Saturday, May 28, 2005

Unlucky For Some

Thirteen contestants, eleven weeks, a couple of gnomes and a naughty step. It could only be the start of Big Brother 6.

And just who do we have competing for the hundred grand prize this time around..? Well no one normal, obviously. But here's the rundown...

There's Derek, a professional speech writer and political analyst, who's willing to admit to being a close personal friend of Neil Hamilton. So he's clearly not all there. But as the black, gay, Tory fox-hunter himself says, "I've made history". I think he's confusing history with lasagne there. He also worked as a strategist for the Conservative party during the last election. Which is probably why they lost.

Next up was Lesley, who arrived in a white PVC nurse's uniform, so presumably she'd come straight from work. She admitted "Every girl is always looking at me as if I'm less than them", but didn't seem to have drawn any logical conclusions from that. She did, however, announce that ugly people make her sad, so she probably has to avoid mirrors. But she walked in confidently with her boob job and thick Huddersfield accent, prompting man-of-the-people Derek to jump straight in with the question "Are you a Liverpudlian?". I don't think he's been outside of Berkshire before.

Housemate number three was Sam, a self-proclaimed feminist and big fan of Christina Aguilera (well someone has to be), who considers herself "the horniest girl in the world". I could certainly imagine two coming out of her forehead for a start. She's also had a boob job, but then who hasn't these days (apart from Saskia, obviously), and she's attempting to prove that two thongs don't make a sight, by taking thirty-five of them into the house.

Fourth in was Maxwell, a north London lad who admitted "I've got opinions, although most of 'em don't make any sense", making him the ideal Big Brother contestant. His middle name's Trotter, presumably because he looks like a pig, and he describes himself as "the walking Stephen Hawking". By which he means he gets beaten up a lot. I expect.

Vanessa, aka 'The Cookie Monster' (I'd shoot her for that alone), was next in, and was clearly doing an impression of Marco from BB5. I give her three days tops before that one wears off. She claimed to be able to "turn any gay man straight", which was ironic, because after watching her for thirty seconds I found myself going off women.

Housemate number six, Anthony, "dances with a 70s dance troupe in nightclubs every weekend" (so he's a cheap stripper then) and claims to "like false tits", meaning he should get on well with most of the girls in the house. Sadly he blew his chances of winning before even getting inside, by milking the crowd to such an extent that he turned the whole country against him and went in to a chorus of boos. But hey, it's probably no more than he's used to in those nightclubs every weekend.

Next up was Roberto, an Italian stallion (sigh) with a past as a professional windsurfer and basketball player. But presumably only in his living room on the Playstation. He drives a white van, so he should get on well with Maxwell, and loves watching 'Ready, Steady, Cook', which is not something I've heard a man say before. Well not a straight man.

Housemate eight Makosi is a nurse, but unlike Lesley, had chosen not to wear her uniform to the launch programme. She did however declare "I love myself", so she's clearly not afraid of being in a minority of one. She also mentioned her chauffeur, maid and butler, before talking about how gorgeous she is, and claiming to be a devout Christian. Obviously her Bible's missing the pages on humility.

Craig, who attended the auditions as a Howard Jones lookalike, circa 1986, was next in. He informed us "I love destroying people's lives", and as a hairdresser he has the power to do that. Especially if he gives them a similar haircut to his own. Oh, and I think he might be gay.

Scary Mary, quite contrary, was housemate number ten. She began well, with the words "Hi, I'm from Atlantis", before coming back down to earth and mentioning that she's a witch who used to be a mermaid, she lives with a ghost, and she's been abducted by aliens seven times. Though thankfully not in the past year and a half, which must be something of a relief for her. Mary's actually one of the more sane members of the house this year.

Science, on the other hand, is the self-proclaimed "ghetto spokesman" (from Leeds, obviously), who'll go anywhere on a coach. You might think he's had it bad, being named 'Science', but I've heard his brother's called Home Economics, so it could've been worse.

