Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Ross’

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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NewsGush: More McIntyre

February 16, 2009

michael mcintyre

Do you like Michael McIntyre? Do you chortle at the way he guffaws at his own jokes whilst speaking? Does his preppy, floppy barnet give you cause for belly-laughs? Do you like his plummy speech patterns and they way he stutters and repeats himself for comedy effect? Do you like his suits? Do you rate his 80s era observational comedy?

If not, you’re in for a nightmare. Edna Welthorpe let us know in the comments a few months ago that McIntyre was on the BBC’s ‘one-to-push’ list, and they’re being proved right. He’s been on every panel show going so far in this young year, was on Jonathan Ross on Friday and now it appears his new series is about to subtly be dropped on us like a dirty bomb…

What do you make of this McIntyre character then?

At least he’s not James Corden.

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.

Decency Prevails At The BBC

October 31, 2008

In light of the recent crisis at the BBC, Watch With Mothers takes a look at next week’s revised Friday night line-up now the corporation’s scheduling policies have been handed over to the Downeysett-On-The-Wold Over 65’s Women’s Flower-Arranging Guild …

7:00 – The One Show : New presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Rosemary Clooney interview The Last of the Summer Wine’s Frank Thornton about his collection of Royal Doulton character jugs. Also, in a light-hearted segment, religious correspondent Aled Jones calls for the public beheading of all those that would deny Christ.

7:30 – The Last of the Summer Wine: After reading in the Daily Mail about a young radio presenter’s ill-judged prank phone call that occurred four years ago, an outraged Clegg fires off a strongly-worded letter of complaint to the Director General of the BBC. Later, he and his fellow villagers burn an effigy of the young radio presenter, whooping and hollering around it like excited chimpanzees.

8:00 – Antiques Roadshow: Fiona Bruce – properly attired in a burkha – introduces another episode of the popular antiques and collectibles show, this week coming from the grounds of Hogarth House in Leicestershire. Excitement reaches fever-pitch when a 17th century wooden spoon turns out to be a 19th century reproduction! With subtitles.

9:00 – New Casualty: Shifting location away from the bloodshed on offer at Holby City hospital, we follow the exploits of God-fearing Christian medic Dr. Ballard Ballard. It’s a difficult time for Ballard, as he juggles family life with an ever-increasing workload of minor ailments at his delightful Peak District family health practice. WARNING: Contains scenes of sneezing that some viewers may find distressing.

10:00 – Have I Got Some Good News For You For Once: Guest presenter Pam Rhodes tries to keep a lid on the antics of regular team captains Daniel O’Donnell and Ben Fogle … with hilarious results! With special guests Sally Magnusson and Jonathan Edwards.

10:30 – Room 102: Comedy discussion show in which presenter Kate Humble and guest Dr. Rowan Williams extract some of the items unfairly tossed into the now defunct Room 101. This week, Dr. Williams rescues Public Information Films from the Orwellian pit of damnation created by evil former BBC presenter Paul Merton.

11:00: – Question Time: New chairperson Gloria Hunniford keeps order as panellists debate the hot political issues of the last seven days. This week, guests discuss whether there is too much swearing on television, the utter depravity of on-screen nudity, and how young people need to get their hair cut and learn some respect for their elders.

12:00 – The Queen: Her Majesty says goodnight to the nation.

12:10 – The National Anthem: All rise for the BBC Concert Orchestra’s stirring rendition of Britain’s most beloved tune.

12:20 – Close: Pages from the Book of Revelation.

NewsGush – Russell Resigns, Tabloids Triumph

October 30, 2008

Just to draw a line under this sorry saga (and if you haven’t been in the slightest bit interested, I apologise for the recent Brand-related news triptych), the last few days of complete stupidity and insanity have ended with Russell Brand quitting his post at the BBC. 

Taking the bullet for his friend, Jonathan Ross, in other words. Let’s not forget that it was the older of the two who blurted out the initial offending sentence.

I suppose, in some senses, Brand has also taken the hit on behalf of the BBC who, it has to be said, have behaved like disorganised buffoons throughout this farrago. They shouldn’t have put the recording out in the first place. They should have organised a public apology on behalf of all parties immediately and they should have ignored all the tabloid speculation.

But the real arseholes in this Kafkaesque trial by second hand information are – as usual – the tabloid press. Without the Mail picking up on the story and hypocritically running it endlessly (thus, presumably, adding to Mr Sachs’ embarassment) and without printing tittilating pictures of the supposed ‘fuckee’, this wouldn’t have reached the ridiculous heights it broached.

The Sun also went crazy with the story – as did all the tabloids including those with a more limited circulation – your London Lites, your citywide Metros. All expressing outrage whilst regurgitating the point of Mr. Sachs embarassment. Bizarre, eh?

