October 31, 2008


Thanks to the excellent  for this. Says it all I think.

What a load of BOLLOCKS. Mark Thompson BBC Director General – you’re a spineless twat.


Doctor Who

October 30, 2008

It’s official. During the total fiasco that was last night’s National Television Awards (is there anyone on earth more wooden than Trevor McDonald?) David Tennant confirmed that he’s leaving the show in 2009 after another four specials next year.

Speculation has inevitably started about who will be replacing him. Names in the frame so far include: John Simm, David Morrissey, James Nesbitt, Rhys Ifans and little-known Paterson Joseph, who could become the first black Doctor Who:

More off-the-wall suggestions include both Stephen Fry and Stephen Merchant. Personally, I don’t think they need to look any further. I think Stephen Merchant would be a superb Doctor Who.

But what about a woman this time. Would that work? Plus – I hear Russell Brand is now free.

Spooks and Zombies

October 28, 2008

You might not know this, but Spooks is actually based on my life. Keep it to yourself, mind.

When I was at university I was approached by a mysterious man who identified himself as being from MI5. Of course, we’d all seen him wanking in the bushes outside the girls changing rooms. But he explained that this was merely his cover story. They really are dedicated these chaps, you know. He was hunched there every afternoon for hours, grunting away.

Anyway, he informed me that for just £10 a week I could join the British Secret Service and serve my country. From then on, I was always aware of a shadowy figure keenly and expertly monitoring my every move – especially when I was waiting for my girlfriend outside her keep-fit class on Tuesday’s.

Of course, they’ve changed a few things for Spooks. Sleeping in till noon and watching telly has been replaced with getting up at dawn and saving the commonwealth from terrorists. But the rest is pretty accurate.

Anyway, this latest series saw a new member joining the team, Lucas (played by Harry Potter lookalike Richard Armitage.) They also killed off a major character in the first episode – which as any Spooks fans will tell you is, by now, pretty much standard operating procedure. 

I always really enjoy this show and this episode was a good opener – especially since that scrawny bird who looks and acts like the Predator is back. Scary and bony and ruthless, she’s pretty convincing as the sort of psychopath who might do this kind of thing in real-life.

I also watched the first episode of Dead Set, Guardian TV critic Charlie Brooker’s new zombie drama set in the Big Brother house. The show runs over the next five nights and this first episode started on launch-night, when all the contestants and behind-the-scenes staff are getting ready for the big event. Except outside in the real world, where something weird is happening … 

It was actually much more plausible than I thought it was going to be. And I’m quite glad they decided to leave the satire to the sidelines ( Zombies/Big Brother contestants, too bleedin’ obvious) and instead just make it a good horror story.

I won’t give too much away if you haven’t seen it – but Davina plays a key role. Looks pretty enjoyable stuff really. I’ll be tuning in again tonight. Episode two of Spooks tonight as well, I love this job.

Beautiful People

October 27, 2008
I tuned in to the first episode of Beautiful People, the new sitcom by Gimme Gimme creator Jonathan Harvey expecting something rubbish. I was disappointed. It’s not rubbish. It’s beyond rubbish. Scientists working on the Hadron Collidor last night watched this programme and immediately suspended all work on Quantum Theory to instead come up with a new category of shiteness to put this show into.

Blue Peter have also today launched an appeal for children to name this new special category: seven-year-old Nathan from South Wales suggested, ‘Ball-hanging, thundercunting balloon-juice of the highest order.’ And eight-year-old Suzie suggested it was a ‘Shitty, ring-sniffing jizz bag full of plop plops.’ And she also did a nice drawing. Keep those entries coming in kids … 

Well, let’s not beat about the bush any longer. I really didn’t like this, you know. 

The main character is Simon Doonan, a 24-year-old gay British window-dresser now living in New York. We flash back to his childhood in 1997 as a camp teenager in the UK and meet his family, neighbours and schoolchums. This week the story was all about how he secretly wanted a Posh Spice doll for his fourteenth birthday.

