Reviews

This Week in TV: The Brit Awards, The BAFTA Film Awards and Free Agents

After a week off I’m back and I have to say after trying to guess the outcomes of The Brit Awards I was mainly unsuccessful as you’ll see below

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That’ because in the end only two of my predictions (or three if you count the late surge of Girls Aloud to win single) were correct – I guessed correctly one of Duffy’s three awards and also Katy Perry for Best Female. Kings of Leon were kind of lock for a Best International Double and Paul Weller’s name was leaked to the press as Best British Male. More surprising was the fact that there were no awards for Take That or Coldplay but instead Elbow took home Best Group, Kanye West best international male and the shock of the night was Iron Maiden’s Best Live Act win. The show itself was a lot smoother than recent years and certainly better than last year’s drunken mess featuring The Osbournes. The show began with U2 – always a good start before Gavin and Stacey stars James Corden and Matt Horne along with Kylie performed her dance routine to ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, the two boys wearing the red outfits which are synonymous with the background dancers in that video. The presenters were the highlight of the night, moving the action along without ever upstaging it. As I can remember it being very funny but can’t remember a specific joke which means there wasn’t a hint of controversy the whole night. The presenting teams were a lot more polished as well with the exception of Joe Calzaghe who forgot the full title of the award he was presenting.

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The performances on the whole were good The Ting Tings and Estelle did a good duet of Shut Up and Let Me Go/American Boy and That’s Not My Name. Girls Aloud’s Burlesque performance of The Promise was only ruined by the camera angles employed by the ITV cameramen not giving us the illusion that the girls were actually naked. Elsewhere Coldplay, Duffy and Kings of Leon’s numbers were all unremarkable but at the same time solid. Take That’s performance of Greatest Day seemed to have been inspired by Kraftwerk as the four came down sporting sunglasses in a massive spaceship but didn’t seem to be singing. As the alcohol was flowing some of the acceptance speeches were a little vulgar and slurred. The sober Katy Perry got bleeped for saying a naughty word about being ill but still turning up, Sarah Harding then said it was about time before admitting she needed to wet herself and Elbow just kind of seemed completely out of it, latching on to a bemused David Hasslehoff. It was also nice to see Jamie Culum who was presenting award with Jamie Oliver, I personally haven’t heard anything from Cullum in years with the exception of the theme tune to After You’ve Gone. The evening ended on a high note as it often does with the Outstanding Contribution Winners doing a medley of their hits and this year was no exception with the Pet Shop Boys popping out a whopping 11 hits with help from a star-struck Brandon Flowers and a very provocative Lady GaGa. Overall I enjoyed this year’s Brit awards entertaining with some good performances and apart from a few boozed up celebs, the evening flowed smoothly and it proves that when you get the right hosts things just go right. It’s time to take Sharon Osbourne off speed-dial Brit organisers.

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While we’re on the awards trail, The BAFTAs also graced our screens recently with a now no-longer disgraced Jonathan Ross again in charge of the hosting duties. His jokes were very restrained in his opening gambit and he seemed to be appearing as the host of Film 2009 and not his Friday Night with or his Russell Brand radio show persona. But the night didn’t start with Ross but with a slapdash Red Carpet show all of about 35 minutes with Claudia Winkleman looking very cold and wet as she asks bemused celebrities questions set by primary school children. While certain stars – Ron Howard, Goldie Hawn, Amwar from Skins were happy to talk to Winkleman others including the Jolie-Pitts were less than impressed especially Angelina who apparently isn’t scared of going to the dentists fact fans. Winkleman also interviewed some American autograph hunters who had been standing in the rain for hours waiting for Keria Knightley and it was left up to Claudia to tell them that Knightley wouldn’t be attending the event. I’m a big fan of Winkleman’s and would especially love a return of Liquid News because at the moment she gets thrown around by various entertainment shows in various roles where she can’t show her full potential.

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From BBC3 we moved to BBC2 where the make-up, art direction and sound people were made to feel really special as they were grouped together in the ‘lesser awards’ but so were the screenplay awards and Best British film which went to a documentary about a French Man climbing the American twin towers. The highlight for me was the fact that Brendan Gleeson uttered the word – shithole before the watershed and there was no controversy. Has Britain become more liberal – I bloody doubt it, I’m pretty sure even though I didn’t read it The Daily Mail picked this up. ‘The Proper Awards’ were shown on BBC1 with the usual suspects – Winslet, Rourke, Slumdog winning big. The surprise here was Noel Clarke beating Michael Cera and Rebecca Hall to the Public Voted Rising Star Award, I suppose you should never underestimate the power of Doctor Who fans. Other highlights include Simon Beaufoy’s collection of BAFTAs speech and Danny Boyle’s slightly drunken son’s admission of love for his father in front of most of Hollywood. However the best bits were saved for the end of the night, Mickey Rourke’s expletive-filled acceptance speech was followed by Ross saying that Rourke had been suspended for three months for that speech, this didn’t raise much of a laugh because not a lot of movie stars listen to Radio 2. Then Mick Jagger (I know why?) came on and presented best movie saying that people thought Jonathan would do all the swearing but then Mickey did it.

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The proof that the BBC don’t know what they’re doing when they air an awards show was shown when Terry Gilliam was given the fellowship. Firstly his highlights package was shown halfway through and then from the start AGAIN! So when Gilliam was doing his speech it was cut. To add insult to injury four awards that the BBC didn’t have time to show being given out were given a small airing but over this package they thought it would be a good idea to run the credits over which was a huge discredit to those who featured including Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park and Wall-E director Andrew Stanton. Unlike The Oscars which is broadcast live, the BAFTAs is filmed early and edited to buggery before being screened over three channels. There are enough film fans who are prepared to sit through a three-hour awards show as is evident by the amount of people who watch the Oscars on Sky Movies. What the BBC should do is air the ceremony uncut on BBC3 and then present a highlights show of the event later on BBC1 that way everyone’s happy.

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Finally another good comedy in Free Agents a show, which like its timeslot predecessor Plus One, was first shown in a series of pilots back in 2007 which also gave us The Kevin Bishop Show. It follows two PR agents played by Green Wing’s Stephen Magnan and Pulling’s Sharon Horgan. It starts with the two sleeping together after which he starts crying, because he’s a divorcee who isn’t allowed access to his two young kids and she’s recently lost her fiancée a fact she tells Magnan’s character ad nauseum to the point of having pictures of him adorning every wall of her house. The best lines though go to Anthony Head displacing our memory of him as King Uther in Merlin with this sweary, sex-obsessed boss the highlight of the pilot and the series so far. Although not always producing the best gags Magnan and Horgan seem to have really good chemistry both known for playing emotionally-flawed characters this works well for them her. Magnan has been a highlight in everything I’ve seen him in although his first starring sitcom role Never Better sunk a little which is why he needed a companion in this. In my opinion Horgan is our answer to 30 Rock’s Tina Fey a genuinely funny woman who can both write and perform and often plays flawed neurotic females however both her penned sitcoms Five’s Angelos and BBC3’s Pulling have both been canned the former because it was on Five and the latter because, even though it was hilarious, doesn’t fit in with BBC3’s ‘target audience’. Anyway back to Free Agents a sitcom with more on the sit than the com focusing on the characters rather than the jokes but then with characters like these it doesn’t really matter. It’s a good sign that the comedy we’ve been offered has been good so far for different reasons the laugh-heavy The Old Guys and Not Going Out balanced with the high-concept Plus One and this character-focused treat.

Next Time: Let’s Dance for Comic Relief, Law and Order UK and Margaret

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