Archive | November, 2012

I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here…. because the final is boring

30 Nov

ITV’s top reality show I Am a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winds it way to this weekend’s final. The celebs came and one by one they were weeded out.

Brian Conley who it seems bit off more than he could chew. Nadine Dorries who for understandable reasons prefers the snakes and creepy crawlies of the Australian jungle to the homegrown variety in the Westminster jungle. Limahl whom I never heard of before this and I suspect I will not hear of him after this either. Linda Robson who made as much impact as a vegan at a burger bar. Cuddly corpulent Colin Baker who shed a good few pounds – just what the Doctor would have ordered.

There was also Helen Flanagan who gave us a selection of “Myleene Klass shower moments” but we didn’t reciprocate with votes. Rosemary Shrager big boisterous and bulldozed her way over her days in camp. Suave, Urbane and minted Hugo Tylor whom I am sure has lived in houses with vegetable patches bigger than the jungle camp. Eric Bristow, the cockney diamond geezer always up for a bit of banter but less keen on taking part in titillating Pussycat Doll routines.

This left us with Ashley Roberts, Charlie ‘Janine’ Brooks and David ‘The Hay Maker’ Haye, all very likable and nice people, but you can’t help feeling not the most interesting three of the bunch that started. Often that’s the problem with public voting on reality TV shows. The big more controversial characters tend to divide the public, you love them or loathe them.

While their are people who religiously vote for the big characters which sees them through the early rounds, invariably they fall by the way side as the number of contestants dwindle.

Out of this cull emerge those who are the least grating, the ones who you think “well if my favourite doesn’t win I won’t mind him or her winning”, the apparently pleasantly nice folk, who bitch but do so in a refined almost unnoticeable fashion. Who want to win so badly like everyone else, but never in a manner that you would notice. They are seemingly nice but not incredibly fascinating.

It is a problem for reality shows how do you sustain interest when you lose your Rylan and are left with your Jahmene.  You lose you rabbit rissotto and are left with your Ryvita. It is almost inevitable and just goes to show how hard it is to win from the extremes.

We see it in the X-Factor, The Apprentice, Big Brother and all the other shows. I call it the RFC – Reality Final Conundrum.

In Homeland there is no Movember for Abu Nazir!

26 Nov

In the much missed comedy series “The Fast Show” the character Swiss Tony was famous for comparing any situation he found himself as like “making love to a beautiful woman”. I was going to use that analogy to qualify how much I loved Homeland but like Swiss Tony I would simply not be making any sense. It is probably enough to say I do really like it.

I noticed that I have been getting a lot of folk from the US on my previous posts about Homeland. Just a note to say that the here in the UK we are running a week behind so my observations and comments on homeland are effectively at least a week old as far as you guys are concerned.

Back to the show. A few weeks ago I contemplated whether Homeland had jumped the shark, there was the massacre of the CIA agents and the sub plot with the Vice President’s son’s hit and run accident and Brody being turned. Where was it going go from there? Where was the suspense going to come from? Well I should apologise it hasn’t jumped the shark and I think I jumped the gun on that one.

This week we got an insight into where the series might be going. We see Brody weighed down by the pressure of being a double agent and the stress it is causing him, and his relationship with his family particularly his wife and daughter. As the stress becomes unbearable  he snaps and is prepared to damn the consequences and walk away from the deal he had with the CIA, only the timely intervention by Carrie using all the assets at her disposal to persuade him to stay the course.

However she made have acted too late as it seems his handler Roya had already become suspicious of Brody’s loyalty, this sets in motion a chain events which sees Brodie snatched from an open field in the countryside late at night bundled into a helicopter and flown to some destination unknown.

There he comes  face to face with man at the centre of all his travails, and the only adult in the whole programme who does not refer to him by his surname and that includes his wife. The man is Abu Nazir and he was clean-shaven, obviously not quite got the Movember idea.

