I have written a bit about the cult hit that is GoggleBox, and as it rolls through its second season its success doesn’t show any sign of diminishing. Not only is is show itself proving popular, but the veneer of fame is also spreading to the families who feature on the show.
In a recent article in the London Metro we were taken behind the scenes to meet three of the couples Steph and Dom, Chris and Stephen and Jeff and Tracey.
Steph and Dom
The posh couple who’s night of TV watching is rarely complete with out a tipple from their seemingly endless bar of plenty. Watching them in various states of inebriation only adds to the surrealness of their comments on some of the TV we watch them watching. In the Metro article Steph admits her fondness for Bloody Marys and her dislike for posh faux-reality show Made in Chelsea.
Jeff and Tracey are from the other end of the spectrum, permanently ensconced in bed while watching TV, the couple have been unflattering compared to Harry Enfield’s character’s Wayne and Waynetta (from the Harry Enfield and Chums series). In their defence they claim they have been relegated to the bedroom because their kids have taken control of the TV downstairs. They couple don’t seem to have a problem with the Channel 4 sharing their bedroom TV habits with the rest of the world, and that’s exactly what we get.
Stephen and Chris
Friends Stephen and Chris reveal they’re are not under pressure from the programme producers to watch any particular programme, if they find it boring they simply turn it off. Their fame has spread to the outside world, Stephen admits they do get recognised and asked for pictures, but he is still waiting for any real perks from being a minor celebrity.
Homeland Season 3 has struggled. The main bogey-man from the first two seasons, Abu Nazir, is gone and Brody is faraway in Caracas, Venezuela. It has been left to Carrie and Saul to provide the suspense and drama that season 3 desperately needs.
Carrie it seemed was being hung out dry by the CIA over her relationship with Brody. Saul had apparently washed his hands of her, and was determined to have her permanently detained in a mental institution as her trademark erratic behaviour appeared to worsen.
Just when we start to think where was this all going, the story took a dramatic turn. Carrie, it became clear had all along been undercover with Saul’s approval. The plan to make her made a pariah was an elaborate hoax to get people representing Iranian interests to contact her on the basis that she was now vulnerable and isolated, and she had information they needed.
It worked, contact was made. It seemed however it may have worked a bit too well as the Iranians seem somewhat eager to speak to Carrie. So much so in last night’s episode they kidnapped her at night from the flat. Once more Carrie is “out in the wild” and in real danger.
Saul meanwhile was fighting his own battles, battles of a more political nature. After the Langley bombing in Season 2 he had ended being the most likely man to head the CIA going forward, but was outmaneuvered as the President handed the position to a man who sees less of a benefit in human intelligence and more reliance on technology, a view Saul thinks is madness. The appointment clearly put Saul’s career in jeopardy.
Now that we are done with the seemingly pointless distraction of Dana Brody running away with her boyfriend, all the main pieces of season 3 are falling into place. The Iranians are in town and mean business, Carrie is out in the wild with only her skill to rely on, Saul is one again at odds with the powers that be but still needs to protect his people. Folks, Homeland Season 3 has finally got its groove back.
Sometimes the most ludicrous ideas have a way of defying their critics and going on to become things of beauty. Thirteen years ago someone once thought “why don’t we plant a big Ferris Wheel in the middle of London to mark the new millennium”, people around the country sniggered and probably thought how a fool and his money are soon parted.
Today the London Eye, as it is now known, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
Is GoggleBox going the same way, can a TV program about people watching TV really capture the nation’s heart? Well, Harry Hill’s TV Burp was a big ratings winner, so who’s to say GoggleBox is incapable of achieving the same, and last night it showed why it has become an unsung hit.
In showing the nation’s reaction to TV programmes that ranged from the plain ridiculous to the endearingly tender, it held a mirror on ourselves.
We all would collectively watch opened-mouth that there is a TV programme about collecting sperm from a Walrus (in all its gory detail!), we all would collectively acknowledge that Cilla Black is no longer even close to the singer she once was, and we would all collectively understand the fears that a partner feels when they realise that their time on earth with their loved ones is about to come to an end.