Penultimately, it's the aforementioned Saskia, a "100% natural" girl who just happens to have oversized breasts, ok? She did her bit for international relations by declaring "I'm a quarter Sri Lankan, so I'm not racist" (I expect some of her best friends are black too), before declaring that foreigners "all want to kill us". She's what you call a moderate in the BB house. She was also born with a hole in the heart, so I'd wholeheartedly like to wish her well.

And last but not least, we have Kemal, a "fabulous diva" who bellydanced his way into the house wearing stilettoes and a sari. He's competing with Makosi for the title of this year's 'most religious housemate', by claiming to be a Muslim. One of those Muslims who eat pork, drink alcohol, and have sex before marriage - you know the ones. But what do you expect from the bisexual son of an Elvis impersonator? Normality?

So there you have it: thirteen individuals representing a diverse cross-section of the unhinged community. I think I'll enjoy watching their lives being destroyed over the next three months.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Oh I See...

Following a path well-trodden by Ron Jeremy, the second series of 'The Farm' reached its shuddering climax last night, with a show featuring Lionel Blair, The Wurzels and a pig with a womb infection.

It's been an entertaining couple of weeks. The highlight for me has undoubtedly been showbiz legend Lionel's interaction with the irrepressible (and obviously completely barking) Flavor Flav. Lionel, who admitted "It was never like this at the Palladium", seemed to struggle with Flavor's diction, but having spent most of the first week thinking the man was called Flubber Filet, our Lionel finally grasped the concept of his name after having it repeated to him six times. He immediately responded with an all-knowing "Oh I see...", as though that explained everything.

But despite complaints about Flavor's 'focus pulling', and constant declarations of hatred towards the man, old pro Lionel sat side by side with the American rapper on last night's show (leading Colin McAllister to dub them 'the rapper and the tapper'), and offered an olive branch of peace, with the words "We had a ball, did we not?". Flavor's reply, "Check one-two and the place to be, from the bottom to the t-o-p, Farmer Flav", obviously lost something in translation, but he was soon handing the Blair a role in his new 'Flavor Flav animation project' (eh?) so the two had clearly bonded. Though quite how Lionel's expected to help with an animation project, I've no idea. The only thing he's drawn just lately is his pension.

But anyhoo, after eighteen days of inseminating turkeys and clearing up dog mess, the farmhands were reunited live on Five last night for the crowning of the winner, while Colin and Justin auditioned for 'Carry on Farmer' with numerous references to cocks, and did their best to interrupt Cicciolina every time she opened her mouth.

You have to feel sorry for Cicciolina. Not only was she the first one out, but she had to put up with being called Titterlina on a daily basis by Lionel, in a 'say what you see' kind of a way. But in the comforting words of Ron Jeremy, "I like her. We've had sex".

For the final four of Emma Noble, Dave the fireman, Mikey Whatsisname, and Orville & best friend Keith, the experience had clearly been life-changing. Mikey revealed "I came here with the total intention of being the best farmer I can be". The national exposure and fifty grand prize clearly meaning nothing to him then. Which is lucky, seeing as he didn't win.

He did however form a lasting bond with his fellow farmhands, stating "Emma and Dave will probably be my friends for life". Although when asked if she'd be seeing Mikey after the show, Emma herself went with a slightly more non-commital "Umm...", so he probably shouldn't bank on it lasting his whole life.

But hey, Emma Noble's mind is blank at the best of times. Two weeks ago she hadn't seemed to have any idea what she does for a living; a fortnight on, and her task was to stake her claim for the winner's spot. She began well with "Vote for me because...", before grinding to a complete halt and sitting there in silence. She finally resorted to getting her tits out next to a sheep.

Her views on why Mikey should win, however, were more forthcoming. She said he deserved it "because Mikey's real, and he's... you know... he's just real". Unlike the other farmhands, who were presumably all figments of her imagination.

