Posts Tagged ‘Tits’

Mirrors

October 10, 2008

When a truly bad actor wants to be seen as a good actor, they often go gruff, they often go moody and, mercilessly and all-too often, they often go unhinged. Gruff, moody and unhinged have saved the careers of several of the worst actors of our generation. By lowering their voices to a growl, grimacing a lot, smoking, going nude, going off the rails, womanising, chowing down on cock, getting punched in the gut in the rain, wearing a dirty trench coat and growing stubble, your shit actor can pretend they’re a brooding, Brando-type character tortured by inner demons; and not that arsehole you remember from that shit ‘80s teen film you used to like until you grew up and started watching proper films. The sort of films that don’t star Corey Feldman or Andrew McCarthy – those sort of films.

Several examples spring to mind. There was bumbling teen dude Keanu Reeves’s transformation from a shockingly bad actor in dross such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Parenthood, to troubled, chain-smoking misery guts in Constantine.

There was bubbly, annoying, Tom Hanks barnacle Meg Ryan, who showed us her unconvincing serious side when she opted to get her tits out and become Jim Morrison’s wasted fuck-piece in the monumentally awful The Doors.

And then there was Hanks himself: shouty, whiny and fuckwitted in Splash, Joe Vs the Volcano, The Money Pit, Volunteers, The ‘Burbs, Forrest Gump etc., then brow-beaten and squinty and terribly, terribly worthy in Saving Private Ryan and Philadelphia. Who saw that last one coming? I certainly didn’t – not on the evidence of Big.

By far and away the least convincing gruff transformation for me, however, is Kiefer Sutherland. His schtick in the ‘80s and early ‘90s was to play serious types, loners, badasses and scumbags. Not being able to act his way out of a paper bag, he did this in an incredibly unconvincing fashion in a string of forgettable films that made a lot of money thanks to teenagers, teenagers’ ability to swallow vast tranches of offal, and the invention of VHS.

There was his turn as a vampire in the appalling The Lost Boys; as a cowboy in the shittenfest that was Young Guns and Young Guns II (a bad actors’ ensemble piece spanning two truly evil movies); as a twat in Chicago Joe and the Showgirl, Flatliners, Bright Lights, Big City; and there was his ill-advised go at classic literature when he donned the cape and hat of Athos and became the second-least convincing musketeer in the history of cinema (the first was, of course, Chris O’Donnell – a man who must surely be in the running for the title of ‘Worst Actor of all Time’?).

Then, mercifully, he went away. Like acne and a disturbing crush on the fattest girl in the school, he was left behind as a part of our adolescence.

Sure, he’d pop up from time to time in successful guff such as A Few Good Men, JFK and A Time To Kill, but they weren’t Kiefer movies, they were Tom and Jack and Demi and Samuel L. movies, where Sutherland was called on to play a redneck shitkicker with an unconvincing Southern drawl and a not-particularly menacing menacing streak. For the most part, his career as the ’90s ended and a new century was born was a downward spiral into obscurity as he started punching at his real bad actor weight in direct-to-video masterpieces such as Ground Control, Desert Heat, After Alice and Cowboy Up. The shit actor had finally found his Tom Berenger-shaped niche. He was down where he belonged: with the likes of Chuck Norris and Cynthia Rothrock.

And that’s where he would have stayed – an ex-big gun member of The Brat Pack who’d fallen on high times; another Emilio Estevez; another Ally Sheedy. If fortune hadn’t favoured him, he’d now be starring in joint Russian-Iranian productions with titles such as Kung-Ho Diamond, Last Stand At Pingo-Mino II, and Green Berets Go Space IV. He would have been one of those actors that, upon the announcement of his death many years into the future, you would have said,

“Kiefer Sutherland? I’d forgotten about him. What was that cowboy film he was in? The one where’s he’s a miserable sod with long hair? Gets shot in the second one? Top Gun, was it?”

But, as we all know, Kiefer’s career didn’t turn out like this. Like Roger Moore before him, Kiefer ignored the most important rule when it comes to bad actors (get thee to DVD, Satan!), hung on in there and was rewarded with his very own TV show that went on to be a smash hit around the world.