As we watch the GoggleBox’s household’s reactions to BBC2′s Natural : Two Tonne Tusker, ITV’s The One and Only Cilla Black and on Coronation Street, Hayley revealing to Roy she has terminal cancer. The reactions we saw were the reactions we felt.
Just a quick note to say this is brilliant. Yes it is in French and yes it has subtitles but if you can get past that then you are in for a superb Sunday night thriller.
Snyopsis of episode 1 From Channel 4
In a small mountain community, two local people – Camille, a teenager, and Simon – who both died years earlier, suddenly re-appear at their homes. They have not aged, and they are completely unaware of their own deaths.
Camille and Simon assume they can rejoin the world of the living as though nothing has happened, but their return throws their friends and family into a state of turmoil.
Camille’s sister Léna has continued to grow up without her sibling beside her, and Simon’s wife Adèle is just about to get remarried, to Thomas. Meanwhile, lonely nurse Julie receives a visit from a very strange little boy.
Seven years ago, the town was struck by a series of bloody murders. Now it seems the killings have started up again.
Great episode one, there was one flaw though. A pensioner made an out of hours call to his GP and got a home visit by that night by the GP…now that is just unrealistic….
It is safe to say if you are of a nervous disposition, have even the mildest fear of flying or just general more comfortable with your two feet on the ground this new series on Channel 4 is DEFINITELY NOT for you.
Over the years there have been many documentaries on aircraft safety and crashes, but what was really chilling about this series is with the advent of mobile phones and other hand held devices we are now getting footage from inside the plane. As we found out with the movie the Blair Witch Project there is nothing that freaks you out more than shaky and very grainy footage of impeding doom.
The point the documentary stressed was that flying is very safe and a lot of effort has gone into making it as safe as possible, but there remain rare events or combination of rare events that are almost impossible to predict and when these occur they can put the plane in a very precarious situation, what some might call the “Unknown Unknowns” – what you don’t know that you don’t know!
Brendan Walker, an aeronautical engineer, took us through us a number of cases including the sticky ice that almost brought a British Airways flight from Beijing to Heathrow almost crashing in to Hounslow a suburb just outside the airport.
A scary but very informative series, if you have the stomach for it one I would recommend.
The only thing in common with all these stories on this thoughtful documentary was that they had lost a loved one in a murder. The hurt, the questions, the grief and the emptiness are all unique to each family. A burden each parent, sibling, child and relative had to deal with in their own way
I lost my dad when I was a teenager in a not unsimilar circumstance and I remember the immediate aftermath, dreams that he had travelled and come back and all was well but waking up every morning to the same gut wrenching void, so I have a lot of empathy for the families shown.
The loss you feel can be almost overwhelming, but real life does not stop out of sympathy and neither do the sad but inevitable consequences of the loss, like funerals or trials go away. In to this emotional whirlpool step in the workers of Victim’s Support National Homicide Team.
The gentle way they talked the little girl through the family album and watched her as she blots out the face of her ‘dad’ who had murdered her mother. The biker who had lost his son, said he was coping but when he talked about the son it was obvious he was welling up inside. The family watching the moment their dying son is dragged out of a club by the bouncers accused of killing him. The family who’s son is murdered and find the law sadly doesn’t alway dispense justice. The son who watched as his dad stabbed his mother to death and finds his dad is still his legal guardian.
In the face of this overwhelming grief the ‘Murder Workers’ offered a shoulder to cry on, an ear to share your grief and guiding hand to help you pull through
The Murder Workers is a powerful and insightful Cutting Edge documentary exploring a side of murder that most people know very little about. It follows members of Victim Support’s National Homicide team as they work closely with families who have been bereaved by murder or manslaughter.
The Murder Workers offer practical and emotional support for families at different stages of bereavement from the initial shock right up until the steps needed to start re-building their lives again. The families are often thrown into a world of police investigations forced to navigate the deeply confusing world of the criminal system and it is the Murder Worker’s responsibility to guide them through this difficult time.
