Celebrity Wife Swap

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Channel 4, Sunday 23rd March 2008

Bruce Jones aka Les BattersbyEaster delights last Sunday as two new celebrity wives switched households to spend a few days out of their comfort zone with their counterpart’s hubbie. This week’s candidates (plus other halves) were Bruce Jones, aka Coronation Street’s Les Battersby, and Eighties pop star Sinitta – another masterstroke from the programme’s producers.

From the start, one could clearly see that the age-old personality clash of ‘lazy, obstinate Arse vs. massive Control Freak’ would inevitably ensue, but as with most of these reality docos it’s all about the journey isn’t it? And some journey it was, mostly to and from the pub in Bruce’s case, who turned out to be quite the shirker. This did not go unnoticed and eventually culminated in a furious Sinitta marching down to his local boozer to shame him. As an active mother, not only used to managing her busy career in the public eye and strictly adhering to various beautifying regimes, but also spending time with her own husband, she was finding it exceptionally difficult running around after an absent Bruce. In a vain attempt to harness the beast, a ban on TV, smoking and drinking was imposed. Moreover, she insisted he help out with chores including picking up his Granddaughter from school, who he lives with yet hardly sees.

Unfortunately, this family bonding was yet another thing that did not go quite to plan – Bruce thought it a cunning idea to take his Granddaughter down the pub for a ‘treat’. Treat my arse. Sinitta looked on horrified as the 16-year-old had drinks bought for her by Bruce’s wrinkly chums with a spot more than lemonade in them. This all went over a rosy-cheeked Bruce’s head, who seemed completely flummoxed as to why they weren’t actively encouraging the girl to get mashed up with her Granddad.

On the other side of the swap, having had a rather lovely time with Sinitta’s husband, tenderly teaching him to further appreciate his children and being whisked off on evenings out to swanky bars, Bruce’s wife was slowly figuring out that she had, in fact, been taken for a downright doormat. She thus, started to plan her imminent insurrection. By the post-swap discussion, Bruce did not seem to have too many fans as Sinitta and his wife proceeded to hit it off superbly with banter largely revolving around his flaws.

A promise of change did finally follow however, and one can only hope and prey for the lady whose husband’s initial response to having her home was a childlike skip towards the telly to plug it back in and a sincere pledge to take her down the pub for a pint and a packet of crisps. Oh dear, leopards, spots…

By Susan Allen

Transport for London 2

March 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

The second of TFL’s ads on road awareness (see below) proves to be rather clever indeed.  This time the focus is on looking out for cyclists, who, like moon walking bears, can oft be difficult to spot when distracted by ball games and stuff.  Go on, try it yourself.

For more information on TFL’s current road safety campaign, go to www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/roadsandpublicspaces/7599.aspx

Dancing on Ice: The Final Skate-Off

March 19, 2008 by  
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ITV1, Sunday 16th March

Dancing On Ice Sunday night saw the finale of this season’s Dancing on Ice, and though the odds were against her, former Hear’Say singer, Suzanne Shaw, pipped Hollyoaks’ Chris Fountain to the proverbial post. Let’s be honest, it was never really a fair game for Corrie’s Zaraah Abrahams, who knew she was walking on thin ice (ha!) from the start. Considering the number of bets placed on Fountain to win though, (Sky Bet has taken more money on him to win this year’s show than the whole amount gambled in last year’s series) the result was somewhat of a shocker.

Aw, couldn’t you just see the disappointment in his eyes when the final result was announced? He took it well, no doubt, but even he must have started believing the inevitability of his fate and to hear his opponent’s name called instead of his own must have been quite a blow. When you consider that the show was the second most-watched programme of the year so far, according to viewing figures, he was certainly spared no blushes. Neither was the audience upon laying eyes on Miss. Willoughby for that matter, dressed out of another of her semi-garments. Clearly a policy of the show to ensure maximum flesh exposure at all times both on and off the ice, Holly’s threads gave the contestant’s skimpy outfits a valiant run for their money. See, even if she can’t skate and is only good for grinning inanely at Philip Schofield’s nauseating jokes, she has a special place on the show.

And so that’s it for another season. The old hat stars – Schofield, Torville and Dean – having successfully re-subjected the public to their haggard faces in a last attempt to bump up their pensions, can now rest their weary limbs – that is until the big Dancing on Ice Tour they’ve got planned comes around. Mmm…God bless the mass appeal of family entertainment.

