Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV’

Celebrity Big Brother 2009

January 5, 2009

Channel 4 refer to this new series as ‘the long-awaited return of Celebrity Big Brother’, which is a bit like hearing someone blowing their own imaginary trumpet. Like everyone else who watched the launch show, I did so because there was nothing else on the TV in the post Christmas airwave-breakdown, apart from rubbish like Stuart Little, the rubbish QI Christmas special (for the sixth time) and repeats of Top Gear.

But there it was, as though the rampant xenophobia of the Jade-mistake had never happened. The actual launch show was preceded by a documentary – if you could call it that, rather than a series of repetitive clips you’ve seen before hundreds of times – called Why I Love Celebrity Big Brother. This waste-of-an-hour featured huge names like the bloke who edits the entertainment pages of Star magazine, Mark Frith (who is everywhere at the moment, presumably not having anyone who loves him another to invite him over for Christmas) and Dom Joly. The Dom Joly who has nothing to do with Big Brother and hasn’t really done anything in 15 years. Apart from the QI Christmas special.

And so it was that on the second day of the first month, it was revealed unto the people throughout the launch show that everyone they had been told would probably be on the programme was, indeed, on the programme. And they did weep.

The only real surprise among the crowd was Ulrika who we’d all probably considered above this. Only slightly – but still slightly above it. Latoya Jackson’s presence was less of a shock as her brother had probably already briefed her on how the only problems she might encounter might be the mind-numbingly long periods of time she’d have to spend talking to people she’d never heard of and couldn’t understand on top of the potential for occasional racist outbursts from fellow contestants.

We all knew Verne Troy was going to appear. Even if we hadn’t been aware, nothing is really too much of a surprise any more with this knackered vehicle. It’s nice seeing him buzzing about on his scooter and trying to avoid all the helpful hands the contestants fling in his direction out of a mixture of PR-awareness and a genuine will to assist, but the tone was sullied the moment after he’d entered the house when the camera cut back, as it does so bafflingly frequently, for a link and Davina pronounced him to be ‘so cute’. And thus began the patronising tone he’s set to find himself smeared in right up to his exit interview at the hands of the bird-faced crone.

So, who else? Coolio is being Coolio – that is a faded pop star who still believes he’s relevant, amiably but somewhat tragically. Then there’s some large scouse lady off some show I’ve never seen who continually lectures Latoya Jackson on male repression, seemingly unaware of the Jackson’s history of abuse – despite the fact she keeps telling her about it. We have a confused Terry Christian – too much of a good bloke to be doing this in my eyes. We have Lucy Pinder, who is a topless model with a right wing brain and a corrosively dull voice. (And massive tits, eh lads?)

The list goes on, with Mutya, ex of Sugababes in the mix and clearly having been badly advised into a moronic career choice. Then there’s Tommy Sheridan, the socialist Scot, either feeding his ego or… actually, probably just feeding his ego.

Ben from A1 is the no-mark this year, as inoffensive as kitchen roll and with about as much to say for himself.  And finally there’s a girl from Liberty X, who’s just a little bit dizzy, just a little bit orange and just a little bit boring.

So whether you couldn’t care less about the whole palaver or, conversely, if you’re tied up by being equally bemused and entertained by the fact that Coolio (you remember – from the 90s) is flirting with Ulrika (that Y shaped weathergirl, also from the 90s), the fact is it’s on for another 21 days, so steel yourselves or dust off your blinkers.

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NewsGush: John, I’m Only Dancing

November 19, 2008

I don’t watch this, I don’t like dancing and I’m too busy watching the X Factor. But apparently this is news to some people.

I do like that footage from Strictly Come Dancing of John Sergeant dragging his blonde along the floor, mind you. It’s classy.

I wonder what his wife thinks?

Is Christine Bleakely still in it?

NewsGush – I’m A Celebrity List Leak

November 11, 2008

robert kilroy silk

Leaked?

Balls!

ITV couldn’t wait to shoot the list of victims for this years I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. So they pronged this one out of their press release machine early in the hope of getting some attention at the end of a newsless Tuesday.

We’ve posted the full list of desperate celebrities below, just like every other entertainment site’s done.

Make your own minds up as to whether they’ll provide an interesting sociological insight to the workings of fame or if they’ll once again offer only hours of tedium interspersed with the odd sighting of an ex-politician eating a maggot as though his life and credibility depends on it.