When others don’t know what to say or how they can help, it’s Murder Workers Dave, Alli and Carol who step in to help with funeral arrangements, apply for compensation, seek specialist help, close down bank accounts, cancel booked holidays or be there when their homes are turned into crime scenes; but most importantly, they are a shoulder to cry on. They are there to fight the family’s corner and whether its humour or a hug that’s required, they know the right thing to say – they have an extraordinary capacity to go into the unknown and alleviate some of the stress put on the families.
The Murder Workers also goes into the lives and homes of those recently bereaved to learn about the impact of homicide. Marie is an extraordinary woman with an inner fight and superior strength preparing to come face-to-face with the men accused of killing her son Lee. Elsewhere, Jackie who was getting ready for her retirement now has her hands and house full of young children. Her three grandchildren, aged five, eight and thirteen years old moved in with her after their father killed their mother, who was Jackie’s daughter. She is now battling to become the children’s legal guardian.
The Victim Support Website : www.victimsupport.org
So let’s say I work in a Charity, social housing or some other part of the voluntary sector. Let’s say also my job is located in a former mining or industrial town somewhere up north that has seen better times. If one day a stranger appears out of nowhere with a camera crew in tow and tells me he or she is looking for some work experience and the crew are filming a documentary. Am I going to think “Secret Millionaire“? You’re damn right I would.
Secret millionaire has probably exhausted every ruse going and you even get the feeling in some of the later episodes that the people they met where pretty much going through the motions till the cheque turned up.
So how do you reboot a franchise that relies on that sort of deception. Well there is always Celebrity Secret Millionaire or Secret Millions as channel 4 now calls it. The twist is the celebrity is not pretending to be someone else, but instead needs to get people involved in a project to an extent that will convince the Big Lottery Fund to give them further funding.
This weeks episode feature TV architect George Clarke aka The Restoration Man and project was to get a bunch of London youths involved in a building apprentice scheme that would see them restore one of London’s thousands of abandoned properties back to a livable condition.
The youth were an assortment of young offenders and troubled teenagers. Including one chap, who had never left London before and never seen a cow either. His delight when he saw one was heart warming. It was somewhat more worrying when he couldn’t tell a cow and horse apart, and probably explains some of the problem’s in the meat industry.
The youngsters were a bit reluctant as the project kicked off but certainly the ones they featured really seemed to get into the whole thing and their sense of pride when the building was completed renovated was a clear to see. Along the way we saw some real bonds develop between the youths and their mentors, the sort of bonds they clearly missed in parts of the earlier life. We saw the youths realise that there were opportunities for them through apprenticeship schemes in the building industry with support like that demonstrated in the programme.
So how do you do a big reveal in a situation like this? Typically on the old school secret millionaire, the millionaire went back revealed who he was and started doling out cheques, that obviously would not work in the case as everyone knows who the celebrity is.
That’s where the Lottery steps in. George Clarke took the whole team to a swanky conference centre supposedly for a lecture on London architecture but it was a ruse for an opportunity for the The Big Lottery Fund’s spokesman to step in and announce funding of £1.7 million.
George Clark who had been very emotional through out the the programme was pretty much a blubbering wreck by this point.
The programme sent out a strong positive message about tackling youth unemployment and training opportunities, but there are serious challenges even for a laudable project like this. The construction industry is in recession, and British workers face fierce competition from experienced and cheaper skilled labour from Eastern Europe. Let’s hope are youthful apprentices are given the support needed to get through these challenges.
I struggle to think of the last film I saw with Angelina Jolie where she wasn’t some sort of femme fatale rampaging through enemy territory guns blazing and fists flailing. From the Tomb Raider franchise, Mr and Mrs Smith, Wanted and even more recently The Tourist Ms Jolie is all action.
The essence of the plot had Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) as a sleeper agent planted as a child in the United States by an agency of the then Soviet Union and she ends up working for the CIA.
Fast forward quite a few years and a Russian defector Orlov, turns up out of the blue to Salt’s office and is brought in for interrogation led by Salt. He tells a story of children trained by the Soviets as sleeper agents, how they are swapped with the real children of Americans and embedded as sleeper agents. He tells of one child swapped when her supposed parent die on a trip to Russia. The child has been trained as an assassin and is to be triggered to kill the Russian President, a reformer, who is on a visit to the USA. He reveals the sleeper agent’s name – Evelyn Salt.
