No business like snow business
So why was I bored to tears?
I’ll reserve judgement on whether the games themselves can manage to grab hold of the attention. Four years ago I did enjoy the curling, mainly because we won but let’s face it, the only reason many of us watch the skiing or the luge is to see a spectacular tumble.
Many people think that the Nordic Combined is a unisex sauna and are mystified by events such as Mogul. Why not include winter events that we can understand, like snowball fighting, gritter truck racing and running for the bus on a frosty morning without falling over?
As for the ice dancing, many would rather watch celebs doing it badly on ITV1 than the true talents on display in Turin. There can be few sights as ungraceful as Dame Kelly tottering nervously across the ice. I don't want to be harsh - well maybe I do - but she has all the decorum of a brickie trying to walk in stilettos.
I’d hardly call the coverage comprehensive anyway, unless you head for the red button, a bit of a drawback for analogue viewers. Even on satellite, where there are more options than Freeview, I thought I’d go interactive to catch up with events late on Saturday and was treated to a very short loop of highlights footage.
Eurosport fills the gaps pretty well but I’ve come to expect more from the BBC.
Pat on Pat Action
Now we come to one of the few sights less graceful than Dame Kelly tottering across the ice...
It’s been threatened for ages but it finally happened this week as Pat and Patrick got it on in EastEnders.
This whole storyline just has such a sleazy feel to it and the sight that closed Tuesday’s episode - Patrick with a post coital smile on his face and still wearing his hat – was a truly stomach churning moment. Not since Frank Butcher turned up at Pat’s door wearing nothing but a revolving bow tie have things sunk so low.
Now I don’t want to come across all Logan’s Run over this, I’ve no objection to the actual storyline, just the mucky way in which it’s being portrayed and the way Yolande seems to have become a different person merely to facilitate events.
As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, Pauline was actually smiling on Tuesday, having finally managed to bag poor deluded Joe. We're just not used to seeing Pauline smile. It doesn't seem natural.
Joe has come into the show as a ray of sunshine but so did Alfie and look at how miserable he ended up. Thankfully Pauline was back to her usual sour-faced self by the Thursday episode so the world hadn't actually tilted on its axis after all.
Over on The Street, the ghosts of Richard Hillman and dear old Ernie Bishop seem set to dominate over the next few weeks which at least should distract attention from the awful Charlie and Tracy relationship. If ever two people deserved each other it’s that pair and if Tracy isn’t careful she’ll be challenging the unhinged Sally Webster for the title of Most Unfit Mother at the next Soap Awards.
Doctor Who meets James Bond
It’s great to see Our Friends in the North getting another airing on BBC Four. Apart from a few dodgy wigs and some unconvincing make up it is a great piece of drama which doesn’t let its mission of charting thirty years of social, political and economic change get in the way of a strong human story and some great characterisations.
It’s no surprise that Chris Eccleston And Daniel Craig have gone on from this to superstardom and Mark Strong and Gina McKee also manage to shine, not easy when the supporting cast are all so brilliant that they steal scene after scene.
It’s a shame that the radical drama seems to have all but disappeared from our screens. This show was already a rare beast when first screened ten years ago. I doubt they’d get the cast back together now, but it would be marvellous if they could add a couple of new instalments to take the story to the present day. I’d love to see Blair’s Britain given the Peter Flannery treatment.
Deal me in
Deal or No Deal continues to defy the odds and remain riveting viewing when by rights it should be repetitive and as dull as ditchwater.
The key to its success is that by the time the contestants get to sit in the chair we’ve seen them on screen for several weeks meaning that we actually care about how much they manage to take away.
It was heartbreaking a couple of weeks ago to see the ever-enthusiastic Geordie walk away with just twenty quid having given sound advice to so many who’d gone before him. Similarly this week, Peter, so often used as a sounding board, failed to take his own advice and missed out on a mega large payout.
The real excitement came when Brenda decimated the blue side of the board leaving only the whoppers to choose from. She walked away with fifty seven grand, not bad for less than an hour’s work.
Credit must also be given to Noel Edmonds for managing to keep the show feeling so fresh month after month.
Read all about it
Countdown shows remain ten-a-penny these days but some are quite illuminating and I did enjoy Channel 4’s Scoop – The Greatest Tabloid Headlines, partially because of the contributions from seemingly shameless editors such as Piers Morgan and the delightfully unapologetic Tony Livesey.
The winner was a headline which was deemed to have lost Neil Kinnock the 1992 election but for me the best one was that covering Celtic’s shock exit from the Scottish Cup, “Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious”.
Amidst the laughs and celebrity embarrasment, serious points were made and it’s a credit to programme makers that they handled the juxtaposition of terrorist atrocities and Freddie Starr’s antics without it jarring.
Laugh? Not much
To be honest, I’ve been finding Hyperdrive about as funny as root canal treatment but I did find Sally Phillips' turn as round-the-galaxy solo spacewoman Clare Winchester rather amusing this week. Perhaps they could jettison the main show and do a spinoff based on her.
I gave The IT Crowd another go and I’m slowly begining to warm to its simplicity and pantomime-sized performances. Any show which has to resort to a running gag about facial excrement is never going to be the most sophisticated watch in the world but I did squeeze a couple of giggles out.
The show was prefaced by a new episode of 8 out of 10 Cats. For truly funny topical gags you’d do better turning the telly off and listening to the wags down your local pub.
This format doesn’t seem to suit Dave Spikey at all while Jimmy Carr’s sarcastic style seems to flounder when he’s forced into exchanges with the very quick and occasionally funny Sean Lock.
If I was in charge I’d pluck Lock from this mess of a game show and swap him with JLC from The Friday Night Project.
Jamie Oliver starred on that show this week and seems to get more smug and annoying every time he appears on screen. Cue an hour of drivel and turkey twizzler jokes. No Frankie from Corrie this week so who do they send on the vox-pop in her place? Chantelle from Big Brother of course. Surely you haven't forgotten her already? Entertaining inside the house she may have been, outside she’s about as much fun as a piece of chipboard.