Martina Navratilova
How much do you get for winning tennis matches? I thought it made you rich?

Brian Paddick
Not half a year ago he was going for the Mayor of London job. Now he’s be aiming to pluck a plastic star off some string while rats piss on him.

Simon Webbe
Previously, Costa. This year, Webbe. Next year, Ryan. 2009, the one who looks like a beaten up Brad Pitt. 

Mickey Miller
Oh Christ, Mickey. I know I wished you out of Walford but I didn’t realise you’d end up this low. I’m so, so sorry.

Esther Rantzen
Work dried up has it, Esther? Resorting to this rubbish are you? That’s life, I suppose. Actually, I suspect you’re doing this because you’re a game old bird. God bless you.

Dani Behr
The girl with the knockers from The Word? Oh, right.

Carly Zucker
Already booked in for the ‘gratuitous bikini shot’ slot, recently vacated by the once-lovely, now desperately irritating Myleene Klass. Carly Zucker used to be Joe Cole’s roasting buddy, so don’t expect stimulating discourse.

Georgina Baillie
Oh fantastic.
Give… me… strength…

And at no extra cost, we present:

Robert Kilroy-Silk
Jesus Christ!
That’s, ‘job done’ by casting, as far as I’m concerned. RKS guarantees that at least the opening show will be watched, as people’ll tune in simply to see how that racist, self-righteous arsehole tries to present himself to a largely unsympathetic public.

It starts Sunday, if you can bear it.

Celebrity Scissorhands

November 4, 2008

celebrity scissorhands

Good God.

I know it’s for charity, this Celebrity Scissorhands. I know it’s only BBC3. But when Children in Need are taking a format as unsuccessful, squalid and dull as Channel 4’s long abandoned ‘The Salon’ and resurrecting it, peopling it with micro-celebs – people you’re guaranteed to have to scrape the darkest recess of your brain to recognise – they really must be desperate for money. Or ideas.

The credits roll and, quite unlike most celebrity-competition TV stuff, they don’t have idents for each contestant. ‘That’s weird’, you think to yourself. Then later, as you’re stuck in the salon with a bunch of completely unrecognisable faces, you see why they’ve dropped the roll call at the beginning. It’s because none of these people are well-known. Even in the broadest sense of what ‘celebrity’ might mean, we’ve stretched and ultimately snapped the definition here.

In the half hour I could bear, I noticed a bloke who used to be in that lowly boyband 5ive, Lucinda off the Apprentice, a girl who might have been in an R&B band at some point, Steve Strange (though I’m not sure if he’s even taking part) and Zammo.

That’s it. The rest of them may have brushed with fame at one point, but it can only have been the lightest of touches.

Still, it only takes a gentle nudge to catch scabies, so clearly these poor sods are so infested with celebrity that they’re doomed to take part in endless, faded reality formats, taking part in crudely formed popularity contests, surrendering their dignity for a fee or for the misguided kudos that comes with doing your bit for charity.

To top things off, that ubiquitous ignoramous George Lamb fronts the show, meaning we’re not even out of neutral before our teeth are grinding.

Who likes this man? Am I missing something?

With every male presenter on youth television I can see at least one thing within them that might appeal to a niche demographic but with Lamb I can’t see a single redeeming characteristic. Not one. And to make things worse, he takes any work that comes his way, meaning he’s riding every air and radiowave in the country, wasting endless spools of film and rolls of tape on that jarring, affected accent and the dyed white ‘do he’s got atop his empty head.

Once we’re into the show, we discover that the task this episode is for the contestants to cut some hair whilst a child cuts some hair on the other side of the room. Then someone will judge who cut the hair more skilfully – the child or the grown up.

Guess what?

The grown up won.

Aside from the mammoth task and the suspense, drama and incident that sprang off it, the most memorable moment was when Willow turned up with his family for nor reason.

The only other thing that stuck in the mind was how much of a complete and utter cock this fringed fuckwit is. Never heard of him before, never want so see him again. He might even win in a cock-off with George Lamb. Such a cock, such an irredeemably dislikable cock, that he doesn’t even irritate you. You just head in the other direction and pretend you never saw it. Blanked through trauma, like the sight of a dead relative’s carcass.

So please – give money to Children in Need. But don’t, whatever you do, tune into this flotsam.

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?

The Friday Question: Celebrity What Now?

