Tag Archives: david walliams

BBC Three: Still a magic number

With today’s announcement that licence payer funded channel BBC3 is for the axe, social media is divided about whether the cost cutting move is the right one. Whilst I’m all for brand new up and coming talent being denied opportunities so that Eastenders can have more car crashes, it has to be said that BBC3 has dished up some decent (and admittedly not so decent) material in the past.

Our Man In The North is donning his nostalgia hat and taking a reflective look back at some of the shows born of BBC3. Shows as globally popular as Little Britain, Gavin and Stacey, Torchwood and Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife (No? Just me then…) made their humble beginnings on the channel and, whilst Snog Marry Avoid suggests otherwiseBBC3 is undeserved of its reputation as a peddler of trash TV.

ImageFor every Don’t Tell The Bride (which incidentally gave me some GREAT ideas for my own wedding. Dressing the sisters in law as goblins was inspired) there was a fantastic documentary such as Tough Young Teachers, Tourettes: I Swear I can Sing, Young Soldiers and Growing Up With Downs. Far from being the inane programming BBC3 was famed for, the documentaries that were hidden amongst the schedules could be deep, moving, thought provoking and groundbreaking and, whilst a scroll down their documentary history presents other titles such as Eastenders Sweethearts: The Story of Sonia and Martin, Britain’s Worst Teeth and Table Dancing Diaries (in which paperback journals give some very erotic lap dances, I assume), there have been some true gems.   Continue reading

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Doctor Who (6.11): Scooby Doo, where are you?

So we’ve dealt with Big Story Arc, done creepy and wrung out our emotions. This week we’re in mystery mode (though as always with Who, every episode has a little flavour of everything else to pep it up).

Talking of flavours, The God Complex (from the pen of Being Human creator Toby Whithouse) tastes a little like a Scooby Doo adventure. And that’s not a bad thing – I loved Scooby Doo (until they put bloody Scrappy Doo in anyway) – but I have to say neither Hat Jr or I were feeling any real sense of jeopardy. (Her concern for the alien Minotaur was quite touching though.)

(Spoilers below the line sweeties…)

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Eric and Ernie: Sunshine duly brought

New Year’s Day, always the most inert day of the year, both in the VG household and seemingly also in telly programming land. Endless repeats of lower-rung kiddie films here, a dash of The Sound of Music there. But step away from the Potter, people, there is shockingly something new yet still decent on. Let joy (and the last of the selection box) be unconfined!

Eric and Ernie (BBC2) is a biopic (the type of thing which I have loved ever since an unfortunate collision with Abba: The Movie at the age of 7 from which I shall most likely never fully recover) depicting Morecambe and Wise’s meeting on the child performers circuit and eventual mutation into the double act that proved them so much well-deserved success (I laughed more at their sketch with Elton John in the Christmas Special shown before Eric and Ernie than I have at almost anything else throughout the year).

Daniel Rigby and Bryan Dick as Eric and Ern, with Victoria Wood as Mother Morecambe

The script is probably the best I’ve seen in any drama in months. It manages to be poignant without being too sappy and deeply witty without being irritating. It is also sadly old-fashioned by modern telly standards in that every line is there to furnish the story and flesh out the characters, rather than just to fill time or pile on the cliché (controversially, I won’t even exclude Downton Abbey from that stinging criticism. Whilst hardly of the London’s Burning standard, the excellent Upstairs Downstairs only served to highlight Downton’s total lack of historical linguistic accuracy. But that’s another blog, I suspect…). “You can’t play Cowboys and Indians all your life, Eric!” “Can’t I?” This being a portrayal of Morecambe and Wise’s early years before their untold success in the 1960s and 1970s, there are also clever little nods to the future without overdoing it in that way that biopics often do, such as the scene where young Eric and Ernie are forced to top and tail in bed whilst both wearing matching striped pyjamas and also the derogatory reference to Des O’Connor.

