Saturday, June 28, 2008

It's 12.30am and Willie is in the Diary Room

I've seen very little of Big Brother (although even if I'd watched all of it I probably wouldn't admit it).
But last night I flicked over from the Nelson Mandela concert when Amy Winehouse appeared because looking at the poor girl makes me feel queasy. And, if I dare say it, I'm rather disappointed with Mandela: when he finally spoke about Mugabe he referred to a "failure of leadership". That sounds rather like a comment that might be made about a Team Leader in a call centre in his annual appraisal. Taking our cue from Mandela, we could perhaps say that Hitler was well-meaning but misguided?

Anyway, I was in time to see Big Brother's annual Big Row, without having a clue what it was about.
I had seen part of the first programme and decided that these were possibly the most obnoxious group of housemates thus far, apart from Luke who, for some mysterious reason, I quite like. Luke has a strong Lancashire accent so in the profile of him the accompanying soundtrack was, naturally, a song by George Formby. Yet housemates from London are not normally introduced to a soundtrack by Chas and Dave. That's because Northerners talk with funny accents but Southerners don't. It's the patronising, infantile southern prats who need to grow up.

I don't like getting on my high horse about something as trivial as Big Brother but watching this year's Spitting Row (an odious, flouncing, gay dance teacher called Dennis spat in the face of someone called Mohammed and, following the usual script, Dennis was expelled and the police are now investigating....) I felt that BB is probably the most debased form of television we have had. That it continues to be one of the flagship programmes of Channel Four, a public service broadcaster, makes it even more shocking.

It's the hypocrisy of Channel Four and Endemol that really rankles. They put a collection of stupid and/or dysfunctional people in a high-pressure, claustrophobic environment to provoke conflict (conflict being essential to the programme) and when it all gets out of hand they wring their hands, the participants are crucified in the media and Channel Four get masses of free publicity.

When BB first began it had the virtue of novelty and could just about be justified as an interesting experiment in individual and group psychology. Today it is so sordid that you feel like taking a shower after watching it.


A highlight of my viewing week was the Parliamentary Awards on the Parliament Channel. If you missed it you'll be grateful to me for telling you that the coveted Select Committee of The Year award (sponsored by the Royal Chemistry Society) was won by the Treasury Select Committee.
Don't worry. My therapy starts next week.


The most shameful thing on TV this week, apart from the BB Spitting Row, occurred during the Euro Semi-Final between Russia and Spain.
No, not Russia losing; that was just deeply depressing. It was our old friend commentator Clive Tyldesley who not just ignored the anti-racist messages that were read out before the game but talked over them, including the English language version. I don't know whether this was down to his stupidity, which I've often drawn attention to, or whether he held the whole exercise in contempt.
In the previous Semi-Final, John Motson had at least summoned the will power to break off from his historical anecdotes to explain EUFA's anti-racist campaign. So for the first, and probably the last, time, I have to give credit to Motson. As for Tyldesley, he deserves to be banished to the same wilderness as Ron Atkinson.


A familiar voice emanated from the radio yesterday morning. A voice that began sentences with "Look!" and "Y'know..."
Yes, it was Phoney Tony.
Was I the only person to rejoice that Gordon Brown was now Prime Minister?
In the present climate, I probably was.


Tony Blair was talking about what Count Arthur Strong in his radio show this week called "globular warming".
I still haven't learned that when listening to Arthur Strong the rule is 'Nil by mouth'.
As a result, I had to spit a mouthful of tea into the sink to avoid choking.

What's more worrying is that I seem to be unconsciously imitating Count Arthur in my daily life. A woman phoned and asked me to do a survey on property prices. I heard myself saying "that's the most ridiculous question I've ever heard!" followed by "I haven't got time for this nonsense!"
Then, in response to the boy in the newsagent's polite enquiry after my health I heard myself say I was as fit as a greengrocer's cat.
Actually, I think someone called me 'Count' the other day. Then again, my hearing isn't what it was.


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