Eli Stone, Jamie Oliver and some of Griff

So much to blog about, so little time. First, the quickest of updates on recent telly watching. Eli Stone on Sci-Fi was disappointing. Yes, it has Johnny Lee Miller and George Michael in it, two of the sexiest men in the world. (What do you mean, one of them’s gay? Like we would be riding off into the sunset together if only THAT weren’t an obstacle.) But when it came to it, My Big Fat Michael only appeared in a couple of scenes and I’d seen them all on t’interweb beforehand anyway. His music and fleeting appearance were cheap ruses to lure me into what was otherwise a standard, schmalzy, glossily-shot American comedy/drama. The ruses worked, but I went to bed halfway through the second ep of the double bill. At least I can now say I’ve watched the Sci-Fi channel at least once.

Secondly, the second ep of Jamie’s Ministry of Food. It’s still a good programme and a lovely idea – that the nation will learn to cook, one unto another, by passing on recipes that don’t involve packets of crisps or chips with cheese. I like the characters we’re meeting in the show: Natasha, who seems to have left the pawn shop behind her now and started growing vegetables amid the Pitbull turds in her back garden. I also like the miner who’d never picked up a pan until he met Jamie and now can’t stop tossing pasta in a creamy sauce in his wife’s beautiful, white kitchen. And of course I love Jamie and I wish he’d ask me what’s the matter when I come out crying from an ultrasound scan.

But I was brought up short by AA Gill’s criticism at the weekend of the basic premise of this programme and of Oliver’s Pass It On movement. At first I thought Gill’s critique amounted to the standard right-wing rantings of a reactionary who, in his words, believes TV is a “show and tell medium, not a look-and-learn one”. It seems Gill doesn’t think TV can or should change anything – as if Jamie’s school dinners has not at least started a process by which Turkey Twizzlers will be eradicated from school meals.

But then he made a crucial and perhaps irrefutable point. That the idea that working people traditionally handed down culinary skills from mother to daughter is a fallacy. That working people have traditionally been too over-worked and poor in other ways to cook at home, preferring to eat at cafes and stalls, just as they graze from McDonald’s and kebab shops today. If true, it puts us bleeding heart liberals back in the corner of the blue kitchen, having to accept people as they are (see my post Let Them Eat Cake TV) rather than trying to change what can never be changed. Resignation not revolution. Pragmatism rather than idealism. The way things are, rather than the way we’d like them to be.

Compare Robert Yates writing in The (left-leaning) Observer who exemplified the bleeding heart liberal desire to change a status quo that bleeding heart liberals don’t like (that some people don’t cook, are poor and unhealthy). The right-wing pragmatists like Gill say it’s always been thus and ever will be. I dunno, I’m just watching the programme and cooking tea like I always do for the kids.

Finally – and thanks for bearing with me, this is saving me a lot in therapist bills – why o bloody why was the second and final part of Losing It with Griffy Rhys Jones inexplicably withdrawn from the BBC iPlayer? This has done nothing for my tentative steps towards better anger management. I was liderally halfway through watching the second ep – we’d got to the Buddhist nun and I was thinking I’ve never heard of one of those before – when the thing stopped dead on my laptop. The next day the entire downloaded programme was deleted from my computer by Big Brother BBC. It is no longer available on the iPlayer.

Could it have anything to do with Griff apparently losing it bigtime during filming of World’s Greatest Cities which airs tonight on ITV 1? I don’t know coz I didn’t get to see all of the friggin’ programme but if I meet anyone from the BBC in the next couple of weeks I will punch them hot dang on the dingy. How’s that for not losing it?


Little Britain USA

I can tell anyone eagerly awaiting the first episode of Little Britain USA, tonight on BBC 1 at 9.30 just after Harry and Paul, that it really isn’t that funny. But stay tuned, because the the second one’s a lot funnier than the first. You’ll just have to wait until next Friday to see if you agree. Unless you have a hotline to the BBC previews desk and they have any DVDs left.

I suspect the star-studded team involved in making Little Britain USA – not just its writers and stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams, but also David Schwimmer of Friends who directed some of the studio segments and Simon Fuller of American Idol fame who smoothed the path between the BBC and US cable broadcaster HBO – felt they had to let American viewers in slowly to the depraved world of Little Britain.

