JULY 29. MAKING bad sitcoms is an intensely competitive field,
so well done to Ab Fab for scaling Olympian levels of tosh.
The show did the Games like our soaps do melodrama - badly.
It was lazy, witless, and full of more clapped-out lines than
Question Time; comedy's equivalent of the North Korea flag cock-up.
But then what else could you expect from a show that has been
past its prime for longer than Edina's ovaries?
Faced with such a lousy effort, it's hard to believe that British
TV once produced the best situation comedies in the world. I'm
not getting off on a fings ain't wot they used to be rant here.
There have been some wonderful comedies over the last twelve
years particularly The Office and Phoenix Nights. More recently
Outnumbered, Lead Balloon, The Inbetweeners and Gavin & Stacey
have also shown us the funny. But we no longer make sitcoms
the whole nation loves, which is why BBC1 desperately fall back
on Ab Fab and commission ever staler Xmas specials of the Royles.
So what can be done? ITV recently green-lighted a series to
showcase new comedies. Let's hope they avoid Sky's warm and
cosy cul-de-sac. The lesson of past hits is that sitcoms work
best when they ignore demographics, tear up the PC rule book,
stay real and create believable comic monsters. Who could forget
Johnny Speight's Alf Garnett or David Renwick's Victor Meldew
ranting against the absurdities of modern life? Alf's views
may have been as repulsive as Malcolm Tucker's lingo, but you
didn't have to agree with them to be engaged by him.
The greatest sitcom of them all was Galton and Simpson's Steptoe
& Son, which was as much tragedy as comedy. We bought in to
dirty old man Albert and son Harold, the West London rag and
bone men trapped in a claustrophobic love-hate relationship.
The show was recognizably true to life. It was also poignant,
touching and laugh out loud funny. John Sullivan freely admitted
that his brilliant Only Fools & Horses owed a huge debt to the
Steptoes. Weren't the Trotters also trapped by their own flaws,
doomed to forever make the same mistakes? See also Basil and
Sybil Fawlty, who got on like Itchy and Scratchy.
Class is another key factor. Basil brown-nosed toffs and sneered
at people he considered below him. Rigsby was poisoned by insecurity.
Likely Lad Bob Ferris aspired to climb the social ladder. Comedy,
like Charlotte, may be a broad church. But few things are funnier
in life than pomposity being punctured.
HIGH drama on EastEnders as dippy orange brat Lola gave birth
to that padding she's been wearing up her kilt in the kebab
shop. Shish. Experts are calling it the best fake labour this
side of Ed Miliband. But wasn't the Olympics-themed live episode
a little tame? Surely Billy's torch could have ignited another
of the soap's cheery arson story-lines? Or Cora, Rose and Patrick
could have laid on some synchronised shagging while Fat Boy
mistook Lola's placenta for a chilli doner with hilarious consequences?
As it was we had to settle for her baby doubling in size in
the first 24 hours. At this rate, she'll be as big as Heather
Trott by Tuesday.
HOW come the Pope looks so miserable on The Borgias? The guy
is having more hot sex than Kat Moon and he's got a face on
him like Janet Street-Porter swigging lemon juice at a Jim Jefferies
show. Last weekend His Holiness woke up with a hangover saying
he'd had a dream of "trinity". Except it wasn't so much a trinity
as a threesome his mistress Giulia had set up. Talk about a
sermon on the mount. And he's still not happy! The Papal gloom
is partly explained by his randy family. The sexual chemistry
between his daughter Lucrezia and her brother, Cardinal Cesare
could stampede cattle.
HOT on TV: The Olympics... Kenneth Branagh (Wallender)...
Perry Fenwick(Enders)... Lennie James (Line Of Duty).
ROT on TV: The Newsroom drop this dead donkey... Ab Fab
- absolutely crapulous... Angelos - total toss... Superstar
- its ratings fell like a tablet of stone...
ITV's Superstar endeth and the winner was... BBC1. Oh and
Ben - ironic that a gay guy gets to play Christ at a time when
gay rows are tearing the church apart. Amanda Holden led the
search for the messiah. If her autocue had broken down only
the Almighty could have saved her. So what happens in series
two, the crucifixion?