Despite being apparantly set in Reading, all the main characters have different comedy regional accents, from Brummie to Cockney to Liverpudlian, which are merely used here as lazy character short-hand. Look, she’s a Brummie! That means she must be warm-hearted and the salt-of the-earth. His mother’s one of them Cockernees – she’s bound to be a bit feisty. His father is from Southern Ireland. Well, wouldn’t you know, he’s so laid back and easy-going.

Every character in this is one-dimensional. From Simon’s mouthy Liverpudlian headteacher, to his dad – the laid-back irishman who doesn’t care that his son is gay and just ‘loves the bones of him.’ This is great news for Simon I guess, but doesn’t really add conflict. And any first-year media student will tell you that without conflict, there is no sitcom. So what we get instead is just Jonathan Harvey’s wish-fulfilment of a fantasy land where young camp gay boys are lighty but lovingly mocked. Even the schoolbully comes round in the end – in one of the most stomach-churningly mawkish scenes ever to hit our screens.

The only person who comes out of it with any dignity is the always excellent Olivia Coleman, succesfully playing a sort of younger version of Alison Steadman’s ‘mum’ character from Gavin & Stacey.  Meera Syall is as dull as ever, playing a blind randy auntie ( even blind women sometimes want to have sex, you see? How brave, how visionary, how the fuck did this bollocks ever get past anyone’s desk?)

This series is based on a popular memoir by real-life Simon Doonan. Perhaps in this, he succesfully manages to convey some of the black humour and pathos of growing up as a camp gay teenager in a working-class area of Britain in the 90’s (though the original memoir was actually set in the 60’s and 70’s) but this show certainly fails to do so spectacularly. I’m pretty sure even today such an experience must be no picnic for a young gay boy, but formulaic garbage like this really doesn’t honour or accurately represent such experiences in the least. That probably wouldn’t matter if it was funny. But as I mentioned earlier, they’re still working on a new category of unfunny to put this utter ball-juice into.

Musical Pastiche

October 24, 2008

The thing I hate most in comedy is comedy songs. Some cocky twat with an acoustic guitar can ruin a perfectly good night of rubbish stand-up, with his crap song about the credit crunch set to the tune of the Ting Ting’s latest single.

Musical pastiche is quite another thing altogether. This is where people with genuine musical skill and sensibility manage to expertly recreate a genre of music to take the piss out of – usually with some love of the thing they’re parodying. The subtlety of this clearly marks it out from the mere comedy song.

In pastiche, they’re drawing attention to things like: the sort of chord changes, arrangement, production, themes, type of lyrics, even the lyrical delivery and the way a genre of artist pronounces certain phrases. They can even get a laugh from using a particular synthesiser or drum sound. We don’t usually pick up on a lot of this consciously of course, we just get a sense that this is a very well done parody performed by talented musicians. And we enjoy it both as music in itself and for the comedy. The most obvious examples of this are the excellent Mighty Boosh and the equally excellent Flight of the Conchords. But the first two here are slightly more obscure examples.

The first one is Hugh Laurie doing a superb Delta Blues spoof. The whole thing seems to be merely inspired by the fact that the phrase ‘Too long Johnny’ sounds like the name of a blues singer, or a blues song. From this flimsy premise Hugh creates a really funny pastiche and also plays some excellent slide guitar. (Someone else posted this clip recently. Sorry, I can’t remember who it was – but thanks for reminding me of this again anyway.)

The middle clip is Earl Okin. Sometimes his stuff can be a bit twee. But this mixture of Astrud Gilberto’s samba/bossa nova style and indie American collegiate rock (is that a genre? You’ll know what I mean when you hear it) is excellent.

The bottom clip is one of my favourite Flight of the Conchords songs, a great pastiche of the earnest ecology themes from Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going on Album – amongst other things. Just two acoustic guitars and they manage to pack so much subtle stuff in there. Plus, it’s a catchy number. This is from the HBO special which got them their tv series.