JR Ewing has left the building…RIP to Larry Hagman

25 Nov

The eighties would not have been the eighties without Dallas, and Dallas would not have been Dallas without Larry Hagman. Yesterday Larry Hagman lost his battle with cancer and passed away aged 81.

Strictly Come Dancing…Is Denise Van Outen Just too darn good for this?

25 Nov

First off I have to declare that I have always been big fan of Denise Van  Outen.  It started with the Big Breakfast on Channel 4 where Denise and Johnny Vaughan created the best Breakfast TV show ever.

She has always projected a cheerful, warm and humorous personality and I have no reason to think that that is not a true reflection of what she is.  I know people for reasons I have never fully understood  like to think of  Cheryl Cole as the ‘nations sweetheart” but if I was given a choice I definitely would not see past Denise for this accolade.

But, and there was a but in this and a very big one at that, I think she was (and still is) too too good for the Strictly Come Dancing journey, a journey that should share with the viewer a transformation from ‘dancing rags’ to ‘dancing riches’.

The leader board ‘journey’ for Strictly Come Dancing 2012

She has been flawless, watching her with James Jordan and you often don’t see a celebrity and her dance partner, you see just two professional dancers.

A few years back Alesha Dixon wowed strictly audiences with her near perfection. The difference though was she had a journey, granted she became very good, very quickly but there was still a journey.

Denise on the other hand has been spectacular from day dot and the stats show it, she has dominated from almost from week one, while past strictly greats like Jill Halfpenny and Alesha had to fight their way to glory. With Denise the Coronation as the queen of the dance floor just seems inevitable.

While Denise may be crowned Queen of the Dance Floor I think this year Dani Harmer and Vincent Simone while unheralded typify the journey we expect on strictly.

Match Of the Day…Michael Owen’s Movember Moustache of the Month

24 Nov

Michael Owen's spectacular moustache.

I presume this is for Movember or it could be Michael Owen is audtioning for the Cheshire franchise of YMCA.

He was proudly sporting this today on BBC’s Match of Day.

BBC…I don’t enjoy paying my TV Licence but sometimes…

22 Nov
English: This image of a document is from &quo...

Jim Jones :  Credit  ”the Jonestown Institute” at San Diego State University. 

…BBC shows a gem and we would be much the poorer without it.

Two nights ago I stumbled upon a repeated edition of Storyville on BBC2. There are certain things the BBC does better than anyone else in the world, not just in Britain, not just Europe, not just in the West, not just in the Northern hemisphere, but the whole wide world, these are nature programmes and factual documentaries.

They do a lot of other good things but on these two they are beyond compare.

Storyville is a excellent example of  the world class factual documentary shown by the beeb. Storyville rarely gets any publicity, is often shoved into late night time slots, but the gradual way the documentaries in this series dissemble and present even the most complex subject matters is second to none.

On Tuesday we were taken back to the swinging sixties and psychedelic seventies. To a time when civil rights was just making a break through in the USA and we met a charismatic preacher Jim Jones.  In ”Jonestown: The World’s Biggest Mass Suicide”, we are taken through Jim Jones life from his early days as a preacher, through his rise a powerful local politician in San Franciso and finally to a commune in the South American country of Guyana.

It was here in Guyana that events unfolded which shocked the world. The documentary carefully charted the events that led to 909 people committing mass suicide far from home in a sweltering jungle. We meet the survivors and witnesses to events that led to this, talking poignantly of their experiences at the camp and the loss of those they knew.

The closing segment with short shots of the those contributing survivors as they contemplated their memories was particularly powerful. Very powerful.











ITV News…”…who killed his landlady with an axe”. What purpose did this context serve?

19 Nov
Français : Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg, Cour ...

European Court of Human Rights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching the news yesterday my attention was caught by a story about whether prisoners should be given the right to vote. The European Court of Human Rights has recently passed a judgement requiring that some prisoners be given this right, this is at odds with current British law and against the coalition Government’s stated policy.

