BBC1…Pound Shops Wars

6 Feb

The most common question asked at a PoundWorld?…”How much is this?”

With this we are introduced to new documentary series looking into the world of Pound shops. Anyone who has paid even the most casual attention to the range of shops on the high street could not have helped notice the emergence of these brand of uber discounters.

Poundland, PoundWorld, PoundStretcher and even in this ultra-discounted sector there is is a sub sector for those who find £1 a bit of a stretch, the 99p stores

Today we introduced to the £1 bra (accompanied by a raft of the inevitable and incredibly dreary puns!). PoundWorld launched  these as a new product range and two questions immediately spring to mind, will anyone buy it or how did they make it so cheap.

To answer the first question we have to take a segway to the 1989 film Field of Dream, where the hero is inspired build a baseball park by his belief that build it and they shall come and in the film against all odds he built it and they came.

The world of pound shops is somewhat similar, price it cheap enough and they will come to buy it. In the case of the £1 bra, with the help of some publicity from the titillating tabloid press involving a trampoline, PoundWorld sold an incredible 100,000 in ten days and over the rest of the summer sold over 700,000.

So how do they do it? The answer is China. Cheap materials, cheap manufacturing costs and all that is left is to price them low and stack them high is the formula the propels this phenomenon.

It is a somewhat sad indictment of what our society has become, so resolutely consumerist, consuming because it is there and cheap not because we have to. If the consumerism is our new religion these shops may not be the cathedrals of the religion they are more like the missionaries pushing and spreading the consumerism deep into the furthest reaches of society.

 

BBC3…Tough Young Teachers

4 Feb

The teachers were definitely young but tough? I am not so sure.

Every documentary I have ever watched about teaching simply reaffirms my belief that one of the wisest things I could have done was to avoid teaching as a profession.

Teaching is often said to be a noble profession and the satisfaction of bringing the best out of you proteges can be richly rewarding of that there is no doubt.

However plant yourself in a a modern comprehensive in the middle of  one of Britain’s cities and often teaching can rapidly change into something not too dissimilar to being a warden at a young offenders correction centre.

In Tough Young Teachers on BBC three we saw some extremely fresh faced teachers taking up the challenge of teaching classes of secondary school pupils would in reality were only a few years younger than they were.  Young kids, and particularly young boys its goes with out saying have short attentions spans and are prone to long bouts of hyperactivity, and for the young inexperienced teachers this proved particular daunting for many of the teachers.

There was the case of Walid, who even when he was at his calmest seemed like he had overdosed on a family sized bottle of fizzy pop. He was boisterous, noisy and disruptive and was clearly demanding, and it seem taking, a lion share of the teachers attention to the detriment of his colleagues.

He however does come across a bright pupil, sometime in less than honourable ways, such as when he brought his mum who isn’t fluent in English along for the Parent Teacher meeting and obviously had no choice but to step in as an interpreter. Needless to say his Mum left the school none the wiser.

We did witness an impressive transformation when he was taken by his young teacher (himself only 22 years) on a school trip to Jamie’s Farm, away from school in the rural open spaces he seemed to thrive and engage in what he was doing. We have seen such transformations in many documentaries about young people, but the truth is such opportunities will always be an exception.

Most teachers will need to achieve that engagement in much less idyllic locations, namely the classroom and to do that is what makes teaching really tough.

BBC 1…Room 101 Who says Germans aren’t funny…

1 Feb

Is Henning Wehn the funniest German you have ever seen?

Who says Germans can’t be funny, and by funny I mean funny haha, rather than funny peculiar.  If you have bought into the stereotypes of our German cousins being incredibly efficient but extremely dour then you have probably never met Henning Wehn. Who, you might ask?

Henning Wehn is not just a very funny comedian who happens to be German he is, to give him his full self-appointed title, The German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain and I don’t think there is a better man for the job. You may know him from such shows as 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to you.

No content with spreading Teutonic mirth to these shows, today he graced the panel of Room 101 with Frank Skinner. He was delightful, his items to dispose of were Charity, The Royal Family and Birthdays in Restaurants.  His comedic rant about charities was particular funny, and he his quips on the Royal Family were funny but close to bone (no OBE for you Mr Ambassador).

If you are still in denial about the existence of German humour you can check it out for yourself on BBC iPlayer.

Channel 5…Can Celebrity Big Brother Redeem Jim Davidson?

