robin.darke's blog

Jeremy Kyle will reportedly take his unique take on the chat show format to the United States, in a move that has baffled most of the British public.

According to ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ Debmar-Mercury, a television syndication company has decided to test run four weeks, and if ratings are high enough will be running the entire strip of programming as soon as 2011.

Debmar-Mercury co-president Mort Marcus said of the proposed US version

“ITV Studios’ creative vision convinced us that Jeremy Kyle can conquer another continent. His series also provides us with another very strong talk format that can become a long-term franchise for us, just as The Wendy Williams Show did.”

It was announced last March that the show will be axed in February 2010, due to company monetary cutbacks.

 

In the first part of the new three part series aimed at dressing the massive section of the population that suffer from a disability, Gok Wan dresses a woman who lives in wheelchair.

Very commendable, and incredibly informative, and that’s the good part over.

The problem that I found with this episode was two fold.

1) The woman in question (a bubbly, outgoing woman with seemingly no problems apart from living in a wheelchair) didn’t really seem to need any help getting her snaffles out; it seemed the only problem was that she just didn’t know what to wear. Which is a massive problem, and is definitely something that is missing from the High Street.

2) The attitude that Wan had when approaching the woman was, I found, insulting and domineering. Forcing himself upon the lady with such gusto and insensitive remarks and actions left me feeling uncomfortable for my poor eyes and the poor woman. On more than one occasion he actually sat on the woman’s legs and rode around on her wheelchair. To me, that’s demeaning. He might as well have pushed her around the place and shouted in her face so she could understand him (even though she wasn’t deaf).  It wasn’t dealt with in the way that it should have.

I may be stating the obvious but, disability is a problem that affects people physically and mentally, and to overcome the hurdles that people with disabilities face would require gusto and a strength of character that I wouldn’t be able to show, but Wan treated this lady how you were scold a child for reacting to a woman with one leg; insensitively.

Hopefully next week, when he tasks himself a woman with one leg doesn’t resort in a hopping contest, or Who Can Throw The Prosthetic Limb The Farthest.

 

Back with a bang after an incredibly successful first series, this sleeper hit comes back with wheels rolling and balls to the grindstone, continuing where the infuriating cliffhanger left us: a kidnapping, a shooting and the Survivors facing their most dire of straits yet.

 

Although it’s coming hot off the heels of an action packed series finale, we do have some more character driven moments; the swansong of a Survivor mainstay, the Secret Origin of one of the more central characters and the descent into the seedier side of apocalypse for one of the Survivors you wouldn’t have expected to.

 

All the while, we have more information being drizzled on the enigmatic government parties behind the kidnapping of the main protagonist, with their suitably diabolical plan to save the Human Race and bring ‘them’ back.

 

This episode set the tone in a distinctly dark area, with issues that certainly aren’t suitable for children, and the chance of redemption slipping further and further out of the reach of our flawed heroes, with the journey being no less exciting or gripping than the series before.

 

Both claustrophobic and at the same time, with palatial grandiose, this series takes the plot threads of the first series, crochets them all together, knots them a few times and then weaves them into something darker, more sinister, but as equally brilliant.

 

Definitely one of the best series openers, for one of the best dramas the Beeb has to offer; calling this a Dark Horse would be nothing short of insulting.

Or as I’ve been calling BBC|One for the past hour and a quarter: ITV’s light entertainment before the birth of Cowell. Because that’s just what it is like. Once again, instead of progressing their own format and path in the ratings battle, the BBC have taken the format that, albeit successfully, worked for ITV’s ground breaking Pop Idol franchise and ran with ballet pumps screaming into the new decade. Unfortunately, especially this year above any other, the format of the genre has moved at a stellar pace, shaking off the unpolished perils of live TV and adding the glitz and glamour that lavish amounts of money can bring.

Which actually is a shame. The premise itself, a version of Strictly that was open to the public, is fantastic, and if done properly would have been a ratings smash. Unfortunately, the shoddy camera work, and Nigel Lythgoe hero worship reeks of imitation and, in this case, it is not the sincerest form of flattery. There is no place for flattery in the ratings wars, and a move so shoddily thought out will definitely cost them later down the line.

The contestants, a bunch of namby pampy, hareem pants wearing, public school taught wusses went by in a flash, with only a few making any lasting memories, and most of those didn’t get through, which to me, seemed like a shot in the foot. Why dedicated so much time to dancers that aren’t going to make the cut? Surely it would make more sense dedicating the short time that you have on the contestants who will have made it through. It beggars belief that something so vital to the show’s appeal (the likeable contestants) was overlooked.

Another thing which has got on my goat is the panel. Made up of stars which have been shunned by the BBC thus far: Nasty Nige, Arlene Philips and Louise Redknapp, the trio have got as much appeal as a septic toe, with charisma to follow suit. If the BBC are working from a similar template as X Factor/Pop Idol then Louise Redknapp is the Cheryl Cole/Geri Halliwell type judge. The one that connects the panel with the viewing public, but because Louise is best known for her ejection from Eternal amid claims she was white, this doesn’t quite gel. And as for Arlene Philips, the only way that Arlene Philips can connect with someone is if they’re carrying a bottle of gin. This may seem to go against common knowledge and preconceived ideas, but Arlene Philips is as appealing as Gary Glitter on the first day of school. She wasn’t dropped from Strictly because she was old, she was dropped because she’s two demi-plié short of a Nutcracker Suite.

