. Unless my nostalgia blanket has crept up over my eyes, the BBC seem to have reneged on the deal somewhat, and the old structure we’re used to – wall-to-wall comedy interspliced with occasional and thorough information pieces – has been shipped out, wholesale. The appeals are now relentlessly repetitive, too short to leave any lasting understanding and the footage around them leaves a sour taste in the throat as a consequence.

One five minute sequence featuring Catherine Tate squawking, with barely any context, would be quickly followed, clumsily and offensively, by footage of a baby dying and endless requests for dollar from the overpaid likes of Claudia Winkleman and Davina McCall. Neither of whom are comedians. Both of whom are irritating at best, and hideously insincere, attention-grabbing slimers at worst. The sight of them on Comic Relief does Top of The Pops, infiltrating the stage when FloRida attempted to plug his new single (proceeds presumably going to his own coiffers), was breathtaking.

It was impossible to ignore them, in the company of the now beyond-irrelevant French and Saunders, mugging along during the whole of the TOTP sequence as they’d been placed right at the front of the audience. Had they been told to make arseholes of themselves by Production, or had they just grabbed the opportunity to blag screentime off their own backs? Either way, it was teeth-grindingly annoying, and added insult to the injury of the likes of Take That promoting non-charitable singles in the wake of shots of poverty-stricken children breathing their last breaths.

The idea of sending celebrities overseas to film VTs to show us where the money goes – or why it’s required – is essential to Comic Relief. There are some classic examples from the past. But this time round, despite Christine Bleakley’s good efforts on The One Show in the preceding week, the night itself concerned itself with a stream of superficial films which misappropriated extremely upsetting, shock images and all ended with the likes of Davina or Annie (bloody) Lennox weeping – as though that would help us to empathise. As though we were too stupid to empathise without seeing a familiar face, urging us to empathise. And the less said about Fearne Cotton fainting, the better.

I haven’t yet mentioned Simon Cowell. They had an appeal from Mr. Simon ‘Fuck You I’m Rich’ Cowell. Didn’t this idea ring a few alarm bells in pre-production? It’s one thing to have the media megalomaniac Jonathan Ross and his enormous salary presenting a slice of the show, and quite another having a shamelessly greedy arsehole like Cowell asking us – recently redundant, credit-crunch victims – for our cash, whether the appeal is genuine or not.

And speaking of Annie Lennox – it’s nice to see her crawl out and into the limelight following a media silence that seemed to last years. And now she’s back – just in time for Comic Relief and the release of her new album. Nice to see that the two happened to coincide.

Despite these howlers, Comic Relief improved over the course of the evening. James Corden was (I can’t believe I’m typing this) brilliant in his England team pep talk. The Celebrity Apprentice was excellent, with the trio of Dee, Carr and Ratner making it last year’s equal. Graham Norton and Alan Carr’s presentation was far better than the earlier stuff because of their lack of earnestness, their avoidance of faux-sincerity and their awareness of the incongruence between the comedy and the tragedy. To their credit, they got on with the job without crying their eyes out between links, then wiping their eyes for a mum-dance to a new release.

There’s got to be an argument for a more intelligent take on the charity telethon. Audiences’ viewing habits have changed and their knowledge of how editing and scheduling works is more developed than ever before. If the BBC learns that we’re not all reliant on Davina’s moodswings when it comes to making a decision on whether or not we donate, we might end up with a product that makes just as much money for the cause and doesn’t leave us feeling soiled and bemused. Here’s hoping.

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Comic Relief – Thursday’s Celeb Specials

March 13, 2009

A celebrity double bill then, kicking off with Kilimanjaro: The Big Red Nose Climb.

In this one off charity special, Chris Moyles and his celebrity mates climbed a mountain for the Comic Relief cause. Viewers tuning in expecting to see Gary Barlow tumbling down a rocky scene, shattering bones with each bump, were disappointed – as all he did was complain about his back. Those who set Sky+ in the hope of seeing a naked Cheryl Cole bathing under a waterfall will also feel let down by the fact that all she did was worry about her make up and walk like an upright stick-insect, unable to move a step unless a flunky held her hand.

Aside from that, this wholly unremarkable show featured Denise Van Outen being her usual chirpy self, Ronan Keating sporting his curtain cut in a variety of different lengths, Aleesha Dixon laughing like a hyena one minute then sobbing the next and Fearne Cotton feeling peaky.

So not a particularly eventful feature, particularly considering the build up the BBC had pasted all over their magazine shows this week. In fact, it was such a non-event that they felt the need to feature three ten minute appeals in the one hour running time to get some money in, presumably to wake viewers up and remind them that this wasn’t just a complete waste of time.

Immediately following the monotonous trek, Comic Relief Does The Apprentice lifted the spirits somewhat. There was, admittedly, an issue this time round. The Producers filled the teams with funny people (or in Jonathan Ross’s case, people who think they’re funny), with only one business-experienced individual on either team.

Rather than cause no end of hilarity, this resulted in Jonathan Ross on the boys’ team going into overdrive and steering his team like some terrible, cheesy dictator, his team becoming instantly timid in the face of his gigantic salary and influence.

