Hey. Remember that feel-good, weepy Sunday-night family viewing show? The one with the funny, toothy lady who warbled a helluva lot at the beginning (and then again at the end when you were all weepy)? The one that was sort-of a cross between Beadles About and Jim’ll Fix It?
You haven’t seen it for 15 years but now… HERE IT IS! Back, on the telly again!
Except this time it’s with shouty Holly Willoughby. (I’m really hoping she sings the theme tune…). Maybe it’s because I last watched Surprise Surprise when I was a youngun, but it did seem that, back then, it was all very innocent. People (usually older ladies) who had always wanted to meet a certain person (usually a younger male), a child who had done something really brave and got treated to a trip to LEGOland, or a twin who hadn’t seen his brother in 30 years. But that was before we got cynical, right?
How is it going to work in 2012 now you can chat to your heroes on Twitter, find long-losties on Facebook, or pop on a game show and become a Sleb yourself? Is LEGOland enough when there’s a shiny computer console at home? (Answer: it had better be or there’ll be no desert!).
I’m slightly concerned that Holly might not get much appreciation with baking a cake for Gary Barlow or being serenaded by the Bee Gees (yes. I know). Maybe she’ll surprise people with “Hey! Actually, you **will** be allowed your disability allowance!” or “That whole NHS cuts thing? Surprise Surprise!” maybe even “Hey, it’s your uterus! Surprise Surprise, we’re going to let YOU decide on what happens to it!” Maybe this is just a massive smokescreen for Cameron’s u-turns from now on. Either way, I’m starting to worry that the renewed Surprise Surprise will only serve to highlight just how screwed we are.
Buuuuuttt… We’re getting political. Let’s not do that. Instead, let’s think of some other 80s/90s big weekend TV we want back.
Does anyone remember The Interceptor?
Aside from this rather natty little ditty, with which I wholly agree, I have very little else to say on the Brad Pitt Chanel No. 5 advert, other than:
a) It’s obvious why the advert makes for such uncomfortable viewing. Everyone knows that Brad can only act when he is eating. See?
and b) Jesus Christ! What happened to his nose? He is basically turning into Jeff Bridges.
And why can’t they just go – “Hey! It’s me, Brad – off of all those slightly-manically acted films. Buy this. It smells nice.” Or if they really don’t want to pay him a speaking fee, just get a voice-over: “Wanna smell like Brad? Albeit, a slightly better washed, better-styled Brad, with better-kempt facial hair? Buy this nice-smelling liquid!” Maybe have him holding a kitten as well. That’ll do better than pretentious nonsense.
It’s officially the end of summer. The nights are drawing in, the rain is beating down on our flip-flopped, blister-prone feet and the X Factor is back on telly. It’s like a mixture between a TV version of verbal diarrhea and that bit in Clockwork Orange when Alex is forced to watch Bad Things with his eyes pinned open.
I don’t even need to watch now, it’s so formulaic. The live format made an unwelcome return – instead of a braying crowd as we enjoy and expect with Britain’s Got Talent, they’re less braying, more sympathetic and almost bland. Or maybe that’s just the epic editing. I miss the audition room, where auditionees would stand facing the judges in a bare room, instead of having their moment in the spotlight, staring out into the darkness. I don’t believe contestants have earned the right to stand on stage until they’ve made it through boot camp and the judges houses. Yes. There is such a thing as an X Factor purist…
But anyway, back to the formula. First a sweeping shot of the massive auditorium, with it’s search lights, picking out chavs and fat mums (or both at the same time). Then we’re reminded of past X Factor successes (no Shayne ward, Leon or Steve Brookstein – oops!). And then we’re reminded of the judges, as if we’ve somehow had a lobotomy over the past six months, what with Cheryl’s marriage collapse, Cheryl’s Malaria and Danni’s baby – are the girls some sort of X Factor publicity cash cow or something?
This lead BMTV to wondering what exactly Louis has done other than Boyzone and Westlife? Seriously? There must be more successful (in terms of bands, not units sold) out there. And even the Boyzone/Westlife business model is the same, really. They don’t even show him as initial manager of Girls Aloud as they only really got mega after they dumped him… Poor Louis. But perhaps his time is up.
