As the football has been dominating things over the past few weeks there hasn’t been much room for anything else but here’s my focus on three shows that have been on over the past fortnight.
Following the success of Lee Nelson’s Good Show this week we have another experimental venture for BBC3 is the new all-puppet sitcom Mongrels. Just because this features puppets doesn’t mean its for the kids, remember Spitting Image but this show does include a lot of animals so be warned this is not one for children. The five central characters are Nelson a well-to-do fox who uses the internet, reads the broadsheets and worships Il Divo and the more foul-mouthed and wild fox Vince. There’s also the oft-abandoned cat Marion and the nosy pigeon Kali. Best of all is the bitchy and vulgar it-bitch Destiny a kind of chavvy pooch who has ideas above her station. The result is a very sweary, very rude and often funny show about familiar characters who just happen to be animal puppets. There is a fair bit of swearing on the show which did become a little wearing at times and it took a while to get into but once I did I became a fan. There are some big name voice talent on this including Katy Brand, Paul Kaye and Lucy Montgomery and they do a good job bringing these characters to life. There’s also some fairly nice set pieces which feature the puppets with their owners, Destiny’s owner in particular is vile. The humour is often very dark and in the first episode alone there were jokes about Harold Shipman and the Nazis discovering Anne Frank because the family was playing Yahtzee. Not everything works and I felt there were far too many cultural references that some of the younger BBC3 audience wouldn’t get, I mean when’s the last time anyone made a good Toby Anstis gag? But at the heart of Mongrels is the want to try something new mixing puppets, flashbacks, some decent gags and some awesome music numbers the show is definitely one-of-a-kind.
Over the summer there seems to have been a fair few celebrity vanity projects in which we follow around various celebrities as they go through their day to day lifestyles. In fact there have been so many that a few didn’t make the cut so there’s no Saturdays 24/7 or Danniiiiiiiiiii Minogue: Style Queen. Instead first up we have Being N Dubz, a show following around the hip hop collective which features Never Mind The Buzzcocks regular Dappy, his cousin Tulisa and their friend Fazer. The group met manager Jonathan, who I remember best from his work trying to put together the ultimate boyband on Totally Boyband, who told them for the show they would have to wear massive head-cameras so the viewers could see literally what it was like ‘Being N Dubz’. The first episode saw Dapy and Fazer return to their old stomping ground in East Larndon and the estates they used to inhabit in their youth. We got the backstory of how they used to collobarate in their youth and how they were managed by Dappy’s late father. The second half of the programme looked at their participation in a Celebrity Football Tournament in which the boys failed to make the final however Tulisa’s girl team which featured ‘a bird from Hollyoaks’ won their tournament. I think in a way it’s a good thing to have this show mainly for the kids who will be able to watch it on T4 however it was originally screened at 11 at night on Channel 4 when most of the group’s fanbase, who to my knowledge are tweens and teens, would be in bed. Another thing is whether its genuine or tongue-in-cheek some of Dappy’s reminisences of his late father were quite touching but the whole thing is narrated by Linda Bellingham in quite a knowing style. There were really no new revelations in this and to me at times I found it incredibly stage-managed but I’m guessing if you’re a fan of the group then it did appeal to you.
Finally we stay on Channel 4 but go a lot less emotionally stable and a lot less famous as journalist Lynne Alleway is granted access to Kerry Katona in the imaginatively titled Kerry and Me. Alleway’s documentary aims to tell us, in her own words ‘what life is like as a celebrity when no-one wants you anymore. Alleway basically moves into the Katona house with Kerry, former cabbie husband Mark Croft and her four children. Obviously Kerry herself has asked for the documentary crew and then starts to find them terribly intrusive as Lynne starts to ask her questions about her relationship with Mark and her need for fame. Luckily Mark fills in the gaps of information telling Lynne that Kerry has always wanted to be liked as she lacked the attention from her mother. For someone who watched bursts of her MTV show which tried to prove how much her and Mark loved each other its fascinating how things have gone downhill. Lynne explains that some of this stems from her separating herself from Max Clifford’s PR company and also her rumoured drug use. Lynne luckily joins Kerry as she is paid a lump sum for a newspaper story in which she dumps Mark on the front pages without telling him first. After this revelation Mark continues to live in the house and look after the kids despite the split with Kerry eventually though he moves out and in turn sells his story. The documentary also raises serious issues about Kerry’s mothering abilities, as Kerry’s family, Mark and at one case even Lynne looks after the children while she languishes in bed. The end of the programme was even more startling as Kerry joins a new PR firm she sacks her long time nanny and Lynne’s documentary is cancelled too. I’m not sure what the point of this was exactly, sure Lynne got all the footage she needed – Kerry doesn’t look after her kids and cares more about exposure than she does love but really this is a girl who needs help and is being used by various publicity machines including to an extent Lynne and is dumping everyone who seems to get close to her. At the end of the day then this is the portrait of an emotionally unstable mother-of-four who is losing her grasp on reality and nobody really cares, which is just sad.
Next Time: Rev, Dive and Identity