30 Jan

Celebrity Big Brother came to an end last night and was striking in two regards. Firstly it has turned out to be a big ratings winner for Channel 5, peaking at about 3.8 million viewers for the final.

So successful were the ratings for Channel 5 that the programme was extended by four days, and I suspect if it weren’t for fear of charges of forced imprisonment being levied against them Channel 5 would have kept the celebrities ‘locked’ up longer.

The other big surprise was the winner. In a field with reality TV stalwarts like Sam Faiers (The Only Way is Essex – TOWIE) and Ollie Lock (Made In Chelsea), well known figures from Pop Music Lee Ryan (Blue) and Dappy (N-Dubz) plus other older but entirely palatable celebrities like Lionel Blair and Linda Nolan, Jim Davidson would not stand out as your likely winner.

Not when you consider the supposed voting demographic of shows like Celebrity Big Brother, not when you consider media coverage he has received in recent years, but win he did!

I am not not sure what propelled  him to victory? It may be that the voting demographic is not as skewed towards the younger tech-savvy teenagers most people imagine, it may be that with too many celebs aimed at the the yoof it could be that a dedicated brigade of  matronly voters were able to seize the advantage of the divide in the the opponents ranks  provided and voted their man to victory, or it could simply be that viewers of the The Generation Game are just so damn loyal.

Well he has won and and unlike his last appearance on Reality TV on Hells Kitchen, this time around he has done so with little or no controversy. The question is will this mark a turnaround in his fortunes, will his phone be ringing off the hook as offers flood in?

Michael Barrymore went though the same sort of redemption of Celebrity Big Brother, but the revival was fleeting as the reasons why stars are no longer stars do not disappear from the general population simply on the back of a reality TV win. It may they have been mired in controversy, it may be ageism, or it may be the public’s taste has just simply moved on. Ultimately success in Reality TV shows is a “success of now” an ephemeral success that begins to dissipate from the very moment you are crowned.

Even less contentious winners of shows like The X-Factor, The Voice quickly realise how transient their popular appeal can be. So is this redemption for Jim Davidson? No not likely.

 

 

 

BBC2..House Of Fools. Is it a Comedy?

28 Jan

House of Fools. When is a comedy not a comedy?  Easy. When it is not funny!

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were big in the 1990′s, scratch that, they were huge stars.

Their shows like Shooting Stars were massive and did wonders not only for the careers of Vic and Bob but also their star-dust brightened the careers of  many others like Ulrika “Ulrika-ka-ka-ka” Jonsson, Johnny Vegas, Mark Lamarr and Matt Lucas aka George Dawes.

Not content with being major TV celebrities, Vic Reeves also found time to release a number one single  a cover of the 1969 Tommy Roe hit “Dizzy“.

 

 

That though was the 90′s. Back to the present Vic and Bob are reunited for the BBC2 comedy House of Fools.

I think Comedy years are like dog years and it is clear that the many, many years have gone by since Vic and Bob were really funny and it shows, the show is dire.

Vic and Bob were always renown for being unconventional and their humour always had a Marmite quality to it,  you loved it or loathed it. This is more like Semolina, tasteless, flavourless and clearly only used a filling because BBC 2 has nothing better to show. It was not good.

 

 

BoxSet…The Tunnel (Stephen Dillane, Clémence Poésy )

24 Jan

It is like BBC4′s Scandinavian hit The Tunnel, except it’s not on a Bridge and not Scandinavian.


The Bridge was a big hit in its twin home countries of Denmark and Sweden and also for BBC4 here in the UK. It therefore comes a no surprise that it has spawned quite  few clones including  The Tunnel a joint production between French media giant Canal Plus and British TV production company Kudos Film and Television.

Like The Bridge, The Tunnel brings together detectives from two nations solving a crime that has inexplicably occurred right on the border, in this case the very point in the Channel Tunnel where the Britain ends and France starts (or indeed where France ends and Britain starts).

The Tunnel stays true to many of the aspects of the The Bridge that made the latter a big hit, including pairing a laid back British detective played by Stephen Dillane with a socially challenged but highly effective French female detective played by Clémence Poésy, echoing the pairing from the Bridge of Kim Bodnia (Martin) and Sofia Helin (Saga) in The Bridge.

In some ways the Anglo-French dialogue plus a different take on the character development makes this significantly different that fans of this genre will enjoy it as a series in its own right. If you missed its showing on Sky Atlantic or love to relive what was a really great series then box set is now available.

Channel 4…Benefits Street. Are kids fair game?