Along those lines, the interplay between the characters is excellent too. I really believed in how fond Eric and Ernie were of each other. Daniel Rigby (Eric) and Bryan Dick (Ernie) are both absolutely outstanding. It seems unfair to pick one out over the other, but the way in which Rigby captures Morecombe’s vocal tics (“haa-heeey!”) and mannerisms bordered on frightening at times. In fact, all of the performances in this drama are faultless. Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves, though using his real name for acting purposes here) does funny and thoughtful in equal measures. And nobody does good-natured bonhomie fuelled by quiet sadness like Victoria Wood, whose idea this drama was in the first place. The scene where Eric waved her off on the train having just dispensed with her services as their manager had me in absolute pieces, yet didn’t resort to the histrionics that so often stain modern television programmes. There’s also a nice turn from Reece Shearsmith as Ernie’s thwarted father, though his black face (stage make-up, I hasten to add) made it seem as if he’d popped out during his tea break from his League of Gentleman days as Papa Lazarou. The shouts of “Hallo Ern! You’re mah wife now!” still resonate around VG Towers 24 hours on. Continue reading

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Our Man In The North’s Xmas Turkeys.

Despite spending most of my Christmas clearing up the tears of disappointed (horrendously spoilt) children, engaging in thrilling (dysfunctional) debates with drunken family members and partaking in (gorging on) the most calorie laden treats I could find, I still find time to scrutinise television’s festive ‘offerings.’ That’s right, Our Man In The North is PauseLiveAction’s very own Christmas miracle.

Even though it was sub par compared to it’s own usual high standards, the Royle Family remained, as always, the highlight of the festive schedule. It mirrored many a family home at Christmas, even if a little exaggerated, and watching a load of slobs eat, fart, drink, swear, shout and watch telly was a welcome refuge from my own family home at Christmas. Oh wait…

Yet while it still nicely filled an hour more successfully than any other dross on the television could, The Royle Family was not without its faults. Sadly, it seems to have become a parody of itself. Jim Royle’s first line was ‘baubles my arse’ which was the first hint that this was going to be laden with it’s own self-created clichés. They seem to have run out of steam a little bit. Jim Royle viler than last year? Well he talked about having Sheila wipe the toilet seat for him and was trying to get others to take the blame for his rectal gas so check. A well to do house guest (Zoe from Corrie) that no one must offend, but everyone does? Check. That stupid neighbour (Len from Emmerdale) harping on about his wife? Check. An urn filled with ashes and a hoover given as a present with an incredibly predictable outcome? Check.

Never mind, it may not have been as good as previous offerings but it was a hell of a sight better than ‘Come Fly With Me.’ Or Little Britain in an airport. This was the prime time Christmas Day show where the revolutionary geniuses Matt Lucas and David Walliams broke the mould by donning disguises to poke fun at gay people and people from other cultures for a while. Honestly, there were more gay jibes here than you would find at the annual homophobe convention. Lucas and Walliams’ ‘hilarious’ attempts at causing controversy by having the balls to ‘go there’ ran out of steam with Little Britain.

And what did the soaps have to offer for their obligatory soap misery? Nothing too interesting either I’m afraid. Eastenders, which normally dominates Christmas Day with an amount of dramatic, nailbiting anguish that would make an emo shiver with pleasure pulled off a decidedly dull exit episode for the apparently legendary Stacey Slater. Yes, this is the loveable chav who, along with trying to spread the clap throughout half of East End London, broke up two marriages, committed a murder and let her husband fall to his death while being chased by the police who think he did it. Nevertheless, the nation loves her, or so Eastenders likes to think, so she boarded a plane last minute on Christmas Day (with a baby we can only assume already has a passport) to the show’s self indulgent and cringeworthy piano medley. This was after the original notions of having a revelation announced via a Lauren Branning recording (available in all good media outlets)  to the gathered public and a suicide attempt from the roof of the Vic, which remains remarkably unfenced despite this year’s live episode fatality. The saving grace was not the horrendous Vic sing off but of course the beautifully malicious Janine. The fact she stabbed herself just to get at Stacey tickled my black humour spot no end and was easily the highlight of a very drab hour. Continue reading

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Twatbox: David Walliams

“I’ve just been watching that new Chris Moyles thing,” Mr PLA said. “David Walliams is humping somebody again.” Turn on any panel-type quiz show and the chances are pretty high that you’ll find David Walliams pretending to hump someone. In this case it was Peter Andre, who has surely suffered enough.

Now, I like a good sexual innuendo as much as the next person. I was practically brought up on giving Julian Clary a warm hand on his entrance. But the thing with Julian Clary is that he has charm, style and charisma to spare, whereas David Walliams is just… embarrassing. There are obviously people who find him hilarious (one has gone to the trouble of editing “highlights” from an appearance on 8 Out of 10 Cats), but he makes me feel all creepy with his lechy manner and his great big face.

This may just be me, though, so feel free to tell me I’m very, very wrong and he is, in fact, a comedy genius.

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