I love the BBC. Whether it’s high-end drama, globally-recognised sitcoms or historical travelogues, Auntie makes wonderful programmes. The Beeb’s sport coverage is usually great too: you only have to look at its Olympics coverage for proof of that. But it keeps doing football wrong.
It’s clear Match of the Day’s shit has hit the fan now ITV1’s football coverage looks competent by comparison. Having poached Lee Dixon to join Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate for their Champions League coverage, the channel arguably has the best stable of pundits on the box. One caveat to this is the continued employment of toby-jug-faced presenter Adrian Chiles, but three out of four ain’t bad.
The BBC considers MOTD to be an entertainment show rather than specialist sports programming, and therefore it has no obligation to appeal to anyone with an IQ of above 80. It’s crammed with familiar faces like Alan Shearer, a man so devoid of charisma that he celebrated winning the Premier League in 1995 by creosoting his fence. Shearer is MOTD’s resident cod-psychologist; there to inform viewers just what is going on in a player’s head after a missed sitter: “He’ll be disappointed with that”, or a hat-trick: “He’ll be delighted with that”.
Then there’s Alan Hansen, once the poster-boy for dour Scottish punditry. Hansen doesn’t even bother analysing the action any more, preferring to spout a series of pointless adjectives instead: “Pace. Power. Aggression.” I hope for Mrs Hansen’s sake that her husband doesn’t take a similar approach when pillow talking in between tokes on one of his post-coital Cuban cigars. Read more
Sigh. What happened? When did vampires lose their way? Personally I blame Joss Whedon. Before Buffy, it was okay to say you liked vampires — they were creepy, dark and frightening. But then came Angel — the one with the big forehead who whined about how much he didn’t deserve to live. Well… three tear-soaked seasons and a spin-off later, he was still there; howling about how much better off everyone would be if he was just dead.
And it only got worse.
With the imminent arrival of Breaking Dawn Part 2 in November, I’m reminded that it’s not okay to like vampires anymore. Admitting you like vampires now lumps you with the group of pre-pubescent girls who think Dracula is written in Old English and that being a ‘creature of the night’ is just one big angst-fest.
In reality, there is literally nothing bad about being a vampire anymore. You are super-strong, super-fast and super-hot. Forever. So why, oh why, does the modern-day vampire mope around all day? Why do I always expect Edward Cullen to start ripping out his perfect “bronze” (since when was that a hair colour?) locks, screaming that he doesn’t deserve them?
Perhaps the thing that pisses me off the most is the fact that every story is the same. Twilight: Immortal 17 year-old tries to stay away from mortal 17 year-old because he’s evil and doesn’t deserve her. Vampire Diaries: Immortal 17 year-old tries to stay away from mortal 17 year-old because he is evil and doesn’t deserve her — oh, but this time he’s fighting his even more evil vampire brother for her affection. True Blood: A bit better seeing as the girl in question is now in her twenties, but do we still have a lame 100 year-old crying about how much he shouldn’t love her? Yep. (Why are they always so awkward? Shouldn’t they be Olympians at small talk? You’re five hundred years old, for god’s sake. What have you been doing all this time?)
All in all, it now seems that if you’re a vampire you must long to be human… even though we can be violent, amoral and selfish and we don’t sparkle even a little. But if a vampire realises their life is actually pretty cool, they are immediately the villain and must be destroyed. Hmmm..
Just… give me Lestat back. Please.
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
Whether you like it or not, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ has definitely been the most over-used slogan of the last few years. You still can’t enter a novelty shop without being visually assaulted by everything from t-shirts to mugs carrying the ‘oh-so- hilarious’ phrase, usually altered for comic effect (eg. ‘Keep Calm and Trust Snape’).
Yes it’s ubiquitous. Yes the never-ending ‘hilarious’ variations of the soundbite make me want to travel back to the 1940s and murder its creator. But putting my fashion gripes to one side for a minute, I think our media could heed this stoic message as we approach this weekend’s Jubilee celebrations. According to well-known Chelsea fan and famous bandwagon-joiner David Cameron, ‘everyone’ is looking forward to them. I’m not so sure. Read more
When ITV announced plans to start charging people for specific online content last year, there were a few eyebrows raised in the OTB office. Whether you enjoy the channel’s programming or not, the idea was made laughable by the fact that the ITVPlayer is easily the poorest of all the ‘players’. As such, the idea of paying for it was about as enticing as the idea of forking out to use one of those unspeakably grotty public toilets in Kings Cross train station.
Adam Crozier and his cronies (crozies?) have quietly put the aforementioned plan on hold, but they don’t seem to have done much to improve the quality of their online viewing portal, which sadly, is still rubbish. The excessive adverts (far more than you find on 4OD) don’t help but what really grinds our gears is the way the content stops, starts and spends ages buffering. The image quality isn’t great either. Why ITV don’t pull their fingers out and improve their service is a bit of a mystery, because with more and more people watching their TV online, they’re lagging behind the competition.
