Hi guys hope you’re enjoying this horrible winter we’ve been having if not then take your mind off it with another great Week in TV.
Last year ITV1 had a period between September and October where they had a spate of good dramas: The Children, Lost in Austen and Place of Execution were all excellent pieces but then the strong dramas fizzled out with Wired. Now they’re back with Unforgiven in which former Karen MacDonald, Surranne Jones plays a woman whose been in prison since she was a teenager for killing two police officers. Now she’s been released and her return is having an effect on several other families. Peter Davidson and Siobhan Finneran play the couple who are living in the house where Jones’ Ruth used to live and strange things are happening meanwhile the adoptive parents of Ruth’s younger sister are bought together as she gets involved in a car-crash and finally the two brothers of one of the police officers who was killed hear of her release and speak of revenge. I wasn’t sure what to make at the start because apart from Ruth none of the other characters were introduced within the story straight away so I couldn’t see the connections. But thanks to Sally Wainwright’s brilliant script you knew where you were by the end. One thing I can’t fault was Suranne Jones who finally has got herself a good leading role after the disastrous Harley Street complete with faux posh accent. She masters the character of Ruth perfectly her mannerisms are matched brilliantly with a woman whose hardly had any social contact she so desperate to sleep with a man she ends up having it off with Will Mellor! The other performances are good without over-shadowing Jones and the whole thing is heading in a great direction for the next two parts of the tale.
For BBC3’s latest ‘social experiment’ programme they’ve stuck three princes together in a Brighton flat and give them a week to pull a partner. That’s at least the concept of The Undercover Princes a show at its heart a filler piece. The princes in question are over-bearing Sri-Lankan Remigius, openly gay Indian Manivendra and large sexist and homophobic Africa from Africa. One of the opening scenes in which the three princes try and cook dinner by having a microwave burger was classic sitcom. And half of this show was about them trying to live and work without help and they became the help working in a bar, a pub and a hotel respectively the highlight of this came when Manivendra or Manny took two hours doing turndown service in one hotel room. There was also quite a serious aspect to how the other two princes took Manny’s homosexuality, Africa was quite shocked as he thought the show was about pulling girls and there was an in-depth discussion about how it went against religion which didn’t fit in with the light-hearted tone of the rest of the programme. Romance wise none of the guys did any good but it was Manny’s naivety at a gay club on the night of the first ‘big-pull’ which attracted him to a lot of the big burly guys. While Africa and Remigius kept striking out although Africa is a big beefy guy and has signed up with a rugby team who’ll try and help him pull. Overall this show is very similar to Channel 4’s The Love Trap in which five different guys of different cultural upbringings tried to woo the same girl. Here its three socially awkward foreigners who just happen to be royalty trying to pull women but does it really have to been a hour long? With a bit of editing this show could’ve fitted nicely into a half-an-hour.
Next up is a look at Celebrity Big Brother so far and after two weeks and two evictions (Lucy and Tina) the show seems to be dwindling to an end. In a way the show has had its desired effect it’s reminded us of the fun that can be had with Celebrity Big Brother and not the racist bullying that’s associated with it now. On the other hand it hasn’t had any of the rows that are associated with the shows either or a Preston/Chantelle romance to speak of. The closest hopes for romance are between Ben and Michelle both of whom have a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and Michelle who seems to be emotionally vulnerable at the best of times doesn’t need another scandal after her disastrous marriage to Andy Scott-Lee. The most volatile characters in there are Coolio and to a lesser extent Tina. Coolio obviously hasn’t seen past series of the show and therefore doesn’t know how to behave and what is considering threatening behaviour by Big Brother’s standards. Tina was just a bit of a gobby house and even though I’m not exactly sad she’s gone she was the one bold enough to speak her mind and at the end of the day that’s what’s needed in that house.
If in the past CBB has been known for its racism then this year it might be its sexism. Ramped up to the max by the Battle of the Sexes task, this year it has essentially been girls and boys in separate bedrooms. Coolio along with strong-minded Tommy, joker Terry and sneaky Verne have been ruling the roost while mouthy Tina, moany Ulrika, laid-back Mutya and emotional wreck Michelle sit around a lot gossiping. Meanwhile Ben just sits there in the middle saying nothing at all. The one character that’s surprised me is Latoya Jackson, she’s a strong figure she has tried to stay out of all the arguments but at the same time isn’t someone to stand-down when provoked. She has got a good sense about her and I think she’ll definitely make it into the final three probably along with Verne and Terry. The tasks have also been quite fun from the toy task to the cult of Chesney Hawkes to Verne and Ulrika’s Endless Love there have been a few classic moments however my favourite has to be Tina falling off the chair.
Finally I couldn’t finish without talking about that national institution that is Countdown, returning for the first time since Voderman left. Her replacement is the pretty 22 year old Rachel Riley, who looks very similar to the only regular left on the team Dictionary Corner’s own Suzie Dent. I wonder if she’s actually a distant relation of Suzie’s and it Carol’s departure was all just a nepotistic plot to get Suzie’s relation into Carol’s job, and Suzie using lots of big complicated nine-letter words to bombard the Channel 4 executives. But its Countdown so its not that exciting. Riley’s first episode came on the start of a Champion of Champions knockout show in which the maths problems were so easy that both contestants had finished their working out before the first five seconds. Riley only manages to balls up one sum in the first episode which is a good first trial. Another new face was Des O’Connor’s replacement Sky Sports favourite Jeff Stelling. Unlike Des’ O’Connor and Lynam, Stelling isn’t smooth and has more in complicated with the original Countdown chairman the late great Richard Whitely. Although a lot of Stelling’s puns to stem from football he does throw in the odd one related to the game in hand, for example: “that selection only has one eye, it’s hard to see with that.” The one thing I hate from the outset is the new blue plastic set, sure it’s a re-launch but the horrible purple backdrop was something I loved. The problem with the set is that if the contestants get the same answer they now can’t send it to the host or the dictionary corner guest and instead have to hand it to each other which could cause treachery. Talking of Dictionary Corner, this week’s guest was Andrew Sachs, the OAPs watching will remember him as Manuel the students will remember him as the reason why Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross got told off last year. All in all its too early to tell if Riley’s got what it takes to become the new Carol, in fact when Carol first started her only job was to work out the sums and someone else turned over the words, Riley’s plunging in head-first. And to be honest with someone with no T.V. experience and so young she’s doing okay, Stelling meanwhile is just being as cheesy as possible. Countdown will always be an institution and I doubt it will ever end as everyone knows the format and as long as Riley doesn’t start doing loan adverts and Stelling doesn’t release an album we should be okay.
Next Time: Big Chef Takes on Little Chef, Hunter and Skins