Silent Witness

October 23, 2008

It’s a shame this show is so similar to the far superior Waking The Dead. They’re both thrillers about criminal pathologists in exactly the same timeslot with the same structure ( two parter shown over two consecutive nights) but this one is not nearly so good. I’ve only just got round to watching last week’s dreary episode about the terrorist cell and the police SWAT team. Initially, I thought just looking at Emilia Fox would be enough to keep me interested, but she’s gone all scrawny recently and her awkward walk whenever she leaves a scene just reminds me she’s acting, and not very well either.

The other main characters are also not very engaging. There’s the good-looking one with the stubble, and the sensible slightly older one whose wife has died in a car crash. None of them have the on-screen presence to carry a show and the whole thing seems to be crying out for a larger-than-life central character with all the usual personality defects.

You can criticise this sort of formulaic tv all you like, but it definitely needs a Boyle (Waking the Dead, Fatal flaw: angry, son is junkie), Cracker (Fatal flaw: fat gambling misogynist alcoholic), Rebus (Fatal flaw: Scottish) to pull it all together. The scripts aren’t nearly so good as Waking the Dead, one of the best UK drama series’ in a long time. But I think it would still be quite watchable if they had a strong enough central character.

I suggest they get Monkfish, Simon Day’s excellent character from the Fast Show. (See clip above) He’s currently starring as second-fiddle in the excerable Harry and Paul, but I’m sure he’d be far happier in this rubbish instead.

The body’s been struck with a blunt object you say? Nonsense. Stick your knickers on love and make us a nice cup of tea.

University Challenge

October 22, 2008

Miss Gold, the posh tousle-haired, speccy girl fronting the Kings College Cambridge Team this week, is just the sort the teenage Mingles might have fallen in love with. 


Being from a scummy council estate, I always dreamed of going to Oxford, and watching University Challenge always reminds me how it might have gone if I’d been intelligent enough, motivated enough and not off my face all the time on drugs.

I only took Higher Chemistry to get access to the big bottles of chloroform.  We used to nab them and then pour the quickly-evaporating liquid into a small glass ashtray trapped inside a white plastic bag and inhale the fumes. Despite this remarkable ingenuity, I got an F. Although to be fair, the standard in Chemistry passes was down in our school all over that year. Quite a few people failed the practical bit – apparantly some thieving little bastards had pinched all the choloroform.

It’s a shame really. Because I already had my Oxford persona completely worked out. I’d be the sensitive, quiet artistic one from the scummy council estate, whose fractured poetic soul you could feel burning into you whenever you met his gaze. I’d wear my black polo neck, cultivate my teenage stubble and smoke nothing but Gauloises cigarettes. Then there was my love-affair with 60’s French New Wave Cinema. And to cap it all off, I had the harrowing stories from my deprived childhood to make the posh girls swoon (‘Did you know he actually had to share a bedroom with his younger brother? How ghastly!’) I’d sort of planned to market myself as a cross between George Orwell and super-cool 60’s French movie star Alain Delon.

Inevitably, like just about everything else in real life, as opposed to tv and the movies – there was a flaw in my plan. You see, whilst I always ‘fell in love’ with posh, haughty, studious, young women like Miss Gold, the ones that got me light-headed with lust were always the big-breasted, giggly girls who lived in my street, and who I’d once played doctors & nurses with. They were always far more straighforward and they looked me in the eye as an equal. What’s more, if they fancied you they smiled at you in a particular way which said  ‘Go on. Ask me out. I’ll say yes, honest I will’  Of course, I usually dumped them in favour of the posh girls who showed me very little interest, but there you go. Attempting to reconcile this classic Madonna/Whore complex has been a lifelong struggle, but one which has along the way gotten me into some very enjoyable escapades.

I did eventually achieve my ambition and made it to Oxford – I spent five days on holiday there last year. (I’ve still got the certificate somewhere.) And there, in one of life’s more hilarious ironies, I found the buxom local girls to be just like the ones I grew up with. Except they had the added appeal of an accent which (to my Scottish ear) made them sound like sexy witches in a Hammer horror film. So even if I’d made it to Oxford, I’d probably have ended up dating nothing but barmaids.

Incidentally, King’s College won. I Hope you celebrate by letting your hair down Miss Gold. Remember you’re up against the local girls as well now.

