Questions

Channel 4 kicked off their 3D Week last night with a couple of shows… one called The Queen in 3D, the other called Derren Brown Presents: The 3D Magic Spectacular.

The last time I recall being this exciteable about 3DTV was sometime in the ’80s when, if I remember rightly (which it’s fair to assume I don’t), Tomorrow’s World had a feature, which saw me giddily throwing on my 3D spectacles and thrilling at the way some rubber bat flew ‘out’ of the screen.

So last night, I sat down, ready to be amazed… with a pinch of trepidation in case it all went tits up.

Naturally, the whole thing didn’t work perfectly. It took a while messing around with the settings on my TV and switching the lights off in my room, cupping round my eyes with my hands and trying to make my right eye go out of focus before I started getting somewhere. Of course, if I’d just left everything alone and waited for my brain and pupils to settle in, it probably would’ve righted itself much quicker.

However, that’s not really the point. The whole thing was a fun way to pass some TV time. Aside from the fact that everyone looks cool in a pair of 3D glasses, I loved the idea of tinkering with my surroundings and squinting at the idiot lantern at the same time as millions of other houses in Britain.

Of course, it was kinda silly, but in a good way.

The Queen show (which, bizarrely, featured Brian May from Queen) wasn’t really about Her Madge, but rather, the technology. The old footage didn’t work sometimes, whilst at others, I drew up genuine coos at the depth of image.

Same went for the Derren Brown stuff. Some segments refused to work in my head, whilst others made me giggle with glee. The Magic Spectacular also showed clips of Seigfried and Roy… sadly, we didn’t get to see the mauling one of them got from an albino tiger in full three dimensions. This was made-up for by the appearance of Sooty and Sweep and Barry and Stuart’s glorious self mutilation symphony.

If the first night is anything to go by, you really should get some glasses and join in. It’s silly fun… and Christ knows we need some of that now and then.

Tonight, Channel 4 goes 3D. Have you got your special 3D glasses yet? Y’see, if you already own a pair, they probably won’t work as the ones you’ll need tonight have a dark blue lens and an amber one. The ol’ red and cyan pairs will fail. I’ve tried ’em. They’re no good to you.

So, if you’re passing a Sainsbury’s on your lunchbreak today, pop in and get yourself a pair.

Why? Well, tonight you’ll be able to see some old footage of The Queen in 3D. The images will come from 1953 when young cameramen, Bob Angell and Arthur Wooster shot some stereoscopic movies.

For those who aren’t to thrilled at the prospect of some royal action, there’s also a Derren Brown show to sink your eyes into.

Of course, this isn’t just some daft novelty scheduling. 3DTV looks to be on the way to our homes. With Avatar hitting the silver screen this Christmas, 3D is something of a buzzword in media.

The big question is… will it take off?

Sky are promising a new 3D service and manufacturers have unveiled 3D-ready screens. This means 3DTV that doesn’t need special glasses. That sounds inordinately exciting! Some people in the industry are claiming that 3DTV will be a similar leap to black and white to colour TV.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter if the 3D shows this week mark the start of a brave new TV world or whatever… it’s a bit of fun… a flight of fancy… and we should all stop over-analysing it and have some fun joining in.

So get yourself to the shops and snag a pair of 3D specs today.

I’m not one for randomly slagging off The X Factor. It almost seems pointless. Every time you kick it, it comes back bigger and stronger. As such, I’ve chosen to give in to it and join in the mentalist fun.

As something of a music snob/idiot, I’ve bemoaned the impact it makes on the world of music in the past… however… X Factor is to music what pro wrestling is to sport.

However.

This weekend, we saw the unveiling of the ubiquitous X Factor Charity Single. Of course, this means a whole team of singers getting together to wear white and croon an insipid ballad. You may sneer, but it’s a surefire way to tug a heart string and get a decent chart placing. I mean, doing an uptempo crunk version of Crocodile Rock wouldn’t be in great taste would it?

Then again, neither is doing a song written and performed by two men who have been dogged by sex scandals relating to children in the name of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Yep. The X Factor wannabes sang their little hearts out to a song that was written by R. Kelly and sang by Michael Jackson.

It’s hardly in good taste is it? I mean, what next? A competition to win a copy of Chumbawamba’s ‘Pictures Of Starving Children Sell Records’ signed by all the X Factor winners in aid of those dying in the Third World?

Anyway, if you want to hear it…

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Tuning in for Nevermind The Buzzcocks (BBC Two) has filled me with trepidation of late. Since the departure of Simon Amstell and Bill Bailey, it certainly seemed like the show was doomed. However, it survived the departure of Mark Lamarr… so maybe, like Have I Got News For You?, the show is bigger than any one person… right?

Recent shows have felt very hit-and-miss and it seems like a long time since I heartily snorted over the show… however… last night gave me some hope as …Buzzcocks hit vintage stride with a decent mix of guest and weirdly, the presenter.