So we only get Vicky Pollard at a boot camp for delinquent yoof in ep 2, along with the gay British Prime Minister trying to seduce a black American president who is in no small way a version of Barack Obama. Also in episode 2 are the homoerotic body builders indulging in a spot of pubic grooming. As I say, the first episode just isn’t funny by comparison.

Which reminds me that we’d all got a bit bored of Little Britain, with the same old gags – which were edgy when we first saw them – returning in slightly tweaked sketches. It was 2005 when the programme swept the board at the British Comedy Awards. That’s probably why Lucas, Walliams and the BBC thought they’d ship it over to America to inject new life into the format. It’s had a very patchy reception so far in the US. Who knows? Little Britain USA may be another comedy classic in the making, but I’d rather see the guys do something completely new with their comedic talents.


Jamie Oliver, God love ‘im

So I was one of the 264,000 people watching Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food on Channel 4 +1 last night, after Mutual Friends on BBC 1 clashed with both Jamie and Griff Rhys Jones Losing It on BBC 2. I told you there was lots of great TV on in the autumn. Thank god for the iPlayer, +1 channels etc etc. Although it all feels terribly piecemeal and difficult to navigate. Come on, Office of Fair Trading, just give our jolly old broadcasters the go-ahead for Project Kangaroo and everything will be available immediately after TX online. Won’t it?

But back to Jamie. I do fancy him, probably because he reminds me of an old boyfriend. Cripes – two terrible confessions in one line. I digress. Whether you find Oliver and his outsize tongue strangely attractive or not, you’ve got to admire his sense of higher purpose. Not content with making millions from the sales of his cookery books (it’s the books, publicised by the TV, which have made the man), he really wants to put something back into society, first by changing the way schools serve hot food and now, with his Ministry of Food, by getting real people to cook and eat real food. That way, he reckons, real people won’t be so fat and unhealthy.

And who could possibly argue with that? Needless to say there’s a four-part series documenting this self-initiated movement (he didn’t want to call it a campaign, when talking about it at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August – it’s a movement coz it depends on people doing this for themselves, not on government money or anything like that).

The first ep of Jamie’s Ministry of Food aired last night and it was a belter. Families on benefits spending 12 quid a night on takeaways then pawning jewellery to pay a bill. Jamie wouldn’t walk away coz he could tell he was changing their lives by showing them how to cook meatballs with spaghetti in tomato sauce. And he did change them, especially the woman with an eight-burner cooker who never switched the thing on. She was panfrying salmon in a basil sauce by the hundredweight within a few days.

Thing is, when Jamie from time to time had to leave Rotherham – where his real-life Ministry of Food was focussed for a full six months – the eight cookery novices he’d recruited went back to their bad old ways, ordering in chips n cheese n kebabs for the under fives.

This programme has it all – real life, as lived by people who might as well be a million miles away from those who make TV and snack on bags of mixed Fair Trade nuts; it mirrors our contemporary obsession with food, whether it’s relatively cheap and nasty or relatively cheap and home-made; and it has Jamie Oliver, leading the charge for better eating and wearing all manner of hoody tops and sneakers in the process.

Who else is doing this? Who else – apart from RDF, makers of Wife Swap, and maybe Gillian McKeith of You Are What You Eat – has bothered to go into several kitchens in Rotherham, where local mums famously revolted against Jamie’s drive to improve school dinners, and seen the two fridge trays packed to the gunnels with sweets to be thrown at the kids whenever they start squawking?

Changing the day-to-day eating habits of the masses (my father would call them the great unwashed) is a massive task. But Jamie Oliver’s attempt to tackle Britain’s obesity rates from the grass roots up by teaching ordinary people to cook and asking them to teach others, as mums once taught their families, is admirable in the extreme. Rock on, Jamie, I’m with you and loving your chicken/lemon zest/cheese/proscuitto number, which I learnt from the demo up in Edinburgh.


Shaun the Sheep to return to CBBC

And now for some breaking news… a first for lucecannon.co.uk.

Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep, the latest fantastic animation from Wallace and Gromit makers Aardman, is to return to CBBC for a second 40-part series some time next year, when it’s been made (and these stop-frame animations take a LONG time to make). The amazing thing, to me, is that this is only the second series.

Aardman announced the deal today, coincidentally just a few days ahead of a major international event for buying and selling children’s programmes, Mipcom Junior which is held in Cannes in a couple of weeks. Oh, ok, it’s not a coincidence at all. Hence the reason the press release mentions the international broadcasters who’ve also bought rights to the second Shaun series plus the 28 licensees so far signed up to support Shaun in some way in the UK, from Golden Bear as Master Toy partner to Egmont as publishing partner.