*AMANDA is no stranger to the laying on of hands and raising
the dead, as her marriage to Les Dennis proved. (For the second
coming, see Neil Morrissey.)
*THE show didn't work too well for ITV. Tsk. Should've made
a Pontius Pilot...
LIKE many base men, I've developed an unsavoury obsession
with Emma Willis on Big Brother¹s Bit On The Side. She's smart,
articulate, sexy... And like an idiot I made the mistake of
telling my wife that Emma was in my fantasies. Am I in them
too, she asked sweetly? Of course, I replied, you bring us the
beer and sandwiches afterwards. You know what? It's bloody cold
out in this dog-house.
THE UK's Top 20 most watched shows ever included three variety
shows. Odd then that variety is now about as welcome as a health
inspector at Shirley Carter's burger van. It's old fashioned,
sniff ITV, but they also used to say that about talent shows.
Someone should take Cowell to watch Brian Conley live.
*LET'S Do Lunch With Gino & Mel is now so full of sexual allusions
and double entendres that Melanie Sykes doesn't have to turn
up - she can just text it in.
*ODD. The BBC is against women getting their kit off in principle
but perversely doesn't seem to mind if it's on a mortuary slab...
SEPARATED at birth: Cora '50 Shades Of Granny' Cross on EastEnders
and Endora on Bewitched, one a slippery old witch... and so's
the other one. Obviously Cora has eaten a bit more...
*IS Ben Mitchell morphing into that vicar from the Viz comics
with the glasses and the round balloon face?
RANDOM irritations: Mock The Week Again how about making
it funnier the first time? Andrew Lloyd Webber axing Nathan
after he clearly won the Superstar sing-off. Alan Yentob as
an interviewer there are breeze blocks with more warmth and
SMALL Joys of Olympics TV: Lauren Sesselman, Sydney Lerona,
Angelica Wallen, Sophie Polkamp, Amy Rodriguez, Swin Cash (continued
July 22. THEY have a Stairway To Heaven on ITV’s Superstar,
but why stop there? Why not have the nightly losers leave by
plummeting into the fiery pits of hell? Or a burning bush to
remind Amanda of Neil Morrissey? Why not have a shifty Judas
whispering in their ears advising them to sing wildly inappropriate
songs such as Cee Lo Green’s F*** You? Oh sorry, that
actually happened. Granted it was the Forget You radio edit
but we all knew what he meant. Hey Jason Donovan, you’re
not fit to lace the Jesus boots of some of these singers. Forget
you! Dawn French, lusting over the fellas like she’d spent
the last month in a locked cell with only Fifty Shades for company.
Forget you! Lucifer’s handmaiden, Amanda Holden, with
her frozen features, amateur delivery and grating autocue style...
I really wish ITV would forget you. She’s no Marti Caine,
is she? And certainly no angel, with her part-time Chippendales
(possibly skiving G4S security men) and apologies for bungling.
No wonder the show’s ratings have tumbled like the walls
of Jericho. ITV are so besotted with X Factor that they’ve
made this latest TV plug for Andrew Lloyd Webber a third-rate
There was a Jesus boot camp, and a visit to ALW’s Majorca
home. But no Ant & Dec or the deluded fruit-loops who make
it bearable. Contenders largely sing pop or soft rock, which
seems bizarre when Webber is trying to find the lead for an
arena stage show. Why not have them belt out musical theatre
numbers? They say that the Devil has all the best tunes, of
course, and maybe that’s true. But in Jesus Christ Superstar,
Mary has got them. Although badly produced, derivative, over-long
and largely dull, Superstar has not been without its small joys.
I liked the fact that one of the wannabes had a lisp (Thweet
Jethuth!). And that Roger sang A Whiter Shade Of Pale, possibly
as a comment on the twitter choc ice storm. Nathan, who’d
be a shoe-in for Rock Of Ages, was praised as “sensual,
sexy” – two of the qualities you’d traditionally
look for in the son of God. But then ALW and Donovan took against
him, branding Nathan over-confident. It’s a crying shame
that no-one said: “He’s not the Messiah, he’s
a very naughty boy.”
