Saturday, November 27, 2004

Lighting Up The Schedule

Although not in the Premier League of TV comedies, The Smoking Room (BBC2) has still been a small gem.
Much as I like 'ground-breaking' comedy, I like this one because it is so traditional. Unusually, all the action takes place on one set which gives it a theatrical feel with characters constantly entering and exiting from the wings.
It's also the comedy equivalent of one of those restaurants where the open kitchen is the centre-piece. In other words, the writer's technique is always on display as he manipulates the characters and uses all the old comedy tricks to get a laugh. Some people might think this a failing but I rather enjoy it.
One tried and tested technique is complicity with the viewer. It's obvious to the viewer that one of the characters is gay (except to the densest person) but the other characters don't seem to draw the inferences - because most of them are pretty dense as it happens.
I suppose it's funnier if you're a smoker who has spent time in a workplace smoking room and some of the characters are very recognisable. The only unrealistic thing is the vastness of the room. Most of the ones I've been in were like broom cupboards. But of course cameras need large spaces to move around in.
Under proposed legislation these smoking rooms will disappear. And with them all the bonding and team-building that employers are so fanatical about. Nothing creates instant bonding like a shared addiction to nicotine.
And before all you non-smokers start whingeing, we all know you do your bonding and skiving in the kitchen, the canteen, the post room and the toilets.

(It's rather shameful,by the way, that the programme's website seems to have nothing about the writer (Brian Dooley) but all too typical of the low regard in which writers are held in the entertainment industry.)



Have you noticed that Sarah Montague, the posh totty who presents the Today programme, has the same laugh as Sid James?
I'm not sure how much more I can take of Miss Jolly Hockey Sticks first thing in the morning. It's like finding you've woken up in Cheltenham Ladies College. I never thought I'd say this but come back Sue MacGregor, all is forgiven.

From the television film listings: 'amiable family comedy adventure against the background of the war in Vietnam.'
It was a laugh a minute, that Vietnam war.

'If you miss a radio programme, you can Listen Again on the BBC website.'
Listen again? To something you didn't hear before?
Is this some strange version of deja vu? Maybe Stephen Hawking could explain it.

This week Carlo and I watched the Manchester United match on television. This was because Carlo had discovered that Alan Smith was playing. Do I detect a pattern developing here? I, in turn, was hoping Ronaldo would be playing (for his devestating dribbling skills, of course) so we were both happy. However I was sorry to see that the Portuguese twinkle-toes has become very spotty. I hope this won't affect his game although it could open the door to a lucrative sponsorship deal with Clearasil.
Carlo is still obsessed with 'I'm A Celebrity' and taped all the bits with Brian Harvey in them. 'Blinding' is now his favourite term of approbation. He's distraught now that Brian has walked out of the show. He'd already been very distressed at the indignities the chunky pop star had to suffer in the Bush Tucker Trials. He can't seem to grasp that Ant and Dec are not personally responsible for these tortures and screams "Fucking bastards" and "Sumibak ka na lang ng kalabasa!" at them every night.

Oh, Christ. Swarfega Boy has reared his ugly, spike-haired, wet-look-gelled head again.
Feeling remorseful and fearing he wouldn't have any further access to my drinks cabinet, he has offered to take Carlo to Blackpool Pleasure Beach as a gesture of reconciliation. This morning they went to the neighbouring village to book their day trip with Ron Higgs Luxury Coaches, established 1948. Both the adjective and the plural are puzzling since Ron has only bought one new coach since air conditioning became standard.
Anyway, Ron refused the booking because on a previous excursion to Weston-Super-Mare Lee had mooned at some traffic police on the M4. Lee said this was so unfair because he was only a kid at the time. Ron replied that it was only last summer and that, with a block booking from the convent for this trip, he couldn't afford to take any chances.
Lee now says he will borrow a car. I find that strangely worrying.
When we come back: Carlo is invited to tea.


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