So it’s time to get all political as I relieve the General Election and what followed while in addition you get two bonus shows which are very different to what happened during the rest of the week. Throughout this instalment you’ll get an idea of how I experienced the ups and downs of election week and how I survived learning about the coalition government.
So first up is the final of the three election debates which was held on the BBC and chaired by David Dimbleby. As the first debate was won by Clegg and the second was considered a close call between Clegg and Cameron with Brown not doing particularly badly either, the third had all to play for. This debate’s main focus was on economic policy so basically it was an argument about the budget, the deficit and where best to cut spending. Of course, Brown came under scrutiny here as labour were in charge during the recession the other two leaders took in turns to point score off him before turning on each other. Cameron basically told Clegg that he was living in cloud-cuckoo land while Clegg told Cameron that his were the only party who actually had laid out where they were cutting costs in their manifesto. Other questions focused on the housing crisis and on immigration once again. The other issue, that surprisingly no-one mentioned was the incident that had happened the day before where Gordon Brown had called voter Gillian Duffy a bigot, it surprised me that someone didn’t bring this up but there you go. Overall this was possibly the most professional of the debates partly because all three men knew the deal and partly because Dimbleby kept control throughout. Whereas Alistair Stewart seemed rushed and out-of-his-depth and Adam Boulton hardly did anything at all, Dimbleby was measured and controlled and lead the debate rather than being at the mercy of the three leaders. At the end of the day Cameron came out on top and as we know this was to be the deciding factor.
So Election Night dawned and while most people were watching Andrew Neil on a boat with Ian Hislop and Bruce Forsyth I tuned into watch Channel 4′s Alternative Election Night. I was promised Come Dine With Me and Charlie Brooker’s You Have Been Watching interspersed by live comedy stylings from David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and that much-loved comedienne Lauren Laverne who’s whole presenting career has been one big joke. I did get all these things but not necessarily how I wanted them. I’d assumed that we’d have an introduction from Carr et al, then Come Dine, then some more titbits, then Brooker and then wrapping it up. But instead the two main shows were broken down into chunks and the presenters got a lot more time than I thought they needed. The Come Dine With Me featuring Edwina Currie, Rod Liddle, Brian Paddick and Derek Hatton felt incredibly rushed with Dave Lamb’s narration seemingly on long play. The episode itself wasn’t a classic by any means it saw Currie, Hatton and Liddle arguing most nights while Paddick, the Lib Dem representative, was trying to keep the peace. In the end Currie won, but then she’s been on the show before. The You Have Been Watching was very amusing but then again it always is, Robert Webb in particular was a highlight as he did an impression of Clegg accepting a cup of tea from his wife, the show was also free of the kind of panel show guests that are ubiquitous (Rufus Hound, Jason Manford) and instead also featured the lovely Sharon Horgan and the brilliant Peter Serafonwicz. The main problem with the show was the other bits, the bits in which Carr and Laverne set undecided voters onto a pack of campaigners, where Carr tried to do satire and then he and Laverne tried to guess who the people had voted for based on their shoes. There were some good bits, David Mitchell’s round-table discussions were intelligent and funny as was Brooker’s short film but all in all this was a bit calamitous and finished long before most of the election results had come in.
After this went onto till about 1:15 am, I went to bed with the telly on which showed the BBC live results thing. When I got up on Friday of course there was all the nonsense with the hung parliament. Over the weekend News 24 dogged me wherever I went, Brown and Clegg were said to have had an angry exchange while Cameron and Clegg’s exchanges were said to more favourable. Then on Tuesday I switched on the T.V. at about 7:20 to watch Eastenders and there was a news special on, Brown was resigning. At 7:30, there were more shots of cars and doors and not any politicians or any London-based soap operas. The sky schedule kept moving Eastenders back, cancelling Holby City altogether much to my mother’s annoyance and then finally Cameron got made Prime Minister. We had the press conference with Cameron where he pledged to change the country for the better. He then posed with wife Sam-Cam outside the doors of Number 10 before going in and presumably having a bit of a kip. Cameron’s appointment as Prime Minister didn’t surprise anyone but what did was the BBC’s decision to keep broadcasting it on BBC1 despite having a 24-Hour News channel and another channel on which to air its scheduled flagship soap. I’m not as bothered as it by other people but surely Eastenders could’ve been screened on BBC2, not many people would’ve minded waiting for next week to watch Theo Papitas’ show, I’m sure and in the world of TV the scrapping of Eastenders was almost as big a new story as the Cameron appointment itself.