When I discovered that Claudia Winkelman was heading up the show, my heart sank. However, on the strength of last night’s show, I could easily buy into her becoming the permanent resident of the host’s chair.

Y’see, …Buzzcocks is a show that has had far too importance heaped on it. People had started to analyse every pun and movement, me included. Hell, I’m doing it now. That’s because I’m an idiot and paid to be one.

Anyway, despite the efforts of Amstell and Lamarr, who continually told us how throwaway the whole thing was, fans of the show started acting like the obsessive sorts who get down the front of indie gigs singing all the words to the b-sides. It was almost like we were all mewing about how good that obscure EP release was the best thing ever created, safe in the knowledge that no-one had heard it and could in no way refute the claim.

Last night, the show was vintage! Rambling and vicious, the jokes took second billing to the things that popped in on the hoof.

In Jamelia, dubbed as “a professional gameshow panellist”, we got some seriously golden TV which made me feel drunker than George Best’s three livers. Go check it out on iPlayer if you missed it. One segment featured chicken sausages and a bear, the other, a toe-curling broadside at someone in the line-up – revenge, served up on national television.

Nearly eclipsing that was Harry Shearer who brought my mental house down by doing a couple voices he does on The Simpsons.

Like Have I Got News For You?, this show, now it’s clearly at ease with having to be carried by Jupitus and Fielding (who, oddly, is growing on me despite the fact he always looks like he’s got swine flu), could start making me snot with mirth all over again.

If I was worried that it would perish this season, I’m no longer fretting and can feel safe in the knowledge that Wednesday nights will make me laugh again. It’s a nice thing to know as you approach the hump of the week. Next time, we’ve got Mark Watson. That’s no bad thing at all.

Gordon Ramsay returns to our screens tonight with his big, rubbery, gnarled face. Out of his face will tumble a volley of expletives and his infamous tics…

“Uh?” “Big boy!” “Yes chef?” “Uh” “Big boy!” “Uh?” *hand slap* “Uh?” *throat slitting movement* “Uh?”

Yes. Chef.

See, Gordon Ramsay was once the king of TV cookwits. However, over the past year or so, he’s turned into something of a parody of himself. We don’t need Spitting Image anymore because our celebrities send themselves up better than anyone else!

Like swearwords become translucent and meaningless the more you use them, so too does Gordon Ramsay. It seems like it’s been too long since we’ve seen him reviving the fortunes of an ailing business, by which I mean, it’s been too long since we saw those brief glimpses of humanity that made us all endure the potty mouthery.

Now, he’s just static. Tonight, we know exactly what we’ll be getting in the new series of The F Word. Janet Street Porter will appear to harangue Ramsay and various animals, he’ll be extolling the virtues of local food and people will turn up for a fun TV show only to be treated like they’re in boot-camp and that Ramsay’s reputation is on the line… or something.

This morning, it was reported that Ramsay will be co-producer on a US remake of Masterchef. This invariably means that UKTV will snap it up and repeat it endlessly, making our TV set virtually full to bursting with his craggy ol’ jowls.

Craggy jowls that have been botoxed, leaving our Gordie an elbow faced ghoul, ranting and twitching at our screens in the hope we won’t mention all that (alleged) affair and slagging off that woman in Australia.

See, food on TV felt fresh once, and while there are still shows that are worth tuning in for, the whole thing feels bloated and forced now. C’mon TV… I’m getting cathode gout here… and Gordon Ramsay is as rich as they come.

I told you a while back about MTV’s plans to replace TMF with Viva. Well, now it has happened (and if I’m being honest, the shows sound so mental that I think reviews of Viva programmes may well be making frequent and confused appearances on these very pages) and the channel is being advertised with… well…

The adspots are cropping up on a variety of channels, letting everyone know that there’s a new channel in town and heading it up is one of the weirdest humans who ever walked this failing Earth.

A man with a haircut that resembles something pulled out of the bath plug, with a shrew nose and enough gums for an entire team of circus freaks.

Quite how he ended up on my TV is something of a puzzle. I mean, did MTV stick an advert in some trade magazine for thesps?

WANTED: Very peculiar looking man. The more peculiar the better. Way too much gum an advantage. Irritating voice also advantageous. Wage: Ex – Nat Min. Actor will be provided with daft haircut if required. Full training given.

Lo and behold! This bloke who looks like his mother had a difficult time in labour with him appears from nowhere to shout “UP YOUR VIVA!” down a telephone line and generally leaving everyone in front of the TV to rub their eyeballs in astonishment.

Maybe this is the future of advertising? The models and hunks will be ditched in favour of a procession of freakshows, dribbling and inserting cans of Lilt into their nostrils whilst trying to shout random phrases in the hope they go ‘viral’.

Here’s our funny looking man in action.

In a shameless bid to jump on the traffic bandwagon, I’m getting this post out quickly. Also, to ride the stirring of political feeling that briefly flashed through Britain and its various social networking sites.

You see, for the first time in yonks, Question Time (BBC One) managed to get people feeling political.