October 31, 2008

It seems like every TV show and their ITV alternative have got a celebrity off-shoot these days. From ‘Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ to ‘Celebrity Fat Club’ via ‘Celebrity Family Fortunes’ and beyond, it would appear that that there’s no base level quiz show, reality show or factual show involving the public that can’t be improved by shoving ‘Celebrity’ before the title and having an appearence by Lisa Scott Lee.

So, dear Motherers, what current unupgraded TV shows would you like to see have their profiles raised by the invention of a celebrity version?

Perhaps ‘Celebrity Antiques Roadshow’ would be your weapon of choice, or how about ‘Celebrity 60 Minute Makeover’ or even ‘Celebrity Channel 4 News’?

I’d like to see the arrival of celebrity versions of drama shows, like the Bill or Holby City, where the casts are removed and replaced with reality show winners and failed 80’s pop stars – but still playing the same characters.

That’d beef up an otherwise dull episode of Heartbeat anyday.

NewsGush: CBB + Mini Me = Good TV?

October 7, 2008

According to DigitalSpy (who actually know about this stuff, rather than just picking it up and ranting about it like us), that little fellow who was in Austin Powers is going to be in Celebrity Big Brother next year.

Channel 4 are reviving the format after the race row incident put them in hot water all that time ago, and we’ll once again be invited to watch has-beens as they do nothing.

Hurrah!

According to DS, other stars in talks with Endemol are:

  • Cliff Richard
  • Lembit Opik
  • Whitney Houston

Admittedly, of all these kinds of shows, Celebrity Big Brother is the most entertaining because we get to see stuff like this. And witness nasty goings on like this.

But, as with the pleb version, surely even it’s most ardent followers must think that the enterprise has run out of steam?

America’s Next Top Model

October 1, 2008

Something interesting happened on America’s Next Top Model on Monday night.

No – seriously.

In amongst all the usual shit, a sparkling moment of clarity. The truth outed itself for one instant, but then vapourised without leaving its mark. But for that tiny, shining moment, the grotesque absurdity of the whole franchise was called into question – and it came from the most unlikely of sources.

The important folk on ANTM refer to each series as a ‘cycle’. Not a ‘series’. Not a ‘season’. A ‘cycle’. When you dwell on this, the logic holds up. The girls all come from nowhere and end up back in sweet obscurity – so ‘cycle’ it is.

This cycle, we have the usual bunch of warped, seven foot in-breds doing walking, then doing standing still whilst under the scrutiny of a bunch of complete and utter cocks, headed up by the contemptible, neurotic bundle of blabber they call Tyra Banks.

Among the contestants this cycle, the only candidates of any interest are Marvita and Fatima. Marvita is an amazonian shit-kicker who’d eat you for breakfast. Looking like Chris Partlow‘s older, more aggravated sister, she talks through her history of abuse as though she’s reeling off a shopping list. Her cold, dead eyes are supremely likable for some reason.

Then there’s Fatima (pronounced ‘Fah-TEE-mah’, apparently – though I prefer the ‘Whitbread’ phonetic of ‘FATTY-mah’). Fatima is an out and out bitch who, in episode one this bicycle dropped the bombshell that she was circumcised at birth and suffered genital mutilation. Which is horrible, and we all feel for her. The first time she says it. By the time we’ve heard about it for the fourth time in 40 minutes, the goodwill sadly starts to diminish to the point where we forget about her campaign and realise she’s using it as sympathy-leverage so she can be this unicycle‘s wind up merchant, starting cat-fights like there’s no tomorrow. 

And finally in this brief round up, until last night, there was Kimberley. An unremarkable, plank-thick blonde with nothing to say for herself – last night she became a fleeting heroine as, when asked to step forward before they ripped the shit out of her photo on judgement day she said (and I’m forced to paraphrase):

‘Y’know – I don’t really like fashion much’

She went on to explain how she thinks that high fashion is stupid and that anyone who pays $2,000 for an outfit is an idiot and, sorry, but this whole thing just wasn’t for her.

The judges’ faces dropped. As they sat there with jaws on their laps I hoped that, even if only for a millisecond, they felt humbled by the logic of a nobody – suddenly realising that the show they’re working on is a fatuous, risible and futile mess that creates absolutely nothing of any meaning or value. Unlikely, but maybe she hit her point home for a fraction of a moment.

Kimberley – I salute you.