Thursday, 18 June 2009


There is a god.

I have been saved from watching the mundane circus that is Big Brother by an absolutely splendid bit of dark comedy by the writers of The League of Gentlemen; Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. Of course, I'm talking about Psychoville.

If you're familiar with League, and want more of the same, without the inevitable trading of quality for quantity after the whoring of series after series, Psychoville is the perfect solution.

Playing on a number of traditional ghost stories and horror films, Psychoville creates a twisted universe not dissimilar to that of Royston Vasey. Film references galore for those who care, although it doesn't detract from the programme at all if you don't get them. That said, I think you've missed a trick if you haven't chuckled at the reworking of the Carrie narrative to incorporate dwarves and pornography. We are introduced to several seemingly completely unique characters, drawn together by a number of identical anonymous letters dispatched to them with the handwritten message: 'I know what you did'.

Seeming cliched to you? It is, but that's part of its charm. The writers play with the traditional structure of existing texts in order to bring their own dark comedic element to the piece. Expect a little glimmer in the darkness, and revel in treading the line between horror and hysteria. Dawn French is surprisingly good in a role I honestly didn't think she'd be able to pull off, as a midwife coveting a doll in the absence of her own child, in a narrative I can only describe as a well-deserved tribute to the cult absurdist Czech horror: Little Otik.

I'm at Episode two, thanks to the joy that is that little red button, and I'm absolutely hooked. It's nice to see that Shearsmith and Pemberton are about to follow up League in similarly spectacular fashion, with a brilliantly written and performed piece I'm sure we'll be talking a lot about in the months and years to come. Bravo BBC2 for recognising the talent that makes me feel better about the licence fee.

Better than Series two of League? Give me a week or two. I'll get back to you on that one.

Torbay anyone?

Absolutely great episode of Come Dine with Me tonight. This week's group were particularly watchable due to them hating the sight of each other.

The week has had a few highlights, one of my favourites being a 30 stone man (as a conservative estimate) putting his knee and arse through two respective chairs. At least he found it funny. Having his hosts reinforcing their furniture prior to his arrival must be something he's used to.

Anyway, today the group went to Patrick's, and for those who don't know, Patrick is an upper-class homosexual cliche who is apparently married to a woman who doesn't know the aforementioned given. Patrick also enjoys lowering the tone of dinner parties to smutty innuendoes about cocks and balls. I wouldn't mind, but some of the inserted bits (see, I can do it too!) are along the lines of:

'I have no problem getting an erection, but keeping it is something else entirely.'

Hang on a second, that's more of an entendre. Where's the double?

After the main course, there's a jalapeno and mint 'palate cleanser'. Palate cleanser? Seriously? Fuck off. If you're not Japanese, you have no right to go there without looking like a pretentious twat. Also, burning the surface of the tongue off is not the same as 'cleansing'. Anyway, he 'didn't put many chillies in', but Gavin, the resident fat joke ended up having some sort of anaphylactic attack at the table. I'm thinking this may be a lesson in not consuming food by inhaling it.

The creme brulee goes to shit, so he ends up pouring it over panettone (that's posh bread cake according to London people). This pisses off David, who's not fat or gay, (actually, he might be gay, I wasn't really paying attention, to be honest), because he got a crust. Oh, the humanity! His custard bread dish will be ruined! So he ends up throwing a hissy fit (and the crust) at Gavin, much to his delight.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Lorraine learns the hard way.

About 10 years too late, Apprentice loser Lorraine Tighe has realised that going on a high-profile reality TV show can have an effect on your private life. Speaking in a newspaper recently, she stated that she wouldn't go on another reality tv show ever again. Put your contracts away Endemol.

Apparently her appearance on The Apprentice has 'ruined' her family's reputation in her hometown in Ireland. So, in hindsight, selling stories like this may have been a mistake?

Personally, I don't see how an appearance on one of the relatively tame reality shows can do anywhere near the same damage to an Irish Catholic's reputation as selling a two-page interview about being a swinger as part of the 'sex scandal' section of the second most low brow newspaper in the country. Then again, I'm sure the money will cushion the blow (sorry) somewhat.

As final thought for the day, some advice; asking one of your fellow contestants to take part in a foursome is usually considered somewhat of a social faux pas.

How clean?

All the other channels have died an early death while Big Brother's on, and seem to be completely refusing to show anything that might get a few viewers in case BB nicks them. So, this is why I'm watching How Clean is Your House, because frankly, it's teatime, and there's no other reason for me to spoil my tea by looking at dirty people's houses than the simple fact that otherwise I'll have to watch Big Brother's Big Mouth.

And nobody would wish that on anyone.

So here I am watching Kim and Aggie sniffing a farmhouse that's caked in shit. After the initial swabbing to find out what kind of dirt it is (involving ridiculously long-winded and expensive lab tests), the pair divulge their increasingly bizarre home-made cleaning products for getting rid of it. Now, I'm no expert on the subject, but if a swab of the tables came back showing evidence of salmonella, I'd clean it with bleach, toilet duck, anything that burns. But Kim has a better idea, smearing the table with COFFEE instead.