Whilst many have bemoaned the fact that the BBC were allowing a racist on the panel, most have come away from the viewing (well, most people I’ve noticed with my jaundiced eye) feeling thrilled at Griffin’s ineptitude and the fervour in which everyone (they knew) disagreed with what he said.

Sadly, one thing that gnaws away in my brain somewhere is the fact that our real talent is aroused when a no-hope, unelectable party with dangerous views gets involved on a national show, rather than the ones that are most likely to get into the seat of power.

As fun as the show was, and as thrilling as seeing Nick Griffin getting a bit of a mauling, I came away from the show feeling like we’d not really learned a great deal. Sure, it was a good thing that a national show which has an incredible amount of publicity (which, thanks to protests outside Television Centre and other BBC buildings) could let Griffin speak and, effectively, offend anyone who doesn’t like racism or homophobia… but I still feel like there’s a hell of a lot of people who may share his views who don’t tune in to That Sort Of Show.

Essentially, it was a little bit like preaching to the converted.

However, regardless of that, I’m also left with a glowing feeling that there’s a lot of people in Britain who cannot bear to hear what he’s got to say. It’s also great to see that freedom-of-speech is valued by the BBC and that they should be applauded for being brave enough to stick their collective necks out and allow this debate, warts and all, loose in the public forum.

From a TV perspective, Dimbleby showed himself to be the master ring leader, doing an admirable job in what could’ve been a dumb, public stoning. It’s pretty obvious that everyone involved on-screen will walk away from the transmission thinking ‘that went reasonably well’, including Griffin (it could’ve been far worse… he could’ve been punched in the gob).

The key thing to remember is that, whilst this became a huge televisual spectacle, Griffin actually believes in what he says. This wasn’t an exercise in seeing someone get a new arse-hole torn open, but rather, an invaluable insight into a worrying trend in a small section of Britain.

I can only hope that this TV show manages to stir people for long enough to actually turn out at the polls in the next election. Question Time may not have given any answers, but it has fired a warning shot.

Oh… and everyone clearly now fancies Bonnie Greer.

Y’know Will Smith? Super famous, former Fresh Prince, multi-million seller rap machine and all round American jug-eared hunk? Yeah, that guy. Well, in news that sees the universe tremble like a dog taking a dump, he’s said that he fancies a cameo spot in BBC grime-soap, Eastenders.

The Hollywood star admitted that he was bowled over by the show when he found out what all of us do on a Sunday afternoon. Basically, bored and Sundayed out, he sat down with the omnibus whilst on a UK trip and got hooked in.

“I was just chilling in my hotel and EastEnders was on TV. I didn’t even know what it was, but I literally could not stop watching it,” Smith is quoted by The Sun as saying.

“It was like a week’s worth of episodes in one. Before I knew it, all I had done was get room service and waste a whole afternoon watching this show I’d never heard of!”

He continued: “It was so real and gritty. American soaps are all about the beautiful people and being cheesy. This soap had everything.

“There was fighting, people sleeping around – it had it all going on! I’m a bit busy but when things quieten down I’d love to do a cameo. I could make a big entrance in the pub, as you guys call it, and be like, ‘Hey, girl let’s take this outside’.”

If Smith did make a cameo, what would you like to see him do? Personally, I’d like to see him whisking Mo off her feet and sticking his tongue down her throat before taking her away to LA to become a star.

Failing that, he could just appear As Himself like Boy George did in The A-Team. Wikki-waa-waa-Walford…

Frankie Boyle has left Mock The Week to concentrate on other TV commitments, while the show has been signed up for two new series by BBC Two.

Dara O’Briain will return as host of the quiz and, as usual, the panel members will be drawn from the world of comedy.

Angst Productions series producer Dan Patterson said: “Frankie has been a brilliant member of the team since the beginning and the door is always open for him to come back. We wish him all the best with his other projects.”

In his newsletter, Boyle said: “And finally, I’ve decided not to do any more Mock The Week. I’ve done what feels like a good few thousand of them now and I feel I’ve mocked the s**t out of the week.

“I salute everybody there (salutes). I’m going to concentrate on next year’s tour and some other funny things I’m writing. Be careful out there everybody. Heil Hitler.”

However, can the show survive without Boyle’s acerbic wit? To be perfectly honest, the show felt incredibly tired in recent months, effectively propped up by Boyle. O’Briain is a fine host, however, without the vicious asides from Boyle, I fear he’ll look a little lost.

Andy Parsons is… well… a one trick pony and Hugh Dennis is far too sweet to hold a show on his own. Russell Howard is the weak link in the show and I’d go as far as to say that, if he appears on it, then it’s likely I’ll switch off or over for fear of yet another ‘nan’ joke or dreadful Lord of the Rings pun.

To be honest, the show will need someone as angry and as well loved as Boyle to survive. David Mitchell is an obvious candidate. Maybe Beeb bosses will look toward Charlie Brooker to fill Boyle’s angry boots?

Or, maybe, just maybe, the show will vanish after the next two series?

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