We are in series eight of MasterChef. And like the inevitable coming of the final dawn before a soul-devouring, bile-spitting, pan-frying apocalypse, it is terrifying.
This is the eighth batch of petrified innocents sweating in eerily starched aprons – the uniform of the damned – who are publicly humiliated, having their very dreams and lifeblood spat back into their desperate eyes by “discerning diners”; the eighth time traditional cornerstone European dishes are recklessly reinvented, hideously subverted with a controversial consommé conceived in the last excruciating seconds of the challenge – a frenzied purgatory preceding judgment before a malevolent coalition of lip-smacking overlords.
The eighth moment the very essence of the human condition is flipped like a hot-smoked salmon soufflé omelette in John Torode’s hauntingly recurring premonition “whoever wins, it will change their life”, the twisted grammar a harrowing symbol of the boiling pit of hell-fire (brought to a simmer) that is life after losing MasterChef; the eighth time that fat, bald bloke thinks that the particular “sawce” accompanying a dish is “really yummy”.
MasterChef is a complete melodramatic farce; it is a dish best made to serve any comedy screenwriter seeking to create a parody of a reality TV competition. With an ‘M’ logo unnecessarily being licked by flames, and a soundtrack of tense, low chords, and resounding drum beats counting down to Armageddon accompanying knock-out rounds, and hyper electric guitar solos searing through cooking count-downs, it is just like X Factor, except this lot are literally making a meal of it. Read more
Cookery shows have become a ubiquitous presence on our screens and can generally be considered as the ‘bread sauce’ of the television kitchen cupboard – bland, unnecessary but a traditional staple. However, millions of us still tune in to watch a myriad of chefs compete to activate the salivation membranes in our stomachs (that’s a scientific fact – don’t bother checking), my appetite for these kind of shows – such as it was – couldn’t be more unwhetted.
If you take a quick glance at the current broadcast schedules there seems to be one particular ingredient dominating televisual recipes: testosterone. The latter months of 2011 seemed to have a lovely feminine touch, with Nigella making love to our eyeballs with her own unique brand of food fuckery and the perfectly lovely Lorraine Pascale bringing a delicate warmth to cookery programming, mostly in a bid to prove that her recipes weren’t as bland as her presenting style. The dawn of 2012 has seeded a new crop of cookery shows that all seem to emanate an annoying middle class blokey swagger, which has caused the likes of the comparatively prim and proper Anthony Worrall Thomspon to go on the rob in order to earn some ‘geezer’ points.
The newest of the current batch of culinary stars are The Fabulous Baker Brothers. One is a baker, the other is a chef and they’re brothers. You know they are brothers because it’s in the title and because we are reminded at the beginning of every show and then at ten minute intervals throughout the rest of the programme. Obviously they love competing because they are brothers and because they are brothers they act like little scamps and throw flour and get each other in headlocks and mess up their hair and stuff. They hold meat pie baking competitions, throw ingredients cavalierly into hot pans and chop up incredibly manly things like bruschetta with an oversized axe, which is in no way compensating for an undersized manhood. Just to cement the fact they are blokey rascals, their surname is Herbet. Tom and Henry Herbet. In case you still harbour some affection for these Fabulous Baker Bastards, take a look at this photo.. Read more
Cheryl Cole – Is she worth it? No, I’m not talking about her hair colour, but the media attention. The constant stream of analysis and comment on what she’s wearing, what her love life’s like, and whether or not she will change her accent so that she won’t turn off American viewers?
Apparently, Cat Deeley has been mouthing off about how the US won’t take to Cheryl’s northern tones. I’m not entirely sure why Deeley is getting involved or what her qualifications in this particular area are, but if Cheryl’s worried, I may have the solution. If the Geordie lass wants to be nice and clear when speaking to an American audience, why not go for the Steven Hawking approach? It’s clear, concise and would be a new sound for her. I’m not sure how Hawking would feel about it, but I for one know that the L’Oreal adverts would be a hell of a lot more entertaining.
Back to my original point – does anyone care about Cole? Really? Are you sure?! Have I just lost the plot when I should be equally obsessed about the Girls Aloud strumpet as much as everyone else?
The pressure on my Cheryl Kettle reached boiling point today after it was reported that the X Factor judge has had a boob job in advance of her debut on the US show. Dr Dirk Kremer, from Harley Street Aesthetics, told Closer mag: “Cheryl’s boobs look very different now. Despite being hidden under a work-out top, you can see how rounded and full they seem. To mimic this look, she would have to be wearing a good gel bra.”
Well newsflash Dr Kremer, perhaps she did wear a decent bra, and I wonder what benefit it serves anyone for you to offer up opinion of Cole’s mammary glands. Come to think about it, why were you looking so close at her assets anyway? If I stuffed the crotch of my jeans with tissue would you accuse me of going under the knife?!
It’s also been reported today that Cheryl’s had movie offers. Great, another person who can’t act landing roles in terrible films. No, I haven’t seen them yet, but you just know they’re going to be awful.
