Tag Archives: BBC2

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.

 

 

BBC2….QI XL Kit and Kaboodle

24 Nov

As we all go through life we generally collect more than we let go, relationships, assets, debts, regrets, memories, kids and also lots and lots of sometimes useful, sometimes useless facts as well as things we think are facts but actually aren’t.

The last two things we collect for almost no reason other than we can’t stop collecting them, we find interesting, and maybe even that we live in hope that we might just one day we could catch an edition of the QI and smugly say to friends or family as Stephen Fry reels out some incredibly obscure snippet of information “yes, I knew that, you guys might be surprised but I knew that all along that there are 15 Marsupials for every Australian alive.”

If you are a fan of the all things factual you would no doubt know that BBC2′s QI (Quite Interesting) is back for its eleventh series, the K Series.

I find the show, for want of a better descriptive phrase, quite interesting but only when the panel is a good mix of comedic talent and purveyors of esoteric nuggets of information. Masters of this fine balance are folks like David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig and Bill Bailey
.

Sometimes like this episode there is too much “comedic” talent at the expense of amusing but informative anecdotes or contributions from the panel. The “over-comedic” panel was the Australian comic Colin Lane, Ross Noble and Noel Fielding, alongside Stephen Fry and his regular sidekick Alan Davies.

One interesting nugget at the beginning of the show was the connection between Colin Lane, Alan Davies, Stephen Fry and Noel Fielding. Colin Lane was the winner of the prestigious Perrier Comedy award at the Edinburgh festival in 1994, and who was the runner up? None other than Alan Davies. Alan Davies recounted how on a trip to Australia he stayed at Colin’s house in Melbourne and woke up one morning to find the Perrier award on his beside, a bit of one-upmanship from Colin.

To add to the panel’s award related navel grazing Stephen reminded how he had won the inaugural Perrier award, and that Noel Fielding had won the best newcomer in 1998. With the panel’s ego suitable massaged the programme proper began.

The edition was amusing in parts, but was largely dominated by Ross Noble’s scatter gun comedy, you could sense almost at times some exasperation on Stephen Fry’s part as he wanted to push on with the programme but had to wait as Ross unleashed another bout of Zany-ness. Noel Fielding was also a culprit in the zany-ness, the difference was Ross was occasionally funny, Noel just wasn’t.

Alan was Alan, happy and comfortable in his role being a counterfoil to Stephen. Colin was quite quiet and probably just overwhelmed by all the Zany-ness flying about. He did tell a good joke on how you would know you are being followed by a Gay Shark.

Some of the facts we learnt.

  • Cat litter (or kitty litter to fit in with the “K” theme) was used by American tobacco manufacturers to bulk up to cigars as it was cheap, odourless, burnt and was tax free.
  • Churchill put a needle in his cigars so the ash never fell away and created  increasingly long finger of ash at the end of the cigar often mesmerising his audience.
  • Mint cake was not, as many people would assume, the thing that made Kendal famous, rather it has had the longest running snuff manufacturing in the world starting back in in 1750
  • The 18th century courtesan Kitty Fisher was reputed to be the first celebrity in modern British history on account of her having gone “commando” in St James Park, London.
  • The follies of the British K Class submarine were discussed. A submarine which relied on a steam engine submarine and thus needed funnels, a clear disadvantage in a submarine’s design especially when diving.
  • Flat-pack furniture was invented in 1956. One of the first Ikea employees, Gillis Lundgren, came up with the idea of flat-pack furniture when he took the legs off a table to transport it in a car.
  • Although the word salary is derived from salt, Roman soldiers were never paid in salt.

BBC2…Up In The Air (Movie)

17 Nov

Up In The Air is a bitter-sweet tale of modern life. George Clooney is superb in the film as Ryan Bingham, a “Corporate Downsizer” a man whose job is to fire people when the companies they work for don’t have the balls to do the job themselves.

He lives a nomadic existence travelling the length and breadth of the United States like some kind of corporate Anti-Santa Claus leaving shattered dreams and despair in his wake. Not content with this, he also has a career as a public speaker and his theme? Shedding you relationships and travel through life with no “personal baggage”. His one true pleasure in life is pursuing the acquisition of as many air miles as possible.

On the surface you would expect the character to be a grey, grizzled and unfulfilled middle age coporate drone, but that would not be a role for George Clooney. What Clooney brings to the role is a large dose of humanity and allows us to understand that what you do for a living is not always a definition of what you are.

His company pairs him up with Natalie Keener (Anna Kendric), a fresh faced new executive with a big idea to move the company away from face-t0-face firing, to firing people over video conference. Ryan is unconvinced by this idea and agrees to take Natalie on the road to experience the reality of the job they do and unintentionally also giving her an insight into the life he leads.

Firing someone face to face it goes without saying is much harder than you can imagine, and was much harder that anything Natalie was ready for. The whole experience left her distraught especially when one woman she fired  calmly telling Natalie she was going to kill herself.

As they journey across the country Natalie struggles to understand Ryan’s approach to life questioning his relationship-free existence. Along the way they also meet Alex (Vera Farmiga) a fellow traveller with whom Ryan is having a casual relationship.

While all three are getting to know each other Natalie receives a text message from her boyfriend dumping here, an irony given the new system she is championing. As Alex and Ryan try to comfort her the conversation turns to questions of what they are seeking from from life and Alex answers are suggestive of Ryan being the sort of man she would be content with.

Natalie eventually returns to the head office to implement her new system. Ryan on the other hand persuades Alex to accompany him to his sister’s wedding. In a pivotal scene in the movie, his brother-in-law to be is developing cold feet and Ryan contrary to all his has preached and the live he has lived persuades him to go ahead, with a speech emphasising how “everyone needs a co-pilot” and how the “most important moments in life are shared”.