Sadly for both of them though, the title of Top Farmer eventually went to Keith Harris and Orville, a kind of lifetime achievement award for their forty-six years in showbusiness. The others took it well. They'd all wanted Mikey to win. But it was a moment of triumph for the aging ventriloquist, and a poignant sight, as recovering alcoholic Keith cracked open the champagne, put down his leopardskin thong, and headed off to prepare for panto in Crewe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Spicy Pot Noodle

The good thing about TV chefs is that they've inspired a whole new generation to embrace foreign cultures, put on a stupid hat, and start cooking. Take Alex Scott, for example, a man so Italian he's taken to calling himself Alessandro and avoiding work in the afternoons. Armed with a copy of Delia's 'How to Cook', Alex has bought a couple of microwaves, popped down the cash & carry, and opened Letchworth's very own 'Lanterna', which is Italian for lightbulb (probably). And how many chefs does it take to change a lightbulb? One. As long as it's Gordon Ramsay.

In the new series of 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' which started on Channel 4 last night, Gordon journeyed to Hertfordshire with the aim of turning around the fortunes of the Lanterna, a restaurant staffed by a ready made cast of sitcom characters. There's head chef and business owner Alex, a caffeine addict whose car bears the number plate 'A1 CHEF', presumably because his cooking's about the same standard as a service station on the A1.

Alex is ably assisted in the kitchen by Donna, who admits "I don't really cook", and when asked by Gordon "What inspires you about food?", happily replied "Nothing really".

The meals are served by Emily, Alex's girlfriend, who as an ex air hostess has experience serving badly microwaved food to unimpressed customers who have paid over the odds, so she naturally felt at home strolling the aisles with a fixed smile and patronising the guests.

And finally there's Gavin, restaurant manager and Alex's best buddy, who's unfortunately too shy to say boo to a goose, let alone hello to a customer.

Not surprisingly, the Lanterna has run up debts of £180,000 in the first year, though some of those are obviously legitimate business expenses, like the £46,000 car Alex bought to assist him on his daily journey to work from... um... the flat above the restaurant.

Not that Alessandro can be blamed for the failure of the restaurant - the man has impeccable credentials. As he was only too keen to point out, "I was taught to cook by a very well-respected Italian chef". Marvellous. Naturally Gordon tracked the man down (presumably to start legal proceedings). He turned out to be a taxi driver from Baldock.

But Mario the cabbie had undoubtedly passed something on to his student, and to prove it, Gordon Ramsay blindfolded Alex and set him the task of choosing the most appropriate pasta dressing to go with fresh swordfish. The choices were:

1. Blue cheese.

2. Fresh herbs with olive oil.

3. A spicy Pot Noodle.

Naturally Alex chose the Pot Noodle. I was gobsmacked. How could he choose a spicy Pot Noodle??? The chicken & mushroom ones are much nicer.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Yummy Package

The good thing about ITV1's new look daytime schedule, imaginatively titled 'ITV Day' (they've dropped the word 'time' to give it an air of quality), is that it's signalled the arrival of innovative new daily reality shows. Last week it was 'Have I Been Here Before?' (a show for those who feel the all-new schedule seems slightly familiar), this week it's 'Date My Daughter'. Which is about as highbrow as it sounds.

I knew it was going to be good the moment I saw how much money they'd saved on the opening titles, and indeed the show itself was an extravaganza of glamorous big budget dating. Well ok, they sent a pensioner to a local deer park. But it was still quite entertaining.

Having got her hands dirty under the bonnet of the BBC's 'Top Gear' and Five's 'Fifth Gear', Vicki Butler-Henderson is now apparently qualified to take over from Cilla as the nation's favourite matchmaker, so she introduced us to Scott, a young squaddie who informed us that he wanted to meet someone "about the same height as me with blonde hair and blue eyes" (personality obviously very important then) who is "up for a good time and up for a few drinks". So an alcoholic who'll have sex with him then. Marvellous.

Unfortunately, the TV show he'd chosen for his search insisted that rather than meeting the three young women in question, he make his mind up by dating their mothers. Not that Scott seemed to mind. He admitted to a penchant for the older lady, with the words "I've had my ruffty-tuffty tumbles with them". Which I think is something to do with squirrels.