With the success of 24, Sutherland suddenly found himself being taken seriously by Hollywood again. And they took him seriously because he’d pulled off the neat trick of being gruff, of being moody, and of being unhinged. Using the classic actors’ tricks of mumbling, eye-darting, looking dishevelled, tortured and hunted, Kiefer took a big fat leaf out of Russell Crowe’s and Colin Farrell’s books, emulated the first layer of those actors’ performances, and became one of those post-80s, post-muscle-bound, post-Reaganite everyman action-hero-with-issues types that seem to be what the paying public wants to see in its leading men nowadays.

It was Kiefer reborn, and it was only a matter of time before Hollywood once again came knocking.

And that’s why Friday sees the opening of Kiefer’s first proper, big-budget headliner since being welcomed back into the bosom of the Hollywood elite – Mirrors.

Telling the story of an off-the-rails NYPD detective who has ‘killed a man’, Mirrors sees our Kiefer taking up a job as a security guard in a creepy, fire-damaged department store whilst on suspension from duty. The store – which used to be a 1950s mental asylum, surprise, surprise – is filled to the brim with mirrors; mirrors that contain the souls of those killed by the evil that lurks within them. Once they have their hooks into Kiefer, the things in the mirrors are free to enter any mirror connected with him, and that means his estranged wife, his sister, and his two Latin American (?) children are under threat.

But why, you may ask, are the mirrors picking on Kiefer and his family?

Why, because the souls trapped within want to be set free, and for that to happen Kiefer must unravel a mystery that involves the department store’s previous life as an asylum, a possessed twelve year old, a strange name etched into one of the mirrors, a nun, and ‘something in the basement’.

That’s right, it’s a formulaic horror movie that never strays far from the well-trodden haunted house plot we’ve come to know far too well over the years. It’s as predictable as Ghost Ship, Thirteen Ghosts and House on Haunted Hill. With only a scene where a woman’s face is torn apart before our eyes, Mirrors hasn’t enough shocking moments to lift it above the norm, and isn’t, in its central performance, unhinged enough to put it into the unsettling psychological shocker category either. The thing is, with the correct actor, it could have been.

As discussed, the problem Sutherland has is he cannot act. Because of this disability, he is as unconvincing as a loose cannon shitbag detective with a dysfunctional family and a really, really crap job as he was as a cowboy, or a vampire, or a G.I. or a redneck southern shitkicker with a bad accent. This therefore wastes a potentially interesting lead character. As he frowns into those mirrors, you can’t help but remember he was peddling this inner-demons guff way back in Flatliners, and it wasn’t very convincing then, either. Whereas the modern everyman actor such as Farrell, Crowe or Norton can genuinely convince you that their lives are shit and, boy, are they feeling it, Sutherland just plays Doc from Young Guns – but with more frowning.

There’s a difference between a genuine performance of a man brought to the brink of madness by circumstance (Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson have all done it with an aplomb that takes your breath away), and an actor who’s probably seen his dad go through hell on earth in a film such as Don’t Look Now, and has decided to give it a go.

On TV – a medium that tends to be forgiving of terrible actors – it’s fine to act all sullen and worried and gruff for forty five minutes. You can get away with it because, well, it’s only TV, isn’t it? But on the big screen, when asked to carry the film for a running time of nearly two hours, you cannot forgive so easily unless the actor is very, very good. Kiefer Sutherland is not, and never will be, very, very good.

With an actor such as the aforementioned Norton in the lead, this movie could have been lifted above the humdrum thanks to a performance that would have made you believe you were watching a down-at-heel scumbag losing his life and his marbles to a building full of satanic mirrors. With Sutherland, you just don’t buy it, and it ruins any chance this film had of rising above its interesting – if not especially original – premise.

That’s why, in my opinion, Kiefer should go back to the small screen where he belongs, and leave the cinema stuff to the big boys.