As would be expected the news item had opinions from both sides of the debate including one John Hurst a former Prisoner. Reasonable you would think, to have the opinion of a former prisoner on this issue, to give perspective from the prisoners side. More importantly he had also taken the government to the Human Rights court over this issue, so was well versed on the prisoners stance.

So why was he repeatedly introduced as “former prison John Hurst, who killed his landlady with an axe“.

What is the relevance of his crime to the news item. It is not as if some special dispensation is being asked for, or granted to murderers, nor is the case specifically about John Hurst. Irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of the issue, it certainly seems at odds with their obligation to give a balanced opinion on news items.

Judge for yourself if it seems relevant

Brazil with Michael Palin…Serenity south of Sao Paulo

18 Nov

Four weeks ago we started our journey across Brazil with Michael Palin in the steamy and tropical northeast of Brazil and over the next two weeks we journeyed across this vast country, a country spanning half a continent and 40 times the size of the United Kingdom.

This is the last week and once again we are off the well beaten tourist tracks of Brazil to the parts where we may not have been before. We met the remnants of the Brazilian royal family in a country that is solidly republican serving as a reminder of times gone and a social and racial hierarchy that it is ebbing away.

The programme threw up a question which I don’t know if most people would know the answer to? What is the third largest aircraft manufacturer in the world? Did you say Brazil’s Embraer? Head to the top of the class!  We have seen the vast mineral and agricultural resources that Brazil is endowed with but the country is also moving up the value chain with a growing industrial base with world-class companies like Embraer and Petrobas.

Palin took us to the Embraer manufacturing facility where we met Felipe who is arguably the happiest plane painter I have ever met, admittedly he is also the only plane painter I have met, but he has a quite a jolly outlook on life. His love for his job was apparent and his contentment with the lifestyle it gave him very commendable.

One of the challenges of a rapid industrialisation and urban growth is the waste is generates and disposing this.  Palin meets Wilson Cantahla, a man who has taken the adage “there is money in muck” and spun it out into a personal fortune, and along the way elevated thousands of people who scavenged the waste dumps outside Sao Paulo in to regular jobs in his recycling plants. Further evidence of the transformation of Brazil industrial sector and the social change it spawns.

Another instrument of social change is introduced. The Brazil Telenova  industry. We think of Eastenders and Coronation Street as massive TV shows imagine  then if they regularly pulled in 72 million viewers, that is the power of Brazil’s telenova’s. They are essentially soap operas, but unlike their British cousins dont run for years till we are pleading to be released from our misery, they run for about 9 months before ending while not shying away from tackling a wide range of social issues.

These social changes have transformed but not completely overcome one aspect of Brazilian society and it was something that Palin only lightly touched on, Brazil’s reputation as a melting pot. The country seems blended on the surface but like cream whisk it too vigorously and it splits. As we have traveled across Brazil from the poorer North to the wealthier South although uncommented upon we have seen a subtle change in the makeup of the population.

So much so that when Palin reaches the deep south of the country in the state of Rio Grande do Sol on the border with Uruguay it is almost as if we have stepped onto the casting set for a Bavarian agricultural show awash with lederhosen, barrels of Pilsner and accordions  It was a different country from the one we had arrived at. The Germanic culture and influences were strong and pervasive and  in a way more authentic that what now remains in the teutonic Motherland. It may not be a testament to Brazil as a melting pot, but it is a testament to its varied heritage.

Palin was now in the southermost tip of Brazil close to his journeys end, but that was not to be without a final trip to see another of the great natural wonders this country offers - The Pantanal. The world largest wetland, spanning an area the size of holland and Belgium.