This is definitely going to be a miss from me from now on; even Cat Deeley’s rictus grin inviting, nay, begging us to watch on won’t be cutting the mustard. The days of Deeley and Lythgoe are gone, just like this show hopefully.

Maggie Jones, matriarch and sour tongued pensioner of the Barlow family on Coronation Street died this morning at the ripe age of 75.

The Queen of the cobbles, way ahead of Rita Sullivan and Liz McDonald, will always be remembered for her patronising and demonising one liners and the comedy that she injected into the show, lofting it from the snoozefest that it can sometimes turn into.

Details of her passing are vague at best, with sources citing that she lost her battle with illness, however it has been reported earlier this year that Jones was rushed to hospital for life saving surgery.

Blanche Hunt, mother of perenially turkey necked Deirdre Barlow ruled the roost in a different way to traditional matriarchs like Lou Beale and Annie Brearly; with tactics that wouldn’t be out of place in the playground. Sniping comments and steely glances were her tools of the trade, and everyone from Tony ‘I Killed Your Husband Lets Get Married’ Gordon to Roy ‘Best Thing Since Bread Was Sliced’ Cropper felt her vengeful wrath and broke like sugar glass.

It’s a shame that Corrie should lose one of it’s, personally speaking, major draws because it’s one less reason to tune in. What’s even worse still is the loss of the rumoured storylines between Blanche and Graeme ‘I Was Fat In Prison But Now I’m Thin On The Outside’ Proctor which we’ll never see. Maybe he could become possessed by her spirit, much like he was by Fred Elliot’s, I say Fred Elliot’s.

 

Victoria Wood's Midlife Christmas

Coming hot off the heels of the recent documentary, delving into the sparsely recorded life of Victoria Wood, the newest Christmas special came blasting hilariously onto the screen last night. Luckily the advent of iPlayer means that you can watch hundreds of times until it expires.

Taking the cue from the surprise hits of the century; Cranford and Larkrise To Candleford, The Apprentice (where Wood and an actor playing Nick to her Margaret dance their way around the boardroom between appearances of Surallan) stopping off at a slew of reality TV shows on the way.

Along the way we visit the life Beau Beaumont, the actress who played the real star of Acorn Antiques, Mrs. Overall as she traverses the ebbs and flows of modern day celebrity, looking for a way to get herself back on top. On the way, she explores the I’m A Celeb offices, Dancing On Ice with Torvill and Dean (playing themselves) and contemplates appearing on Delia Smith’s newest roving cookery show. None of which suit her needs. What really stands out is the dependant relationship Beaumont has with the single member of her entourage, a desperately sad woman called Wendy, which definitely verges on a quasi-lesbian coupling. It’s almost as sad as the Catherine Tate sketch where that lovesick woman trawls the internet looking for potential love, only to be disappointed at every turn. A bit of a headscratcher, and a definite thought provoking look at the hangeronners of modern day celebrity culture; people who would do anything and everyone to make sure that their idol is happy.

This Christmas special really puts Wood back on top, where she belongs, amid the seasonal mainstays of The Royle Family and Only Fools And Horses, making people laugh between mouthfuls of mince pies and the family sized boxes of Miniature Heroes.

I can honestly say that, although I was looking forward to watching it, I didn’t think that it would be as good as it was.

If a slap across the face of modern culture isn’t enough for you, Wood has also rewritten the words to her most famous song of all time, the one where she sings about slapping someone on the bottom with the Woman Weekly.

Definitely one to be watched year in year out, along with the most memorable Only Fools episodes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pl0zp/Victoria_Woods_Midlife_Christmas/

 

If you were going to make an A-class comedy, what would you do? Personally,  I would try and get as many inputs and experienced comedy stalwarts as possible and work from the ground up with a good idea. Unfortunately sometimes this doesn’t work.

Big Top, the newest entry to the BBC’s comedy programme, is a perfect example of how the glittering appeal of a reality TV show can mare something that should be great. The names attached to Big Top are the things of legend. Bringing together some of the greatest names from some of the greatest BBC comedies of all time (Ruth Maddoc of Hi-De-Hi, Tony Robinson of Blackadder and John Thompson of The Fast Show) this should have been something truly special. Even Tony Robinson alone would probably have brought something amazing to the screen, never mind Ruth Maddoc. It’s a shame that whoever commissioned this show wanted to shoe-horn Amanda Holden into the mix, as the ringleader of the neediest circus I’ve ever known.

It might seem like a League of Gentlemen style premise, that of a extended family who are incredibly needy and unable to cope without one another, but sadly this lacks any of the dark comedy edges that would make me want to watch another episode of this farcical attempt at light entertainment. Holden really brings down the show just like Lesley Ash’s trout pout brings down Holby City. Sometimes there are things that shouldn’t be put together, and reality TV stars and BBC comedy are two of them. Which, as I say, is a shame, because this could be very good.

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