Oh I say, I've gone all tingly below the Siegfried Line
I’m not an uncritical fan of Downton Abbey, but I have to say, this Christmas special was brilliant festive telly. It had about fifteen simultaneous plots snatched from the likes of Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Enid Blyton and Barbara Cartland. For our viewing pleasure we had:
- a murder trial, mention of which was being suppressed by The Press along with the Downton dead-Turk-in-a-bed sex scandal
- the machinations of a charming bounder fortune hunter
- the lingering family aftermath of a ‘phoney’ deathbed marriage
- the thwarted ambitions of a talented cook
- the stealing of a beloved family pet
- the birth of a baby across the class (and Irish sea) divide
- a convoluted love triangle involving a dead woman
Oh yes he did
All of these were woven neatly around use of the newfangled ‘game’ popular in 1919, the Ouija board. This was used as a veritable deus ex machina. Never has a glass being shoved about willy nilly done so much to promote the speedy tying-up of loose plot ends. I’m not sure if whole words were written on that board, but it seemed to communicate complicated messages at impressive speed. The Downton Abbey protype of Twitter perhaps?
There is so much to enjoy in this year’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The silly, hand- waving, shrieking ninny that is Gillian ‘show me your poo’ McKeith being forced to do tasks. Two kick-ass older women in the form of Britt Ekland and Jenny Eclair. A really fine young woman, Stacey Solomon, fearlessly taking on Linford Christie for his outrageous chauvinism. Shaun Ryder snoozing on his hammock. I’m even drawn to Nigel Havers for combining sneering rudeness and über poshness with some aplomb.
There’s also the more vapid presence of centrefold Kayla, there for her bikini wearing skills presumably, and the irksome lost sheep, Lembit Opik. He is clearly in search of a new career, but after seeing him on Come Dine With Me (rubbish food, and entirely self deluded about it) and this, he’s not doing himself any favours. I wouldn’t employ him on a checkout. Nor is ‘Dr’ McKeith improving her popularity with the viewing public one iota. It’s beyond me why she agreed to do the programme in the first place. Has she never seen it? I wouldn’t want to be around those bugs (or other people) either, but then, even if I ever became a low level celeb, I’d know not put myself forward for a show like this.
She’s neurotic and silly, with a trait shared by Opik that I loathe most in people – a total lack of self awareness. I have no sympathy with her for being repeatedly voted for to do the bushtucker trial because she is such a total ‘mare in every sense. Serve her bloody right for sitting in hatchet faced judgement on so many people in her career. And the fact that, when she’s doing a task, she swoons every time like one of those fainting goats is beginning to make me think she fancies the chap that revives her.
But despite these gems, so far, there’s something missing in the programme. I think having male and female celebrities start off by being split into two camps (Bruce and Sheila) didn’t help, because it messed with the development of an interesting group dynamic. The memorable bits for me from past years are when the most unexpected relationships/friendships form (George ‘Mr Zulu’ Takei and Joe Swash, for example).
But there’s still time. And while we’re waiting, we can take bets on how long it will take before the rest of the camp cracks and eats Gillian McKeith.
Posted by Inkface
If there is any show capable of adding humour into a heartbreaking situation then it’s Coronation Street when it’s on top form…and top form is the onlyway to describe Friday’s recent double bill.
Despite being the one who is usually spot on with dodgy guys (despite daughter Gail’s insistence that they are ‘good men’ *blink blink*), the shoe was on the other foot for our Auds and she fell hook line and sinker for ‘more smarm than charm’ Lewis. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t? I’m a heterosexual male and he often sent my heart fluttering.
Lewis had just scammed the bookies out of £4000 by distracting dozy Deirdre with a kiss but Peter decided to check the CCTV. In front of Ken obviously. I was cringeing for Deirdre as her idiocy and infidelity was played out on screen but that wasn’t the worst of it. The whole sorry escapade was replayed in front of the Platts, Rita and Rula Lenska at Audrey’s goodbye bash.
I’m not sure who I felt more sorry for. Deirdre as she endured the humiliation of being exposed on screen or Audrey as her teenage like dream shattered so publicly.
What was my favourite moment of the episode? It’s really hard to decide. I loved the fact that Lewis turned out to have a conscience at the end of the day. I love Rosie’s transition from tramp into comedy character recently. I love this brilliant Platt versus Barlow war that’s brewing and all the hilarious snidey comments that were supplied. I loved a drunk Rula Lenska twisting the knife wherever possible. I loved the interaction between Ken and Deirdre afterwards as they gloomily repaired their marriage with great bitterness yet again…while inwardly wishing there was something better like a real Lewis or a lady on the barge pulling up again. I love the development of Natasha’s character…she’s very intriguing and I do wish she hadn’t been given the axe. And of course, I loved Gail splattering Deirdre with a Manchester Cream Tart!