To Steven, and thus the judges pull out their trusty X Factor thesaurus…
“You have a great personality”
> You make great TV
“You’ve got something special…”
>You’re going to make me a lot of money!
“You make me smile!”
>You’re fat and ugly, but you’re lovely so I can’t slag you off.
Next on the X Factor template is the sob-story-with-a-talent. This year it’s Zimbabwean Gamu, who **lip tremble** really wants to do this **sob** for her mum **wibble** She wants to change her family’s life, yadda yadda yadda… But. She’s amazing. Even without the Autotune (BMTV can’t be arsed to mention it, as it’s already been talked about here and here and here). Cowell says she’s “a million per cent yes.” He’s started on a million per cent already? Jeez, he really needs to think this through – where is he going to go from here?
Then the Bad Duo. G&S, which (as Simon Pegg mirthfully pointed out on Twitter) stands for Good and Shite. I actually thought of that too. No really I did. It’s in my notes and everything. But I can’t say it now because he has. And he’s you know, a comedy god and that. Dammit… I suppose it’s not even THAT good a joke, really, anyway.
Now to Katie. I hate Katie. Her dad says “she tried very very very very hard” No shit. She looks like she’s on the way to a Madonna fancy dress party, but has decided to go as Amy Winehouse. She’s far far far too full of self-belief and oozes fake humility to hide mass arrogance. She’s one of those annoying girls who sings on trains, for gawd’s sake. But she makes good TV – sorry, she has a good personality. And Geri “loves her individual sense of style.” Really? Madonna? Who you tried to copy – in your career as a **fitness instructor**? Incidentally, Geri is still quite crazy, right? I loved the montage of her being all over-chatty though. Especially as it finally showed Cheryl’s nasty side. Anyway. Katie. She’s just horrid. She makes me breathe bile.
The one thing that’s different this year is that they seem to be sending shite people through to boot camp. Either that’s because they sound quite good because of the Autotune, or because they’ve realised that shite people make good TV, I’m not sure. Probably both. Or neither.
This time it’s the X Factor, which slinks onto the stage, lifts its horse-face at the spot light, opening it’s pouting, lipglossed-slicked mouth ready to belt out yet another fucking Mariah number tomorrow evening. Summer is officially over – the ‘race’ to Xmas Number One is on (for race, see four-month-long advert).
So, take a sip every time…
> Someone says that this year’s X Factor is going to be bigger and better
> Any of the contestants say they’re doing it for “their mum/aunt/dead dog”
> Someone says they’re “putting their heart and soul” into it
> An over-confident non-talent gets shot down and storms off, claiming, “this isn’t the last you’ll see of me”
> Cheryl is introduced as “Cheryl Tweedy”
> A chubby child who can’t sing auditions…
> …and fails to get thru
> …and then their parents have a go at Cowell
> A band name is ironic (eg The Stunners)
> One of Louis’/Cowell™’s scary stalkers auditions
> Some past boybander auditions. Fails. Cheryl cries
> Cheryl does her “I’ve been here before” act
> One of the judges storms off
> It looks like the day is going badly, then someone amazing comes in
Down your drink if…
> Joe McElderry’s coming out is mentioned
> They show Geri Spice getting booed
> Cowell™ makes a bitchy reference to Louis’ sexuality
> Dani makes a homophobic/racist/sexist/anythingist comment
People say I have a posh accent. I was raised in the south, and have spent most of my life in one home county or another. I wouldn’t say I was ‘jolly hockey sticks’ – I call my parents mum and dad, not mummy and that-man-that-bought-me-a-pony-and-shags-the-housekeeper – but I guess like most from the Midlands (Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire respectively), I don’t have a definable accent other than “you know, a bit posh.”
Perhaps because I work with staunch labour supporters from the north, I’m constantly ridiculed because of my accent and where I grew up. The fact I spent (a small amount of) my education in private school is scorned at, and I’m judged because of what my father did for a living – and the lifestyle he was able to afford when I was a child. I totally have middle-class shame.