To compound the weirdness, it seems Georgina Baillie has now signed up with Max Clifford – a day or so after he dumped Katona as a client. Some people are admiring of the girls guile and pluck. From where I’m sitting, it looks suspiciously like she’s exploiting the situation for personal gain. Exploiting her grandfather’s initial embarassment and milking this fabricated ‘shame’ for all its worth. I can’t believe that, by now, she’s still red-faced. Not with all those offers coming in.

The other aspect of this so-called scandal that makes it so very 2008 is the way information spread. Without Youtube, without messageboards and blogs, people wouldn’t have formed an opinion so quickly. The replay wouldn’t be available, so unless you’d taped it it’d all be hearsay.

It’s impossible to quantify whether this made the situation worse for the presenters and the BBC, but it certainly intensified the atmosphere. The web was alive with chitter and chatter and gasbag opinion. Mail readers suddenly found reason to comment on the Guardian messageboard. The papers and their websites couldn’t keep up with the bloggers who were formulating opinions left right and centre – and this aspect of the incident is something we should expect to see a lot more of in the future.

All in all, the ultimate tragedy of the whole affair is that, as a result of a very silly, vaguely amusing and massively ill-considered gag, the conservative element in the press and in the blogosphere has somehow managed to force the hand of the BBC using the most questionable tactics imaginable. They’ve also managed to make one of my favourite podcasters – a genuine talent, I feel – resign over what amounts to very little. I think that’s depressing.

It seems one squawking idiot can’t change a thing, but multiply him by a few thousand using the latest technology and soon enough you won’t be able to hear yourself think.

NewsGush – Brand & Ross Debacle Escalates

October 29, 2008

With this just in from the BBC, following front pages, comments from politicians and the blogosphere ignited, it seems nobody’s got anything better to report or comment on than this whole sorry affair…

And as a result, Ross and Brand have been suspended from the airwaves. More as a result of the furore rather than the stunt itself, one suspects.

Nice to see Georgina Baillie chipping in at last with some very Sun-style quotes. Off with their heads!

Maybe us bloggers helped this to get out of hand… and maybe politicians shouldn’t be asked such trivial questions. But on a day when Meredith Kercher’s killer has been jailed (one of three, potentially), an earthquake in Pakistan has killed loads of people and we’re all continuing to ignore this credit crunch business, is a silly phone call really something we should be focusing on? Of course, with this post I’m part of the paradoxical problem…

Isn’t it time we all grew up?

NewsGush: Friday Night With Jonathan Arghhhh…

October 17, 2008

Oh Christ. It’s bad enough usually, but tonight Jonathan Ross is hosting his mate Wicky Gervais in what’s becoming an annual slime-festival. Don’t they ever learn, these people?

[Gervais]… admits to being a big X Factor fan: “I get caught up in it. When it’s a genuine human interest story, I cry.

“It’s very well done, they press the right buttons emotionally.”

… Ricky says.

What the fuck? What’s wrong with him?

Wicky’s got a film to promote but to heap further nausea on proceedings, celebrity bully and all round complete and utter cock Gordon Ramsay will be interviewed to inject a little bit of Nazi P.E. Teacher comedy to proceedings.

No doubt someone will say a rude word! And they might be a bit rude to each other! Oh, what larks!

Thankfully, the guest roster is completed by the brilliant Sarah Silverman. She’s a favourite round my house. Her sitcom was great and her stand up film Jesus Is Magic made me laugh my arse off.

Alright, I admit it. I fancy her.

NewsGush: Jonathan Arse Welcomes Cheryl Cole

September 18, 2008

This week Jonathan Ross’s megastar guest is world-famous Cheryl Cole – the extraordinarily untalented Girls Aloud singer and charm-free co-sneerer on The Fucking X Factor.

By Christ – looking at some of the quotes it looks like Cheryl’s coming out with some really incisive stuff – we’re talking content that has never even been considered by a human mind before – let’s take a look. And please, if this just seems like gobbledegook, please don’t feel inadequate. We are looking at some pretty dangerous material here in terms of cutting edge topical observation.

“There’s no such thing as a private life in this industry. I spoke openly about my marriage in the past and it’s come back to hit me in the face… I learnt from the past that you shouldn’t do that.”

 “There’s something about celebrities having a perfect life. People need to relax and realise we’re human, too.”

 “All the tabloids have to fill their pages [even] when we’re not doing anything, it just rolls on.”

How very stoic. It’s amazing she can cope with all the publicity she gets when she and her money-grabbing bumfaced husband do absolutely nothing to court it.

I can tell you this: I’ll be tuning in, along with the rest of the nation, eager to focus on the complex nuggets of wisdom this intellectual powerhouse spouts from her stunning face whilst Jonathan Arse looks on wistfully, considering how much of our license fee he’d pay to have a go on her.