This leaves Ryan thinking of his own life and about Alex, and days later purely on impulse he decides to fly to Chicago to surprise Alex. He arrives at her home and knocks, she opens the door to a background of noisy kids and a less than welcoming look on her face. No words need to be said by either Alex or Ryan. As he turns around to leave, in the background we hear her husband call out “Who was that?” and her answer “Just someone who was lost” and that sums up what Ryan’s life has become and how he has has only just come to realise it.

Natalie learns the woman who threatened suicide actually did, devastated she left the company and her programme was canned. Ryan is last seen receiving an air miles reward and returning to the road.

How would I describe Up In the Air? A dark powerful, character driven and evocative romantic comedy, a reminder of how the convenience of modern life can seduce us away from the things that make us truly happy often until it is too late.

BBC2…Lunch is Av-Ant Garde at Claridge’s!

18 Dec
Claridge's Hotel in Brook Street, London, Engl...

Claridge’s Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should the Big Yellow Box be worried? Apparently Claridge’s offer long term storage for their customers, particularly if you spend a reasonable time at the hotel. Say maybe 30 days a year for last 10 years and insist on a suite that sets you back £3,500 a night.

Welcome to another edition of BBC Two’s fly on the wall Documentary – Inside Claridge’s. Although being Claridge’s it probably more aptly termed rare Tibetan turquoise tiger beetle on the wall rather than some common domestic fly.

We start off with a visit from Jose ‘Pepe’ Fanjul. A billionaire with interest in sugar companies across the world including Tate and Lyle. For Pepe Claridge’s is a home away from home. In between jaunts to Scotland for a bit of shooting and trips across the world he likes to come back to the familiar luxury of Claridge’s.

He is in and out so frequently that the hotel stores clothes, furniture and presumably pretty much anything else he wants stored to ensure every night stayed there is as stress free as possible. At £3,500 a night it is the very least they could do.

The big theme tonight was the Olympics. The episode was filmed over this year’s London summer Olympics and Claridge’s was heaving under the weight of delegations from over 30 countries  If you ever wondered where some of the billions that the Olympics cost went, a fair sum seemed to have been spent here. With Rooms at £5,000 a night you would need an Olympic sized budget to cope which Seb Coe obviously had.

We saw entourages from across the world checking in, a team of 16 from Malawi staying for 11 nights, team of 9 from Gabon for 8 nights, the Attorney General of New Zealand and many more. Prince Andrew also popped up, although it was unclear if he was there as part of the Olympic jamboree.

As a special celebration of the Olympics, Claridge’s had teamed up with what is supposedly the best restaurant in the World – Copenhagen based Noma  - for a two-week special event.

Noma’s specialty menu for the event included amongst other things foraged greens, Juniper oil and live ants all for the princely sum of £195 a sitting.

I often find when people have to explain or justify why a particular dish is great you do come away with the sense that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors under pinned by great marketing rather it being simply great food.

That was the sense I came away with watching all the to and fro’ing as they set our recreating the spartan Scandinavian feel of Noma in Claridge’s ballroom. Maybe I am just a food pleb with an agrarian palate but it seemed that everyone shown ‘enjoying’ the food for this event had to ‘like’ it irrespective of what their faces portrayed as they nibbled of a selection of live ants.

I did warm a bit to Noma head chef Rene Redzepi though when asked about Prince Andrew and his quizzical response was “Who’s he?”.

The Olympics clearly looked like a winner for Claridge’s but it came at a price as the hotel was invaded by vast numbers of what can only be described as the hoi polloi, congregating in the lobby in numbers and even going as far as resting their feet on footstools. You get the feel that Claridge’s could not wait for the hotel to return to its traditional luxurious gentility.

Panorama…Jimmy Saville What the BBC knew

23 Oct

Panorama yesterday delved into the increasingly murky world of  who knew what about  Jimmy Savile at the BBC, the organisation that propelled him into uber-stardom, and it seems also provided him with a ‘hunting ground’ for his depraved activities.

It came on the back of the controversy  over the revelation that  BBC  shelved an investigation into Jimmy Savile  by its Newsnight programme  seemingly in favour of a fulsome tribute to the man we now know to be one of the worst sexual molesters ever unearthed in the UK.

Even more shocking are the reasons being given for dropping the programme.  A reporter who worked on the Newnight investigation Liz MacKean  claims in an e-mail referring to Peter Rippon the Newsnight editor.

 ”Having commissioned the story, Peter Rippon keeps saying he’s lukewarm about it and is trying to kill it by making impossible editorial demands.

“When we rebut his points, he resorts to saying: well, it was 40 years ago…the girls were teenagers, not too young…they weren’t the worst kind of sexual offences etc.

“He hasn’t warned BBC1 about the story, so they’re beavering away on the special, oblivious.”

The big question is – Is this  the whole matter  a cockup or  a coverup.  Is this symptomatic of a gross institutional failure or a naive attempt to bury a festering bag of worms?

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?

The Queen of Food Erotica is back

24 Sep

Nigella Lawson is back. Some people have labelled her the queen of Food Porn, but that would suggest what she was offering was brash, vulgar and in your face so to speak.

Despite the liberal use of words like “luscious”, “indulgent, ‘lip-puckering”,”squishy” and filmed in soft rich colours Nigella’s new series on BBC2 – Nigellissima – is as with her previous shows, beautifully presented with mouth watering dishes.

As the name suggests it focuses on Italian cuisine and this introduced me to something I had never heard of before – a Meatzza.

It might sound like something you would get from you local Doner Kebab shop after a night out, but in Nigella’s hands it became a fragrant delicately presented plate of Tuscan delight. A tribute to her ability to make pretty much anything sound desirable..Long live the Queen.