A massive week this week – new comedy, new drama and a lot of returning shows
We’re into the third week of November now and you know what that means. We’re back in the jungle with Ant and Dec and a gaggle of whos that? and I couldn’t tell him from Adam? and I wouldn’t think Nigel Havers wanted the work. Indeed this year’s crop had some big names but also some of the most rubbish ‘celebrities’ ever as the Geordie co-hosts put it – stars from the world of acting, music, athletics, politics and Aggro Santos. I have to say that’s a bit unfair to Santos, a young guy who is apparently a rapper who recently released a single with one of the Pussycat Dolls and is set to release his debut album at the start of next year. I think none of us has heard of Santos because he is yet to make it however there are two ‘stars’ who have very tenuous links to fame. Firstly there’s Cheryl Gascgoine who is basically the wife of Gazza, I believe that is her job title, Cheryl hasn’t really done anything or had anything to do apart from sit in the background. Also there’s Kayla Collins or the blonde one with the boobs, she is apparently a playboy model but i don’t think that makes her famous. More famous is Linford Christie, a former Olympian who seems to have appointed himself as a camp cook and also is turning out to be a tiny bit sexist. The older contestants are both luvvies, as already mentioned Nigel Havers is doing the show ‘for an adventure’ but has found himself getting angry with members of the camp. Havers is joined by former Bond Girl and former Mrs. Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland who is doing the programme so she can remind people who she is and promote her one-woman show. Ekland wanted to see herself as the mumsie figure but is coming across more as a fairly strict headmistress who has some fairly bad plastic surgery. But there are four big characters that are already emerging to go down as classics in the I’m a Celebrity annuls. First up is Shaun Ryder or ‘music legend’ Shaun Ryder as he’s being billed as. As we all know Ryder is most famous for his work as the lead man in Happy Mondays and also for being on drugs for most of the 1990s and swearing before the watershed on live T.V. Obviously he’s settled down a bit since and his persona in the jungle is more of a grumpy old man getting on with life and getting on with the tasks presented to him. Ryder already produced the classic line of this series so far during the eating task when Ant and Dec asked him how a certain inedible substance tasted her replied – yoghurt!, ‘with the consistency of?..’ asked Ant or Dec and Ryder’s reply was ‘shoelaces’. Although he has also shown that he doesn’t like change having to put up with first the women and the men coming together, then two new arrivals and a further new arrival last night.
Of the men the other character is Lembit Opik, a man who I always think looks like he has been drawn and has lost his seat in commons and he is looking for a career in stand-up comedy. The best adjective for Lembit is ‘bumbling’ he tries his best to be part of the team but winds people up the wrong way especially Havers and Ryder. Then there’s Stacey Solomon, last year’s top female on The X-Factor who has struggled to find success so is trying to remind people why we fell in love with her last year. Apparently it wasn’t with her singing voice but instead her mannerisms and turn of phrase for me she sits just in the middle of being endearing and utterly irritating. Talking of utterly irritating the last contestant is poo-prodder and TV nutritionist Dr. Gillian McKeith or Gills as Stacey has taken to calling her. McKeith admitted to a phobia of bugs, heights, small spaces and about everything else that she’ll have to endure while on I’m a Celeb. She even struggled to traverse the rope bridge that the celebs use to get to the Bush-tucker trial area. Of course the public have rewarded her tears, her alleged tick infestation and collapsing with voting her to do almost every trial thus far. For me I think Gillian is putting it on a bit and is secretly relishing appearing in so many trials as she gets more T.V. time. Since the original ten we’ve had three new arrivals. Firstly two comedians in the form of Dom Joly and Jenny Eclair both of whom added some much life to the group Dom seems a bit of an amiable sort while Eclair comes across a bit more honest calling Lembit an ‘arse’ after only several hours of meeting him. But the most hilarious part of Eclair’s arrival was that Linford Christie thought she was actually Su Pollard. Last night former Big Brother contestant and long-time This Morning correspondent Alison Hammond entered the fray much to the chagrin of Shaun Ryder. So far this series of I’m A Celeb has its moments, especially those involving Ryder and Solomon, but it isn’t shaping up to be a classic in the vein of the 2003 and 2005 series. As always the best elements of the show are Ant and Dec’s asides and links which always provoke a small laugh or at least a titter.
