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TV Dek's TV Diary

Horses for courses

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Nothing lasts forever in soaps and this week saw the devastation of the wonderful Miller family who had managed to take EastEnders back to its roots and the days when half of the characters were on the social and struggling to get by. The fact that half the family is being jettisoned from the show would seem to indicate that there’s no place for that sort of thing anymore on our screens, but it was a valiant attempt. Gerry Cowper has turned in a great performance as Rosie tried to hold her family together buffeted by whatever life had to throw at her, and it was her continual crushed optimism that made her such a stand out character, with at one stage two hapless men inadvertently conspiring to make her life just that little bit grimmer than it was before.

Rosie will go down as a great down-to-earth EastEnder, up there in my view with the wonderful Carol Jackson and it’s sad to see her make her exit, though finally seeing Keith for what he is probably raised cheers and sighs of relief across the nation.

We now have to get used to the new branch of the Branning clan, lead by Max, who could well prove to be the best prospect for a bad guy we love to hate that we’ve had in a long time. The appearance of No Angels’ Jo Joyner is another big plus point and a sign that things may be looking up again in the square. New families are always a nightmare to bed into a soap though so let’s hope we get some solid storylines that will allow them to make their mark and find their way into our affections.

Cup runneth over

England’s departure took some of the shine off the World Cup but then there had been so much negative energy from the coverage of the BBC and ITV that you have to wonder whether that was a contributory factor. By the World Cup after next, everyone will need to have access to digital and in that scenario, a dedicated World Cup service should be possible to avoid the barmy scheduling we’ve seen of late.

This latest tournament may have benefited from being shown in widescreen and, to the lucky few, HD but that doesn’t mean that it’s been the best presented ever. Studio pundits have lacked charm and personality while commentaries have managed to make exciting games seem dull. David Pleat and Mick McCarthy are so matter of fact and near monotonal that they’ll never help get the pulses racing.

I fear that the squeeze on budgets, particularly in the commercial sector means that things will get even worse by the time the next tournament comes around. My solution for key games this time around has been to view them in the pub where the commentator’s waffling is drowned out and you can prop the bar and play the pundit yourself. Perhaps the view from the man in the pub could be a red button option next time for those who care not a jot what Ruud Gullit or Ian Wright think.

They’ve really mucked all the programmes around, at least according to my mum. Now while my mother is not usually the sort to watch the footie she has been wrapped up in the World Cup and was an avid viewer of the Portugal France semi final, having taken rather a disliking to young Christano Ronaldo for some reason. Anyway she wasn’t complaining about the the fact the footie was on but couldn’t understand why over on ITV where the game wasn’t being shown, there was no Corrie. Certainly the decks have been cleared for footie fest but she had a point. There was no real reason why an episode of Corrie couldn’t have been screened at its normal time. Perhaps schedulers had thought that had England made the semi, there would have been little to no viewers about but as things turned out, people like me Ma would have loved a dose of soap rather than half an hour of Lineker and co. waffling on and continuing to wallow in England’s failure.

Trotting out the reality shows

There has to be a point when someone will realise that that celebrity reality shows have gone as far as they can. Sticking the D listers on horseback and awaiting results may prove to be entertaining but I can’t help thinking that it’s dangerous as well and the chance that somebody vaguely famous could end up being carted off by ambulance may well have been designed to be part of the appeal. That’s fine though, apparently because it doesn’t matter if mangled stars make for good ratings, as long as it’s in aid of charity. If the horses break a leg they’ll no doubt be shot. Some of the celebs may deserve the same fate.

Part of the problem with Only Fools on Horses is the lack of chemistry between the hosts. In fact I’d go so far as to say they look mildly irritated by each other. Angus Deayton seems to have been terribly miscast here and most attempts at wit are falling flatter than Matt Littler.

The public vote thing doesn’t seem to work either with Nicki Chapman being placed in the bottom three despite a clear round on Saturday. It’s actually a pretty dull show, but brought memories of when show jumping was high rating peak time entertainment, smoothly hosted by David Vine Raymond Brookes Ward.

It seems odd that they haven’t got the likeable and quick-witted Clare Balding involved in the presenting team here. It may all be in a worthy cause, but as a piece of television, it’s a bit of a mess.

A bit of a split mailbox this week between those who thought I was too harsh on Saxondale and those who thought I lavished too much praise on it. It looks like it could be another love it or hate it show.

Bovvered?

It had been a great climax to Doctor Who featuring a epic battle with the show’s two most famous shows and a tear jerking ending to the Doctor’s relationship with Rose Tyler, beautifully balanced and with moments of high excitement and touching poignancy.

It would have a very nice way to end the series so did we really need Catherine Tate to bound in at the end and break the mood? While the return of The Doctor has managed to capture the public imagination, Catherine Tate seems to irritate more people than she delights and I’ve already heard from people planning to give the Christmas show a miss because she’s in it.

It was great to see Chrissie Watts finally getting her comeuppance for bumping of Dirty Den and I loved the Cyber version of her shedding a tear. Nice touch.

Billie Piper’s energy has undoubtedly been one of the reasons that this revival has been so successful and the difficult third series will be so much more so without her.

Doctor, doctor

I really wanted to like Out of Practice currently airing on Living TV. It features Henry Winkler who has years of sitcom experience and the normally wonderful Stockard Channing and writers who were involved in Frasier so with a pedigree like that I was expecting something special.

Sadly what we get is apiece dripping in sentimentality which is tempered by barbed one-liners which really jar and some of which seem homophobic. If the somewhat dating nature of the writing was a disappointing so was the playing of the cast which seemed way too big for television. Perhaps some of them caught sight of the audience and went into theatre mode.

I though this was a major disappointment but at least over in the USA they are still trying. What have we got to look forward to in the sitcom stakes, yet another series of My Hero that’s what. It’s enough to make you shed tears, though sadly not of laughter.

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