Her colleague Ted Winter and CIA counterintelligence officer Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) were observing and a decision is made to detain Salt, and from that point on the film doesn’t not take a breather weaving at breakneck speed through one unexplained and implausible situation after another.
Why did Salt resist being questioned about Orlov’s allegations? Why did Orlov’s visit trigger Salt’s flight? How did she escape form so many well trained agents? Why did she go back to her apartment after fleeing? Why did the CIA not think to send people to her apartment straight after she escaped? Why was her friend and close colleague Winter allowed to join in the hunt?
Escaping from the CIA office Salt then seemingly kicked into her sleeper role mission to kill the the Russian President who was attending the funeral of his friend the Vice President of the USA. Despite the security cordon by the NYPD, FBI, CIA and the US secret service. Salt got into church, blew up the floor beneath the lectern where the Russian President was giving a Eulogy and as he dropped through the floor to where she was, she shot him.
More questions? Why did she go on this mission? How come she was so well prepared? Had she planned for the mission? and the inevitable question how come she outwitted and out fought her way through what were insurmountable odds.
After wrecking carnage at Funeral Salt meets up with Orlov in a hideout he has with the other sleepers who kidnapped and later kill Salt’s husband to test if she is still loyal. He reveals the next part of the plot to Salt, breaking into America’s nuclear bunker, kidnapping the President and starting a nuclear war with Russia. He sets up a rendezvous with a new sleeper agent who will get Salt into the White House. Salt however is not in a forgiving mood and kills Orlov and all the other sleepers in revenge for her husband’s murder.
Why were all the sleepers in one place, had they all been activated at once? If they were all as highly trained as Salt how come she got rid of them so easily?
In the finale act she meets up with another sleeper who gets her into the White House. This sleeper attempts to assassinate the President by blowing himself up, but ends up triggering emergency procedures that takes the President into a safe room deep in the bowels of the White house. In there it turns out Winter, Salts colleague, is also sleeper. He kills all the agents and with the President all alone tries to force him to launch a nuclear war. Salt who had been trying to breaks into the bunker, finally does so and prevents Winter from launching the missiles.
More questions Was this part of the master plan? Why was Winter allowed to be part of the President’s security detail? What triggered his mission?
After nuclear was is averted. Salt is arrested but before they can take her away in a kerfuffle she engineers she uses her handcuffs to choke Winter to death.
Why did she kill him? What purpose did that serve? If she hadn’t changed sides he was an ally she could use. If she hadn’t he might have valuable information on the rest of the sleeper network.
She is finally whisked away in a military helicopter, where even more implausibly after all the havoc she’s wrecked she persuades Peabody to release her and she escapes.
Why did he let go ?
I think the film should really have been called Saltyyyyyyy cause it left me with so many Whys?
Sometimes you go to a hairdressers and they have mirrors on both sides of the wall and you look into one mirror and you see a reflection of your refection from the other mirror effectively a DIY infinity mirror.
Channel 4′s GoggleBox reminds me of that. We are watching people on TV watching programmes on TV, if one of the programmes they are watching ends up being GoggleBox there is a real and imminent danger we will all then become locked into a infinite never ending episode of the programme, so watch GoggleBox with caution.
Like all programmes about TV GoggleBox is a bit narcissistic, but nonetheless it has its entertaining moments. It is kind of like a less funny, but real version of the Royale Family. We see Britain’s diverse domestic units gathered around TV, families with kids, families without kids, friends, lovers and more.
All are entranced by what’s on TV which has been the centre of our domestic life for decades. Often the insights programmes like this give us are not just what we know, that everyone has an opinion on what is on TV, but the changing way we watch TV.
Increasingly we compliment what we are watching of TV with active or casual surfing, checking what the internet, social media, wikipedia and such have to say on a topic we are watching. On Gogglebox we saw Ipads and phones used by the by our TV watchers to check the amount of money winning crufts gets you, and when Pistorius last twitted amongst others. Fact Checking, as Americans referred to it, is now the order of the day. So TV programme makers beware!
Interesting side observation. why did one of the Guys from the Siddiqui family always watch TV in a suit? He clearly takes it a bit seriously.