Getting all serious now with the return of Jimmy McGovern to primetime drama with Accused. McGovern’s previous series The Street has ended after the closure of BBC’s Manchester based and he felt he couldn’t make any more series that weren’t filmed up north. Accused could basically be renamed as, like The Street, each features a different story looking at one person who has ended up in court so it could actually be named The Court. Jimmy McGovern’s long term contributor Christopher Eccleston starred in the first episode as Willy, a builder and family man who was carrying with another woman behind his wife’s back. Willy had troubles with money having to pay for his daughter’s wedding while his business suffered a rough patch and one of the developers who owed him money had gone out of business. Willy went to the church where a overly-personal priest told him to ditch his fancy woman and his prayers would be answered. Soon Willy found 50 grand in the back of a taxi and went to a casino where he bet the money and doubled it able to hand the original money back to the taxi firm while keeping the rest to pay for the wedding. However the casino called the police when it turned out the money was forged and the woman from the taxi firm didn’t vouch for Willy as she was mad that the driver had been beaten up and later died in hospital. Willy ended up in court over money laundering and was given the toughest sentence of six years in prison, it also didn’t help matters that his wife figured out that he’d been having affair after his mistress appeared in court. It would be a bit of an understatement that I was disappointed with Accused, seeing as the pedigree behind it I thought we’d have something as good, if not better, as The Street. What I got was a thoroughly clichéd piece full of plot-holes featuring a central character who really wasn’t very nice. We went meant to feel sorry for Willy despite him cheating on his lovely wife and not asking for help from his daughter’s fiancée’s wealthy father. He also actually did commit two crimes both assault and criminal damage neither of which he was ever charged with. There was also plenty of questions – surely the taxi firm would’ve had CCTV which could’ve been used as evidence to prove that Willy handed in the money and what did actually happen to the money Willy handed in anyway? Eccleston was okay in the lead role basically trying to make the most of a bad situation but not even his performance could save this. Despite me finding this an incredible poor start, I’m going to try the second story which may be an improvement but to be fair that won’t be hard.
A bit gentler drama appeared during weekday afternoons this week as part of their 1960s-themed week as Sanjeev Bhaskar starred as The Indian Doctor. Bhaskar’s Prem Sharma is one of the first new wave of Indian doctors who came over to the U.K. thanks to the health minister Enoch Powell. Sharma and his wife end up at a small Welsh mining town much to the horror of his wife Kamini who thought she and her husband would be moving to London instead of the middle of nowhere. Sharma is welcomed with open arms by some of the people of Trefelin but others are less kind. Sharma also comes up against Richard Sharpe who is head of the local colliery and is after a green diary left by the previous and now late doctor. One thing I was surprised about is how race is barely an issue, before the Sharmas come to Trefelin someone does mention ‘not wanting to have a darky’ as a doctor and Sharpe’s wife serves up curry when they come to dinner but,as this was one of the issues of the day, I thought it would be more prominently explored than it was. Class is also an issue as the Sharpes see themselves as the upper echelon of society in Terfelin however they marvel when Mrs. Sharma tells them all about knowing the Mountbattens and having half a dozen servants to do her cooking. While Prem is fine staying around and helping the locals Kamini looks down her nose at most of the people she meets which is almost a contradiction in terms. I quite enjoyed The Indian Doctor, I found it gentle and easy-going but with enough going enough for me to be gripped throughout. The main stories seem to focus on a man who has got ill while down the mines and Dr. Sharma’s own personal anguish and not being able to save his dying daughter while in India which may be one of the reasons why the Sharmas moved. Bhaskar is fantastic in the lead role as is Mark Williams as the long-in-the-tooth Mr. Sharpe. I remember when dramas like this weren’t confined to the post-Doctors daytime slot an instead were put on Sunday evenings but instead we have to put up with Antiques Roadshow and Countryfile. Which is a great shame as The Indian Doctor deserved to have been seen by more than students, OAPS and being pulling sickies.
Also travelling to the U.K. and completely out of his depth is Arrested Development’s David Cross as the pilot of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, becomes a fully fledge series. The opening episode was basically a re-do of the pilot with a couple of adjustments. For those who didn’t see the pilot, or the programme, Cross plays Todd Margaret a temp who is sent to the U.K. to promote energy drinks by Will Arnett’s incredibly sweary and over-bearing boss Brent Wilts. When in England, Margaret ends up having his luggage blown up after he leaves it outside a cafe run by Sharon Horgan’s Alice. Margaret finally arrives at his new place of work only to find its deserted apart from several thousands of cases of the dreadful ThunderMuscle and a dimwit called Dave. In the pilot Dave was played by Russell Tovey, who has since become ubiquitous, so filling his place is the slightly thick one out of The Inbetweeners. The uncomfortable parts of the episode where when Dave, who I find to be a jarring character, was convincing Todd to drink more and more Thundermuscles and to try and sell to people who obviously weren’t interested. I’m not sure if the character of Todd is meant to be stupid or if he knows when Margaret is lying and is just fairly sadistic. In the end Margaret sells his first can of ThunderMuscle to Alice and then is introduced to his horrible new apartment. Watching the first episode of Todd Margaret was basically like re-watching the pilot but in a way I’m glad that it’s got a full series as there was enough in the pilot to make me want to see what it had to offer. David Cross is basically playing a variation on the character he always plays, the slightly bumbling and loveable one who seems to get in a lot of trouble every week. Unfortunately Sharon Horgan has to play it straight and has very few laughs, at least at this stage, which is a shame as she is a talented comic actress and writer. Will Arnett steals the show though as he swears and shouts his way through most scenes with his tongue firmly in his cheek. The tone of Todd Margaret is very farcical but at the same time it has characters that are more than just caricatures and ones that I will happily follow for the rest of the series’ run.