*IMAGINE Andrew Lloyd Webber on Who Do You Think You Are –
he could have a family reunion in a fishmonger’s window.
*GIVEN the spiritual theme, are Jesus groupies required to
say: “For what I am about to receive, may the Lord make
me truly thankful”?
WHEN single Dad George finds condoms in 16-year-old Tessa’s
bedroom he freaks out and uproots them to the suburban hell
of Suburgatory. “Ironic that a box full of rubbers landed
me in a town full of plastic,” laments New Yorker Tessa
who fits in like a Goth on TOWIE. This is Stepford Wives territory,
and Tess soon realises that architect George is as trapped as
Girls her age may be airhead bitches obsessed with shopping
malls and sugar-free Red Bull, but their shallow, cougar-Mums
are scarier. Lined up against them are Dahlia, a spoilt brat
with a “personality as flat as her hair” and Dallas,
her fake-breasted mother, who is one of the many women who take
a shine to Geo.
At least Dallas (brilliant Cheryl Hines) has a good heart.
Dahlia is a mean-spirited bully, and the other nosy neighbours
range from the desperate to the deranged. It’s a “white
picket fence nightmare,” Tessa concludes. “These
people seem like the type to eat their young.”
ROWDY Ricky Knight looks more like Wobbly Ricky these days.
Lack of cash and TV coverage has left British wrestling on the
But The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family found light at the
end of the tunnel. Two of the Knight kids auditioned for the
Yanks. The WWE knocked back Zak, but adored teenage Britani,
whose grapple and grunt was a pleasure to behold. It was the
Knights’ merchandise that intrigued me though. I believe
they do Rowdy Ricky after-shave, for the man who has everything...
except a sense of smell.
*RICKY and wrestling wife Saraya have four kids. He can’t
fill a hall, but he can’t half fill a pram.
HOT on TV: Alana de la Garza (CSI Miami) – world’s
sexiest corpse... Suburgatory (E4)... Metallica (Download) –
hitting like Danny Garcia’s left-hook.
ROT on TV: Superstar – on a highway to ratings hell...
Amanda Holden – holy cow... Tipping Point – tip
it... Ben ‘Nick Tilsley’ Price – just one
up from a cardboard cut-out.
THE ‘experts’ who compiled The Nation’s Favourite
Number One Singles had a real down on reggae – no Desmond
Dekker, Shaggy, Althea & Donna or Dave & Ansell Collins.
They were pretty sniffy about rock too, blanking Hendrix, Maiden,
Alice Cooper, Dave Edmunds, Free... It would have been fairer
to base the show on actual sales. But that would have meant
too many golden oldies for ITV’s liking. Benny Hill might
even have got a look in.
*THAT old chess nut Roy could be Corrie’s next adulterer.
Hard to believe this stud is back on the market... Scary Mary
is after his little king. And Roy is such a stickler for the
rules, he won’t be able to move until she takes her fingers
off the piece.
*RYAN made a play for gay Sophie. He must have figured she
could change her sexuality as easily as he changed his head.
*WILL Patrick and Cora be the next Walford coupling? Their passion
would be like something out of a movie: Enter The Dragon.
*SINBAD confronted a vicious, terrifying bird that could rip
men to shreds. Who knew Shirley Carter had a sister?
RANDOM irritations: TV cooking show overkill – fifty shades
of gravy. Wallender - so unrelentingly bleak that when it ends
you have to watch EastEnders to cheer yourself up. Sue Perkins
driving in Vietnam? Who cares? Perkins lost in ’Nam never
to return... result.
SMALL Joys of TV: Dynamo walking vertically down a building.
Ricky Knight introducing his wrestlers with a cheery: “Anyone
in a mask is on the f***ing dole.” Rogue 5. Marco Pierre
White and his knife, looking like a psychotic Tommy Cooper (don’t
try that in Peckham, pal).
*IS Michael Portillo morphing into his own Spitting Image doll?
