I’m back once again with another fortnight’s worth of TV and as some eagle eyed readers will have noticed I didn’t cover any of the new series of I’m a Celebrity in my previous edition and that’s mainly because I thought I’d write about the whole series when it came to an end so with that said let’s get started.
And I have to say that I really wasn’t convinced about this year’s line-up when I first heard about it because while there’s a lot more star talent than last year there doesn’t seem to be that little something that all the odd numbered series seem to have that the even numbered series don’t. Even though this year we’ve had Kilroy, Esther, Mr. Sulu, ‘Tennis Legend’ Martina Navratilova, Mickey from Eastenders, the black guy from Blue, Dani Behr, the gay police chief who ran for mayor of London, Joe Cole’s fiancée and some glamour model they don’t hold a candle to last year’s z-listers. Of course the early star of the group of was Kilroy who sniped at Esther and baited Joe Cole’s fiancée for no reason in particular. When he was in away camp and rather miserable he seemed to be a bit crafty and up himself but when the camps merged he became the hero winning the full round of meals twice. Another nice recurring thing was the most unlikely friendship between Joe Swash from Eastenders and George Takei from Star Trek. George is a bit of an ageing queen and why he came to the jungle after he’s had so much success playing Hiro’s dad in Heroes is beyond me but George rubbing cream on Joe’s bum and later Joe teaching George a dirty cockney song were some of the highlights for me. There was also a little clique forming containing the WAG, the glamour model, Simon from Blue and Dani Behr who conspired to do all the cooking and generally be boring taking their lead from glamour model Nicola they started sniping when two new arrivals entered the camp.
Yes on day six the legend that is Timmy Mallett along with the diva from Dollar David Van Day got caught up in nets and then in cages and weren’t freed till the morning and then were put in a cave. Nicola’s gang couldn’t wait to tear holes in Timmy and David and there chance came after Kilroy’s trial with Timmy’s maniacal laughter and later when David was generally being snippy towards Nicola. The thing is that Nicola can’t take a joke so the four of them gang up on these two fifty-something eighties-entertainers. If Timmy and David were gay, black or female there would be allegations of racism, homophobia or sexism but as it is it’s just a bit sad that this Nicola who ever she is has to get her kicks from belittling two of our national treasures from the 1980s. Sure David does give it out sometimes and Timmy’s a little annoying but not as much Nicola and her cronies would have you believe.
As the eliminations dragged on I was pretty surprised how long Brian stayed in and, considering he proved himself as a hero to the camp, why Kilroy left first. Although he was followed by the boring Dani and the frankly simple wall-dressing that was Carly. Comedy again arrived when Timmy and Brian competed in an elimination challenge and Timmy clung to Brian’s arm in attempt to stop him eating a worm. Esther was later eliminated as Brian had immunity, and then that night Nicola and David finally came to an arrangement which Nicola then claimed was David’s plan. She was eliminated the next day followed by dull hunk Simon and finally the utterly brilliant David Van Day. This left Joe, Martina and Mr. Sulu in the final, I think this was mainly because people wanted to see where Joe and Sulu’s love affair would go but Sulu was too in love with his husband and Joe was too straight for anything to happen. The final three were a good choice and frankly what I would’ve predicted George proved himself throughout to be a tough cookie and at the ripe old age of 71 was as adventurous as some of the campers who were in their mid-twenties. Martina’s character also developed after the eliminations started she was a brave woman but also at times emotionally vulnerable and a great camp-leader. But it was eventual winner Joe who deserved it, he stuck up for the little guys against the bullies and was generally fun to be around. The fact that he gave all the money he earned to the Ben Kinesella trust shows what a true salt-of-the-Earth chap he was.
Overall this series did provide highlights but for once the winner won’t have a career resurrection in the style of a Biggins or a Blackburn. The people who have most benefited from this series are David Van Day and Timmy Mallet, Mallet has been in the celeb wilderness for years and will at least get some presenting work from this while not a lot of people knew who Van Day was before the show (Dollar were hardly one of the big eighties bands) and apparently he’s already picked up some West End work. While I think Esther and especially Kilroy who redeemed himself throughout the course of his jungle stay, will also be getting more work. This series hasn’t been as classic as some of the others but for star power alone its certainly better than some of the others. As always Ant and Dec’s links are the highlight and I did have a sense of apathy to this series at the start so I’d like to see a bit more action in the next series but for now roll on Celeb Big Brother in January.