First up for the job was Julie, who promoted her daughter with the words "Nicola's up for anything". That's dangerously close to pimping. But the larger-than-life (ie. massively fat) Julie bonded with Scott by living up to her stereotype and taking him on a cake-making course. They smeared chocolate on each other, in that way you do when you're trying to impress the in-laws, before Julie got to the heart of the matter by asking "Why should I let you date my daughter?". Scott, who's about as deep as a paddling pool, replied "Because I'm quite good looking".

So that went well. The young soldier then moved on from cake-walk to rope-walk by swinging through the trees of the Forest of Dean with Lynne, mother of Sinead. I would describe the date, but I'm still trying to blank Lynne from my memory. She described herself as bubbly. Say no more.

Last of the three was Audrey, a quiet Zimbabwean who commented on Scott's "nice colouring", before escorting him to a bird and deer park for some quiet stroking. Audrey told us that her daughter Elaine "doesn't go for looks", which was a bit of a problem as Scott didn't have much else to offer, but after a quick meet and greet with Bambi, the man surprised us all by plumping for the old deer. Sorry, I mean dear.

Cue a candle-lit dinner with Elaine, who turned out to be the only non-blonde in the trio, and a 'Blind Date' style debriefing in which Scott displayed his deep admiration for Elaine's mind by describing her as "a yummy package". So the show was a success. Obviously they're not going to see each other again, but hey, you can't everything.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Come Again?

ITV seem to have moved on from reality TV to losing-touch-with-reality TV, with their new daily daytime show 'Have I Been Here Before?', a sort of 'This is Your Life' for reincarnation enthusiasts.

The programme features Andrea Foulkes, a 'regression therapist', who probes a different celebrity each day using her "serene and hypnotic voice" (serene, hypnotic, and incredibly annoying), thus unlocking the past lives of both the famous and the famously deluded. Andrea, who has the nerve to pronounce her name 'An-DRAY-a', explains "I have been quoted as saying that regression is one of the greatest experiences you can have in the 21st century. I say that because I think it's probably one of the most illuminating experiences you can have in today's society". Yes, and because you get paid to do it.

This afternoon's edition featured DJ, TV personality, and all round nasty piece of work, Lisa I'Anson, fresh from her 2005 Celebrity Big Brother experience. She began the show by announcing that "my mother always drummed into me the word humility", which must be why she constantly strutted around the BB house in a crown, telling Germaine Greer to fetch her drinks.

As host Phillip Schofield said to her, "You don't strike me as the sort of person who would freely give of your emotions on television", thus proving he had no idea who she was.

But then neither did Lisa. After a bit of good old-fashioned regression, and the revelation that "I like lettuces and stuff", the I'Anson decided she was a monk in 18th century Italy, with a name she couldn't quite pronounce (a bit like our Andrea). She went on to describe an employer with whom she lived, stating confidently "He's a merchant". Andrea (emphasis on the second syllable) pressed her for details, asking "Where do you live with this family?", prompting the reply from Lisa, "Venice".

So that's the Merchant of Venice then. Am I the only one having slight doubts about this regression thing?

Not that I should be cynical. When instructed to "Go to the last day of that lifetime", Lisa's vision was spookily accurate. She stated: "I can see myself on a bed. I'm dying I think". So it's official - Lisa I'Anson spent the last day of her life dying. Bit of a shock there.

Hypnosis over, it was down to 'Historian Detective' Jules Hudson, to check out the facts. This basically involved wandering around with a shoulder bag and a scarf, talking rubbish. Though obviously that's a subjective opinion. Albeit an accurate one.

Jules told us that Lisa's "description of a brown habit is surprisingly telling" because only one order of monks (the Franciscan Friars) wore brown habits. So that's just the Franciscans, and every monk ever seen on screen in the history of film and television. Quite spooky that one.

In the words of Lisa I'Anson, "I was freaked". Though as she admitted herself, "I think it helps if you have a belief in reincarnation to do something like regression". Yes, because otherwise you'd basically just be handing over your money to a charlatan.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fat Four-Eyed Brummie Jew

Last night's documentary 'Stalking Pete Doherty' on Channel 4 pitted lunatic fringe film-maker and Alan Partridge wannabe, Max Carlish, against former Libertines front man and heroin hero, Pete Doherty, in a battle of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Though to be honest, the sex only existed in Max's mind. It was a bit like 'When Harry Met Sally', only funnier.

