Posts Tagged ‘Davina McCall’

NewsGush: TOTP Unlikely To Return

April 1, 2009

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

Do you miss TOTP?

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

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

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

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

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

Personally, I don’t miss it.

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

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

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

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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.

Big Fat Quiz Of The Year: 2008

December 30, 2008

Another year, another Big Fat Quiz Of The Year. Previously, this was decent, low-grade Christmas TV fodder. You could even stand Jimmy Carr and his casual bigotry as the outing relied more heavily on the panelists, made up of, if memory serves:

  • A pre-Manuel-trouble Jonathan Ross, gamely trying to keep up with the cool kids and acting the giddy goat, managing to be funny for ten percent of the time.
  • A pre-Manuel-trouble Russell Brand, putting in a good spot in conjunction with partner in crime…
  • Noel Fielding. Noel Fielding is one of those annoying swines who personifies likability. Thus, anything with him in it is generally alright.
  • David Walliams – like Ross, trying a bit too hard, but keeping the thing afloat with enthusiasm and idiocy.
  • David Mitchell – always good quality, even when he’s in something shit.
  • Someone else I can’t remember. [update] It was the comedian and good egg, Rob Brydon.

This year, things went horribly, horribly wrong. Ross is on a forced holiday because he done a naughty on a phoneline. He couldn’t appear as a result, presumably. Brand was unavailable for similar reasons, in addition to promoting a proper career abroad. Mitchell must have been busy and Walliams is in America. Consequently, we were left with a real horrorshow. Barrels were scraped and dogshit scraped ceremoniously from shoes as Channel 4 booked, presumably whilst drunk:

  • Claudia Winkleman – that woman off Liquid News in the 90s who looks like a goth nine-year-old who’s being continuously tasered.
  • Dara O’Briain – a man who claims he’s a comedian but is actually just Irish. And, disgustingly, he can’t even spell his own name.
  • That posh man – who is infrequently funny on Have I Got News For You.
  • Sean Lock – a cracking comedian whose usually brilliant humour was sullied for the second time this year by that arsehole:
  • James Corden – why? Why, why, why? Why is this bastard even… even…. Why is he…

…I can’t be arsed.

  • Oh – and Davina Fucking McCall.

Need I go on? Does the resultant car crash even warrant description?

Does it buggery. Even the bit where the kids from a primary school do an amusingly amateurish and endearing take on an event from the preceding year fell flat, thanks to the berks on stage following the clip, hooting like gorillas and revelling in their own crap jokes. What a ruddy letdown.

NewsGush: Ramsay’s Cookalong Dead

November 25, 2008

Poor old Gordon Ramsay’s PR people. And a twinge of sympathy, if you will, for old scrotum-face.

First his indiscretions are made public by the gutter press and then his ratings come in quite some way below expectations. It’s not often that Gordon gets two doses of bad publicity in a week, and it feels like the world’s started turning in another direction all of a sudden.

Are people sick of his barking, bullying, self-righteous schtick? Have his vainglorious, tedious televisual displays of self-love finally rubbed his public up the wrong way?

Have the people, after all this time, finally realised he’s a complete and utter arsehole?

Not sure if you’ve seen Cookalong Live, but it’s a fine example of a presenter being prised into a format they really, really can’t handle. For a reference point, think Davina on her eponymous chatshow as she made millions change channels, as they realised there was less to her than they’d originally thought.

Ramsay is forced to be nice to people whilst working within a very limited timeframe and he can’t handle it. I watched the first episodes and found myself feigning a posh, Glasgow-inflected accent, shouting ‘Ey! Big boys! Where’re your balls?!’ as he fluffed link after link and hopped up and down on the spot in pure panic so much that my household now bursts out laughing every time we see him. ‘Hippity Hop’ we call him. Cookalong is a hop off more than it’s a cooking show.