My point here is that perhaps the media should pay attention to more important matters. But being that the media only serve up content that people want, perhaps it’s us as a society that should change. Why do we crave news on celebs? Is it because our own lives are so dull we need to know what other people are up to? If that’s true then it’s quite a sad statement.
But rather then following Cheryl Cole’s every move, why not be inspired by someone who has actually done something with their life and provided more to society than giving us a whole host of entertainment acts? Just an idea. Rant over.
C4 has been accused of editing their latest reality series Love Thy Neighbour to paint the locals like backward hill-billies. So have broadcasters decided that reality television is now only watchable if it’s mixed with fiction?
In these brave, post-Big Brother times, producers are working hard to keep reality TV’s cogs turning. No one watches reality TV to see some actual reality, which, for most people, is cups of tea and chats about the rain. They watch it to see a frail Yoga teacher on Come Dine With Me sob when the cat pukes in her cauliflower cheese, or the carnivorous country-type openly laughs at her vegetarian moussaka.
Producers turn some pretty dirty tricks to get the ‘performance’ they want out of their subjects. Most of the time, that means finding ways round the boring propensity of most people toward getting along fine by sticking in a large, sh**-stirring oar. Take personality clashing – the Coach Trip formula – get a lanky-haired druid couple in an enclosed space with two members of the Tory youth, and film them bitching about each other. Some shows, like ITV2′s awe-inspiring The Only Way Is Essex, even admit to scripting scenes for the ‘viewers entertainment’.
Not so damaging, but there are far more complex ways to cause a stir, and then edit it into a 45-minute package. Especially for the villagers of Grassington, the picture box Yorkshire village featured in Channel 4′s Love Thy Neighbour. Or should I say, townspeople, because it’s actually a decent sized rural connobation of nearly two thousand. Not that you’d know that from the Hovis-ad depiction in Love Thy Neighbour, a show that pits 12 families against each other in order to win a £300,000 house. The twist is, residents of the town vote for the family they want in. Seems innocent enough, until you factor in some stereotypical ‘rural prejudices’, and the whole thing starts looking like a badly judged episode of Last Of The Summer Wine, guest written by Jim Davidson.
The first episode saw a (whisper it) black family come to try and make their home in Grassington – all too predictably greeted with statements like “I was 18 before I saw a black person,” and the old “I’m not racist, but…” Only, it didn’t seem that plausible. Because, when greying women sat behind spinning wheels (I’m not joking) weren’t making archaic remarks, the family were visibly well recieved. As an aspiring Tory politician, Phillip, the father, was a smash hit in the town, a Conservative-stronghold. They roundly trounced the opposition (a white middle-class family) in the vote-off and sailed into the final.
Channel 4′s trailing of the show however, was laden with the racist remarks. The next week a lesbian couple competed against a single mother, and the exercise was repeated – a wealth of offensive comments from largely the same residents, with the lesbian couple subsequently winning the vote. Almost as if the producers were trying to ramp up the ratings by rehashing some old and, largely, untrue stereotypes. Managing to present the town entirely devoid of its Bangladeshi curry restaurant, and, ofcourse, its non-white residents, they also fail to mention its proximity to Bradford, one of the most multicultural places in the UK.
At least The Only Way Is Essex puts its cards on the table, declaring itself a fakery from the outset. Maybe telly’s bigwigs have mined as much as they can from real people. Maybe reality, with its balanced views and chats about the rain, is just too boring for TV after all.
It’s understandable that, when your brand becomes synonomous with sweaty, white-vested, sunburnt wife beaters, you might want to change tack.
The newest Stella Artois Four ad paints Stella not as the favoured tipple of Glaswegian council estates and Alcoholics Anonymous conventions, but as a sophisticated french-speaking hops’n'barley smoothie.
It’s a lovely French street in the sixties (they’ve clearly just nailed some European shutters to the Hovis village), and some rustic piano loaders are getting on with their piano loading. But look, a fit bird! Oops, there goes the piano. MERDE! It’s rolling down the hill! After a lot of ooh-la-laing, the humble piano loader ends up coiffed, glass of Stella in hand (note: NOT a pint), getting off with a fit bird. Not the same fit bird from earlier though, because ‘e iz so frunche.
Perhaps they’re targeting men that go to wine bars, or men that want to be Mark Ronson. Or French men. Or people who think that wearing head-to-toe tailored white gives them an edge. It’s hard to tell.
Since guidelines from the pesky Advertising Standards Authority now dictate that alcohol adverts must be almost impossibly evocative, you can see why Stella’s ad team may have been stumped. Selling a product without being able to explcitly suggest the actual selling point – it makes you really pissed – can be a drag.
Maybe they should just embrace the stereotype – Stella, if you’re reading, picture this: a rainy day in East Kilbride. Inside a small, sticky-carpeted pub Morrissey croons “Last night I dreamt… that somebody loved me,” from the jukebox. A man and woman sit opposite each other, not making eye contact. The man cradles a pint of Stella. He reaches out a hand to touch the woman, but she recoils. She looks toward the camera, we see a tear run down her cheek. Fade to Black.