The Thick of It: Coalition Review: Could Mannion Steal the Fu**ing Series?

September 8, 2012 by  
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THE THICK OF IT: COALITION Saturday 8th October, BBC2 9.45pm

Malcolm Tucker is back! Well, almost. To say I am excited about this new series is a huge understatement, as I’ve watched the first three series of The Thick of It so many times my conversational English is now almost entirely unsuitable for fucking minors.

But while I was initially delighted to hear that Armando Iannucci had announced series four of this excellent political satire, I suddenly felt that familiar nagging feeling of doubt creeping in and pushing aside my earlier exhilaration- could a fourth helping of this excellent comedy perhaps be one manifesto too far? Read more

First Look at The Thick Of It Series 4.. ‘Coalition’

September 4, 2012 by  
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THE THICK OF IT: Saturday 8th September, BB2, 9.45pm

We’ve spent three excruciatingly painful (if you are as obsessed with it and as over-dramatic as I am) years waiting for it but it’s finally here. Have I Got News For You is all well and good but when it comes to political satire lord knows the British public likes a bloodbath.

Back on the 7th May 2010 we learned we would be having a coalition government. For us this was news of some significance. For the genius writing team behind The Thick Of It it was an open cheque to tear the government apart. They must have sat there watching BBC News rubbing their hands together, not merely as a symbolic gesture of excitement but also to warm them up to wring the neck of what by 2012 would be a roundly discredited government with all the cohesion and social respectability of a lingerie clad Nick Clegg being pulled apart by rabid horses – #heavyhandedsatire.

So this Saturday, when the first episode airs on BBC2 you may be expecting a hugely cynical take on Conservative/Liberal Democrat in-fighting. And you’d be right. So it may come as a surprise to know that at last night’s BAFTA Q&A writers Will Smith, Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche talked of their empathy for the tricky positions politicians sometimes find themselves in (although we aren’t talking Mark Oaten here).

This is exemplified by everyone’s favourite 1980’s hangover Peter Mannion MP who’s ‘devil may care but probably doesn’t’ attitude turns a spotlight on the absurd PR culture that will subsequently surround the ‘victors’ of this week’s cabinet reshuffle. He (despite his political affiliations, demeanour, education, upbringing, job, life and money) is the everyman of the series if you will. He’s the guy that just wants to do his best amongst a sea of obstacles and doesn’t see why he can’t drink half a bottle of Tesco champagne with his wife on their 30th wedding anniversary. Sounds fair enough to me.

The first episode of the fourth series is dominated by coalition politics and Mannion’s world-weary bon-mots. Tucker and his gaggle of ‘Labour’ work-horses don’t even get a look in. It’s testament to the growth seen since the Malcolm Tucker ruled first series that the characters have grown to accommodate an episodic structure in which one week with are with the coalition, the next with Tucker. But that’s not all. Last night’s panel floundered when talking about whether the two sides would again clash (as in the brilliant Five Live radio meet in Series 3). Producer Adam Tandy soon came to the rescue hinting that later in the series “there would be a backstory that sucks in all the characters?. Intriguing. I’m hoping it’s that Tucker had an affair with Stewart Pearson’s wife. Or even better, husband. Read more

Sky Enters Internet TV Market, But Will Now TV Be Able To Rival Lovefilm and Netflix?

July 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

It’s finally here! The service that lets you have your TV now rather than later. The Sky service that allows you to watch the film you want when you want instead of you having to adhere to some sort of archaic “scheduling system?. Come to think of it, how did people happily exist with schedules? It boggles my 21st century content-saturated mind…

I’m sure you all want to know where you can dig into this all-you-can-eat, on-demand movie feast? Well I’m here to tell you that as of now, you can get it at Now TV, Sky’s answer to content delivery behemoth’s Netflix and Lovefilm.

So what’s the big idea here? Well according to Stephen Van Rooyen, Sky’s managing director of sales and marketing, Now TV will allow the broadcaster the opportunity to “extend its reach to the 13 million households which do not subscribe to a paid TV service” in the UK.

Apparently the decision to call it something totally different and separate it from the Sky brand was very deliberate, as they didn’t want there to be any confusion between the full Sky offering – which requires a satellite dish and a pricier monthly subscription – and this new pay-as-you-go offering which just needs an internet connected device.

After running a rather late-to-the-party eye over its competitors, the platform is predictably competitively priced. You can rent movies from 99p to £3.49 a pop and if you like to consume your cinematic entertainment at a rate of knots then you can get unlimited access to their sizeable catalogue of 1,000 movie for £15 a month. Read more

What the Hell Is.. Volcano Live?