Ok, great. Coffee for the tables, sour milk for brass, what's next? Cat's piss for the windows? It's called Dettol. What's wrong with that? Why have we achieved something if we clean with food?

It's fine, I'll chuck out my kitchen roll and sponges and clean with a loaf of bread soaked in Ribena from now on.

Monday, 15 June 2009

How to make a chat show worth watching.

Sorry for the lack of updates, I'll be good from now on.

A YouTube find that just made my day; Joan Rivers livens up Loose Women, preventing over 8 suicides that day. Speaking about Russell Crowe, Joan lets out a two-pronged attack unsuitable for an 11am audience. But something I think Loose Women has been asking for since it started - someone interesting.

Anyway, have a look.

Predictably, she was removed during the commercial break, much to her delight. Heaven forbid that show ever lets someone on with a personality ever again.

Another example of someone being chucked off a chat show (more warranted this time), sexist ex-Celebrity Big Brother contestant John Mcririck is thrown off Alan Titchmarsh's chat show (yes, I don't know why he has one either) for having a go at Chris Tarrant's ex, Ingrid, for being crap at sex. So, the man who used to do the horse racing and wear hats and hate women gets on a chat show hosted by a gardener whilst having a go at a philandering game show host's ex wife.

You heard it right, the fat hairy man in the purple silken suit just told the attractive blonde woman that he can understand why Chris strayed. Why did Mr BabyBio throw him out? It was just turning into something that passed for entertainment.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Animal training.

Have I just been living under some kind of popular-culture rock for the last 6 months, or did reality TV talent shows take a turn for the worst overnight by adding audience participation to the mix? At the risk of sounding terribly old-fashioned, I remember the days when programmes like Popstars were on, and they at least attempted to convince the audience that the aim of the show was to find talent, rather than to exploit freaks for comic potential.

Admittedly, the word 'talent' is a questionable one, especially when the winners of the first series wouldn't look out of place as next year's Albanian entry in Eurovision.

You may recognise the one in the middle. Racking your brains? You'll find her image attached to:

Baby clothes
All classical music
Television test cards

And this is just in the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, I've digressed. Aside from giving people the ability to brand their names and faces onto every commodity they can get their jaded hands on, TV talent shows now seem to be evolving to a point where they fully accept their ability to showcase mentally unstable members of the public.

By the time X Factor arrived, we were pretty used to the idea of watching the audition stages, and turning off by the time they'd weeded out the funny ones. Now, here we are at 'Britain/America/Borstall's Got Talent', and now the audience are included in filming to publicly mock and deride the contestants.

So, as if openly admitting the zoo-like qualities of the television talent show isn't bad enough, it seems we're being coerced into thinking that this is normal and/or acceptable. Should we be worried? I don't really know. It sounds like a pretty dire state of affairs when it's in black and white.

But then again, I think we have to think about who is exploiting who.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Reality overload.

SurAlan has his Apprentice for another year, and we can all snatch a breath before the next reality TV bonanza...

Actually, no, that's a lie. We've now got Big Brother AND America's Got Talent to contend with. I feel I'm not the only one who's in some way obligated to watch these things in order to maintain rapport with work colleagues and acquaintances, or face being viewed as some kind of freak with no interest in these sacred televisual traditions. Unfortunately, it's a high price to pay. With 16 contestants, Big Brother this year by my calculations will be lasting... oh I don't know... 25 years or so? No wonder Davina's said it's her last one, she'll probably have died of old age by the time it's finished.

I'm finding the whole thing deeply depressing at the moment. Plus with half of them changing their names by deed poll day by day, I have no idea who's who. It's easy to remember the 'outrageous' ones, but when you're faced with a room of freaks, it's surprisingly different to separate them.

However, I'm starting to think that it's possible that some of them are old contestants who've been recycled into this new series. Here's some suspiciously alike contestants old and new:

Ok so that last one was a bit mean, but you catch my drift.

In BB news, Beinazir has been evicted as per those bizarre non-housemate rules that seemed to have very little point whatsoever except as a failed attempt to revive Big Brother's seriously flagging viewer ratings. Shouldn't this be at the top of this article? Yeah, probably, but then again, I've placed the news exactly in order of importance in this article, unlike the Sun trying desperately to fool readers into thinking that Big Brother is actually important, seeing as it provides 90% of their headlines from June-December without any journalism needed whatsoever.

Hopefully in the coming weeks it'll get more interesting, and maybe then I'll actually bother to remember their names.


After 13 weeks of on-off viewing (or 'on', depending on the dignity of the viewer), we've finally reached the end of the Apprentice.

Kate and Yasmina made up the final two contestants, amd were set the task of marketing a box of chocolates. Both originally opted for equally shit ideas, Yasmina's group marketing a posh box of chocolates aimed at men (which anyone who's ever seen a Yorkie bar will instantly find fault with), and Kate going for the least original idea in the history of confection; chocolate for couples.