20 Jan

Is Benefits Street using Child Poverty for entertainment?

Benefits Street has been one of the most talked about programmes on TV this year.  Largely in part because of its relentless focus on the some of the least attractive recipients of the welfare system. The sort of people guaranteed to drive middle England apoplectic with rage and have the readers of the Daily Mail spluttering into their cups of tea in fury.

I presume most of the participants in the programme have consented to appearing in the programme, the resultant programme may not be what they expected but it is ultimately with their consent (although I am a bit unsure how they got consent from resident drunk Fungi , who in addition to his love for the amber liquid was revealed to be illiterate).

That though only applies to the adults, todays episode focused on the children of the residents of James Turner street. In doing so it took on a more worrying dimension. The kids are in homes that are portrayed as ranging from mildly dysfunction to a point where you are wondering where the hell are social services.

Ultimately the question is even with the assumed consent of their parents it is right to put these kid’s situation at home on the Network TV for the public’s entertainment? It is no surprise the programme has been dubbed by the rest of the media as benefit porn.

 

TV Advert…Guinness brings The Sapeurs to the UK

18 Jan

New Guinness TV Advert : Les Sapeurs

You may never have heard of them, but far away in the Congo Brazaville (not to be confused with its neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo) there is a breed of gentlemen for whom snazzy sharp dressing is a way of life.

These men are know as the  La Société des Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants (the Society for the Advancement of People of Elegance) – Sapeurs. What was cultural niche only known to Congolese and people with an interest in Congolese culture and music is now set to get a wider audience after Guinness launched a new marketing campaign featuring the Sapeurs

 

 

The authoritative book on this phenomenon is The Gentlemen of Bacongo by Daniele Tamagni, Paul Smith and Paul Goodwin. The music in the advert is What Makes a Good Man? – The Heavy.

Channel 4 …Is “Hostages” the new “Homeland”?

18 Jan

“Homeland” was a ratings winner can “Hostages” replace it?

Channel 4 got a ratings winner with the first season of Homeland, the second and third seasons also did relatively well and the lesson for the schedulers at Channel 4 was that a strong US drama has the potential to be winner in the prime time 9 pm weekend slot.

Step forward Hostages, the new Saturday night US drama on Channel 4. The series debuted last Saturday starring Toni Collette as Surgeon Dr Ellen Saunders, who was to undertake a surgery on the President of the United States. In a bit of politicking the President had decided to have his surgery done in a normal public hospital where Dr Saunders worked, rather than using the ultra secure facilities available to the most powerful man in the world.

We are also introduced to FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle (“Dylan McDermott“). Now his role is pivotal to Hostages and he is initially shown to us as all action good guy, foiling a bank robbery. Soon after the drama turns dark as Dr Ellen Saunders suffers a home invasion and as her family are held hostage, she is told she needs to kill the President by botching the Surgery scheduled for the next day otherwise her family will be killed. The leader of the home invaders being none other than FBI Agent Duncan Carlisle.

Has he gone renegade? Why doesn’t Dr Saunders contact the Secret Service? How will the plot keep us engaged for all full series? We shall no doubt find out.

Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack “Trigger” Dies.

16 Jan

Roger Lloyd-Pack, Trigger from Only Fools and Horses passes away aged 69.

It was announced today the actor Roger Lloyd Pack has passed away today. He was most famous for his role as Trigger in the hit comedy series Only Fools and Horses.

Tribute have poured acorss from the entertainment industry  and beyond it.

BBC

Roger Lloyd Pack, who has died aged 69, was best known as the gormless Trigger in the BBC One comedy Only Fools and Horses.

Possessed of a rubbery face, which he used to great effect, he was sometimes difficult to cast but never became typecast.

But it was his depth as an actor that enabled him to make much of the minor roles in which he often found himself.

David Jason (Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses)

“I was very saddened to hear of Roger’s passing. He was a very quiet, kind and unassuming actor who was a pleasure to work with, although he played the simple soul of Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, he was a very intelligent man and a very fine actor capable of many roles. I shall remember him with fondness and for all the good times we had together.”

Nicholas Lyndhurst (Rodney  “Dave” in Only Fools and Horses)

“I’m so saddened to hear about Roger. He was the most accomplished actor and loved by millions, I will miss him greatly.”

As a celebration of this greater actor here are some of his most famous from Only Fools and Horses

On Ghandi

 

Why do they cool him Trigger?

 

Staying Cool with Del Boy in a Wine Bar.