July 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

Oh my God is the BBC finally bringing the three-piece rock band from Chicago, Illinois that draw on influences ranging from Classic rock, Post-punk, Free Jazz and Noise Rock to our TV screens?
What? No. Why on earth would the BBC spend license-fee money on such incredibly niche output? No. What’s actually happening is that we’re being treated to a four episode series of volcano voyeurism.
Where and when is this red hot and not at all niche event occurring?
Don’t start using volcano puns. The series will be broadcast on four consecutive nights from the 9th to the 12th of July from the surface of the Hawaiian volcano of Kilauea.
And that’s supposed to be entertaining?
Oh, so the BBC has commissioned an eruption or something? Is the underlying geology of the area aware of this?
Kilauea has been erupting for some while now. The hope is that come the 9th it’ll still be going strong. Failing that there will also be live reports from Iceland, Italy, the Congo and Chile throughout. If that doesn’t whet your appetite for a bit of enlightening spectacle then I don’t know what will.
Why the hell are they doing this?
Well according to BBC controller Jane Hadlow “Volcano Live will offer BBC Two viewers a rare opportunity to join world-class experts at the forefront of cutting-edge volcanology research.? If you’re in to that sort of thing…
I’m not. What else is there on offer?
Erm…Well you’ll accompanied on your tour through the science of volcanology by the enthusiastic and insightful Iain “More Scottish than Scotch? Stewart and Kate “Happy? Humble. Most likely he’ll be handling some of the heavier stuff whilst Humble keeps things light and smiley.
Did we ask for this? Volcano Live sounds really boring and self-indulgent on the part of all involved.
Well you may, or apparently may not, have noticed that live educationally focused programmes have been thriving on the BBC. Springwatch gave us a bit of natural history, Stargazing a bit of astronomy and we got to see a load of cute little baby lambs being born in Lambing Live. You sound angry.
I just hate Kate Humble because she gets so bloody excited about everything. And she’s a successful woman, on TV. I don’t pay my taxes in order to see that. Even so, she’d definitely get it.
You sound like a narrow-minded misogynist and obviously have little interest in anything volcano related other than Volcano! the trio behind incidental ‘Art Rock’ footnote “Pulling My Face in and out of Distortion, I Blink Too Much?. We should probably end this interview. I’m not sure I trust your sexual politics and suspect you of being a moron.
OK, do you happen to know where I can watch last week’s The Bachelor?

Follow Ross Jones-Morris on Twitter..

Blackout Episode One Review

July 2, 2012 by  
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BLACKOUT: Monday 2nd July, BBC1, 9pm

Blackout; it’s got everything. A pinch of drug use and a dash of debauchery? Check. A slightly difficult narrative? Check. A look at the moral shortcomings of those bloody politicians we all bloody hate so much – you know the ones, the ones with the lies (if that doesn’t get me 10,000 likes on Facebook and a two-year contract at the Daily Mail I don’t know what will)? Check. A mysterious and crucially yet to be explained event that offers scope for a few revelations that’ll spin the drama out for a good few episodes? Check. Suitably confused? Well I almost was.

The first episode of this shiny new BBC drama introduces us to Christopher Eccleston’s Daniel Demoys, a corrupt and alcoholic councilman, who, in an opening 10 minute salvo of drunken debauchery swigs down much more than his daily recommended units (tut-tut) and shags someone who seems to be a prostitute (naughty boy). His wife of course has had enough of this sort of thing and soon enough threatens to leave him with the increasingly unimpressed children in tow.

To top all of this off we see him having a dodgy meeting with a dodgy businessman in an alleyway and next thing we know Demoys wakes up with a Gascoigne sized hangover, no recollection of what happened and a shirt covered in blood. Cue drama, intrigue, suspense and a shot at redemption. Read more

Dr. Ofcom (Or How We Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Complaining)

June 29, 2012 by  
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Conor McIntyre’s Four-Step Guide to Charming a Lady

Step 1: If one ever finds oneself in a situation in which a male acquaintance verbally abuses a woman for failing to eat a cake made of tinned ham covered in hot sauce, stand back and don’t intervene.

Step 2: Once her self-esteem has been sufficiently shouted out of her, find a piece of feminine hygiene ‘equipment’ and suggest that she insert it into an orifice (the use of the word ‘minge’ is optional but advised). Not only will she be impressed by your knowledge of the female anatomy but by this point her self-esteem should have bottomed out.

Step 3: Now she’ll be putty in your hands (if not the poor cow is probably confused – give her a hug or threaten to punch her or something).

Step 4: Rest assured that if you don’t successfully charm her then at least your bullying will make great TV.

“Where does Big Brother find these people?? It’s a perennial question of the 21st century I’m sure you’ll agree, yet it’s one that I’ve never understood. Just visit any city centre at 3am on a Friday and I’m sure you’d be treated to some less than progressive opinions, colourful language and if you’re lucky a punch in the kidneys. Yes, modern Britain does have its fair share of morons. One of these particular morons is Big Brother 2012’s Conor McIntyre, a man that makes Richard Keys and Andy Gray look like a pair of silver tongued feminists.

In fact, his actions on Monday night have elicited around 1,000 complaints from angry viewers who took against his Malcolm Tucker style approach to people politics. But what exactly were these people complaining about? Why were they complaining about it? And who are they and where do they buy their anoraks? Read more

Can We Trust The Police Review: Deacon of Truth?

June 25, 2012 by  
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CAN WE TRUST THE POLICE: Monday 25th June, BBC3, 9pm

Seemingly just your normal Hackney boy, Adam Deacon, rapper, writer, director, actor and most notably recipient of the 2012 BAFTA Rising Star Award, is a high achiever. On his way to fame and fortune has young Adam lost touch with his roots? Well it seems overwhelmingly safe to say that he has not. Still walking and talking with the swagger that launched a thousand rap artists, he’s obviously still Adam from the block. In fact, he’s built a career out of it.

Hanging his music and feature film hat for the time being Deacon has put his documentary-maker hoodie on, and in his sights, the public image of the British Metropolitan Police Service. If the middle class reactionary inside you screams bias at this point it would be wrong, but not completely so.

He soon introduces us to his friend and victim of police brutality, David. He also soon informs us that David’s horrendous experience was Deacon’s motivation for making this documentary. Using this case and others he paints a picture of incompetence and abuse. To balance this we get the police’s side of the story. On the way we also get to hear the views of some rather ignorant reactionaries that Deacon doesn’t challenge in the slightest. Read more