*WOMEN are said to be brighter than men. For conclusive proof
see Fearne Cotton, Amy Childs, Big Brother’s Ashleigh...
July 15. Mad Mary mated Roy Cropper twice on Corrie. They were
playing chess of course, but don’t rule anything out. Royston
could well be the soap’s next bed-hopper, jumping the Bishop
(Emily), and then treating Rita to Cropper’s Whopper. It’d make
a welcome change from watching Peter Barlow turn to drink for
the 97th time...
Peter wrecked son Simon’s birthday party last week by jealously
decking Nick. He turned so nasty the blokes making balloon animals
were making balloon first aid kits instead.
What did classy Carla ever seen in this self-pitying creep?
The writers must have been higher than Tyson Fury’s shorts when
they came up with this coupling. There are jackals with more
moral fibre. “I need space,” she told him. Yeah, light years
of it. And what Corrie needs is comedy.
Unlike EastEnders, the Street has always leavened the darkness
with humour. Much of it came from delicious double acts like
Jack and Vera, Stan and Hilda, Derek and Mavis. Beth and Tracy
Barlow aren’t quite in the same league what with Tracy-Luv being
a) a murderess and b) bonkers. It’d be easier to get laughs
from the Taliban.
Coronation Street comedy traditionally grew organically from
beautifully drawn characters. Blanche Hunt had the ring of truth
about her, which is why her withering put-downs worked so well.
Plain-talking Blanche pulled no punches, telling Ken and Deirdre:
“Good looks are a curse, Deirdre. You and Ken should count yourself
lucky.” Even Postman Pat copped it: “Early in the morning, when
the day is dawning?” she snorted. “Your real Postman Pat rolls
up around noon wearing a pair of shorts and his breakfast. “And
if he’s not chucking elastic bands around like confetti he’ll
be rifling through your birthday cards for cash or leaving your
valuables on the step.”
What a shame to see the soap plummet from such quality dialogue
to the lousy Enders-style slapstick of Corrie On Cabbing. It
was almost as painful as Kym’s paintball palaver. The Street
needs a new Blanche or a Fred as badly as Walford needs another
Frank Butcher. We should send Kirsty round to beat some sense
into the producers.
*ROY makes love like a chess-player, I’d imagine. One hesitant
move every half hour.
*THEY stopped filming Corrie last week due to torrential rain.
Antony Cotton is wet enough.
HELLO sailor! I wanted to like Sinbad, I really did. But Sky1’s
new high-seas saga is up Ship Creek without a paddle. It’s too
violent for young kids and too dumb for anyone over twelve with
half a brain. They’ve spent fortunes on the filming and half
a doubloon on the script. The characterisation is crack-addict
thin. The casting ranges from the inspired (Elliot Knight as
Sinbad) to the peculiar – Orla Brady from Mistresses wearing
a set of old curtains. Even the CGI water beast was a wash-out
– the wettest monster this side of Ben Mitchell. Although in
fairness, tonight’s gryphon looks scarier. Sinbad is a slippery
tealeaf conning the good folk of 8th Century Persia with his
brother, Billie Jackson from EastEnders, until he accidentally
kills the son of Lord Akbari in a bare-knuckle bout. With Billie
butchered in revenge, Sinbad’s own Gran curses him to sail the
seas for a year wearing a magic necklace that starts to strangle
him if he spends more than 24hours ashore. (Kim Kardashian has
a similar one that stops her from staying married.) Basically,
this is drama for people who found Robin Hood a bit too demanding.
JOHN Lennon’s Imagine could win the Nation’s Favourite Number
One Singles. Really? Lennon was a genius, but “Imagine no possessions”?
Who’d want that? No smart-phone, no internet, no TV? No thanks.
The irony is John wrote the song while keeping a whole New York
apartment just for Yoko’s furs. Imagine no possessions? Yeah,
right. Great pop allows you to forgive stars for their foibles
and failings, though. But maybe not to forgive ITV for booking
Fearne Cotton to stiffly host this lazy three-parter. Now singles
sales are rising, isn’t it time to bring back Top Of The Pops?