Pete is apparently the most iconic rock star of his generation, although nobody had ever heard of him six months ago, while Max "helped produce" a Bafta and Emmy award winning documentary series about the Royal Opera House. Which sounds quite impressive, until you remember that Kelly Brook is a consultant producer on 'Celebrity Love Island', so clearly it's no guarantee of talent.

The most shocking revelation of the film was that Max actually manages to hold down a job as a university lecturer. Frankly I wouldn't put him in charge of a goldfish. But then again, he's teaching media studies students, so goldfish might be a step up. Either way though, the man's clearly barking. And I mean that in the wholly accurate, medical sense of the word.

Having taken an extended break from his film-making career (and I use the term loosely), Max Carlish decided to make his comeback last year by means of a rockumentary about Pete Doherty, a singing heroin addict with 11 A*s at GCSE and four good A-levels. At the pair's first meeting, Max jumped straight in with the well thought out compliment "You've got a kind of Marilyn Monroe quality to you, Pete. You've definitely got the brain of a young Marilyn. Sorry, the body of a young Marilyn". I'm glad he corrected himself. It would've sounded ridiculous otherwise.

Bizarrely that seemed to be enough to win over our Pete, which just goes to show how drugs can affect your mind, and before we knew it, Max was on tour with Pete's band Babyshambles.

At which point we realised just how little Max knew about the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Finding himself in the mosh pit during a performance of 'The Boy Looked at Johnny', Max joined in the fun with a cry of "Stop the madness! Watch out! Watch out! Be careful! There is a major public health risk!"

Fortunately though, Max soon adjusted to the situation by starting to call everyone 'dude' and 'man', and although not, to my knowledge, a trained dancer, Max took to the stage anyway and got funky, an act which endeared him to the audience, who responded in the style of the 'Strictly Come Dancing' judging panel, with the considered review "You fat c**t".

A stickler for accuracy, Max came back with the witty riposte "I'm not a fat c**t. I'm a fat, four-eyed Brummie Jew". Hmmm... well I can see where you're coming from, Max, but to be honest I'm still with the audience on that one.

Max's problem (apart from his tendency to sing "You're Gorgeous" to Pete's face, before slipping straight into a rendition of "Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can" for no apparent reason) seemed to be his interview technique, which consisted of killer questions such as "What's your favourite food?" and "How does it feel to be better than Kurt Cobain?", questions which have led some people to liken him to Alan Partridge. For me, it's an unfair comparison. Alan Partridge wasn't that bad. But you have to hand it to Max - how many people, when shown Pete Doherty's tattoo of the words 'Baby Shambles' above his right nipple, would respond immediately with the question "Did you choose the font?"

Of course, the relationship eventually turned sour. Max turned up in Nottingham with his "little beautiful people set" in the hope of "showing Pete and his lot that I had mates". Which might have worked if the set had actually included any mates, and hadn't just been a group of his students trying to get a better grade on their coursework. It all went wrong when Pete refused to see them, but as Max himself said "I'm not just some nutty stalker". I believe that's what they call 'self-unaware'.

Max was philosophical about the experience though. He described the stalking - sorry I mean film-making - process thus: "It's not rape, it's sex. And we both have orgasms, and we both come a lot", before putting a purple neck-tie around his head and singing 'Jerusalem'. Not that there's anything wrong with him, obviously.

In fact, the outcome has been nothing but good for Mad Max Carlish. He says, "When people actually shout 'wanker' out of cars as they go past, you suddenly get a taste of fame. And I've always wanted to taste that fame".

Well if that's fame, I'm sure Max will be famous for the rest of his life. Unless he's locked up first.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I Want My Mam

It's always good to see a new prime-time reality show on our screens, especially one which features the word 'celebrity' in the title. It's about as close to a seal of quality as you can get in this business. So I was particularly pleased to welcome 'Celebrity Love Island' onto ITV1 last night, a show which posed the teasing question "Can you create the perfect celebrity couple?".

