Home Office Fire Prevention

January 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Fronted by Julie Walters, the “Pull Your Finger Out!? campaign from the Home Office Fire Prevention team warning homeowners to fit working smoke alarms certainly made me take a minute to check if mine needed new batteries.

A world away from the “down-to-earth? good time girl of the Asda ads, which let’s face it, basically strings together minute clips of mildly funny quips from Walters “mucking in? with Asda staff and customers to promote the “feel good? shopping experience – note: there’s no doubt in my mind that she took a long soak in non-Asda bubble bath, gulping non-Asda wine to get over the strain of non-spontaneous, positively forced “hilarity? of the day’s filming – the Home Office ad relies on a decent script that is capably performed, and it works.  Short, to the point and effective, Miss Walters is doing here what she does best, effortlessly switching from light and frothy to desperately bleak, which is chillingly underlined by the camera shot that pans the kitchen to finally reveal its charred remains.   It is certainly a thought-provoking piece.

Though, I will point out, just in case you didn’t notice Julie, your kitchen is, um, actually on fire.  Never mind telling us to pull our finger out.  Stop drinking coffee and chatting!  Look behind you!  Your house is bloomin’ burning down!

For more information on the “Pull Your Finger Out!? campaign, go to www.communities.gov.uk.

Horizon: How To Kill a Human Being

January 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

BBC2, Tuesday 15th January

This Tuesday’s episode of Horizon saw former Conservative MP, Michael Portillo, investigate the humaneness of execution. Uplifting doesn’t quite spring to mind does it? Michael, who once voted in favour of the policy in Britain in the ‘80s yet took the opposite stance ten years later concerned by miscarriages of justice, observed here a series of experiments including hanging, electrocution and gassing in order to establish the most benevolent way to kill someone.

No mistaking, this was a dispassionate scientific enquiry into the stress levels of being snuffed. Motivated by the notion that the lethal injection will soon be banned in the US and stunned that very little research into less traumatic alternatives has been carried out, we saw him look at other options. In order to remain calm, he attempted to co-operate by breathing deeply in a simulation of a gas chamber but funnily enough, working as a team with your killer proves to be a tad against one’s instinct. Spinning around in a human centrifuge until everything goes grey and eventually disappears was closer to Michael’s ideal death-situation but extreme altitude sickness through hypoxia (starving the brain of oxygen) won out. In this experiment he became increasingly euphoric, unable to perform simple tasks and had this continued, he would have slipped into a coma and died. This, being actually quite a pleasurable experience he concluded, was the best way to go.

One might think that Mr. Portillo, championing kindness to the condemned, might have taken a bit more time to think about the question of capital punishment itself. Yet, this ethical issue being somewhat glossed over, the whole thing was a bit too detached for my liking. No doubt, the programme proved very informative on the effects of different death-inducing procedures and should I need to draw on this knowledge when the discussion, “What’s the best way to die?? comes up in the pub I am now fully equipped. However, the detail rather took away any alarm that as a result of all of these processes human lives will actually be wiped out. I was left a little bemused at the exclusiveness of Michael’s compassion. Kill them! But kill them gently.

In the end, I couldn’t help but feel he was arguing beyond the major moral grey. Those passionately against capital punishment, unwilling to see it as anything less than barbaric and on the other side the fervently-in-favour, for whom the idea of the sentenced going out with ease is unfitting let alone with a grin from ear to ear, would have just switched off. Yep, this one was for the morbid fact fiends.

By Susan Allen

Cadbury’s Creme Egg

January 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

“Creme Eggs come into the world with a single purpose: to get their goo out.?

So states the testimony on the official website of the new campaign from Cadburys.  The adverts themselves, short animations ending with the fatalistic catchphrase, “Here today, Goo tomorrow?, are based on this school of thought, each one featuring a particularly determined chocolate egg, passionately manipulating household implements including a flip top bin, a blender, an egg slicer, and a hairdryer to achieve its sticky destiny.  Ingenious, self-harming eggs.  I love it. 

An exceptionally early plug for Cadbury’s Creme Egg’s Easter offerings but an entertaining one at that, the brand has once again successfully injected an eccentric nugget of humour into their latest promotion.  Though, mildly concerning when you care to consider the analogy that might quite feasibly be made between these devoted elliptical nutters with their motto ‘In Goo We Trust’ (see the site) and the tactics of some devout fanatics in the current climate in which we live.  But hey, let’s not mix politics with chocolate.

Visit www.cremeegg.co.uk for more things gooey.


January 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

BBC1, Tuesday 25th December

Let’s face it, Christmas day viewing has never truly come to pass until the final drum beats of the second instalment of Eastenders have gloomily resounded, sealing the dismal fate of some dumb-struck individual. This year saw Tanya Branning fall to the bottom of the stairs as her cheat of a husband Max wrestled her for the suitcase to stop her from leaving him. And what a sensational final chapter of the year-long story it was! There were raised voices and insults, tears and home-truths, bloodshed when Bradley walloped his devious father for sleeping with his wife and shattered dreams all round as the family fell apart. True to form, smiles were few and far between. But surely, this is what Soap Land Christmas stories are all about. After a belly-full of turkey and bucks fizz, who really wants the nausea of the Brady Bunch infiltrating their household?

And after all, there’s nothing like a dose of festive TV misery to bring together the happy souls and the discontented at Christmas time. One need only look around their own family-filled living room to witness the self-satisfied smile on the face of little sister as she sits, eyes glazed, comforted in the belief that her life is nothing like this – she is going to grow up, get married and live happily ever after – or, listen to the matter-of-fact tutting from aunty while munching cashew nuts and shaking her head at the over-dramatization of it all. And of course there are the forlorn relatives clutching their mulled wine, whose faces, haunted by compassion for the doomed character betray a little yuletide melancholy. All wonderfully united by an Albert Square drama!

A time for giving, Eastenders certainly provided a neatly wrapped revelation for viewers this Christmas Day. Who knows, maybe all cob-webs have been blown away for a refreshing start to the New Year. Maybe all is best out in the open and there’ll be no serious repercussions. Going by the programme’s ability to string out their storylines however, maybe not.

By Susan Allen