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The Friday Question: Dirty, Dirty Television

September 26, 2008

Chaps – When you were young (and your heart was an open book), did your school playground echo with the whispers of what TV programme that evening might contain knockers?

Ladies – I can’t pretend to understand how the complex machinations of your minds work, but there must have been an equivalent? Have a think about the TV programmes that inspired lust in your hearts…

For my part, The Camomile Lawn was a guarantee of wobbling lady flesh on terrestial TV and was essential viewing for many young men of my generation. That woman who was in Pride & Prejudice acting all demure – well – she can’t fool me. I know she’s saucy.

Tipping The Velvet arrived later and by that time I think I’d moved on a little, not really requiring television  to act as smut-provider though I’m sure the 14 year old me would’ve gladly tuned in for the promise of actual lesbian bumcheeks.

Did you watch Eurotrash in the hope of seeing a couple of French fancies every Friday? What TV programmes would you tune into as a youngster to guarantee you got yourself a glimpse of hardcore nudity?

What dirty television was must-see?

Wanted

July 24, 2008

It may matter to you, it may not – but this review definitely contains spoilers.

So, just how rubbish is Wanted?

Put it this way; if, after the movie finished, Angelina Jolie herself had come out from behind the curtain and begun to service me with her bouncy chair lips, running herself up and down my shaft and continuously muttering “I’m sorry about the film” for as long as it took before I burst my frothy top, I would still walk away with an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

That’s how rubbish it is.

Normally at this point I would be calling for the heads of the filmmakers and the actors to be brought before me as a sacrificial display of consumer power, but not this time. Here, my irk is squared directly at the people who sold me the movie, at the people who cut the trailers and the journalists who salivated over the orgy of averageness.

This is not the next great leap forward. This is not Angelina Jolie proving her worth in tabloid gossip, nor James ‘Mr Tumnus’ McAvoy becoming a leading man…

It is not the first great action film of the summer and it is not a good example of what can be done by mixing crazed Soviet directors with Western budgets.

It is balls. Pure and simple balls, and I hold those who told me it was anything but responsible.

This film is a triumph of marketing, of deceptive trailer teasing and wilful cohesion on my behalf. It’s as much my fault as anybody else’s because I chose to believe their bullshit this time around. Instead of cynically avoiding it based on past experiences I fell for their fast cuts and hyped hyperbole and it led me into a world of regret. Had I expected nothing, had I been uninformed and unexcited then I would have discovered an ok action film… but I didn’t. I was offered the moon and like a foolish and greedy child I reached for it.

Mr Tumnus plays Wesley Gibson, a pathetic loser of an American accent who has a shit job and a zero result hit on Google. Based on a clear and obvious lie about his lineage he is inducted into a fraternity of assassins who kill targets chosen by a mystical weaving ‘Loom of Fate’ and presided over by the villain – oops, I mean a gravitas-intoning Morgan Freeman. I’m not making this up. A Loom of Fate. Morgan Freeman actually says at one point ‘this is the Loom of Fate’. It’s fucking awful.

For half the film Morgan trains Tumnus by going on and on about the ripples of our actions and how they kill one person to save a thousand. Angelina is there too, playing an assassin called ‘the Fox’ but who may as well be called Emo Teenager’s Wet Dream, such is the gratuitous Nine Inch Nails soundtracking to her slow-motion tattooed fetishism. Tumnus gets beaten up by the guy from Hustle, learns to curve bullets and surfs trains before, six weeks later, becoming a world class assassin with superhuman abilities to slow time.

I know what you’re thinking – that it actually sounds pretty cool, right? Silly and forgetful, but a little bit cool. I mean, come on, a fraternity of magical assassins who kills the butterfly effectors of the world for a greater good. Looks good on paper, n’est pas?

I thought so too. I was wrong. It’s one of those films where opening a door takes 15 different cuts, angles, whip pans and needless CGI shots to achieve – where what should be gleefully celebrated as silly is taken as the height of seriousness and where every action sequence is undermined by the relentless safety net of computer highjiggerypokery.

