Tag Archives: jeremy clarkson

The Killing: Slow TV can be good – but not if it’s Midsomer Murders

Don’t ask me why I ended up watching Midsomer Murders last night. I managed about twenty minutes (to give Neil Dudgeon a fair chance) before I could bear it no longer and went off to read a book instead. But I was moved to put fingers to keyboard not by the race row that’s blown up around Midsomer’s Brian True-May, but by the startling contrast between Midsomer and my new favourite thing, The Killing.

Well, durr, you say, the two have nothing in common beyond both being crime fiction. But I’m looking beyond the subtitles, strong female lead, low body count (although it’s risen rapidly in the last few episodes). What strikes me is that both The Killing and Midsomer move at a pace so laid back they would have Jeremy Clarkson accusing them of being lentil-munching, sandal-wearing Grauniad readers, but one has all the tension of an episode of Cash in the Attic, while the other has been keeping me awake at night turning over countless theories as to whodunnit.

If you don’t know what The Killing is, I will attempt to condense 18 hours (yes, one story told in 20 hours, AMAZING, as Popjustice would say) without spoilering for those still catching up on iPlayer. Forbrydelsen (to give it its original Danish title, which actually means The Crime, fact fans) has followed the efforts of Faroe Isle jumper-wearing DI Sarah Lund as she tries to find the person responsible for raping and murdering teenager Nanna Birk-Larsen. It is set against (and within) the election campaign for mayor of Copenhagen and although it has plenty of dark warehouses for Lund to wander around in, there is no sexual tension with her partner DI Jan Meyer, car chases or sensationalism. Instead fans of The Killing are hooked on the small details that have emerged so tantalisingly over the past few weeks and wait with bated breath for the conclusion this weekend.

How can it be that two hours of subtitled Danish crime drama that reveals little of the detectives’ private lives and barely more of the unfolding story can zip past, while two hours in Midsomer drags by like some kind of cruel and unusual punishment?

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Total Wipeout: Mud, sweat & big red balls

a vision of masculinity for 2011When I was watching the splendid Just William recently, it occurred to me that the Outlaws, strutting along, chests stuck out with the bravado of the young buck, mouths bigger than their short trousers, blagging and boasting about being bigger and cleverer than they actually are, reminded me of a youthful version of the Top Gear presenters. That vision of masculinity for the twenty-first century: Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Now Top Gear was not a programme that crossed my mental path very often. Before I had a son, that is. Now I get the full gamut of things I’d almost certainly never have thought of watching – Top Gear, Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, James May’s Toy Stories – and Total Wipeout.

My son adores all the Top Gear presenters, and refers to them by their first names, as if they were his mates. Actually, despite the many appalling, reprehensible things about Top Gear, (petrolhead politics, casual sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, cultural insensitivity), I do quite enjoy it. It’s frequently offensive, but can also be funny.

And Toy Stories, the series where James May revisited classic toys of his youth, such as Lego, Meccano and Hornby trainsets, with a crazy projects involving tons of volunteer help, can be fascinating, if at times slightly painful viewing, since May’s ‘delegation’ of tasks seemed to involve leaving a lot of young people doing all the hard work. The glorious lunacy of the Plasticine Show Garden made for the Chelsea Flower show by a raft of volunteers, of all ages and ethnicities, almost had me in tears.

But it’s Richard Hammond who is ubiquitous, presenting a ridiculously large number of children’s shows. And my son’s favourite, the Endemol-produced Total Wipeout, returns for a new series  starting Saturday, 6pm. Primetime family viewing. There’ll be no escape. The format is that presenters Hammond and the beautiful, but merciless, Amanda Byram, watch various men and women boast of their athletic talent and sporting prowess, before mocking them trying to navigate the seriously difficult, water-based obstacle course in Buenos Aires (no, I have no idea why it’s held there either). So you see pride coming before a series of, frankly nasty, falls. Off floating mats  into cold water, ‘punched’ until flat on their faces in mud, bouncing off giant red balls like rag dolls. It’s like an elongated, sadistic It’s a Knockout course, with the Jokers being the two people staying dry and doing sarcastic voiceovers. Continue reading

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Lustbox: Alastair Campbell

I’ve thought Alastair Campbell to be pretty darn sexy for quite some years, but have been reluctant to blog about it. This is because, from what I’ve seen (and I met him briefly because I know someone who worked with him) he has a pretty high opinion of himself. Plus his partner, Fiona Millar, is a mighty fine woman, and I can’t imagine he is the easiest man to live with, so the last thing I wanted to do was contribute to the monstrous ego of her other half.

But fanciable he definitely is, even if he knows it. I like his tallness. The fact that he used to write porn is amusing. And I know for a fact that far from being a monster to work with, he’s actually a witty man, warm too. He’s almost certainly too sharp for his own good, but I’ve always liked brains in men. His taste in women is impeccable, and his Sky News wind-up of Adam Boulton was one of my favourite moments of the election.

But I feel the need to speak out now after spotting him on Top Gear and with Fern Britton at 5 recently. On both occasions he was trying to play the nice guy in the face of irksome Jeremy Clarkson being rude and the rather strange sight of Fern trying to be tough. Campbell may well be much nicer bloke than his scary reputation would indicate, but it’s not something that anyone who doesn’t know him would ever believe. Or want to, frankly. As Qwerty demonstrated so nicely, it isn’t something that makes him less attractive. So this is a plea to him to stop with the chummy nonsense. We don’t want to see that. We want to pretend you’re a mustachioed pantomime villain, a sweary, shouty Malcolm Tucker-esque monster of control-freakery. It’s much more fun.

Posted by Inkface

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