Taking a look at the line-up, the answer would appear to be no. Personally I'd never heard of half of them, but I expect that's only because I'm generally unfamiliar with people who have been in about three episodes of a minor soap.

The biggest stars were presenting it, namely Patrick Kielty and Kelly Brook, the latter seeking to show how much she's learnt since her Big Breakfast days. And the answer? Very little. And that's being generous. The pair made a consummate presenting couple, the like of which we've not seen since Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood did the Brits. The show may be set in Fiji, but after five minutes of Miss Brook's personal brand of wooden ineptitude, I already felt like catching the next plane out there just to give her a slap.

But ignoring the hosts, the rest of the celebs seemed to be enjoying themselves. As Atomic Kitten's Liz McClarnon said of Eastenders' Mr Greco, "Michael's come up with loads of games for us to play which are really good fun. Games where we throw things into bowls". One can only assume that all the available drying paint on the island had been watched by then.

Others seemed a little unclear on why they were even there. When seasonal greeting soundalike, Abi Titmuss, posed the question "Did you come here looking for love?", boy-band bodyguard Fran Cosgrave looked so taken aback, you'd think Paul Burrell had just announced a close personal friendship with Tom Hanks. But then Fran appeared confused on a number of issues. Having labeled Abi as 'promiscuous', a label she seemed to resent somewhat, Fran calmly explained the misunderstanding by stating "I just have a different description in my head of what that word means".

In the same way I like to think of Rebecca Loos as a total slapper, but obviously I mean something completely different when I say that.

Fortunately for Abi though, best friend Calum was on hand to lend some support with the reassuring words "Baby, I don't really give a shite".

Not everyone was as happy as Abi though. Jayne Middlemiss, who was described onscreen by her friend Chris as "great fun to be around, she's a real laugh", sought to confirm that opinion by spending the night sobbing into her hankie whilst complaining "There's no walls, I haven't got any walls, I haven't got a wall. I've got no security".

Yeah, I'm quite attached to walls myself. I find they help to keep the ceiling up.

Jayne continued with the tearful cry "I don't like it. I want to go home", before finishing with a wailing "I want my Mam!".

Which was pretty much how I felt after sitting through ninety minutes of this thing.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ginger Nut

I actually missed the beginning of 'There's Something About Geri' on Five last night, but I turned over just in time to hear Geri Halliwell utter the immortal words "put me in the sausage machine". I wasn't quite sure what she meant, but having just seen them making burgers out of sheep's lungs on The Farm, I stayed tuned for the remainder of the show with high hopes.

Sadly, the only mincing on display turned out to be at G.A.Y. in London, where Geri talked about her desire to be taken seriously as an artist, whilst standing next to a ten foot banana. I did sense a certain pork theme however, as minutes later we witnessed her stuffing herself with bangers and mash, and stating "I love sausages, they're my favourite food at the moment". I'm not sure that's an official part of her best-selling diet and exercise video, but it does at least explain the recent weight gain.

Not that Geri's bothered. She stated categorically "I don't diet for anything now. Like if there's a photo shoot, I won't over-exercise. I love myself more than I love what I look like in a video". Ten minutes later her manager popped round to discuss her next single, whereupon she declared that she wanted to lose a couple of pounds for the video, and headed straight off to the gym.

The highlight of the documentary for me, however, was undoubtedly Geri's controlled, measured response to her appearance on Top Gear. Having volunteered to test drive a car around a racing circuit, the ginger one spun off the track and began blubbing uncontrollably, "It's horrible! I hate it!". Yeah, that's how I feel about Top Gear too. And she hadn't even met Jeremy Clarkson at that point.

Fortunately her P.A. was on hand to console her. A woman who knows her boss so well, she can even regognise the Spice dog's poo. Having discovered the waste products of Geri's dog Harry being offered for sale on Ebay, the P.A. was straight in there to... um... pooh-pooh the seller's claims. "Harry has a very unique looking poo", she informed us, without a hint of irony, before examining the photo carefully, and declaring "This is not Harry's poo". So the seller might have to remove the claim about it being "a genuine piece of pop memorabilia".