Normal Service Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible

October 22, 2008

We apologise for this break in transmission and assure you that our engineers are doing their very best to rectify the problem. Until then, some light music.

Fail Friday

October 17, 2008

Here, for no particular reason and with no particular theme, are some of the many photos I’ve collected in the past few months since I discovered this marvelous internet thing.

Thanks to the wonderful site for most of these ( Also to Napoleon for the poodle dog ( And finally, thanks to Nurse Myra for the cute Tazmanian Devil and the last one. ( That last one is definitely a success though.


Holby City … It’s WAR!

October 17, 2008

I haven’t watched Holby since about 2005, when my comedy career hit a brick wall. Being a cynic, and also an idiot, I thought I’d effortlessly move into writing for the soaps – and so I sent them some of my comedy scripts.


I soon received a nice letter from Holby’s trainee assistant script editor. The BBC will never tell you to fuck off, they’ll just send you a letter from the trainee assistant script editor. If you’re wondering what a trainee assistant script editor does, they make the runners’ tea and eventually hope to work their way up to cleaning the toilets. I soon gave up.


Anyway, I haven’t seen this show for years, so I thought I’d give it a watch. The last time I tuned in, that game old bird from the Nescafe Gold adverts was in it …


A posh doorstep.


Posh Woman: Would you like to come in for … coffee? 


Posh Man: Just to clarify – when you say ‘coffee’ you do mean ‘anal’?


Posh Woman: of course I do, you poncy twat.


Posh Man: Right. It’s just I’m not drinking that instant shite.


Posh Woman: Okay.


Posh Man: I usually have a half-caff moccachino latte you see, and I doubt you’ll have the proper ingredients in there for that.


Posh Woman: Right …


Posh Man: I really am quite picky about my coffee, you see.


Posh Woman: Okay.


Posh Man: I mean, say what you like about Starbucks, but they really do make a terrific cup of coffee.


Door slams in his face.


The set up in this show used to be that all of the action took place within the grounds of the hospital. There were some storylines centered around the relationships between the staff. But I think in an attempt initially to make it stand out from parent show, Casualty, they focused more on the interior of the hospital than the living rooms of potential casualties.


I haven’t seen Casualty for about ten years either. But so far as I remember, a typical Casualty scene used to go a bit like this:


Posh actress playing scrubber on council estate: Daaaad! Can you put up that light bulb in the spare room? Young Liam is coming back from the army for the weekend and he needs somewhere to sleep. He can’t have his old room as that is now occupied by his new half-brother by my new violent and much-younger partner. (quietly to herself) Maybe I should put that samurai sword somewhere safe …nah, It’ll be alright …


Cut to grandad in spare room.


Posh old actor playing grandad (they couldn’t get Richard Briers this time): No problem love.


Pulls out step-ladder, climbs a few steps, falls onto toddler playing with samurai sword.


Posh actress: Oh daaaad, what are you like. Phone the bleedin’ ambliance.


(I still think this script has legs, you know.)



Before I watched tonight’s episode, just out of curiosity, I wrote down what I thought might be some of the storylines/characters:


Older male/female nurse/doctor having affair with younger male/female nurse/doctor.


Someone on the staff’s got the cancer.


Someone married is having an affair with a work colleague.  


Someone quite senior is secretly drinking/taking drugs.


Some senior surgeon is quite offhand and moody. For some inexplicable reason this is seen as an indication of his genius. (I blame James Robertson Justice) 


Some older mother-hen type staff nurse character who younger staff come to for advice.( also works for recapping storylines etc)



I’ll admit that last one was more wish-fulfillment than actual theory. Especially since I found out Patsy Kensit is in it. So how close did I come?  Well, I tuned in to find it’d been cancelled in favour of a Panorama credit-crisis wank-a-thon.

Journalists love this shit. You know the sort of thing … 

Change WAR to CREDIT CRUNCH and they’re in hog heaven. 


Don’t give the fuckers the satisfaction. Sell you car, take the bus, grow your own vegetables, bake your own bread. But most important of all – swap to instant coffee and don’t change the lightbulbs in the spare room when there are Japanese swords lying around.