What is particularly frustrting is that this should be a good movie. The director, Timur Bekmambetov, made the awesome Nightwatch which, while equally ludicrous and self indulgent, still manages to makes sense and is hardly shy of creativity. The action scenes, where he normally excels, are empty and marred by such bad editing that they don’t make any sense whatsoever – hiding their flaws and rampant inconsistancies behind flashes and shakes of post production meddling. This film should have been a two hour version of the Hotel Lobby scene from the Matrix – instead it was like all the bad bits from the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds.

Half way through, the plot thus far is switched and the potentially good setup is squandered on needless story twists and the sense that we should take the story seriously and care for these characters. McAvoy handles the role well, but Jolie is like a bored Lara Croft, her performance a phoned-in montage of seductive glances and blank stares. Morgan Freeman is wasted as the leader of the assassins, intoning as if at a bible meeting and wearing a huge flashing sign around his neck saying ‘Bad Guy.’ Terence Stamp pops up and then pops down again with little or no influence. It’s all so… corporate… and hardly the anarchic gunfest I was led to believe it was.

That said, it’s got style and some really nice imagery and the ideas for some of the sequences, if not the sequences themselves, are very nice. Unfortunately the tone is all wrong and instead of thrilling and delighting it bores and annoys.

This is all the fault of the marketing people. Movies have to be big these days. Big, big, big, big, BIG. They have to have big stars and big openings and big press and it all ruins the final effect of the film. Had Wanted been a slow burning word of mouth movie, it would have been so much better. Had I not been exposed to all the hype and reviews and relentless plugging I may not have expected so much and may have enjoyed it more.

Like I have said, though, this is as much my fault too. After so many years of being disappointed by movies I thought were going to be great I should have learnt my lesson. Nothing will ever be as good as you want it to be, or as you’ve heard it is, or as they tell you it is. Wanted could have been a pleasant surprise, instead it was just another rubbish movie.

There’s still The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2 to come though… and they’re obviously going to be great.

One Minute Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

July 15, 2008

Composer’s actress girlfriend leaves him for rock star, Russell Brand. Composer goes to Hawaii to get over it, despite knowing ex will be there. Ex is there. Russell Brand is a tame version of himself, talking like Davie Jones of the Monkees. He’s a rock star because that means he can do comedy songs to make screen time pass a bit more quickly. The songs are quite funny.

The receptionist at the hotel is attractive and is clearly the second love interest from the moment she appears onscreen – thus all will-she / won’t-she drama is squibbed. Nothing really happens for an hour. Then the end happens.

I know you shouldn’t go looking for enlightenment in a Judd Apatow film, but you’d have thought you might get a few belly-laughs.

That chubby stoner from Knocked Up is here as a stalker-like fan of Brand’s band, Infant Sorrow. He isn’t really given any material you’d call ‘comic’. The one black character – a big, fat barman – is meant to be an amusing character, I think, because all he does is list things. Which isn’t very funny. There’s a thread about a wimpy newlywed on honeymoon who’s scared of sex, but that one failed to raise a smile. The surfing stoner played by the husband in Knocked Up kept forgetting things. I think he was also meant to be funny. It’s quite tricky working out what you’re meant to be laughing at which, for a comedy, poses a problem.

Russell Brand does his usual schtick, but a diluted, American-family-friendly version of it, so all potential for cheekiness and irreverence is snuffed out. Brand with a script isn’t quite the same beast as the sex-freak with the haircut when he’s allowed to improvise. He’s a little bit wasted here, but you’d imagine it’d be a challenge to give him a role in anything, being as he’s developed his own persona. In a way, he’s stuck with himself, much like Frankie Howerd or Kenneth Williams were.

The only remarkable aspect of the whole film is the fact that you see the leading man’s penis on two occasions. The comedy reveal of his winky is another failed laugh-prod, ultimately feeling like a pretty desperate attempt to shove in something for bloggers to talk about – like the ‘crowning’ scene in Knocked Up – another example of a tacked on shocker.

All in all – not as annoying or rubbish as Knocked Up, and without the occasional quality gags.

