I haven’t watched much TV this Christmas. And what I have watched hasn’t been great. Doctor Who was pretty good, and the Christmas QI is always a safe bet. But the best thing I saw this year was on Boxing Day.
A BBC TV movie called “The Girl”. Staring Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren.
I have always been a big fan of Hitchcock’s films, The Birds being one of my favorites. So I was fascinated to see this film. The cast where fantastic. But i am not sure how balanced it is.
I know Hitchcock was infatuated with Tippi, but he was infatuated by all blondes. From all i have read about Hitchcock i can’t help but think that he’s the sort of director to have put an actress through the sort of torture Tippi went though on The Birds, purely to get the performance he wants. The obsession he had could have possibly been coincidental.
The film was based on Tippi’s testimony. So it is very much her side of the story. Hitch came off as creepy as one of his movies. But that didn’t stop me enjoying it at all.
If you are quick you may still be able to catch it on Iplayer
I am pretty sure I am not normally this much of a pedant. But I am today.
Below is a mocked up picture of what I see when I visit my local second hand book shop. There is a selection marked “literature”
THEY ARE BOOKS!! SURELY IT’S ALL LITERATURE!!
This sign would mean the same if they just wrote the word “books” on it. Its too general. We need to know what subcategory of literature it is.
Closer inspection of this section reveals that it is in fact what I would call the “Classics” Section.
Don’t you think that would be a better sign Mr Book-keeper?
And today, I was looking on the BBC’s Iplayer website and noticed they have a section marked generally as “Entertainment”.
With the exception of the News, IS IT NOT ALL ENTERTAINMENT?
Aren’t Comedy, Drama, soaps, films and music all subcategories of entertainment? Or are the BBC trying to differentiate between where the higher and lower quality shows are kept on their website? “Yes, there is comedy under the comedy banner” they seem to be saying “but if you want the entertaining comedy you’ll have to click the entertainment button first”.
I think what the BBC really mean by “Entertainment” is “Game shows”. And what’s up with game shows? Nothing at all. I love a good game show. So why not just say Game shows or Quizzes?
Anyway, as I said before, I am pretty sure I am not normally this much of a pedant. But for some reason I am today.
This sort of thing probably wont bother me tomorrow.
The BBC has recently finished airing a new sketch show series titled: “Watson and Oliver”. Some people have knocked this show in it recent run for its old fashioned style, while others claimed it was a break out successes to rival ‘Miranda’.
Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver are an interesting duo. In a break from the normal double act formula of pairing opposites; both Watson and Oliver are rather attractive and both show talent as character actresses.
The format of the show is simple: Studio Intro, Studio Sketches, Special guest, Filmed Sketch, Final song. In could have be directly lifted from a Morcambe and Wise show.
The Watson and Oliver sketches that work best are the simple ones where they can show off their acting skills. Like the one above. Or the greasy spoon sketch below, which must have been almost impossible to memorise:
The duo also play a pair of slow talking school girls which are very well observed. And its refreshing to see “the youth of today” being portrayed as something other than yobs. Sadly I can not find a clip of that sketch to share.
Although there are things to like about Watson and Oliver, I do find myself skipping through the episodes on iPlayer. A lot of sketches are too long. Others, like the prison sketches, just don’t seem to have a lot of drive. But their show seems to really fall down when they play themselves. While I have no doubt that they are good friends in real life, they have little chemistry in the sketches that top and tail the show. Watson plays a dim character that somehow always undercuts Oliver’s smart-alec character to the studio audiences constant uproarious surprise. Its a little too broad, wooden and lacks spontaneity.
The biggest problem I think is Watson and Oliver’s personas don’t quite click. It’s like they’ve borrowed them from Laurel and Hardy and it doesn’t fully fit them. In fact a lot of what they do feels derivative of other performers. French and Saunders being the most of obvious and I can see shades of Sue Perkins in there too. While some of the skits can be a pretty good, ultimately it feels like they haven’t found their voices yet.
I hope Watson and Oliver get a 2nd series so they can work on this show, as far too many shows get axed after their first series these days. After all it took Morecambe and Wise at least a series to find their voices too. In fact, I believe after viewing their first ever series one critic said:”Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise.” and they went on to become Britain’s best loved comedians. I’m pretty sure Watson and Oliver wont reach the dizzy heights of Morecambe and Wise, but it would be wrong not to let them try again.
If your not familiar with the topical comedy show, Newsjack, then I do urge you to listen to it. Its broadcast at 22:30 Thursday nights on Radio 4 Extra, formerly radio 7. And its pretty funny too. There aren’t many shows on the radio that just anyone can write for, but Newsjack is one of them.
If we look at the list of writers for the second episode of this series you’ll see no less than 26 names. Some of which I recognise after seeing them on an almost weekly basis. Others are new. But between them they write, on average, just over 1 min of the finished show each and that’s been whittled down from the thousands of sketches they get submitted each week.
I had some material recorded for the show in the first series - which was subsequently edited out before broadcast. I was downhearted at first, but looking back there must have been a lot of similar material to mine, as there was only one thing to talk about on the week Michael Jackson died. But it spurred me on to write more and eventually a sketch I wrote opened the second series, broadcast 7th Jan 2010:
Its not very topical is it? But it was the first show after Christmas and there had been a lot of snow on the ground.
I love the open door policy that Newjack has and I wish more shows on BBC radio had it. It’s great to have somewhere to submit your stuff and writing to a deadline each week is great practice.
But be aware that the program makers have their work cut out for them as by letting ANYONE submit to the show means they are letting EVERYONE submit. The BBC must have to wade though thousands of inappropriate scripts before they get to yours. And that’s when yours has to shine. And then it has to go through rewrites. And rehearsals. And then then it has to get a laugh when its performed too.
So don’t get disheartened if you get your stuff edited out before broadcast. Be pleased it got that far.