And besides, if you want some some shit that's connected with Geri Halliwell, there's her entire back catalogue to choose from.

Not that Ginger's relationship with her dogs is to be taken lightly. As she says herself, "I love my two dogs differently but equally. I suppose that's how mothers feel about their children". Yes, but they don't employ people who can recognise their poo on the internet.

Anyhoo, with a bit of luck, Geri might be able to experience the joys of motherhood for herself one day. Yes, it's official - Miss Halliwell is looking for love. But she does seem to be setting her sights a little high. Having told us that she wants to be adored, she mentioned that a previous boyfriend had described her as 'fab'. Which prompted the indignant response "Fab is not good enough!". Yeah, but let's face it, you're Geri Halliwell, how fussy can you afford to be?

She did state however that she'd rather have a boyfriend than a number one record. Which is handy.

A little more worrying was the revelation that "the good thing about crappy relationships is that it gives me so much fuel to write songs".

Blimey. That's one fuel protest I wouldn't mind joining. Let's all hope she finds herself a good relationship. And fast.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mr Gay UK

Last night saw the series finale of Channel 4's 'Playing it Straight', where after six weeks of blind stumbling in the desert, the luckless (and frankly irritating) Zoe eventually reached her triumphant zenith of stupidity by confidently plumping for the only gay man in the final three. It was the outcome I'd been praying for.

But hey, how was she to know Ben was gay? He was a builder for god's sake. And he had a south London accent. The man was a master of disguise.

Of course, if at any point Zoe had put down her hair straighteners, popped next door to the local Mexican internet cafe, and entered the words 'Ben Harris' into a search engine, as I did a few weeks ago, she'd have found that macho geezer Ben was in fact crowned Mr Gay UK in 1998. Which might have provided her with a subtle clue to his sexuality.

But needless to say, she didn't. Zoe preferred to rely on tried and trusted detection techniques, such as noting whether he had his left ear pierced, and how he checked his fingernails for dirt. It couldn't fail. Except that it did.

Not that Zoe was bothered. I believe her exact words were "Oh whatever, I'm over it, it's fine. It's absolutely fine. Do you know what, I'm absolutely fine about it, I really don't care, it doesn't matter at all", as she snapped her bracelet in fury, fired a look of pure venom at Ben, and then stomped off in tears, possibly to find a weapon.

No wonder he gave her half the money - he was probably scared for his life.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Growing Up Spread

A recent edition of Five's 'Trisha Goddard' (not to be confused with ITV's 'Trisha' - that's a whole different show) was entitled "My Son's a Satanist". I watched it mainly to check that my mother wasn't on, but also in an effort to learn more about the beliefs of this shadowy subculture of society.

Fortunately, when the young man in question (I forget his name, but it might have been Damian) took to the stage, Trisha was straight in there attempting to get to the heart of the matter by asking him what his religion is all about.

His response was unequivocal:

"Satanism's like Marmite - you either love it or you hate it."

So that's cleared that one up then.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Fattest Face in Showbusiness

Last night Channel 4 screened 'Bring Back... Grange Hill' (the pause in the middle is presumably for dramatic effect), an attempt to reunite a few of the 1986 cast for a one-off performance of the anti-drugs anthem 'Just Say No' at the Hammersmith Palais.

Needless to say I was hoping they'd all just say no to the offer, and a couple of them did, but on the way we learnt some interesting facts, most notably that Lee McDonald, aka Zammo Mcguire, now looks more like Roland than Roland does, and most of the weight he's acquired seems to have gone on under his chin. Obviously a 'moon face' is a side-effect of taking certain drugs, but I'm sure that's mere coincidence, and doesn't mean that in real life Zammo just says yes.