Apatow’s surely had his time… while the likes of Stiller, Ferrell and Sandler have all long outstayed their welcome. Can Hollywood do us some decent comedy now, please?

National Lottery Midweek Draw

November 15, 2007

Gallacher

In between putting on the bubble and squeak and flipping it over I happened across the National Lottery Midweek Draw. (I’d like to point out to readers of Piqued that I wasn’t actually waiting to see if I’d won anything…)

I’ve never seen the midweek National Lottery programme. I’ve come across the Saturday one with a live studio audience and adulate orange-faced presenters lauding it over baying low-income families, but the midweek one is like going back in time.

Allow me to indulge you. Back in the 70s, solo artists would punctuate light entertainment shows (such as Morecambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies) with singing. The main acts would halt comedic proceedings for one of the duo (it was always Barker in one camp and Wise in the other) to crawl onto the stage and announce in almost reverent tones, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the beautiful Elkie Brooks/Tina Charles/Angela Ayers/Lemmy etc., and allow some twittering twat in a fucking massive glittering dress to vibrato her overly made up face into the nation’s living rooms. The screeching orchestra hidden, the artiste would stand quite alone save maybe a puff of dry ice and a salacious wink.

These are the days when females on TV would dress like they were orf to Buckingham Palace for snuff with the Queen and men would wear bow-ties and tails just to read the fucking weather. They were also the days of strikes, flares, IRA/NF, drum solos, hammer attacks and more pertinently, canned laughter, canned clapping and canned Fray Bentos steak ‘n Kidney puddin’, less pertinently.

So, the midweek draw. Fuck me… It’s presented by Kirsty Gallacher, an athletic looking bit of milf-fluff (flilf?) who according to Stan Collymore, “did things with chocolate fingers that have stopped me looking at them in the same way since”. I’m not sure if this was before or after he beat the shit out of Broadcasting House bike, Ulrika…

I digress.

The show opened with lots of crashing and banging and enthusiastic, hysterical applause. Dressed to the nines in a red ball gown thing (1970s anyone? Here – catch!) the show opened with ‘banter’ between the obsequious Nat Lott voiceover and the prick-teasing, chocolate-inserting flilf which was of such poor quality it destroyed valuable brain cells as I tried to squeeze my head into the vacuous space this shit was occupying. Obviously if I’d known about Kirsty rubbing her wet vagina/botty hole with a chocolate finger, licking her lips at Stan, inviting him to clean her out with his big footballer’s tongue, I wouldn’t have given a tinker’s cuss if the they were pledging allegiance to Sheikh Abu Hamza.

Stuff was then done with machines and spinning balls, a man from some place pushed some fucking buttons and shit, I’d not a clue what they were doing and then everything stopped. In the same reverent tones I remembered as child, Kirsty, her flange smothered in a glass and a half of pure milk chocolate and bits of soggy shortbread I shouldn’t wonder, introduced us to some bloke who was about to perform Carly Simon’s classic ‘You’re so Vain’.

Cue enthusiastic, hysterical applause, actually the exact same enthusiastic, hysterical applause I’d been hearing for most of the programme, and upon realising there was no studio audience a bloke appeared alone onstage save a puff of dry ice and a salacious wink, and proceeded to croon. Jesus, no…

This extraordinary painful experience ended in the same canned enthusiastic, hysterical applause and we were dumped back in front of the toothsome flilf and her brown crack for the Lotto results.

By this time I was lolling in my chair wondering if it was time for bed – yet all confused about my school uniform and Twiglets. It was a horrendous episode I never wish to repeat. For last night I actually went back in time, to a place of British Rail curled sandwiches, Tony Blackburn, Nixon and thin skateboards.

Still, at least I am sated with the thought of Kirsty Gallacher lasciviously coaxing open a box of Cadbury Fingers and lifting up her fucking skirt…

The bubble and squeak was lovely, incidentally.

Hatchet

September 25, 2007

Hatchet 

Sometimes it’s embarrassing being a fan of horror. As a genre, it frequently disappoints.