I mention this to let the laymen among you know how these things work. A broadcaster orders a TV programme but the producers need lots more money to make the show, especially if it’s expensive Nick Park-inspired animation, so it’s sold to other broadcasters including TF1 in France and ABC in Australia in Shaun’s case, and profits, in theory, come from the licensing and merchandising deals.

But it’s such a long time since the first series of Shaun the Sheep was announced. Four years, in fact. And although I’ve actually seen Shaun on TV more recently, the first series was first shown two years ago. A reminder that memories are short in telly-land. Shaun the Sheep feels fresh and new – only about a year ago a non-media mum-friend first spotted Shaun as quality programming. Amazing how long it takes for great TV to come to full fruition.


Channel 4’s The Family


OK, so now I’ve actually watched the first episode of Channel 4’s The Family – made by Firefly, the production company that brought us Jamie’s Fowl Dinners – and I think Fay Weldon is wrong, wrong, wrong (see below).

Wrong about how TV has coarsened our society and wrong to suggest the models for the family in this series have come out of TV.

Yes, the husband talks in a string of clichés – he even trotted out the tiredest line in adult/teenage arguments, something along the lines of “You treat this place like a hotel” but with something about never paying the bill in for good measure. And, of course, the whole family appear constantly self-conscious in front of the cameras which are recording them 24 hours a day in their own home.

But the cameras don’t follow the family outside the home – as viewers we only find out what they do when they’re not at home from the conversations they have with each other once inside again. And the family could not know, not really, how the programme would be edited and presented in the final analysis.

The first episode was all about the mother, Jane, turning 40 and the middle daughter Emily being a handful of a live-at-home 19-year-old, calling in sick to her job because she’s hungover after another night’s heavy clubbing and failing to do anything around the house, much less pay any rent. Weldon might have had a point if she’d wondered why the family in question let this situation develop and whether they only decided to tackle it once the cameras had been installed.

But there were plenty of tender moments, as when the gauche 14-year-old son and youngest member of the family pulls an outsize 40th birthday card from his bedroom drawer as the family prepare for mum’s big birthday bash. It was brief and nearly made me cry.

More obviously sentimental and possibly staged by the family was mother Jane and bad-daughter Emily’s brief kiss and make up session in which they sing the lyrics to Kate Nash’s Foundations together.

Putting personal snobbery aside – my mother would have swooped on the references to Canterbury and deduced that the family lived in a dreaded ‘Medway town’ – this does seem to be what it says on the tin: a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a more or less ordinary family who are materially comfortable but perhaps not individually the brightest of sparks. Just very, very ordinary.

And in that sense it’s great TV because we all love looking at other people, at other families because we all have a family whether they’re present or absent. We can mentally comparr the family to our own, gossip about them afterwards and either comfort ourselves that we’re nothing like them or completely the same.

It’s also nicely edited – not least in the way the cat is used as the sort of mute chorus to events. But it’s cleverer than that, which is why it’s good TV. If there were no narrative to each episode, if the sequence of events and our reactions as viewers weren’t manipulated by the programme makers it would simply be like watching your neighbours for 100 days continuously. Impossible and tedious.

Yes – to take on Weldon’s points – there was lots of shouting and not much Tanya Byronesque tolerance, openness and understanding. Perhaps Ms Byron should launch a TV series about living with teenagers. But people have written books and endless newspaper columns about life with teenagers and this first episode of The Family was about 40-something parents living with a teenager. So normal. So remarkable for being the stuff of life.

After watching episode two – and you’ll have to trust me that I’m writing this an hour later than the first part of this post – I like the series even more. Ep two is all about Charlotte, the youngest daughter but not the youngest child, who wants to leave school. There’s lots of shouting and tension again and less liberal-minded ‘let’s not rush to judge but hear what she’s got to say first’, although that does happen. But there’s lots of love, too.

The biggest criticism I would wield at this show – as with so many constructed reality TV programmes – is that a probably university-educated production and commissioning elite has chosen a family from a different milieu to star in this documentary. So we’re watching a family who actually have Cocoa Pops available for breakfast (I know!) and who have an apparently limitless supply of fake fur drapes and cushions to lounge around on.