Continuing with bumbling comedy characters we have the return of Miranda Hart in her inventively title sitcom Miranda. At the end of the last series Miranda’s on-off love interest Gary the chef departed for Hong Kong which has left Miranda in a state crying and getting drunk and singing karaoke. So she decides to reinvent herself as she says she wants to ring out ‘the new me’. But obviously it being Miranda she gets into one pickle after another trapping herself in the revolving serving plate at a Sushi Bar and then inadvertently becoming an employee at a bed store for three hours. The New Miranda also is entranced by the new American chef Danny, played by Love Soup’s Michael Landes, who ends up kissing her just as Gary returns. Miranda’s mother Penny also ends up living with her daughter after she leaves Miranda’s father claiming that he’ll come back to her once the next Naked Fondu night rolls around. At its heart Miranda is just a jolly, fun-filled programme which has definitely got a foot in the old-school laugh based comedy. Miranda Hart is great at physical comedy, at times this is played on a little too much, but most of the time it works and I can’t help but laugh at her pratfalls. Some of the first episode of this new series was a bit slow but the part where Miranda ends up as Sandy the Bed Store employee was hilarious as was the repeated gag in which Miranda pushed down her diminutive friend and co-worker Stevie. Miranda is also good as it is one of the only British sitcoms to be led by a female comedian which is shockingly still a very rare occurrence. The show isn’t for everyone as it’s very broad and old-fashioned but with a couple of big belly laughs every episode and a likeable central performance there’s not much not to love about Miranda.
This week we also met the Adesinas the new focus of Channel 4′s third series of The Family. In the first series we witnessed a fairly dysfunctional but perfectly real family and in the second we had a close-nit Asian family with the theme of an impending wedding. Here the family are a lovely and equally close-nit Anglo-Nigerian clan headed up by Sunday and his wife Vicky. Vicky and Sunday have been married for 30 years and since moving to the U.K. have had four children who are between the ages of 15 and 27 and for the first time are all at home at the first time which is convenient seeing as the cameras are rolling. The eldest child is Ayo a very respectable young man who dreams of a career in the rap industry but at the moment is designing websites and living in his parents’ house. 25 year old Julie is the eldest daughter who has moved back home after six years and is working in her parents’ Nigerian takeaway business while her younger bother Olu dreams of taking it over one day. Finally there is Ola the youngest at only 15, she attends a private boarding school but is home for the summer. The first episode primarily focuses on getting ready for Sunday’s 60th birthday party as Vicky prepares the massive birthday cake which is a decorated and iced sixty spelled out in letters with various other words to describe her long-time husband also etched on the numbers. Meanwhile we hear from his children about what they think about their father and mainly how much they respect him for building up such as successful business. Sunday isn’t always full of life but you can tell he is an intelligent man but also with a heart of gold. At the moment I’m not as attached to this family as I was with the Grewal family of Series 2 and the show hasn’t got as many OMG moments as The Hughes family in series one. What we have in the Adesina family is a lot of heart but also a look at culture-clash as Sunday and Vikki sometimes struggle to understand the Western influences on their children especially their youngest daughter. Although I’m not entirely hooked I’m more than willing to watch another episode next week.
And finally as its that time in November we have a quick peak at Children in Need. I have to say as compared to some years this was severely lacking in memorable moments thankfully they pulled something historic out of the bag. Yes for the first time that certainly I can remember Coronation Street and Eastenders came together for the first time. We saw Christian, Zainab, Jane, Darren and Stacey head up North to the cobbles while Liz, Michelle, Gail and Jason all zoomed dine sithe to Walford. This offered up some hilarious moments most involving Liz and Kat as Beverly Callard and Jesse Wallace but on a spectacular show bitching at each other before having the famous duff duff climax. There was also a nice little scene in which Gail and Denise tried to outdo one another with the horrific tales of their marriages as well as Zainab and Eileen predictably clashing. Elsewhere on Children in Need there was a fairly dull Strictly special involving the drummer from McFly and one of The Saturdays which was only noteworthy thanks to the fact that Frankie Saturday ditched her band members and instead decided to stand next to her McFly boyfriend. There was also the inevitable input from Doctor Who and Merlin plus the Newsreaders did a Lady Gaga number which I thought was fairly lacklustre when compared to other years. In fact I think the newsreaders were outperformed by two other amateur groups singing for charity firstly The Hairy Bikers performing ‘Bat Out of Hell’ but later on it was the Loose Women who stole the show singing Girls Aloud’s ‘The Promise’. There was also a fairly entertaining contribution from Come Dine With Me as Dragons Den’s Peter, Theo and Duncan all tried to cook a course for Debra Meaden and then were judged on how well they performed. Then there were the various music performances headed up by the fully-formed Take That performing Never Forget for the first time on T.V. in about 15 years and there was also Tom Jones performing half of his album. Less successful were turns by The Script, Alexandra Burke and especially Peter Andre whose version of ‘Man in the Mirror’ must have Michael Jackson moonwalking around his grave and swearing revenge. Overall though it’s not about the event but it’s about the charity so I hope everybody gave some money last night if not I’ll be round in a bit to hold you upside down and shake you till some cash falls out of your pockets.
Next week Channel 4′s new drama Any Human Heart plus the return of Peep Show and more.
What did you think of this week’s programmes? Leave a comment below