Lee told us that following his national stardom on Grange Hill, he decided to take that oh-so-familiar career path of giving up the acting and becoming a boxer. It's something Frank Bruno tried in reverse. With about as much success. Not that I'm suggesting it didn't work out for Lee, but he now works in a key-cutting shop in Carshalton. You be the judge.

Erkan Mustafa (Ro-land to his friends) is another of the show's success stories. He now claims to be DJ-ing and writing for TV. So I think we're talking children's parties and a letter to 'Points of View' there.

But the prize for Most Pretentious Has-Been of 2005 must go to Mmoloki Chrystie, a veteran of both Grange Hill and my personal favourite, 'Press Gang', who decided he was far too important to do an interview on camera, and preferred instead to submit a short film of himself reminiscing about 1986 with a bit of moody lighting and atmospheric background music. As if it wasn't pretentious enough to shoot a five minute piece of film noir in response to an interview request, Mmoloki had the audacity to entitle his piece "Pitcher's Mound". It was certainly a mound of something.

A little more unassuming was Alison Bettles (formerly the lovely Faye Ripley), an Essex girl who spends all her time at the Lakeside shopping centre, and who managed to refer to Nancy Reagan as "the patron saint of summink". A phrase probably not used to describe Nancy since her late husband died.

All in all though, the reunion was well worth it. Erkan Mustafa summed up the whole experience with the words "It's been nice seeing you, but let's leave it another eighteen years".

I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jordan Gets Even

Contrary to first impressions, this turned out not to be an historical documentary about King Hussein's attempts to avenge Israel's capture of the West Bank in 1967.

Although I admit I wasn't sure until Peter Andre turned up.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Farming Today

A couple of porn stars, two glamour models, an actress, a rapper, a fireman, a ventriloquist, a popstar and a pensioner. It could only be series two of 'The Farm'. Which is about as good a place as any for this blog to begin. Start at the bottom, and work your way down, that's what I say. It's certainly Five's motto anyway.

In episode one, broadcast live tonight from behind a haystack in Wiltshire, we were introduced to the ten 'celebrities' who've agreed to shovel shit for the next eighteen days in an effort to boost their flagging careers. As the country's favourite Blair skipped his way out of the horse box and into the farmhouse, presenters Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, "the Scottish Ant & Dec", (everything's older and cheaper north of the border), informed us that "Lionel was a bit nervous about not knowing anyone in the house".

Him and me both. Mikey Green anyone? Apparently he's in a band (and I use the term loosely) called Phixx, who according to the Five website are big in South Africa. But then again, so is AIDS. I'm told he made it down to the final ten of 'Popstars: The Rivals'. Which means he wasn't good enough to get into One True Voice. That's the level of talent we're dealing with here.

But you have to say it was good to see Keith Harris on TV again, interacting with his dummy. Or Dave Morgan as he's known. Dave is singlehandedly attempting to redefine the word 'celebrity', by being in no way famous. When asked by Public Enemy's Flavor Flav "what do you do?", our Dave replied "my ex partner was a soap star". Which obviously qualifies as a bona fide career these days.

Of course, Flavor then complicated matters by mis-hearing the words "my ex partner" as "Mike's partner" and immediately asking who Mike is. There was a lot of confusion in that house. And that was before Cicciolina arrived armed with a cuddly toy and a boob job, and started making Jean Christophe Novelli's grasp of English look good.

Dave was one up on Emma Noble though, who, when asked what she does, appeared genuinely stumped. No such problem for Charlene Tilton, who claimed to be an actress, and then proved it by putting in the best performance of her career to convince Lionel Blair that she'd heard of him.

The line-up was completed by Emma B, whose surname reflects the grade of celebrity she aspires to be, and Ron Jeremy, who proves that when you're fat and you've got a moustache, women will only sleep with you if they're being paid.

Once in, it was left to Flavor Flav to demonstrate his extensive knowledge of British life with the words "It would be really fly [no idea, but I think it means good] if they brought in the King of England", before the would-be farmers settled down on the sofas in the living room. Well, I say living room. To me it's a living room, to you it's a living room, to Colin McAllister it's "a great sharing space".

He'll be in there with a yoga video and some crystals before the week's out.