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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.




Channel 5…The Bible

1 Dec

As the UK becomes more secular it is increasingly rare to have programmes with overtly religious overtones on mainstream TV, and certainly not in a prime time Saturday slot.

There is still Songs of Praise on BBC1 on Sunday, but this is increasingly just a travelogue of historic churches mixed in with some choir singing (all the rage at the moment thanks to Gareth Malone and his programmes on choirs).

Channel 5 have decided to singlehandedly reverse the trend with their new Saturday night prime time mini-series “The Bible“. What’s even more unusual about this programme is that it is also sponsored by two religious organisations Spring Harvest and WhatIsInTheBible. It is rare seeing religious programmes on mainstream TV but it is even rarer to see overtly religious sponsors. It is also kind of ironic that is all on Channel 5, a channel that was once known to the readers of the Daily Mail as “Channel Filth” for its less than christian programming output.

As a source for epic stories of faith, betrayal, redemption, love and much more there is nothing better than the bible.  From the creation of the earth to the horsemen of Apocalypse, the stories in the Bible would leave seasoned script-writers green with envy. So the series does have potential with tried and tested material available to it.

The first series which took us from Adam and Eve through to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. For a mini-series it did not blow me away but was okay, although I am not sure how easy it would be to follow by people not familiar with the Bible.

There is also bound to be comparisons with some great biblical epics of the past like Cecil B DeMille’s  Ten Commandments and Franco Zeferelli’s Jesus Of Nazareth. The epic confrontation between a passionately enraged Charlton Heston (Moses) and sinewed and obstinate Yul Brynner (Pharaoh) in the Ten Commandments makes the The Bible’s telling of the same story like an amateur dramatic society’s production, a comparison compounded by the The Bible’s casting of a particularly chubby and unthreatening Pharaoh.

All in all  The Bible is a mildly engaging watch more suited as a matinee on a lazy Sunday afternoon when nothing else is on, and not going head with the Saturday night juggernauts of ITV’s X-Factor and BBC’s Casualty, where it is certainly to swept aside like numerous enemies of the Israelites in the ratings war.

If you enjoyed the series, or missed out. The entire mini-series is now available from Amazon.

Channel 5 …Celebrity Big Brother

12 Jan

I know this is on, but I haven’t had time to watch it and even if I had time to watch it I almost certainly wont.

That means I am missing out on the antics of Claire Richards, Frankie Dettori, Gillian Taylforth, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Lacey Banghard, Paula Hamilton, Neil “Razor” Ruddock, Ryan Moloney, Rylan Clark, Sam Robertson and Tricia Penrose.

Although it can be argued that the term celebrity is being used in an extremely broad sense, I still feel I need to do something to rectify the situation.

Step forward the legendary comedy duo French and Saunders. They provided a must watch summary of this and pretty much every season of Big Brother going. The best thing about it? It last 3 minutes rather than running on for weeks. Happy Days!


Movies on TV….The Book of Eli (Channel 5)

24 Oct

The thing I find with Denzel Washington is he exudes earnestness. Pretty much any film he has been in he’s earnest.  In Cry Freedom he was an earnest Steve Biko, in Crimson Tide he was earnest Commander Hunter, in Training Day (bloody great film BTW) he was an earnest Lt. Alonzo. Sometimes he plays an earnestly good guy, sometimes he plays an earnestly bad guy, but earnest he is.

So we come to the Book of Eli, guess what? He is earnest. The film is a bit of a curiosity. Denzel’s character, Eli, can best be described as a mash up of the post-apocalyptic ruthlessness of Mel Gibson in Mad Max, the bible quoting menace of Samuel L Jackson in pulp fiction and the determined spiritual mission of Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings. Bizarre isn’t it

Eli was a man living in an America reduced to rubble in the aftermath of a nuclear war, He was commanded by a higher power to head west where he will deliver a book, the last bible in the world and it holds the key to man’s redemption.

Eli is not just an iterant bible nutter he is also a ruthless fighting machine, as an assortment of villains find out as they are ruthlessly dispatched. His main nemesis  Carnegie, is played by Gary Oldman, Mayor of a town along the route  going west who realises the power of the book and wants it for himself.

Carnegie initially entices Eli to stay in his residence with hospitality but Eli realises the danger and after a lot of mayhem escapes taking along Solara (Mila Kunis) a girl who lives in Carnegie’s home. Carnegie chases him down to a homestead in the middle of the desert where the showdown happens.

The homestead was occupied by an elderly couple, and lady of the house was none other than Frances De La Tour, who some may know as Mrs Jones from the 70’s TV comedy Rising Damp.  She was a bit of a man eater in the show back then, and it seems not much has changed as in this film she was also a man-eater except in a very literal sense. Her husband and she are machine gun wielding cannibals.