But the central narrative of this episode – a teenager who wants to do one thing while her parents want her to do another – is one that’s repeated endlessly across families and cultures and has been for eons. This family may often talk to each while staring fixedly at one of the TVs in every room. But I bet other families have similar avoidance or semi-engagement strategies and have done since before the TV was invented. So Weldon is wrong. TV isn’t the only thing that’s changed society. It’s just a whole lot more complicated than that.


Right, what do I know about rights?

With you, the viewer, in mind executives from the main TV channels have been watching a lot of new American programming in darkened rooms recently, as the big US studios including Fox, Warner Bros and the like have brought sample episodes of their new autumn programming to London to show off.

British TV execs traditionally get a preview in late May and early June of the new programmes that start on American TV in autumn (or Fall, as they like to call it over there). A posse of acquisitive heads from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and so on fly to Los Angeles for a week or 10 days to sit in steamy, dark studios watching a load of old rubbish (which, let’s face it, most American TV is) hoping to spot the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Ugly Betty. When someone or several people spot such a thing, a bidding war can break out as the the various British broadcasters try to out-do each other and land the show for their channel or family of channels.

But this year, there wasn’t much to see in late May and early June because the writers of American drama and comedy had been on strike over the winter and hadn’t finished enough shows to preview. The annual TV jaunt to the City of Angels was necessarily a bit short and, by all accounts, not a whole lot of fun. Poor old TV types. No 10-day stretch of sitting by a pool, dining in fine LA eateries and being feted with goody bags that cost more to ship home than they do to produce.

Instead, this week and last, the good people of Fox, Warners, Universal and so on have been over here in our very own London town showing that they have, finally, got some new scripted comedy and drama for British broadcasters to look at.

So what can I tell you about who might be buying what and what will be hot or not when the autumn season of new US programming really gets going in a week or so’s time?

Not a lot, really. All I’ve gathered so far is that the Fox screening was a bit shit. Sorry, Fox executives, but even the hyped Dollhouse from Buffy creator Joss Whedon hasn’t gone down too well with at least one buyer of American TV programmes. That said, it’ll probably be on one of our channels within a few months. The people who make these decisions just need to see how it does in the US first.

I can’t tell you anything more about any of the other screenings or about the programmes they may or may not have featured. It’s not like I’m being paid to do this (yet), so my research is necessarily limited to a kind of ‘if-I-can-be-arsed’ or ‘if-I-happen-to-find-out-over-lunch’ nature.

I did, however, learn something new yesterday, which is always nice when you’re starting to measure periods of your life in two-decade lengths.

I learnt that there are such things as AVOD rights to programmes. For the completely uninitiated, VOD stands for video on demand and relates to the sort of (usually online) TV service like the BBC iPlayer, ITV.com’s catch-up service or Channel 4’s 4oD. In order to show anything at all on those services, the relevant broadcaster must have done a deal with the producer of a programme to get the right to show that programme in a video on demand service. Does that make any sense?

Now it seems there are such things as AVOD rights or advertiser video on demand rights to cover programming where viewers don’t pay to watch but the whole thing is supported by advertisers. So 4oD now shows a lot of programming for free but viewers have to watch ads alongside the programming, just like on TV. ITV.com’s catch-up service is also supported by advertisers and free to viewers. BBC programming, which of course is funded through the compulsory licence fee, is free to view anyway and comes without ads attached. Unless it’s BBC programming on a UKTV channel like UKTV History which is a joint venture and is commercially funded so does carry advertising.

But I digress. The point is, according to those who know, it is now fiendishly complicated to negotiate for all the different rights to show programming in all the myriad ways there now are to show programming – on terrestrial TV, on digital TV, online, online as a streamed service (a bit like broadcast TV), online as a download to watch later (video on demand). Etc etc. I’m no expert so can’t expand the list.

And we all thought buying TV programmes just involved watching lots of programmes and trying not to pick anything that’s too rubbish. Like Dollhouse.


BBC invests in Steve Coogan and Mighty Boosh

Just a short postette, before disappearing for a swimming lesson (daughter’s, not mine) because today is really a mummy, not a media, day.
The commercial arm of the BBC, BBC Worldwide, is to take a minority stake in Baby Cow Productions, Steve Coogan’s company which makes Gavin & Stacey, Mighty Boosh and Coogan’s own Saxondale.
Why is this of interest? It exposes the competitive reality behind contemporary TV programming. It’s not enough that the BBC broadcasts Gavin & Stacey, Mighty Boosh etc on its main channels BBC 1, 2 and 3. No, these days broadcasters want the right to sell a programme elsewhere to justify the original investment – particularly comedy where the risk of people not finding it funny and therefore not wanting another series is high.
By taking a reported 25% stake in Baby Cow, the BBC is buying the long-term right to sell Baby Cow’s programmes internationally and, probably, also the right to market DVDs of those hit shows. So all those lovely revenues will be shared between Baby Cow and BBC Worldwide.
The BBC already has similar arrangements with Jeremy Clarkson’s company Bedder 6 and the company behind hit film The Queen which starred Helen Mirren.