Something a lot more serious now and after Morse left our screens serious detective shows took a nosedive (just for the record Lewis didn’t’ cut the mustard) and we were left with cosy period pieces like Lark Rise to Candleford and generally cosy shows like Kingdom. Thank God then for Wallander which has been playing on BBC1 for the last couple of weeks. It stars Ken Brannagh as Swedish detective Kurt Wallander who solves brutal crimes which are linked together somehow usually because of some cult. But Wallander has a troubled time of it he and his wife are separated and she wants a full-on divorce after falling for a golfer. He also has issues with his senile father and the only relationship which isn’t failing is with his ever-faithful daughter. Even when he tries to meet a new woman it turns out she’s just trying to get information from him on a case. One of the confusing things is that all these characters are meant to be Swedish but they speak English presumably because accents can be a bit dodgy and at times a little racist, yet all the signs and e-mails appear in Swedish so we can’t understand and read them. As always Branagh is excellent creating a brilliant detective and at the same time a flawed man in Kurt Wallander the supporting cast is always great with Jeany Sparks as his loyal daughter a highlight. Although the grizzly scenes won’t be for everyone its about time we had a decent detective show on the T.V. and because there’s a lot more source material in the Wallander books I’m guessing it won’t be the last we’ll see of the man.
New comedy now with Parents of the Band, which is in the infamous 8:30 Friday night slot usually occupied by such family-friendly fares as My Family and After You’ve Gone. Parents of the Band is a vehicle for Jimmy Nail who hasn’t been seen on T.V. since Auf Wiedersehen pet Pet finished for the second time. Here he plays an eighties one-hit wonder who is now working as a carpenter and removal man along with his old roadie. Meanwhile his son and his friends are in a band a fact that Nail’s character wants to exploit and he wants to take over. This infuriates the other ‘Parents of the Band’ who are respectively a hair-dresser, a lawyer and a psychotherapist who all think they can offer as much advice as Nail’s character. The fact that Nail gets to sing doesn’t help the show and the parents and child actors alike can’t deliver a lot of the unfunny lines. The saving grace is Geoff McGivern (equally excellent in the underrated Lab Rats earlier this year) as the old roadie who develops the shows only decent gags. Again a show that we be more at home on a kids TV show although the odd drugs and sex reference would obviously make it unsuitable but another new comedy that hopefully won’t last.
I also don’t think there’s much chance of Parents of the Band featuring at next year’s British Comedy Awards with this year’s ceremony being the last programme I will cover in this edition. As always I’m slightly disappointed by the awards but at least this year there was no Jonathan Ross after his year of scandal. No stranger to scandal himself, Angus Deyton was this year’s host and he had a couple of good gags none-so than about the scandal itself. Although his interviews with the award-givers were a little awkward at times especially those with Tamzin Oulthwaite and Emma Porter. Although Alec Baldwin and Eva Mendes did bring a bit of big-name stardom to the proceedings Baldwin finding out that Channel Five was the Siberia of channels and Mendes finding out that Benny Hill was dead and not remembering who Ricky Gervais was were the highlights of the nights. Gervais himself won the award for the one-off Extras special beating the more deserving David Mitchell and James Corden. Also Russell Brand won the award for best stand-up another award that was undeserved, the Best Actress award went to the deserving and underrated Sharon Horgan for Pulling while the surprise of the night was that sleeper-hit Drop Dead Gorgeous pipped Skins to the post for the Comedy-Drama Award. Alan Carr and Gavin and Stacey winning awards were the most deserving of the night and Geoffrey Perkins and David Renwick getting Comedy greatness awards were slightly emotional especially because of Perkins’ untimely death earlier this year. But for me the moment of the night belonged to Jasper Carrot whose speech to the next generation of comedy talent almost bought a tear to my eye. The least deserving awards for new comedy were confined to ITV2 where the dire The Inbetweeners won two awards and beat The Kevin Bishop Show to the new comedy award while the truly average Katy Brand beating Lead Balloon’s Magda (Anna Crilley) was another travesty. Another unintentional hilarity was provided by Kevin Bishop who was shouting boring during Gervais’ pre-recorded speech and throwing stuff at the cast and crew of The Inbetweeners (can’t say they didn’t deserve). Just like any other awards show I was underwhelmed by The Comedy Awards and the future of British Comedy is under threat not just because of the Brand/Ross fiasco because of some of the new sitcoms that have appeared in the recent weeks.
Next Time: The X-Factor Final, Beehive and The Royal Variety Performance