From 11.3% of the viewership to 6.3% is quite a shocking drop over the course of three weeks, but if  you’re hoping we’ve seen the back of him, you’ll be disappointed as he, Oliver and Fearnley-Whittingstall return to our screens again sooner than you may have expected with another series of patronising lectures and book advertisements in the coming months.

Hooray! Yes?

Yes?

Yes?

One Minute Review: Garnier Ultralift Pro X

November 18, 2008

Davina McCall: As we age, skin loses its plumpness and wrinkles appear deeper. It’s all about bounce.
Man’s voice and subtitle: New Garnier Ultralift Pro X
Subtitle: Proven Temporary effect
Man’s voice and subtitle: Enriched with patented Pro-Xylane – derived from Beechwood extract
Davina: For me it’s the best anti-wrinkle cream
Subtitle: Intense firming anti-wrinkle care
Davina: It plumps up the skin and wrinkles appear pushed up, like this…

[she squeezes stress ball and then relaxes it]

Subtitle:
Dramatisation
Davina: Plumper skin – wrinkles appear reduced!
Man’s voice and subtitle: New Garnier Ultralift Pro X
Davina and subtitle: Take care
Man’s voice and subtitle: (Garnier)

They say the best scripts read just as well as they perform. Shakespeare rolls off the page, iambic pentameters bouncing with vim and vigour. Tennessee Williams’ melodrama shrieks at you as you scan his directions. You can even smell the stale gin on Withnail’s overcoat as you flick through Bruce Robinson’s screenplay.

I’d say the same is true of this offering from Garnier. The subtle combination of Davina McCall’s trusted, earthy personality combined with the voiceover from an unseen, softly spoken male is compounded by the sub-script up onscreen – a clinical white font offering useful additional information on this apparently amazing product. I know, I know – the fact that the stress-ball wrinkle-relief is a dramatisation could be considered a bit of a swizz, but for heaven’s sake! This is Davina McCall!

If we can trust anyone, it is she.

It’s all about plumpness.

Take care.

Dead Set

November 3, 2008

Contains very mild spoilers

I enjoyed Dead Set far more than I thought I would. Being something of an obsessive gimp when it comes to all things undead, I saw the trailer and my first thought was…

…zombie’s shouldn’t be fast!

How many times do we have to tell you?!

Zombies are slow, idiotic, lurching beasts. Not hyper-aware, sprinting gut-munchers! For gawd’s sake, film-makers – you’ve tried it, now let’s get back to the shambolic, staggering undead twats we know and love. It worked in 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, to a point. But LET’S MOVE ON.

However, I now feast upon my own, over-critical words because it worked here.

The crucial difference between your fast and your slow zombie is margin for error. With a super-zombie, its ability to run at full pelt allows it to kill you within seconds. The virus will spread literally like wild-fire and your only hope, really, is to keep yourself at a massive distance from trouble and holed up securely.

The opportunities for fun multiply when you’re dealing with the traditional, slow zombie as they’re only really a formidable opponent when they come at you in numbers. The virus takes days to set in giving you time to find security. When they do eventually get to you, if you’re stuck in a room with three and have even the lightest of weapons, if you don’t freak out you’ve got a chance. You can outpace them if you choose to run or, if you time your hits right, you can kill them.

The classic zombie allegory, the one film-makers constantly strive to include in their work is based around the fact that zombies are essentially us. When coming at protagonists in hords, they represent the mob. Public opinion. The notion of habitual behaviour. Slow zombies, in this instance, represent the fact that people are catatonic in the face of outside pressures and only respond on the most basic of levels.

So what can we take from the faster, modern zombie? That we’re more clued up? Demand instant satisfaction? Are more aggressive?

It certainly adds up when you consider Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set and it’s none-too-subtle mockery of Big Brother viewers. From the cynical media-savvy watcher to the baying crowds who attend live evictions, thankfully nobody was spared. And, with kudos to Mr Brooker, beyond the premise, the execution of his central conceit was underplayed very well.