Watching a film in company, you’re often left feeling a touch like a moron, as a film that promised shocks, foreboding and nightmarish effects turns out to be a fetid floater in the annals of film history. Creep is the last picture that left me feeling that way, and now Hatchet comes along, like a slow diarrhea from the bottom of a constipated frat-boy.

Might as well get down to business straight away and let you know that Hatchet is a bin-bag full of some unoriginal child’s poo. The posters you see about town at the moment boast that this is an ‘old school American horror’. I’m not sure exactly what they mean by that. It certainly feels dated. They also boast that it’s ‘not a remake, …a sequel or …based on a Japanese one’. Though all those facts might help to drag an audience in, a boast about originality is not really a claim this film can make.

I know it’s meant to be an affectionate parody of slasher films, an homage, a pastiche, all those other words that basically allow a film-maker to rip off past, better film-makers. The problem is that it does it with no style whatsoever. The jokes fall constantly fall flat, the acting is piss-poor and the setting is bizarre considering most slasher films (aside from Friday 13th) usually are based in suburbia. So the homage is incomplete, the jokes aren’t funny and the horror itself is leaden and completely ineffective. Which all combines to leave you with an impotent little movie.

At least it had loads of tits in it.

Big Brother 8: Live Final

August 30, 2007

BB House 

I’m going on holiday early on Friday morning, so fortunately I’ll not feel the shit-magnet force that is the Big Brother LIVE Final.

Yes – that’s right – LIVE. You get to catch every last tooth-grinding second AS IT HAPPENS. Gasp as Davina fluffs her lines and gurns at her own jokes. Nod in an amused fashion as Ziggy tells us how he’s actually a ‘preddy reasonable kinda guy’ and fall over as Brian pretends he’s thick.

If you’re foolish enough to waste your money on a vote for the winner, please bear the following in mind:

1.) Brian is a charlatan.

I presume Brian’s been to school for at least one English lesson per school year of his life. As a result, he must have heard of William Shakespeare. The entire syllabus of the English GCSE is distorted and warped so that Shakespeare is taken into account, term after endless term. Schools are always putting on productions of Shakespeare plays. A schoolboy can’t get through life without knowing who Shakespeare is. That means Brian’s a sneaky, lying sod.

2.) Imagine what the twins will spend £100k on.

It will be wasted in New Look on every single tiny item of tat that comes in pink. It’s a wasted vote to vote for the twins, so resist. Besides, what did they contribute besides falling over occasionally? They were basically just dumbells for that twat-lunk Liam to lift.

3.) Liam is an abominable twat.

Don’t give the money to Liam. He’s Sid the Sexist without the gut. He doesn’t deserve anything beyond complete ignorance.

4.) Ziggy is a self parody.

Cliff Richard mutated in a microwave face-off with Christian Bale and the lion-man off Beauty and the Beast, he looks like his face is made of play-doh. Lashing out every five days, he’ll spend the remaining time apologising and trying to prove how swell he is, which he isn’t. More annoyingly, if he sees something that he thinks the public will probably find amusing, he says ‘that’s very funny’ without any hint on his face that he is at least partially amused. Transparently trying to make out he’s in on every gag, popular with everyone and with a weak apology for any harsh words, he became dull very early on.

5.) Carole is irritating.

Imagine living with that monster. She may be a Commie in her politics, but she’s a Nazi in the kitchen. Only your actual Mum has any right to order you about the shop like that. She seemed to think that the minute she stepped foot in there she was halfway into a mortgage on the gaudy bungalow meaning she could tell everyone else what to do. Plus, her food looked shit.

This only leaves Jonty, the bizarre middle aged man with the Alain De Botton hairdo and the collection of national flag t-shirts. At first I thought his walking round with teddies would be tiresome, but he constantly farts which makes up for it. Let’s face it, farting is amusing.

Jonty should win on the strength of the fact that he always has a tommy squeak in the tank should there be a lull in the conversation. He also got his unimpressive member out for no reason, walking around bollock-naked whilst completely oblivious to the fact this might disturb other housemates. And whilst naked and in company, he farted. That alone deserves 100 big ones.