Corrie has been a bit dire the past year but it seems, for me anyway, to be very much on the road to recovery. This was classic Coronation Street: laughter, heartbreak and true human dramas rolled into one. Hats off to the writers and cast for this one…long may it continue.
Posted By Our Man In The North
In the space of roughly two days, Phil Mitchell has been reduced to a crack-addled wreck with a side order of alcoholism. It’s not a pretty sight, although for some unfathomable reason the red-faced, piggy-eyed Steve McFadden is very plausible acting drunk. Shirley caught him in flagrante with his crack pal Rainie, and reacted in dignified fashion by getting mortal at the Argy Bhajee and trying to pull a waiter.
Is this the kind of thing that should be on our television screens before the watershed, when impressionable children might be watching? Well, yes, it probably is. I should think it would have been enough to put anyone off crack, booze and promiscuity for a good while.
Far worse was on offer over Weatherfield way, when we were subjected to the nauseating sight of Deirdre snogging Nigel Havers. It’s not so much Deirdre snogging that makes you cringe (though that is quite upsetting), but her “flushed with romance” face afterwards. “I’ll never regret that kiss” she told Nigel, as he oozed out of the bookmakers. Good lord, Deirdre, I will. It’ll haunt my nightmares for some time to come.
Posted by PLA
Coronation Street is not every person’s cup of tea but, what struck me when watching an extremely uneventful episode last night, is that it’s probably the only show which I can still enjoy even though literally nothing happens.
Corrie pulls off the risky formula of simplicity is best. Soaps tend to be over the top, unrealistic and hectic (Corrie included, if you look at the ongoing Tony saga) but sometimes it’s just as enjoyable to watch the characters you know and love just going about their normal lives, without sleeping with eachothers’ friends/relatives/pets or stabbing eachother when they bring you the wrong flavour of crisps.
Take last night. What exactly happened? There were no major storylines, no window shaking showdowns, no punch ups, no sordid bunk ups. Audrey went to a party with Rula Lenska to find Rita cosying up to the same man she likes (and by cosying up, I mean sharing a drink and fluttering one’s eyelashes, this is no passionate, every-position affair) Becky asked a friend’s advice on adoption. Rosie searched Ebay for a tracksuit. Graeme wound Norris up a little bit, for a laugh. A chocolate egg went missing.
That was it. As always, with Corrie, the episode was character and dialogue driven instead of plot driven. It’s the little things that matter when it comes to Coronation Street. It’s an institution, people all over the country know these characters better than their own neighbours so when the team of marvellous writers pen a witty line and the character delivers it you can sit there and say ‘oh that is so typical of Liz!’ (Don’t say it out loud if there are others in the room).
That’s the beauty of Corrie. In an episode where Audrey and Rita sniped cattily at each other, Norris’ hunt for gossip over a chocolate egg was fruitless and Hayley was just being lovely Hayley, nothing needs to happen. You’re just spending half an hour with some characters you know.
Posted By Our Man In The North
Watching back-to-back episodes of Brothers & Sisters is just one of my guilty pleasures, and the pleasure part comes in no small measure from the utterly adorable, gorgeous husband of Kevin Walker, Scotty Wandell, played by Luke MacFarlane.
The Walkers are a bloody annoying bunch, by and large. I don’t know how any of their long-suffering partners put up with them, and several clearly don’t. Nigel Havers came and went pretty swiftly as the architect/tasty bit-of-trouser of infuriating Walker matriarch, Sally Field. And I’m not entirely surprised that Rob ‘Senator MacAllister’ Lowe had a heart attack married to irksome skinny minnie Kitty ‘Calista Flockhart’ Walker.
All of the Walker family, including Scotty’s husband lawyer Kevin, can’t keep their mouths’ shut about anything for 5 seconds, or maintain any kind of appropriate boundary both inside or outside the family. Interfering and verbally incontinent, it must be like being married to the Borgias. Minus the murdering part, so far anyway.
But the most gorgeous partner of them all is Scotty. Scotty has grown up with homophobic Christian parents (especially his mother Bertha) who were extremely reluctant to recognise his gayness and his marriage. He’s survived all this to become an excellent and increasingly successful chef, as well as being pretty as a picture, warm, funny, sweet and remarkably tolerant of Kevin, who can frankly often be really rather annoying, but then that is a key Walker trait.
You can beam me up anytime, Scotty.