The Pantanal Wetlands

A beautiful, tranquil haven of nature. Here Palin ends the day fishing for flesh eating pinranha, which apparently are delightful for a light evening Sashimi…Just  another day of contrasts in Brazil

I Am A Celebrity…How Do you Solve a Problem Like Helen Flanagan…

18 Nov

ITV’s ratings winner “I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” has run into a big problem and it is causing the producers endless headaches. Simply put they have a problem with Helen Flanagan

For anyone who has never watched the show the premise is this.

  1. Pick a bunch of a bunch of “celebrities” who are looking to give their career a boost and earn some extra cash.
  2. Fly them out to Australia.
  3. Stick them in a “jungle” camp over there for three weeks. (In reality a camp built on the edge of a nature reserve).
  4. Put them on very basic food rations mainly rice and beans.
  5. Every day the public vote for one of the celebs to go through some sort of ritual humiliation (aka Bushtucker trial) to win more food for the camp. The trials range from eating Kangaroo testicles to crawling through bug infested slime.
  6. If doing the trail proves to be too much for the celebrity, they can yell out “I am a celebrity get me out of here” and the humiliation will end but obviously they will win nothing.
  7. If celebrity completes the trial successfully they win improved rations for the other celebrities back at the Camp.
  8. Next day repeat 5-7
  9. At the end of about two weeks of repeated celebrity humiliation the public start voting to kick out the celebrities they were least entertained by and the last man / woman standing is crowned King or Queen of the Jungle.

Now if all goes well the celebrities endure the rounds of humiliation, sometimes winning some times losing, but providing the show with lots of footage to keep the watching public entertained.

As most of the celebrities involved are only border line famous, a lot of pre-show publicity is required to raise awareness of who they are before it kicks off.  Some get more publicity than others and in the run up to this show a significant amount of publicity was given to ex-Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan. In addition to endless shoots of her in her jungle kit,which she did look good in, much of the publicity was about the inordinate amount of things she was afraid of.

I suppose from ITV’s perspective she was the ideal celebrity a beautiful woman, guaranteed to provide oodles of amusing footage during bushtucker trials as wades through a pipe of slime, slugs and spiders a fetching two piece swimming suit.

It all seemed to be going to plan, the public were voting for Helen Flanagan  to do the trials day after day. The problem was Helen was not really playing ball, trial after trial she has either ignored the instructions, put in a half-hearted attempt or as we saw last night simply said she was not doing.

The problem now for ITV is that it seems to have a war of attrition on its hand. The viewers of the show are relentless in voting for Helen, and Helen in turn is becoming increasingly unapologetic about not doing the trails, leaving the producers with very little celebrity humiliation to pad out the show.

They’ve apparently tried to make the trails as easy as possible  and host Ant and Dec have cajoled, persuaded and pleaded with Helen to give the trials ago but it looks like it is not working and people are getting livid according to The Sun

An ITV source said: “The amount of time and effort to set up these trials is huge. “So it is infuriating for them to see that work go to waste.

This time the anger is so high producers are planning to use the trial again.”

The real big problem is unlike other days today’s trials is supposed to be beamed live and if Helen (who has been voted to do it again) wimps out they will be left with a significant amount of live broadcast time to fill in.

Looks like it is time for the production staff to really earn their keep, as they need to find a solution to this before tonight.

Dr Who…Christmas Special “The Snowmen”. Details announced.

17 Nov
English: The current TARDIS seen at BBC TV Centre...

Doctor Who’s Tardis credit ©

Christmas Day TV on the BBC has some certainties, Eastenders will depress us, Strictly Come Dancing will amuse us and the Dr Who Christmas Special will wow us. Just how the latter will wow us has been revealed today. A new look for the Doctor, a new companion and a monster are some of the big changes promised in the Christmas Special.

Matt Smith will be back as the Doctor. Jenna-Louise Coleman will join the show as his new companion Clara, and together with the Doctor will battle to save Christmas from  the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen.

If Matt Smith’s verdict is anything to go by it sounds like it will be well worth watching

For this year’s Christmas special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon – as well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman, and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!