The girls’ team split into two camps, causing some friction and an underwhelming argument between Patsy Palmer and an underwear magnate, but aside from that they bumbled through just fine.

The best line of the night came from Jack Dee – at one point perfectly executing his comic timing to complain about the amount of seats in the boardroom, then retract his outburst like a small boy.

Enjoyable stuff and for a good cause – but the real thing is coming soon…

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?

Just A Thought – Children In Need

November 12, 2008

wogan pudsey

I know this is going to make me sound like a right miserable shitheap, but isn’t it about time Children In Need took heed of its own slogan – ‘Do Something Different‘?

I know I can’t be alone in thinking that a seven hour showcase of the shittest of the shit that Britain has to offer isn’t the best way of getting folk to stump up their money. Without referring to the schedules, I know it’ll go something like this …

  • Wogan and that fucking Fearne Cotton limpit introduce Westlife singing something shit
  • The cast of EastEnders sing some Godawful rubbish gleaned from the cultural wasteland that is musical theatre
  • Sugary bullshit artist Katie Melua sings something shit, yet wistful
  • The bollocks that is Strictly Come Dancing does some dancing
  • Take That sing their latest shit song
  • ITV gamely joins in by letting the stars of one of their few remaining popular shows (The Bill, Corrie or Emmerdale) sing a shit musical number that closely resembles their EastEnders counterpart’s efforts from earlier
  • Boyzone sing their latest shit song; the BBC newsreaders make fools of themselves as they sing an old 70s rock song dressed in women’s clothes
  • Whoever won the X Factor last year sings something soulless and shit that Simon Cowell’s minions wrote in a committee in five minutes flat
  • Over to Kate Humble and the mentally disturbed Bill Oddie for no reason other than everyone on a BBC contract is required to do something for the kids
  • Edgy Facebook generation singer Adele / Kate Nash / Duffy sings something shit about mobile phones or what-have-you
  • The cast of Top Gear prove yet again that anything they do beyond the bounds of their own editorial control is a complete disaster
  • KT Tunstall sings something shit, etc. etc. etc.

There must be a better way of mounting a televised charity event than simply filling it with hours and hours of the worst music this country is currently producing, surely?

If Comic Relief can do it, why not Children In Need?

Comic Relief Does Fame Academy

March 13, 2007

Vine 

Karaoke Torture on BBC 1 

Comic Relief does Fame Academy. Oh dear.

Comic Relief does Fame Academy up the shit-pipe.

Make that Comic Relief does music up the shit-pipe hard, and agonisingly.

In fact, this isn’t a singing contest, its brutal murder. The spirit of music is being slowly and excruciatingly skull-fucked to death by a hapless bunch of wannabes, tronabees, never-gonna-bes and Christ-will-you-stop-now-please?!

Like most reality television these days, it’s partly a who’s-who of who-the-fuck-are-they-and-why-are-they-alive? It’s got fat Barry off Never-enders, who to be fair, seems like a nice bloke, (although he snacks on deep fried foetuses for all I know) and Tim Vine, a squeaky clean comedian who, if memory serves, holds the current British (maybe world) record for most gags per minute. (It’s something ridiculous like 15 jokes per second, 14 of which are just various parts of his face and head looking odd). Having said this, his act is pretty funny and I quite like him.

Another one is Colin Brainchild or whatever his name is – that Quimhead from T4, whom I do not like because he makes me wretch from almost every orifice. Can I just stress again how much I really don’t like him; he is, to put it bluntly, a cunt who I am physically and mentally incapable of liking.

Also guilty are: unfunny fool, Mel ‘I’m wacky, I am’ Gedroyc (change your fucking name!) and that dim-witted irritant Tara Palmer-Tompkinson (I’m not even gonna bother).

Oh, and football’s Ray Stubbs, who is definitely not human. I’m thinking some kind of sasquatch cum bogey-man hybrid / chimera thing. But, for argument’s sake, I could settle for the abominable snowman. His reactions, expressions and emotions are not of this realm. Either he’s something else or he was raised by sheep-fish on an underwater mountain.

Anyway, I’ve never heard of the other half of the contestants, but they’re all either horrible or rubbish, both in some cases.

The judges just sit there like lumps of shit being clapped and booed. This format is so transparent:

The Garret creature is the ‘nice’ one, and the two cheese graters perched either side of her take it in turns to be the nasty one, although one of them (the one who I suspect feverishly wanks himself into a stupor of an evening with a crumpled, sticky Polaroid of Simon Cowell clasped in his left hand) is a fair bit nastier than his camp-arsed colleague, who tries to achieve an equal amount of cheers and boos per show. The Cowell-wanker seems to thrive off the boos as if his life depended on them and in his role as the villain, tries his damnedest to coax them out of the live audience at every given opportunity. I have observed him actually feeding off boos like a kind of reaction scavenger with an insatiable hunger for negative energy. Don’t get me wrong, he is right to tell them they’re shit, but the way it’s done is so contrived. He’s like the anti-Tim Vine, gleefully powering toward a world record of 800 boos per minute.

However, I suppose I shouldn’t really be so hard on this programme. It is for charity after all.

Fuck that – it’s sick and must be shut down at all costs.