C4’s sex drive

Channel 4 has been accused of peddling filth again. But this time, it’s a pre-watershed sex education show that’s making a stir.

Ofcom received “scores” of complaints after C4 aired the first in a six-part series of The Sex Education Show last Tuesday. The show, which contains nudity and explicit talk about sex, went out at 8pm, a slot normally reserved for lifestyle and property shows.

In the course of The Sex Education Show presenter Anna Richardson (of Supersize vs Superskinny) explores themes from fertility and sexual transmitted infections (STIs) to what it’s really like to give birth, offering first-hand experience, advice and solutions on the way. Viewers follow Anna’s own sexploits, from a total “Hollywood” pubic wax to the question of her fertility rate now that she’s 37.

The Daily Mail was first to fulminate, in a story headlined “Ofcom flooded with complaints over C4’s ‘obscene’ sex education show BEFORE the watershed.” Ofcom immediately announced it would investigate the programme. But some contributors to the Daily Mail’s website were supportive, with one saying: “This show is educational. Society needs to be less scared of talking about sex.”

C4 responded, saying: “The series is aimed at families and we welcome the debate – we hope it will act as a starting point for a discussion about some of the serious issues raised in the programme. The show was preceded with warnings about content and scenes featuring nudity were flagged prior to each part of the hour-long show.”

The fact is that Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in western Europe and rising levels of STIs. That reality and a government review of sex education in schools has led C4 to throw its weight into the debate. The Sex Education Show and related website, sexeperienceuk, coincide with a storyline in Hollyoaks in which “lecherous lout” Malachy Fisher discovered he’s HIV positive.

Off-air, C4 has also hosted a debate with psychologists and sexual health experts about how sex education is handled in schools. “There’s a huge amount of effort and money going into improving these things with apparently little effect,” says C4 head of education Janey Walker. “As a broadcaster, we feel we’re in a position to reach people.”

The Sex Education certainly did that with a peak audience of 3.3m and 20% more viewers than the average for a Tuesday 8-9pm slot. But some are questioning whether C4, with a reputation for salacious sex shows such as The Sex Inspectors, can cover sex in a way that’s entertaining but serious enough to tackle problems like soaring teenage pregnancies.

At least one expert thinks The Sex Education Show has some way to go before leaving behind cliché, “Cosmoesque” messages about shaving off all your public hair to be sexually attractive. Dr Petra Boynton, a media-friendly sex and relationships psychologist who teaches international health services research at a London university, was part of a discussion panel on the show.

“C4 is undoubtedly trying and this show is a step towards better coverage of sex on TV. But broadcasters can still do better,” she says. “The topics chosen for discussion on the programme were safe, comfortable subjects like G spots, porn, STIs and fertility and people said very predictable things. I would have liked more food for thought for the audience.”

Boynton says hard evidence about sexual behaviour – like the fact that showing teenagers images of diseased genitals doesn’t stop them having unprotected sex – can get ignored because producers are either too rushed or too disinterested to get into the complexity of a subject. “My concern is that in making a show visual and intriguing, it might not give the correct messages about behaviour,” says Boynton. She says presenter Richardson’s “Hollywood” pubic waxing was at odds with the programme’s intention to tackle warped body images.

A C4 spokeswoman says: “The entire point of the strands that see Anna test the various methods pressed by the media as making people more sexually attractive is to critique the ‘Cosmoesque’ approach to these matters. Any fair viewing reveals Anna was not undertaking these matters because she thought they would help, but rather to test whether or not there was any value in them.”

The programme did not seek to present ‘extreme’ behaviour in a positive light; its purpose was to shine a light on areas often considered taboo.”

At the very least, C4, which is desperate to make a case for public-sector support in future as its commercial revenues come under pressure, can claim to have stoked debate.

This article was written for today’s Guardian media section but ditched after a change of dispatches.