Finally the next day announcement about the coalition which thankfully didn’t push back any scheduled programming. It seemed that there was a new special relationship forming between Cameron and Clegg. Yes these two men who’d been engaged in petty point-scoring antics less than two weeks previously had now become bosom buddies. Their press conference almost came across as a first date as they were all smiles as they approached the podiums. You could almost believe that they were in the same party if it were not for the ties they were wearing which represented their parties. But there was a definite feeling of love in the air as Clegg was announced as the Deputy Prime Minister and several Lib Dem MPs found themselves on the cabinet. But there was an air of one-upmanship as the two men went into Number 10 they both tried to be the last to pat each other on the back. I think as Cameron did his second back-slap to Clegg, Clegg should’ve done one better and slapped him on the bum. And as for Brown, he resigned as labour leader and let the brothers Milliband fight it out with Ed Balls and possibly This Week’s Diane Abbott. I’m not sure what he’s going to do next but Paddy Power does have him down as a 500/1 longshot as the next host of The One Show, to be fair I’d prefer that to Chris Hollins.
Something entirely different is new BBC cop drama Luther which sees Idris Elba, best known for his work as Stringer Bell on The Wire, return to home territory to play an extremely maverick police officer. The basic premise is that Elba’s John Luther is your run-of-the-mill renegade cop who may or may not have intentionally killed a man that he is investigating. Luckily he is such a good copper that his boss wants him back on the beat and his first case involves the murder of a family and its dog leaving the only surviving family member – the daughter played by Ruth Wilson the top suspect. It turns out that Wilson’s Alice Morgan is actually a complete psychopath and did in fact do a lot of murdering but Luther is unable to prove any of it so Morgan walks free. The rest of the series sees Morgan and Luther come to blows as she is out to prove that nothing really matters. Luther, being a renegade and all, surrounds himself with colleagues who tolerate him include Steven Makintosh, slumming it as Luther’s best buddy and Saskia Reeves as Luther’s boss who always wants Luther to prove who committed the crime, but Luther thinks this is all balderdash and as long as he knows who the criminal is it doesn’t really matter. You can’t really say anything bad about Elba’s central performance as Luther he ticks all the boxes he’s thoughtful yet a little menacing and as far away from by-the-book as possible, Wilson is also a fantastic actress and the highlights of the series so far have been Morgan and Luther’s tet a tets. But the whole thing is completely barmy, overly violent and incredibly clichéd which in some ways is good but in other ways counts against the series. I think Elba can do much better than this and it’s a shame that his return to British TV has to be in what some would consider a big mess.
Finally ending this week with a bit of music with a documentary come phone-in show hosted by everybody’s favourite Radio 2 DJ, or at least mine, the always comforting Mark Radcliffe. I’m in a Rock and Roll Band dissects the rock band and looks at each element individually. To start we had a look at the front man so the large theatrical aspects came into it and of course guys like Freddie Mercury and Axl Rose were covered in depth. We then got to have a look at the guitarist, the drummer and the other one (Bez, Brian Eno) before looking at the band as a whole. The talking heads were a mix bag of those who knew what they were talking about – Slash, Lemmy, Gene Simmons and those who were just on to pad out the numbers – Al Murray, Lauren flippin’ Laverne. The final show was a live exhibit in which ubiqutious British TV faces (Rufus Hound, Miquita Oliver, Fearne Cotton) argued the case for their favourite frontmen, guitarists and drummers the short list seem to consist of most of Queen, Led Zepplin and Nirvarna plus Jimi Henrix who wasn’t in a band to begin with. Radcliffe and Laverne were joined on a panel with one of The Police who wasn’t Sting and the whole thing was presented by Jonathan Ross whose obviously trying to squeeze as much money out of the BBC before he leaves. Again what was a fairly ordinary documentary series turned out to be a front for a competition to get people to ring up and spend money voting on something that Freddie Mercury and Hendrix would blatantly win anyway.
Next Time: Junior Apprentice and Royal Wedding.