So, at the centre of the drama we have the fact that BB viewers are not only zombified – they’re also filled with a kind of aggressive, televisual blood-lust. But beyond that any didactic element was expertly hidden. Despite the fact that characterisation was limited in terms of backstory, we learned enough from their actions to grasp the point the writer was making.

Joplin, I feel, was key here. As a weary, supposedly uninterested contestant approaching middle age, he most represented the BB viewer I tend to know, and I suspect he was the closest Brooker came to scripting himself into the story. Through Kevin Eldon’s lines we got the distinct impression that Brooker feels the cynical observer is just as culpable as the less-informed viewer. And Joplin’s being responsible for literally opening the floodgates in the hectic conclusion was a blatant metaphor for where he feels the blame lies. Essentially, we allow this to happen.

The other characters, sadly, didn’t have quite the depth of Joplin. Jaime Winstone portrayed the standard overlooked herione and the rest of the Big Brother contestants weren’t given a chance to shine. Winstone’s boyfriend had some fantastically emotional scenes but, after five episodes I can’t remember his name, which means he can’t have made much of an impact beyond looking moody on a boat.

The producer character obviously had the best lines – despite being overwritten at some points. With one too many Brookerisms – referring to a PDA as a robot’s bollock, for example – he was in danger of reaching uber-stereotype proportions. But this was remedied by the amusing sight of him literally gutting former housemates with demented glee. And not much needs to be said of the symbolism of his shitting into a bucket in a confined space. It explains itself.

Inevitably, we had the zombie Davina – an idea I was hoping the makers would resist. But, to her credit, Davina makes a far better zombie than TV presenter and it was actually quite gratifying to see her whacking her head against a door – putting those twitching mannerisms to excellent use.

The real problem for anyone approaching zombie film-making in a world where even Romero himself is treading water is what novel amendments can be made to the format without polluting the genre. Fast zombies kind of worked, but have had their day. The first person perspective worked brilliantly in The Zombie Diaries and at the end of the Dawn remake – but faltered somewhat in Diary of the Dead. So one option is to change nothing but the location where the survivors hole up. The location itself becomes the source of tension. Romero was the first to twig this and located his first three movies at, sequentially:

  • The home – looking at how family, friendly and neighbourly relations were compromised.
  • The shopping mall – questioning our consumerist habits. 
  • The nuclear base – playing on fears of nuclear war and military aggression.

Placing the action in the BB compound replicates this structure. Also replicated were several scenes from other zombie movies. Picking zombies off whilst standing on the roof, a la Dawn of the Dead. The producer ripped to shreddies, guts hanging out and all, like the army boss in Day of the Dead. A winking nod to the brilliantly weird Living Dead at Manchester Morgue in the script here, a dash to the van sourced from Night of the Living dead over there… you have to question when homage becomes a tiresome tribute.

It’s this reliance on the genre archetypes that makes Brooker’s outing a worthy addition to what’s becoming a vast pantheon of quality zombie output rather than an outright, genre-busting classic. I’d imagine, to his mind, that’s probably the job wholly done.

Can we get back to the good old days of the stumbling, bumble-fuck undead now? Before it’s too late?

NewsGush – Dead Set

August 27, 2008

An update on that Charlie Brooker thing can be found below…

Click

Personally, I’d say an appearance from Davina McCall and former Big Brother contestants automatically devalues it, but time will tell. No doubt Aisleyne will get plenty of airtime in Brooker’s bewildering, ongoing campaign to get her work…

Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong

February 12, 2008

Alan Carr 

Oh dear. Oh god. Oh holy moly mother of Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ. What is this? What the fuck is this? How did this bile inducing piece of horseflesh ever get splashed across my screen? What sins have I and by extension the rest of the country, committed in a previous life to be offered this sack of shit as Friday night entertainment?