The other day, a colleague described a restaurant he and his wife had gone to as “a bit posh,” like it was a bad thing. Why? As a society we’re always trying to aspire and be better than one another, whether it’s “my dad’s bigger than your dad,” or keeping up with the Joneses. Top Gear is all about the fastest, most expensive cars, Vogue features the latest designer bag – we all want a piece of posh.
So why this reverse snobbery? Would my colleague take his wife to MacDonalds? No, he took her to a fancy restaurant and spent far too much on small portions of (I bet amazing) food. When friends come over for dinner, we make an effort to be as fancy as possible – “See how I serve a tegine of salmon mousse, rolled in fresh thyme. Or something (see? I’m not actually that posh, huh?). At work, we’re constantly striving to earn as much as possible, to climb the ladder, to be better. So why do we look down on what we’re reaching up for?
Incidentally, this all-for-the-workers colleague of mine currently occupies an incredibly middle-class job, owns his own house, reads the Guardian and is a vegan. Surely if there’s one thing worse than a posho, it’s a middle-class hypocrite, right?
Now where’s my riding hat?
Oh. Oh. Oh, So You Think You Can Dance. You’re like the one kid at school who’s bullied, aren’t you? Just so much to pick on… I don’t even know where to start. From Cat Deeley’s weird walk (it’s like a cross between a baby giraffe and a Thunderbird), to her weird so-freakish-they-can’t-even-be-fucked-up-fillers lips, to that awkward Dad dancing the contestants seem to be forced to do whenever Cat’s talking to the camera and they’re on stage…
The theme tune is horrid (totally undanceable to, weirdly!), the so-called ‘prize’ is a chance to go to Hollywood and work (surely, by definition, that’s what they all had anyway? Even I’ve got the chance to go to Hollywood and work as a dancer. It’s an incredibly tiny chance, but a chance no less) – oh and the title of erm… Britain’s favourite Dancer. Wow. Not Best Dancer. Favourite. What an anti-climax. I feel the entire cast of 12 (after last week’s double ejection) deflate and let their collective eye wander over to The Stage every time she mentions it. Even the way the show’s title is awkward – So You Think You Can Dance.
But most of all, and I hate to sound like a pedant, but the thing that strikes me as most odd about this show is the fact that quite a few of them already have careers in America. America, who has famously championed this show for a whopping six seasons already. So… Why haven’t they given the American show a go? OK, so America’s a big place and their chances of success here are bigger. But then, surely an already-established career in the USA is far more appealing than one in Blighty? One thing that does irk (and I know I’m sounding like a proper daily Mailer) is the fact that there are entrants from America (using the above reason to gain a career no doubt). Would be interesting to see if UK entrants are allowed in the US version…
***Interesting SYTYCD factoid - ‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe might be responsible for bringing us just about every freak talent show out there (Pop Idol, Popstars, X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, SYTYCD) but he’s also the man to thank for bring Spaced to the screen. Yup, when he was head of LWT, Lythgoe commissioned Spaced. Dammit. Now there’s a man I’d like to face in a slow-mo fight.
One thing about the Hollyoaks FlashForward episode – at least those in it know they’ll still be employed come May 2010. Must be a relief. I thought it was very well done all things considering, and it hopefully marks an upward slope for a soap that’s been dwindling of late. Even the new chief admitted they’d lost their way, concentrating on the younger actors, which resulted in bland fluff. It’s the first ever soap to run a flashforward. Hollyoaks isn’t a stranger to breaking records (remember the longest on screen kiss?) and it says a lot about FlashForward that a ‘crappy’ UK soap can steal their idea – and do it better. ‘Things’ happened that episode. Lauren is pregnant by Spencer, ‘Something’ has happened to Cindy’s kid Holly and everyone is miffed with Calvin – (even his own dad is in the frame). Sadly for reasons of Tupper and not being home on time, I won’t be watching to see it run to its May conclusion, but I predict it’ll be fun viewing.