*CLASSIC hits that never made the top slot: Layla, My Way,
My Generation, Heroes, Eton Rifles, All Right Now... got to
be worth another show.
HOT on TV: Dynamo (Watch)... new Falling Skies (FX)... Lennie
James (Line Of Duty).
ROT on TV: Superstar? – Jesus Christ!... Sinbad – all at sea...
Adam Buxton’s BUG – cornier than Dot Cotton’s plates... Blackout
– stinks like a crime scene... Angelos Epithemiou – A-crock-a-piss
VOLCANO Live gave us a windswept Kate Humble in Hawaii, which
was nice. For her. What it didn’t give us were live volcanoes...
Just long distance shots of smoking craters, dull black and
white webcam footage and pre-recorded lava lakes. “You can’t
really get the sense of it,” admitted Kate. So why bother? Next
time try pushing Iain Stewart into one to see if his hot air
and naff shirts makes it erupt.
*KAT’s canoodling still dominates EastEnders. Her favourite
position? Behind Alfie’s back... (Alfie prefers Andy Murray
sex: you cry a lot and come second.)
* JAY found the photo frame that killed ’Efty ’Evver under
Ben Mitchell’s bed. Makes you wonder what else he’s got under
there. The doorstop that killed Den, maybe, a mega-vat of Kat’s
lip gloss, a few of those dossers who used to hang around the
*STOP PRESS: due to army cuts, Kym’s paintball team will now
be merged with 2 Para.
*THE Newsroom may be up itself, but at heart it’s a lament
for the lost soul of investigative journalism. As they say at
Wimbledon: new balls please.
*THEO James on Case Sensitive looks like Andy Murray fed through
a Make-Me-Handsome machine.
*SO Wallender moves into his new drum and discovers a corpse
in the -garden. And the moral is... always get a proper survey
done, you plum.
RANDOM irritations: Grown men blubbing on TV talent shows
(or anywhere). TV Light Entertainment: 50 Shades of Gay. A guy
on Millionaire winning £1K for knowing a telly is more likely
to be HD ready than a fridge – give me strength. That new BBC1
trailer: “All together now... it’s a load of tripe.”
SMALL Joys of TV: Alan Partridge’s painful radio chitchat.
Andrew Lloyd Webber going Garrity when Superstar wannabes muck
up his melodies. Captain Denzil from Only Fools & Horses on
Sinbad. Rachel Riley coping with an ‘Erection’ on Countdown.
They should give boner points. Nit-picking smug-bucket Amanda
on Four In A Bed coming third out of four despite doing everything
in her scheming power to swing a win.
*TV Maths: Noddy + Pinocchio = Arron, ex of Big Brother, still
of big head.
July 8. After Who Shot Phil there’s a new mystery on EastEnders:
Who Shagged Kat? Old Tandoori Chops had a quickie in the Queen
Vic kitchen with person or persons unknown. Five dirty dogs
are now in the frame: Jack, Ray, Max, Michael and Del-Boy Rotter.
Though given how nuts our soaps are at the minute, I’d also
throw in Dirty Den who must be due another come-back soon.
Kathleen was randier than a Mel Sykes tweet. There are Bangkok
streetwalkers who flirt more subtly. No wonder Ian Beale’s in
hiding. So who succumbed? All we know for sure is that Kat’s
footballer lover was strong enough to lift her onto the kitchen
work surface, which rules out Michael and Max. He kept silent
through-out their encounter, so Winston might be in the running
too. They didn’t wipe down the worktops afterwards so don’t
order the sandwiches. And it couldn’t have been Syed cos he’s
playing for the other team.
This charmless storyline is as contrived as TOWIE but harder
to believe. Kat hasn’t so much as mentioned football in the
twelve years she’s been there; she thinks off-side is a position
the Kama Sutra missed. Yet suddenly she’s got more grasp of
the beautiful game than Sven-Göran Eriksson (not hard). Her
character has been upgraded from floozy to Roxy-grade super-slapper
over-night. She happily/recklessly cheated on husband Alfie
while he was a-kip upstairs twice in a week. “That’s my girl,”
said John Terry.
