Naughty

Again, apologies for the delay, but Telly Addict‘s benefactors at UKTV were not in the office yesterday. I have no idea why. In any case, one of my favourite televisual experiences of last week was All Aboard! The Country Bus (BBC Four), a two-hour journey of the actual kind (as opposed to the emotional “journey” usually taken on TV today) from Richmond in North Yorkshire across the Dales, in real time, as part of the Slow TV movement originated in Norway.

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If you require volume, there’s always Joe Wicks: the Body Coach (Channel 4), a cross between Jamie Oliver and Russell Brand who’s already a superstar on Instagram, which is something you can be in this day and age. If he’s real, and not a sensational hoax played by a genius character comic who created him for an Edinburgh show, then I warn you against him if you find “healthy eating” anathema. I quite like him, in tiny doses. (Spot the difference in the following two photos.)

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I remain vexed by the BBC’s Sitcom Season (BBC One, BBC Two), which marks 60 years since the corporation broadcast but didn’t record or keep Hancock’s Half Hour. Rather more reverence is afforded the form these days, but not in the case of Are You Being Served? (BBC One), a karaoke version with a top-drawer cast having the time of their life doing impressions of beloved characters from the 70s and early 80s. I loved this show between the ages of seven and 12. And I don’t blame seasoned Benidorm writer Derren Litten (with whom I briefly worked on the early days of Not Going Out), for taking it on and pushing the envelope of taste (there’s a double entendre about “seamen” that might not have made it in 1972). But I just don’t know why it was on my telly. Surely you celebrate classic sitcoms by showing them, not remaking and rebooting them?

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Victoria (ITV) started well, and beat Poldark (BBC One) in the overnights. That’s despite Poldark giving its hyperventilating fans (I’m among them) a pumped male torso glistening with sweat in the first 20 minutes. Victoria has no such titilation, just upstairs-downstairs intrigues and protocols for the Downton crowd. I’m hooked already.

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I’m also hooked on The Night Of (Sky Atlantic), a remake, eight years after the event, of Peter Moffat’s legal drama Criminal Justice, re-set in New York and New Jersey and inflated to eight episodes. By the time you read this, I may well have binged on the whole series, which is utterly addictive. Even if, as I do, you remember the original really well, including the outcome, which I hope they’ve changed. One objection: the credit “Created by Richard Price and Steve Zaillian”. Created? Really? Like Derren Litten “created” Are You Being Served?

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A nod to John Bishop, whose In Conversation With (it’s on W, which always look odd when typed) chat show slot is proving worthwhile. It’s no mean feat for a man who talks for a living (I’ve interviewed him – he’s a superb guest) to shut up so respectfully and professionally, leaving guests like James Corden and Charlotte Church to take centre stage for the best part of an hour.

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There is no prize for working out what’s on the coffee table this week (because there never is), but someone out there might get it. Here are all the Telly Addicts gathered in a YouTube playlist.

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5 thoughts on “Naughty

  1. Hi Andrew,

    as a fan of slow tv you’ll no doubt be pleased by the news that James May is doing another series of The Re-assembler, a surprising gem (especially the one with the guitar).

    What did you make of the new sit-com pilots? I saw three (Our Ex-Wife, We the Jury, and Motherhood), and thought the second of those the most promising for a series. Our Ex-Wife was super (would have fit seamlessly into the Inside Number 9 anthology series), but seemed pretty much played out as a half hour programme. Motherland was supposedly the best according to previews, but i thought it suffered from the same problems as the second series of Catastrophe. That is, it chucked together a bunch of grotesque characters, being mean to each other, and little else. It gets dull pretty quickly. I’m left wondering why I should be interested in them given they are all pretty much unlikeable (in contrast to the first series of Catastrophe where the development of the relationship between Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan was engaging and something that perked interest, and was funny). But the real treat was We the Jury. It was silly in a good way, packed with jokes, and often genuinely funny. It also had promise for a series following the entire trial (a comic contrast to the brilliant The People vs OJ Simpson).

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    • I have every intention of seeing We The Jury (as I like the writer as a stand-up and met one of its stars, Ken Collard, yesterday) and Motherhood (again, good writers), but didn’t rate Coopers vs the Rest, seemed like the diversity tail wagging the comedy dog again, and I’m rather underwhelmed by the whole enterprise. I love comedy, but find very little to get excited about in the half-hour sitcom slot. (Detectorists was great, but far away from a standard sitcom, more of a drama; I love Catastrophe, too, but it’s the energy of it that thrills me, I think.) Incidentally, I watched The Circuit and found the characters in that so grim and unlikeable, I wouldn’t rush to see any more of them.

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      • I didn’t see The Circuit, but feel similar about the characters in Catastrophe in the second series (Rob Delaney’s character aside). There was something likeable about at least the two leads in the first series (although the support characters were always lacking in any plausible reason why the leads might want to hang out with them), but Sharon Horgan’s character seemed to lose that in the second. She just resorted to being mean, and that gets tiresome quickly. Obviously you’ll know more than me as someone who has written sit-coms, but they seem a very nebulous thing. It’s rarely clear why the features that work in one fall flat when you find them in another. A nice surprise from last year was Car Share (at least, after the first episode), which benefited from only really having to develop two characters (so could actually develop those characters and get comedy from that rather from looking for comedy from the variations on the situation but with flatter characters). It shows how brilliant Parks and Recreation was that it managed to get comedy from both developing a larger cast of characters and working on funny situations.

        Looking forward to your review of Poldark.

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  2. Having watched all of “The Night Of…” then would it be spoiling it if I revealed whether the ending was the same as the original?

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