If you’re going to vote, I recommend you vote for the weird, pot-bellied, bespectacled, hairy, mentally-undeveloped, flatulent, naturist.

Sunday Methadone Television

August 6, 2007

Last of the Summer Wine 

It’s an unholy trinity that stretches back to the moment of creation. From the dawn of time there has been one television constant that NEVER changes … and never will. As the weekend putters out and you realise that work or school are the price you’ll soon be paying for your fun, this trilogy of programmes hammers the point home. They are Britain’s weekend full-stop – a televisual “That’s yer lot!” helpfully supplied by the BBC to emphasise that the time for frivolity is over. They are, of course, Songs of Praise, Last of the Summer Wine, and The Antiques Roadshow …. uuuuuuuuur.

For the benefit of foreigners and the 2% of the population that hasn’t seen these shows (and how you’ve managed to escape frankly beggars belief), a brief explanation of their singular characteristics is necessary. Songs of Praise is a Christian sing-a-long show where liars who haven’t been in a church since they got married forty years ago show up to sing Nearer My God To Thee for the cameras. Presented by Aled Jones, a grinning goodie two shoes, Songs of Praise follows a formula written in stone – hymn, prayer, hymn, sermon, outside report, hymn, prayer, Aled Jones solo, hymn, hymn, hymn, the end.

The Antiques Roadshow is the well-deserved sit down and nice cup of tea of British television. Members of the public gather at a lovely country house or interesting municipal building and have the antiques they’ve brought along valued by a team of experts. The show’s formula is written in stone – quite expensive antique, cheap tat, antique, tat, gun, antique, antique, tat, antique, haughty woman who thought vase was priceless gets comeuppance, antique, tat, jumble sale purchase turns out to be worth more than GDP of Tanzania, the end.

Last of the Summer Wine is the bitter pill you have to swallow to atone for the sins of having fun, having sex, having a wank … whatever it was you did on Saturday that you must now be punished for. It is a situation comedy that centres around a collection of Northern stereotypes doing stuff in a picturesque village in the Peaks. The show’s formula is written in stone – three old men sit on bench and observe minor character doing something which they will inevitably join in with, four old women congregate to discuss what idiots men are, the three old men join in with whatever the minor character was doing, the old women continue to gossip, an old woman tries ripping off a customer in her shop full of litter and rags, Howard’s plans to put mangy old tart Marina to the sword are foiled once again, one of the old men slides down hill in a bath, the end.

The formula never changes. It never has. Recently unearthed cave paintings in Southern France depict three old men on a hillside, one of whom is sliding down it in a bath. Hieroglyphics on the walls of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh speak of a line of slaves, dutifully queuing up to have their rice bowls valued by the Pharoah. It is said that what did for King Edward II was not a red-hot poker up the arse, but a surfeit of hymns on a Sunday afternoon that caused his inner organs to relax to the point they ceased to work. T’was ever thus, t’will ever be.

As the dying sun consumes the inner planets and Earth is consigned to a footnote in the history of the cosmos, the last words that will escape into the stars will be “Two thousand pounds? As much as that? I’d better get onto the insurance company.”

You don’t actually have to watch these shows to know how they’ll go. The formula for each is so imprinted in your mind that you can, in fact, miss them entirely and still think you’ve watched them. This is a particularly British trick. “How was your Sunday?” someone will ask. “Oh, you know,” you’ll reply, “Songs of Praise, Antiques Roadshow, Last of the Summer Wine, suicide attempt, bed … the usual.” But the thing is, your Sunday contained none of these shows. You din’t see them, you just assume you did. It’s Sunday therefore, ergo, Songs of Praise, Antiques Roadshow, Last of the Summer Wine have been watched … haven’t they? You know them so well that, even if you’ve not seen them in twenty years, a niggling trick of the mind makes you think you’ve watched them every Sunday since the dawn of man. “Well I certainly have a memory of an old man going hell-for-leather down a hill in a bath, so I must have watched it,” you reason.

They are the only shows in the history of the world that do not need to be watched to be watched.