‘Let Them Eat Cake’ TV

‘Let Them Eat Cake’ TV is a label which my partner – who is much, much cleverer than me but also infinitely more lazy, so he’s unlikely to ever organise his own blog and will therefore have to get the credit for his various insights vicariously, as with everything else, through me – he came up with this label several years ago.

It describes TV programmes made by bleeding heart liberals (aren’t we all?) which portray the world as we’d dearly love it to be, rather than as it is or is ever likely to be. He (or was it we?) came up with the Let Them Eat Cake idea specifically after watching Tomorrow La Scala! a BBC 2 drama which aired in December 2003 about a group of prison inmates staging an opera. The title, of course, refers to the Milan opera house Teatro alla Scala, aka La Scala.

Yeah, right. [Adopts the sort of voice a wet, slightly hippy 40-year-old might use to order a chocolate brownie in a trendy Farringdon eaterie.] Wouldn’t it be simply lovely if we could just let prisoners in on the elitist, yet mind-changing and culturally enriching world of opera? Then surely noone would feel the need to rob a mobile phone or take hard drugs again, much less be really naughty and rape or murder someone.

Never mind that opera is tediously boring and hugely fucking expensive. Let prisoners put on their own shows – as I’m sure they do, in an Am-Dram sort of way in some institutions – and everyone will learn something and be a better person as a result.

It may work for some. The BBC 2 drama Tomorrow La Scala! suggested that as a rehabilitation policy for the country’s toughest criminals, the ‘new life, new hope through opera’ idea might have some flaws.

Needless to say the programme went on to win loads of TV industry awards and was generally feted as being a ‘great’ programme. It was written by Paul Abbott of Shameless and other fame and he’s brilliant so let’s say the writing was good. It’s just the concept I have a problem with.

I caught another example of the ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ genre on Tuesday when I inadvertently tuned into Maestro on BBC 2. I was waiting for Mutual Friends on BBC 1 which I think is quite brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s probably a hormonal thing. It’s about off-the-boil relationships.

When I tuned in to Maestro, carefully avoiding Holby City on BBC 1, Goldie, who is described on Wikipedia as an “electronic music artist, disc jockey and actor”, was conducting an orchestra in some piece of classical music I am too uncultured to either know or appreciate. He seemed to be getting into the swing of things, closing his eyes and making suitably emotional yet subtle expressions. Yes, Wiki does say he’s an actor. The judges gave him more or less full marks.

Then the comedian Sue Perkins had a go. She was good but had had a bad week with her conducting confidence at a low point, as the inevitable behind-the-scenes VT showed us. She also did quite a good job of conducting on the night, but the judges weren’t so kind to her. Perhaps she needs to ham it up a bit more next week.

Once again – and I may rename this blog ‘Lucyfromtheshires’ as one of my friends has suggested – the problem I have with this programme is the concept. Changing yourself, your prospects, your very outlook on life through conducting and classical music. The BBC has done ballroom dancing with Strictly. It’s done musicals with How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria and Any Dream Will Do. Now classical music is getting its time in the sunshine.

This is a bit harsh because I know at least one person who admits to singing in a choir and enjoying it. She also likes Maestro and perhaps harbours ambitions to learn to conduct herself one day. Go for it! I am not knocking classical music per se, simply because I know nothing about it and it’s a dead letter to me as far as entertainment or distraction goes. I do like a bit of Mozart and I found a nice bit of Chopin for my mother’s cremation which makes me cry.

I just don’t want to see Goldie – who I always thought was a rapper – in evening dress conducting a full orchestra on primetime TV. Can we just accept people as they are and go with that, without trying to make them into something they’re not? Even on TV?


Back to Austen

Just a very quick observation on ep two of ITV 1’s Lost in Austen which aired last night. It’s actually, in my humble opinion, not very good.

It look sumptuous and ticks all the right costume drama boxes and Amanda Price, Jemima Rooper’s character, looks suitably out of place in all the Regency action and finery. But there’s a simple reason for that and it’s not to do with the gags about “lippy”, “paracetamols” and other 21st century minutiae that Price has dragged into the 19th century in her time travels.

No, if I may be so bold, the problem with watching this is that Rooper has such a common face. Or maybe it’s the under-bite. But compared to the actresses playing the various Austen ladies, she is just plain, plain, plain. I can’t stop looking at her jaw which looks as if she’s harbouring two little marshmallows just inside her lower lip to munch on later.

Sorry. I’m sure she’s really nice and everything. But I don’t think I’ll be watching next week.