Poor Alfie, at least West Ham go up occasionally. Once a gorblimey
wide-boy, Alfie has long been rewritten as Walford’s biggest
wuss. Kat did the dirty on him before, having a son by his creepy
cousin Michael, but they were in different countries then. Bizarrely
the football storyline has kicked off out of season and despite
the pub team all having jobs, they played, perhaps uniquely,
on a week-day afternoon.
So who gave Kat the cream? My money’s on Derek or Ray. Or
both of them. The old tart loves a gangster. And according to
the graffiti in the ladies, Ray’s not called ‘The Yardie’ for
nothing. Roll on the penalty shoot-out.
*THIS is Enders’ third stab at football. Local side Walford
Town FC play one game every twenty years. The old Vic pub team,
Real Walford, had three matches in 2004 and everyone forgot
about them. Their best player was Roxy! Ridiculous. Still, it
was nice to see her on her feet for 90 minutes...
RUSSELL Brand’s Brand X is supposed to be an “extremely topical”
news-led comedy show, but inevitably it’s all about him. Russell’s
opening seven minutes were about meeting the Dalai Lama; then
he rabbited away lamely about “spiritual principles.” The studio
audience, for the most part, looked as happy as Bianca Jagger
in a wedding shot. It was feeble, self-indulgent fare. He banged
on about “consumerism” but Brand’s core message was as always:
look at me, I’m wonderful, I’m a comedy rock star, I can string
big words together. Yet the dross he spouts is as tired as the
clichés that apply to Russ himself – he believes his own publicity
and he’s had too much too soon. And what has he got to show
for it? Some naff films, a failed marriage, and a big head.
The bottom line is Brand hasn’t been funny since Big Brother’s
A LOT of people are coming under public scrutiny lately –
bankers, Rooneys, Murdochs, Jimmy Carr. Can we add soap writers
to the list? Standards of plotting, banter, and believability
have dropped so low that Amy Turtle’s Crossroads now seems like
a lost Golden Age. Last week Corrie reheated flop BBC1 show
Candy Cabs to give us ‘Fare Ladies’. Even Usain Bolt couldn’t
have set up a minicab firm as quickly as hard-up Lloyd. Premises,
financing, business registration, phone-lines, flyers, staff
– he sorted it all in a day. Now he’s staying at gloom-magnet
Eileen’s, which must be twinned with the Tardis. And nosy, old-fashioned,
judgemental Norris is ballroom dancing with Hayley, who used
to be a man... It was easier to believe in Sunita the sex siren.
HOT on TV: Line Of Duty – the best twist since Chubby Checker...
The Hollow Crown... Dynamo Magician Impossible... MyAnna Buring
ROT on TV: Russell Brand – Forget will.i.am, meet the big.i.am...
. Mad Mad World – bad, bad show... Parents – My Unfunny Family...
Gordon Behind Bars – Crapillon, Stir Lazy, Ham-Shank Redemption.
DYNAMO is so dazzling that when he performs jaws all over
Britain drop like Piers Morgan’s ratings. Previously, the Bradford
street-magician walked on the Thames and levitated Matt Lucas
at the Emirates. In the new series he’s shrinking mobile phones
and disappearing before our eyes. ITV and BBC1 have axed their
magic shows, but this guy is reinventing “the art of astonishment”
for a new generation.
BLACKOUT makes Dr Who look like reality TV. Corrupt, alcoholic
councillor beats a man to death then gets a shot at redemption
and runs for mayor on a “Dump the bullshit” ticket. Start with
the script! Even Jean Slater thinks it’s demented.
*HOTEL Inspector Alex Polizzi visited the Clover Spa nudist
hotel, where business was sagging like the sorry arses of the
clientele. Incredibly the opportunity of spending time with
fat middle-aged naked people is not enticing, even in Birmingham.
*JAMIE Oliver showed us how to cook an Indian dosa. Add it
to the Queen Vic menu; Kat would definitely catch one.
