It must be the Eurofootie but unless you check out Cech the Keeper checking out the Czechs, you could go pun crazy and what’s the alternative. Weekends full of cowboy movies – chaps in chaps no less. BBC4 got in on the game with a grizzly Rich Hall doing a comic/serious How the West Was Lost. The stubbly foul-mouthed one was comparing Prez Bush to Gary Cooper – some tongue-tied, bible thumping fuckwit of a President. Hall’s point of view was that Westerns are sort of parables for civilisation. Black Stetsons versus White Stetsons.

Apparently back in 1959 six out of seven top T.V. shows in the U.S. were Westerns. Now don’t that make you sit easy in the sofa-saddle and you thinking Fistful of Dollars has a horse opera with dramatic music. But Hall consulted a firearms expert who said Americans are very happy because they own guns. Hall quipped – And it’s very important to keep them happy, because they own guns. Hang em high, pardner.

Dodgy Dickens

Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing football matches and talking headlines telling us why the games are better than we think. At least there’s a bit of spirit in GAAland as Kerry captain slaps the black book out of the ref’s hand. But between footie games, we got lots of dodgy footwork. BBC4 had a rehash of singing priest, Fr. Michael Cleary in The Father, The Son and the Housekeeper. Another dodgy guy in a beard was the Dickens on C4, Dicken’s Secret Lover, where a dodgy and hammy Charles Dance told that in 1850 Dickens was a huge idol of the reading classes like a mega-star and while he had a wife and nine children, he had a youthful mistress, a small-time actress, Nelly Ternan. He was 45 when he met her onstage and she was 18. We got a lot of literary talking heads about how this actress improved the quality of his writing like he was an artful dodger while to take the gloss off it all he was a philanderer who basked in the spotlight of fame like Fr. Cleary.

High Notes

What is most annoying about the BBC1 arts show Imagine is the building guy at the start explaining what we are about to see as we see it plus A Trip to Asia about the Berlin Philharmonic had a lot of subtitles. As an insight into a hundred strong orchestra conducted by a greying live-wire Sir Simon Rattle, it showed that musicians can be as self-important as football stars just not as well paid. The members spoke in sport terms about teamwork and the constant pressure on their lives. Seems it’s hard work playing at the same worse level as others and not standing out from them. One member said he was not creative just a reproducer of another’s music. Another said the orchestra was home while another said it was like psychotherapy. A few were just bitchy and unfriendly.

Shane Ritchie

Without Shane Richie, ex-Eastenders, the Sky One show Don’t Forget The Lyrics would be forgettable. He supports, he sings, he hugs, he advises, he kisses and he makes the contestants seem important. He clearly gives the impression that he wants the contestants to know and to remember the lyrics in a Karaoke-style show like the RTE Lyrics Board but he gives it pace, pizzazz and presentation. Way to go Shane.


If it wasn’t for football I might never have seen the 3-part BBC4 series, Jews by Vanessa Eagle and the first episode was a cracker. It looked at Hasidic Jews who read or study for hours each day, watch little television and hardly use computers. They live in dedicated self help communities but the glory of the programme was the central character, Samuel Leibonitz, a drug dealer who had served years in prison in Brazil, Israel ad England. His community rallied around him, got him work, accommodation and wrapped him in forgiveness and supportive tolerance. Despite his educated demeanour his well-spoken manner, he didn’t seem all that grateful and spoke matter-of-factly about swallowing ninety condoms of cocaine to get through customs. Now that’s a huge score.

Bits and Bytes

Skydiving: Have you seen the C4 Honda Skydiving advert where people leap out of a plane to form Honda the name as they freefall to earth. Well it took several planes to cover the 18 rehearsal flights, 13 cameras, 9 minicams helmet cams. The 19 jumps took place over three days with only one backup shoot.

Football: Despite the hype, the viewer figures for the first week of the Euro games are disappointing. About 4 million watched BBC1 and ITV games.

Bingo: Despite all the bad press and censure about phone-in quizzes on late-night T.V., ITV are to launch Bingo Night Live with such catch-phrases as Golden Jackpot, Magic Numbers and Minute To Win It.