After being told by about 20 experts in the field that the idea was a load of bollocks, Yasmina still ploughed on, taking the approach that 'it's NICHE, it'll be FINE!', but by the 50th criticism, finally dropped the idea. Shame that the second idea made the first look like a stroke of genius. "Let's make really shit chocolate with stuff like curry inside, then film an advert with actors almost vomiting as they eat them, whilst simultaneously being electrocuted!" Great, I'm sure Cadbury's will be queuing up for that one. The only thing worse than the taste was the name; 'Cocoa Electric'. No sleek box or pink lightning bolt is going to draw attention away from that appalling product name.

Kate's team follow their highly cliched idea through to completion, and end up making a pretty decent product, although with a slightly bumpy patch during development. Kate opts for the slightly too feminine name 'Intimate', possibly worrying the consumer as to what the box would actually contain. I must admit my mind fleeted towards 'Femfresh' before 'chocolate'.

Surprisingly, even though the chocolate made Sir Alan wretch, Yasmina was chosen to be hired, and Kate will have to face the music in regards to totally snubbing her bit on the side Phillip both when picking teams and in general social interaction after he was kicked off. Weird, she was so into him when he was actually in it.

The chemistry was there from Day One.

Nevertheless, I'm sure they'll enjoy plenty of years together, as was clear in the mutual awkwardness when marriage was discussed. Then again, if the money's there from OK! Magazine, why not? Debra's already got her tits out for FHM, their sham wedding would be relatively dignified in comparison.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Binge drinking with Michelle Heaton?!

Be careful what you wish for. It seems ITV were asked to produce a hard-hitting documentary to tackle the nation-wide 'alcodemic', and as a result, decided to film Liberty X's Michelle Heaton drinking herself to death over a month.

Wait, scratch that first sentence, this seems like it has promise. Not in the way ITV probably hoped, though. Do they not find it slightly suspicious that Michelle Heaton was the FIRST to volunteer for the (all expenses paid) booze, with the added benefit of getting on the telly?

Particularly wooden acting galore as Michelle tries desperately to pretend she's in a foreign environment as she steps into a club and orders a drink. Is this really an experiment? If anything, she looks like she's reducing her intake rather than increasing it. Maybe that's why she feels so unwell.

In one memorable segment, Michelle takes a singing lesson and sounds awful, then blames the alcohol for ruining her vocal chords. Has she ever listened to one of her CDs? If anything, the vodka's helping.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Boyle Explodes.

It seems that insta-fame has become too much for Dave Lee Travis lookalike Susan Boyle.

After being escorted from a hotel by two police officers after a couple of paparazzis 'wound her up', it was clear the the mask was slipping. Then someone saw her going mental at the tv screen in a hotel lobby packed with Britain's Got Talent contestants because little Shaheen got some praise from Piers Morgan.

It seems that the classic fairytale ending that everyone so desperately is searching for in this sad sad world wasn't going to happen, because, well, this is real life and things like that don't happen. If you could call any of this media circus around her real anyway.

Unfortunately it seems that all the defining criteria is not quite perfect.

1. Susan Boyle's fame comes from her... ok I'll be kind and say 'unconventional' look. But none of you can say you're not thinking the same word as I am, but this point is for later. A talented person who isn't attractive? Christ, the world must stop for her! It's not like they picked an extreme and edited all the others out or anything.

2. She's got an amazing voice. Well... everyone seems to believe this is so. But is this because she does, or because we want her to because it helps us to understand that there is something good and just in this world and an underdog can come through therefore helping us to find some point to living? Hmmm... I'll let you think on that for a while. Casing point, performance of 'Memory'. Not great, from where I'm standing, yet not even Simon Cowell mentions the bum notes which are there from the very first word. It seems we've set a precedent for her that she cannot fall under, and it's ALL OUR FAULT!

3. She's a nice, normal lady. Well, up until about 2 weeks ago, yeah. But then she got stressed and started swearing and getting angry and 'talking to policemen but NOT arrested, definitely not arrested'. Now she's been escorted away by head doctors and police 'after concerns for her own safety'. Reports say she went mental because she didn't win. Hmmm... I feel like the ghost at the feast saying this, but is it not possible that it's not a mental illness, but an ego complex she developed because WE couldn't find fault with her?

4. Everyone loves her sooo much, like a disabled kitten, we hugged her until she asphixiated in our arms. Even heretics are being burned at the stake - see here for the story of "1:24 Girl" and the global hate campaign caused because SHE DARED TO ROLL HER EYES AT THE BOYLE. We've created a monster!

In conclusion, it's all our fault. We said she couldn't lose, then she did. The feeling that I'll be lynched for saying 'maybe she's not a very nice lady after all' makes me feel strange inside, which must say something about this whole situation. It seems people still aren't ready to let go yet; will it take a killing rampage by Boyle to sway public opinion? I can imagine the headline in the Sun:

"Boyle beheads 20, but fuck me she can sing, despite being incredibly ugly. Well done!"