By Susan Allen

Transport for London

March 17, 2008 by  
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At last, an enlightening piece of information that is accompanied by its relevance to real life!  I remember doing those brain teaser puzzles when I was younger, where one line seems longer than the other and straight lines look curvy but actually aren’t, and in fact, it’s just my brain playing tricks on me.  I also remember thinking what useless and arbitrary pieces of information these were.  What were they ever going to teach me about life?  Well, thank you TFL for spelling it out and importantly applying this knowledge to something we can relate to – driver perception.

The first awareness-raising advert of three from Transport for London demonstrates how easy it is to feel inaccurately comfortable with other drivers’ distances and speeds around you.  It uses line drawings to illustrate the way our brains sometimes fill in information wrongly when judging our surroundings and then immediately shocks with a figure of a cyclist hitting the windscreen.  This advert is straight to the point and likely to stick in people’s minds – a good use of 41 seconds in encouraging road users to give motorcyclists, and indeed their first impressions, a second thought.

White Girl

March 13, 2008 by  
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white girlBBC2, Monday 10th March

This Monday brought a breath of fresh air to my weary television. Quite understated in its execution for a blatant ‘awareness-raising’ vehicle from the BBC’s White Season on white working class Britain, White Girl, written by Abi Morgan, dealt gracefully with some hairy issues surrounding a young girl’s struggle to cope with a chaotic and frightening family life through Islam. Astonishingly, there were no cringe-worthy, obvious lines that made you want to splatter the screen in ethical sick from the moral lessons being forced down your throat. The lack of clear-cut battles of good vs. evil a la Disney movies saw this programme beautifully meander through the many shades of grey and prove enthralling from beginning to end.

Leah is a young girl who is uprooted from her home in Leeds to escape to Bradford with her mother Debbie, brother and sister where they find themselves among a wholly Asian community. They are fleeing a life of volatility with the violent father of the younger siblings, Stevie, who uses Leah to courier the drugs he supplies to his clients. They find however that this instability does not entirely rest with him as Debbie’s imperfections as a mother come to the surface again and again. Penniless and unhappy, she gets a job cleaning but can barely afford to support her family and certainly cannot cope without a bottle of vodka to get her through. From the start it is the relationship between Leah and her mother that is focussed upon, particularly highlighted by the lack of caring father figure in Leah’s life and proves to be critical to where the story ends. The moment where Leah hands her mum a list she has written of all of her failings is handled wonderfully and when Leah makes eye contact with her at the moment Debbie lets Stevie back into her bed is one of outstanding poignancy.

Having moved out of her home to live with the family next door, Leah embraces the Muslim way of life as something that takes her away from all of the anxiety of her family. However, what is particularly compelling about this plot is the fact that it is not so simple and that the story does not overstate the salutary power of the Muslim faith in an unhelpfully clichéd attempt to eulogise the religion. A number of factors lead Leah to this, which truly gives the story greater depth and the tone less of a pedagogical slant. Leah clearly has a respect for her teacher that may perhaps be read as daughterly admiration or equally a high school crush and as a result wants to know more about him and his faith. She is lonely, inquisitive and has a desperate desire to have control over something in her life. In the end it is strength of character that her mother is yet to find.

White Girl does not try to be all-encompassing and succeeds because it is happy to offer a slice into a situation and not fully resolve it. For more information on BBC2’s White Season, go to www.bbc.co.uk/white/.

By Susan Allen

Coca Cola

March 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Well, it’s obvious.  Coca cola makes everything rosy in the world.  Bad boys turn good, busking tramps acquire a peculiar tunefulness and rats dance the can-can.  The latest offering from the brand sees everyone jubilantly celebrate with a bottle of coke in their hands.  Just what they’re celebrating remains unclear but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with buying lots of Coca cola…

The gist of the thing focuses on the main character of a computer game, who at first appears to be the usual hedonistically destructive alter-ego of some bored real person, yet who turns out to recognize the value of giving due to living ‘on the Coke side of life’.  Beautiful.  The use of the medium of virtual reality is pretty fitting – this is no dose of gritty realism – think Grand Theft Auto meets musical theatre.

Ok, so we all know that advertising is meant to seduce but it’s not fair when they use such a catchy little tune from one’s childhood and seamlessly associate youthful hopes of a flourishing humanity with a bottled drink!  No doubt about it, Coca cola has given us a little love with their new ad, and we can be sure what this means for them.

Indeed, I was gleefully humming this tune from Bugsy Malone hours later while popping out to get me some bubbly brown stuff.  Didn’t manage to stop any thieves from stealing old ladies’ handbags though and now I come to think of it, there definitely weren’t any policemen forming human pyramids…  Maybe that happens the more you buy…  Must live the dream.  Must buy more coke.