I know what we did. We gave credence to a little thing called the Friday Night Projected. Hosted by two fucktard rejects from comedy, this piss-poor excuse for television somehow became popular and launched its mediocre frontmen to national fame. Justin Lee Collins is bad enough – a Butlins level wookie milking his yokel accent in place of charm – but the true crime that FNP commited was giving us Alan Carr.

Alan Carr. Alan Carr. Just  run that name around in your head for a second and let the syllables trickle over your tongue… Alan Carr, the carry on Columbus of modern comedy, the liberal’s excuse for homophobia, the heir apparent to Joe Pasquale…

You see Alan Carr is gay. GAY. That means he likes kissing men. Which is hilarious. HILARIOUS.  Because he’s gay he’s obsessed with cock , like all gay men are. He’s camp, and effeminate, and high pitched and squealingly consumed by innuendo… just like every other gay man in the world. He’s such a great representative of the homosexual community that he makes the women think he’s sweet and the men think he’s non-threatening… just like all gay men should be. He should work for the United Nations as an ambassador or something, he’d really further the cause.

So, Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong (ooh, see what they did there? ‘Ding dong’ is euphemism for cock) is about pitting celebrities against civilians, seeing who knows more about the other’s life. Seeing that the private life of every cunt who’s ever been television is forcefed down our throats 24 hours a day, while normal life is often held in disdain by even the lowliest X-Factor loser, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess how it works out…

Alan enters to a standing ovation (yes, a fucking standing ovation!) from the Heat subscribers who make up his audience and positions himself betwixt the huge final letter of Ding and first letter of Dong, making himself the O of self worship. He reads the autocue with the ability of a man who learnt to read yesterday and introduces the bottom scrapings that are his celebrity guests:

  • Kirsty Gallagher, who says not one fucking word all show – no doubt earning her 10 grand payday
  • Les Dennis, squandering his Ricky Gervais given second wind with all the finesse of Cuba Gooding Jr after an Oscar win
  • Konnie Huq, kick starting her unavoidable slide into lad mags pictorials
  • Davina McCall, the cackling high priestess of shit television
  • Alex somebody who might have something to do with music, but I only recognize him from a G2 fashion supplement where he talks about his kooky hat collection.

Hardly human beings, let alone celebrities…

The civilian guests enter and are no doubt picked from a gene pool of competing hilarity… each is a little funny looking,  too short or too tall and uncomfortable in their skin.

They are, are of course, from a notoriously boring town and hold down wildly dull jobs. One of them lives in a council house; Davina finds this hilarious.

And so the games begin; which takes longer to obtain, an African baby or a council house? Which is fatter; Posh’s waist or the bingo wings of a fat girl? Throughout we are treated to ‘comedy skits’, the worst of which features Derek Acorah channeling dead celebrities and giving Alan plenty of chances to say “oooh, I’ve been entered” over and over again.

The script – and it is scripted, thoroughly and entirely – is appalling, the delivery of the ‘improvised’ comedy is stage managed to the nth degree, pointing out how completely untalented anybody on the stage is. I’ve seen Brit awards ceremonies hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood that are more natural than the lines passing for banter here.

And it keeps coming like this, for 50 fucking minutes! There’s the game where you guess the cooking times of microwave food – but not just any microwave food, no, it’s microwavable faggots and spotted dick. Which is funny because Alan Carr is, like, gay. It’s hilariously clever…! You can just imagine the Hoxton underling who they sent out to buy the props for the show – hawing with laughter in the frozen section of Netto as he foraged for the cheapest, nastiest and most gay-sounding foods he could find.

It finished, somebody won and no doubt the plebs were humiliated for ever thinking they could stand in Davina’s shadow. I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t watch the end. I felt dirty, and stained by seeping homophobia and Alan Carr’s misjudged sense of irony. The whole thing was a barrel of shit, a great big filthy barrel of shit – not fit for consumption by anybody, ever. It wasn’t clever, or multi-layered, or referential, or ironic or any of the usual defenses offered – it was just a bubbling, rotting, spewing barrel of shit.