*JAMIE on Jamaican cooking: “The wood determines the flavour
of the jerk.” Or was that Tulisa?
RANDOM irritations: Over-busy directors forever cutting away
from the action. The BBC spending £157,000 on head-hunters to
find a new Director General and then promoting a bloke they
already employed. Brucie singing live at Hop Farm: as flat and
toneless as Cheryl.
SMALL Joys Of TV: Kim ‘Honey Harman’ Tiddy on Enders. Lola’s
mobile bump. Spanish football. Sue Barker’s Go Compare ad. John
Inverdale dressing like he’s on day release from The Prisoner.
Hotel Inspector nude innuendo: the cracks are showing, eager
beavers, well-clipped bushes... fnarr, fnarr
QUESTIONS: are the Marshalls the biggest family of fake tits
since the Moons on EastEnders? Where does Jamie Bloody Oliver
find the sunshine for his barbecues? When will BBC1 notice that
Titchmarsh’s new ITV show is Groundforce in disguise?
*SEPARATED at birth: Scott (Big Brother) and Frank N. Furter,
one a pansexual nutcase who gets on your nerves, the other a
character in The Rocky Horror Show.
*R.I.P. Eric Sykes. On the day boffins discovered the “god”
particle, a true god of British comedy died.
*SCIENTISTS have found the Higgs Boson. Now the next big search
is on – for Piers Morgan’s humility.
July 1st. WHAT would Malcolm Tucker make of Veep? Would the
foul-mouthed spin doctor from The Thick Of It see Armando Iannucci’s
new sitcom as cutting edge satire or the biggest blown opportunity
since Bill Clinton auditioned his interns?
The show sends up the US Vice-Presidency, a job that’s about
as useful as England in a penalty shoot-out. Isolated and powerless,
VP Selina dedicates her time to replacing the government’s plastic
forks and spoons with cutlery made of cornstarch, which fold
under heat – much like Chloe Smith on Newsnight.
When a careless tweet ticks off the plastic industry, a senator
brands Selina’s Twitter writer a “grade-A retard”, adding poetically,
“You were hoist with your own retard!” A gag she dumbly repeats
during a press conference... Cue “Retard-Gate”, a rapidly escalating
front page news scandal.
Selina’s staff are a bickering rabble, a misfit mix of the
inept, knackered, and ambitious. The message is politicians
are slippery, two-faced gits, which I’d imagine we’ve all worked
out for ourselves by now. As satire it’s toothless, and it lacks
Tucker’s explosive fury and inventive swearing. The nearest
we got were Selina’s speech being “pencil-f*cked” (censored)
by the President’s office, and her describing a dead senator
as “rapey Reeves, one of the most respected perverts in the
Veep feels like The Larry Sanders Show set in Washington DC
with more swearing and fewer laughs. The big difference between
this show and The Thick Of It is that the BBC series clearly
sent up New Labour, but we don’t even know if Selina is supposed
to be a Democrat or a Republican. No woman has ever held the
office and it’s hard to see how one so clueless and uncharismatic
would have made it. A running joke has her asking if the Pres
has rung for her. He never does. Why would he? Julia Louis-Dreyfus
is a fine comedy actress, yet her character and team are so
underwhelming why would he (or we) care about them? Obama’s
fall from “Yes we can” promise to No-we-couldn’t reality would
have been a richer field to mine. Taking satire to the Yanks
is like bussing the wretched and suicidal into Walford. Their
comics do it better every night.
*THE actual US VP Joe Biden is so insignificant that he wasn’t
even on Bin Laden’s hit-list. Here’s what hurt: DLT was.
JED Mercurio’s Line Of Duty is about conscience and coppers
who bend the rules like Jabulani balls. DCI Anthony Gates is
a thief-catcher, Officer Of The Year, top of the cops. But anti-corruption
unit AC-10 rightly smell a rat. Gates, played by the great Lennie
James, cherry-picks cases to keep his arrest rate high. He piles
extra charges on guilty men to mop up unsolved crimes. And helps
his mistress Jackie, a truncheon meat enthusiast, cover up the
death of the poor sod she killed while drunk-driving. Stacked
against him are unsmiling zealot Supt Hastings, undercover cop
Kate Fleming and DS Arnott, an honest man in a bent world –
and a crime writer’s in-joke (Jake Arnott wrote The Long Firm.)