They team up with Eli to try and thwart Carnegie attempts to steal the bible. It all goes wrong Eli is shot and left for dead, the elderly couple killed, the bible stolen and Solara seized. Had the bad guys won? Get real, this is Hollywood.

The Bible was in braille and useless to Carnegie, it turns out Eli was blind.  Carnegie died from the injuries he had sustained. Solara escaped went back to homestead and revived a badly injured Eli and together they journeyed to San Francisco which apparently is the Promised Land.

It turns out Eli had memorised the entire bible and  he lived long enough to recite its entire content to a commune of monks with a printing press who produced thousands of bibles and presumably saved the world in the process.

I said it was bizarre.

Just as Person of Interest gets really interesting, it’s gone!

16 Oct

I have already nailed my flag to the post on this one, I really like Person of Interest. I initially loved it because the show took its dramatic licence jumped into a Ferrari and stretched it to its max. I don’t mind a show doing that, as long as it is not pretending to be anything other than what it is.

The plot was interesting but formulaic, but in the last two episodes it has taken an interesting turn and veered away from the formulaic. Mr Reese who has all along been the hunter, suddenly in a dramatic turn of events has become the hunted. The CIA, his former employers, wants him and it seems they prefer dead rather than alive.

At the end of tonight’s episode he was caught in a trap by the CIA and only a last minute rescue by Mr Finch and, in a last minute change of heart, Detective Carter saved him from being taken out by the folk from Langley.

This set the show up for some very interesting forthcoming episodes. What does Channel 5 go and do? They decide to take a “mid-season” break till January. January!!! What a way to kill momentum.

Trivia of the day: James Caviezel who plays Mr Reese in this show, also played Jesus in the Passion of Christ, probably explains a lot of the miraculous escapes in earlier episodes.

Channel 5 – Terrestial TVs enfant terrible has come of age…

13 Oct

The Easter weekend of 1997 saw the launch of the UK’s fifth terrestial Channel, tapping in to the zeitgeist of the time it was launched by the Spice Girls.

After the fanfare and publicity of the launch the real work started and this meant fighting for audience share with the four existing terrestrial channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4) as well as an ever increasing number of satellite and cable channels.

The battle was fierce, their well-funded terrestrial competitors with a customer base built up over decades were not going to be dislodged easily and the initial audience figures showed this with Channel 5 languishing with only 2.3% of the viewing audience.

In the chase for audience share the channel gradually morphed into what the tabloids christened Channel Filth or as a programming executive of Channel 5 was quoted when describing their programming output as  three F’s,  football, films and what can be best described as the present continuous tense of the f-word.

The style of programming reached its zenith in 2000 with the infamous reality TV show ‘Naked Jungle’ which introduced us not only to totally naked contestants but distressingly a totally naked host, Keith Chegwin.  The show almost ended Chegwin’s career and unleashed a wave of moral outrage against Channel 5.

Channel 5 has moved on from those dire days the football is still there occasionally, there are still films, but the third F is now  F for Foreign TV shows and good quality shows as well.  The CSI franchise, Law & Order, House MD, The Shield, Breaking Bad, The Mentalist  have introduced great US TV shows to the UK and have seen a solid and sustained rise in Channel 5’s audience share.

Are you a fan of Channel 5? What’s your best programme?

‘Person of Interest’ has sparked my interest

30 Sep

The plot has often had more holes than a truckload of polo mints, and more cliched than a panel of X-Factor judges but you know what? I love this show.

The show taps into the huge growth of powers available to government  in monitoring its citizen post 9/11, but against this back drop it throws up an old school action hero.

It introduces the mysterious Mr Finch who has a access to a system which processes vast amounts of data, phone calls, emails, cctv footage etc and predicts when serious crimes are about to occur and feeds these to the US government but it also predicts crimes that may not affect national security – so called “irrelevant” crimes.

Enter John Reese, an ex-CIA special operations agent recruited by Mr Finch to prevent the occurrence of  irrelevant crimes predicted by the computer.

Each episode he follows up on an irrelevant crime passed to him by Mr Finch and in the process blasts his way through an assortment of Russian Mafiosi, ruthless security guards employed by dodgy pharmaceutical firms,  Iraqi war veterans turned bank robbers and more.

John Reese is stern, generally humourless, troubled but most importantly a seemingly invincible all action hero.  Whether its a gang of  Brooklyn arms dealers or dreaded terrorists from eastern Europe, it takes more than being simply outnumbered to get one over John Reese.

It is good fun but was getting a tad repetitive till this weeks episode. With strong undertones of the film the Usual Suspect,  John Reese ends up rescuing a victim who it turns out is less victim, more maniacal homicidal gang kingpin. Fortunately even though he has John Reese at his mercy in the final scene like many of us he has enjoyed his all action no nonsense persona and respectfully allows him to live.

Good news for the rest of us as well, cos it means John is back on our screens Tuesday next week (Channel 5 9pm)