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Friday, 16 March 2007

Absolute Shower...

Every era has it's defining moment. The zenith of 60s progessiveness saw Neil Armstrong hopping about on the lunar surface. The cold war ended with jubilant Berliners dancing amid the rubble of the Wall. For many, the stark and abject images of Ethiopian famine brought to the world by Michael Buerk's harrowing BBC news film in the run up to Christmas 1984 serve as a vivid reminder that, though eras may pass, there are certain human travails that do - and probably will - not. So, in this week of Comic Relief, it was fitting, I suppose - if in a rather perverse way - that the most disturbing, stomach churning footage I have witnessed since Buerk's report should be aired on British television. As for era defining moments contained in that broadcast, I hardly know where to begin...

Only the widespread air of charitability that somehow continues to envelop the nation as Red Nose Day looms could excuse the terrible images we were subjected to last night. The sight of the human spirit raw and unmediated in its undigified perversion is usually preceded by one of those "some of you may find the following scenes disturbing..." type health warnings. Last night, we were given no such heed. Indeed, many innocent viewers, lured by the reassuring bluntness of Sir Alan Sugar's trademark intro - "I don't like arselickers, I don't like bullshitters.." could have been mistaken the assumption that they were to be in some way *entertained* by the fare on offer. We were all rapidly disabused of that notion.

It's a difficult and terrifying moral landscape we've entered into when Alasdair Campbell is *not* the most repugnant being in a room. Nor Piers Morgan. Nor (and I speak here, tribally, as a gooner) S.A.S and Mrs. "Wor" Ashley Cole, for that matter. In much the same way that the horrors of Auschwitz render even the most appalling and brutal civilian transgressions tame in relation, so the behaviour and demeanour of Trinny Woodall somehow made the architect of that web of lies used to trick the British public into an illegal and immoral (and foolhardy) middle eastern occupation in which British soldiers and countless civilans are perishing on an alarming scale seem curiously benign. I should be ashamed that, first class honours degree holder and rapier wit that I am, I cannot even begin to think about improving upon "Wor" Cheryl Cole's pithy and apt epithet for the walking garden rake. "O.C.D" says more in three letters than I could in a thousand posts. "Wor" Cheryl's upward look when Trinny mumbled something about a Russian doctor she knew through "de-tox" was also worth a million words. Drug free and dry for many a year, it's a testament to Trinny's rampantly poisonous nature that she still needs to attend such clinics. In the normal course of everyday life, anyone who booted Piers Morgan in the gonads would be lauded on these pages - especially if they'd also snidily run a biro down the back of Campbell's shirt. But we are in Comic Relief Does The Apprentice World here - all the usual norms and givens can be discarded.

Indeed, obsessive and compulsive behaviour was made to seem positively natural and reasonable in this bizarre, dreamlike world where sums of money that for many of us would take several years to obtain were casually tossed about as if they were worth no more than duplicated bubblegum cards. Great pillar of respectability and exemplar of Blairite morality, "Wor" Ashley Cole, a man remunerated to the tune of a six-figure sum per week, was a mere footsoldier in all of this. His "yeah, whatever" dismissal of his £30,000 donation to the cause was soon made to look like a tatty, much-thumbed paperback offered as a last-minute-I-forgot-it-was-your-birthday-I'll-get-you-a-proper-one-next-year afterthought. Trinny, a woman who derives her income from telling starstruck munters that if they try to dress as she tells them they will miraculously feel better about themselves (or lose weight, even), operates in a more rarefied environment even than one of Ambramovich's lackeys.

The nameless blonde socialite pal of hers made a game pretence at being in *any* way financially restrained by umming and ahhing for a few seconds before blithely signing a cheque to the value of £150,000. This Chelsea-esque solution to the problem of running a business (e.g. throw some money at it - and if *that* doesn't work, throw some more...)made what would ordinarily have been the gasp-inducing incomprehensibility of the sight of the Boys team trying to induce people into paying several thousand pounds to eat a bowl of past their sell-by date, knock off cockles and winkles seem almost plucky. A bit like Arsenal's game and talented youth team trying to stand up to Cheslea's millionaire musclemen - only without quite the flair, obviously.

As with the premiership, the result here was never really in any doubt. What *was* interesting was the almost total absence of a contribution from highly vocal comedienne Jo Brand. One senses Ms. Brand is vaguely left-leaning (her oddly coiffeured son, Russell, most certainly is) and it was almost as if she had been - in one of those ironic pieces of Campbell New Labour Stalinism - edited and sidelined out of the proceedings. At least, that's my theory. More pertinently, even S.A.S, a man who could probably add endless approving addenda to Bob Dylan's assertion that 'money doesn't talk, it swears', seemed to have had the wind knocked out of his sails by the enormous disparity between the sums raised by the Boys' feverishly manned and attended carnival stalls and the Girls' tumbleweed-strewn attractions. If you wanted a better cheap, sneering, bilious metaphor for Blair's Britain, you'd have to go a long way.

So, mutineer Rupert Everett emerges as an unlikely national hero - although respec' would have been infinitely bigged up had he been honest and said "this is just *shit* instead of feigning camera shyness. Also, to be fair, Maureen Lipman (yes Stray, I know she's from Hull. And Ian Carmichael...) appeared still to be scowling, even in victory. But then that may well have been as a result of the residual memory of being obsessively compulsively barked at by Trinny on her mobile whilst she had her arm elbow deep in coronation chicken*. Some people just don't know they're born, do they?

So, there you have it - an absolute shower; corrupted, absolutely.

L.U.V. on y'all,


*I know, I know - it was *satay* chicken, but that isn't as funny...

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  1. Yes it was rather, wasn't it? Mrs Photon decided to watch it rather than ER on E4, mainly because Danny Baker was on it, in uncharacteristically muted form; maybe he realised that it was not going to show anyone in a good light. At some points DB seemed to be trying to hide at the back of the shot in the hope no-one would notice he was there.

    Trouble was, Mr P decided afterwards to watch ER on E4+1 anyway, so I still had to be subjected to all that blood and gore anyway. Don't I have to put with enough of that at work, as I struggle to find some poor diseased punters vein to squirt radioactive stuff into them?

    And why is the Radiographer always late or unavailable in ER and just about any other hospital drama you might care to mention?

    That Maureen Lipman...oh you've done that bit. Have I ever told you about her uncle's tailor's shop at the end of our street?

    Her uncle used to have a tailor's shop at the end of our street, you know.


    Gone on a bit haven't I? Maybe I ought to do some work. That's probably why the radiographer's alway elsewhere in TV dramas; they're posting some interminable comment on someone's blog.

  2. ohhh you nailed it!
    Self absorption at it's finest!!!

  3. Might I recommend the off switch, and dumpage of TV outside some charity shop somewhere? I'm sure they'd make good use of it.
    What's that? They don't take tellys at charity shops?
    Why, is it because they don't accept electrical goods?
    Ans: No, it's 'cos all the programmes on it are shite.

    (Apart from missing radiographers, reality is very rarely represented these days.)