The show also rubs home the modern policeman’s burden: paperwork,
red-tape and jargon.
IMAGINE being cooped up with 24 women... the bitching, the
cat-fights, the dramas, the endless hours of hair-drying and
make-up... It’s the reason blokes go ice fishing. And probably
the reason George was Lonesome. Posh Spencer Matthews from Made
In Chelsea is now The Bachelor, and gets to whittle down two
dozen dishy dames to one new flame – which is like every other
weekend for Russell Brand. By the end of show one, he’d given
a rose to fifteen of them (mostly blondes) and clearly wanted
to throw a crafty creeper up Tabby’s trellis.
*DENSE Spence previously dated Caggie and Funda, which sounds
like something that grows between your toes.
*THE Bachelor starts and Katie Holmes divorces Tom. Coincidence?
HOT on TV: Line Of Duty... Episodes... Ice Road Truckers...
Secret History Of Our Streets.
ROT on TV: England v. Italy – as depressing as the Spice Girls
reunion ... Comedy Exchange – try exchanging it for something
funny... Walking & Talking... Undercover Undertaker – enough
to put you off dying for life.
RAF Bomber Command suffered the highest level of casualties
in World War Two – 55,573 airmen were killed. Their bravery
and sacrifice helped smash the Nazi war machine. Yet these heroes
have only just been publicly honoured because carpet-bombing
Dresden was deemed “unnecessary” and offended liberal sensibilities
(Who Betrayed the Bomber Boys?). Back in ’45, I doubt if the
citizens of bomb-blitzed Coventry, London, Liverpool or Glasgow
would have agreed.
*SO sad on EastEnders: Lucy’s ordeal, that tiny premature
tot... Who wouldn’t be moved by those frail, stick-like legs?
And the baby’s just as puny. Poor kid. The only hope of happiness
little Patricia has got is adoption or matricide.
*THINGS to brighten up Walford: 1) Big Mo... the 51st Shade
of Grey. 2) Pete Beale back from the gwave with a bwand new
tweacle 3) Hungry raptor arrives from Primeval, eats Moons;
then starts on the Mitchells.
*RICHARD Arnold is back on Daybreak – hurrah! Once again the
studio is full of laughter at his ready wit. Entirely From Richard
*REJECTED meals on Gordon Behind Bars: chilli con carnage,
broken leg of lamb, murderers’ chicken – served face-down in
*GORDON’S Top Tip: avoid the sex offenders’ crab paste.
*US TV has been given the green-light for “fleeting” swearing
and “momentary nudity”. If that happened here it wouldn’t half
brighten up the Antiques Roadshow.
*LEANE has gone back to rubbish ex-hubby Nick on Corrie. Isn’t
that like finding a half-eaten meal you didn’t like much and
*NEXT in BBC2’s Shakespeare series, the cast of Lip Service
present As You Lick It...
QUESTIONS: is Embarrassing Bodies scraping the bottom? When
Corrie’s Nick told Leanne he’d always wanted a child did she
forget that he’d made her abort theirs? If Posh is miserable
about Beckham not being in Team GB’s Olympics football squad,
how could we tell?
RANDOM irritations: Question Time, more rigged than a Barclays
loan rate. Gordon Behind Bars - if only. Nitwit football punditry.
The certainty that the bungling bank tech behind the NatWest
farce will still get his bonus...
SMALL Joys Of TV: Boris Becker’s voice – camper than a French
horn. Balotelli’s second goal. Alan Partridge’s road rage explosion:
“Eff, eff, eff off,” he roared, adding: “She shouldn’t really
be riding a bike at her age.”
*SEPARATED at birth, Euro special: Pierluigi Collina and Pyat
from Game Of Thrones. João Pereira and T-Bag, Bruno Alvez and
*HOT not on TV: Steve Brookstein live, seriously.