O Brother, where art Thou? As the song says and C4’s Big Brother is to go in 2010 having, as they say, reached a natural end point. Translated, it means less than 2 million watched it at peak and falling. Its natural end will save £50 million for C4 but what if, the provider, Endemol manage to tweak the format and sell it on to the competition. Anyway C4 are looking to invest in 3D technology, so we could have glasses in the sitting room, goggles for the goggle box!
But it is hard to dismantle Big Brother, that provided 93 days on air, 94 editions of spin-off shows and used 44 cameras, 57 fixed house mics, 75 mirrors in the house, 12 edit suites and15 post-edit suites. It also employs 189 full-time staff, 20 technical staff on shifts, 100 freelance staff for live evictions as well as 45 security and police on duty for those shows.
Timothy Spall has one of those actor faces that have a rubbery bewildered quality, that registers such a range of emotions on tv. In the heart-rending Gunrush, his face haunted the screen as he mourned the death of his daughter by a random gunshot.
In the telling of this UTV story, you got all the rage and conflicting emotions of a mild mannered driving instructor, father of two teenage girls, who was put upon by his daughters and his wife. The opening sequences were typical humdrum stuff of tetchy wife and sulky kids in a supermarket, when they bump into two pothead hoodies who shot the one daughter because the wife says they should have manners.
Spall, as the husband, is devastated and despite his wife’s rejection of him as being ineffectual, he sets out to trace the gun and the killers. The drama also follows the gun and the pothead hoodies, who are also caught in a world not of their own making. Some fine performances all round and by the end, Apall finds the gun and the killers but spares them for another hooded figure to shoot both of them.
As the family pick up the pieces of their lives, the remaining daughter plays the cello and you see another hooded figure load the gun for another senseless crime. Depressing stuff.
Those two over-weight Hairy Bikers are back on BBC2 with a new 30 part series of half hour programmes over six weeks, looking at British regional cooking. They are on in a nifty pre-tea slot and you get less double-meaning jokes but they still smear each other with food, whenever the opportunity arises. They also smirk at each other and seem to share a private joke. This could be a ratings winner in this slot.
Food programmes must be cheap to produce because BBC2 have given a four-part run to Levi Roots, the singing Rasta, who got cash and fame for his Reggae Reggae sauce by appearing on Dragon’s Den. This sauce was a hit with the public and he is now off on the trail of new tastes and a new product range. Also, he looks the part, which is a major plus in this market.
You have to admire BBC1 for the way they make recession rescue programmes that catch the viewers imagination. Programmes like Can You Bank On Me?, where they put former bankers into unusual (for them) jobs who need a quick rescue job or re-direction. A posh girl was sent to a fading Blackpool hotel, but you sensed the resentment and the defeat despite her honest can-do approach. Sometimes people are just too defeated, too bitter to grasp at a possible change and that is the numbing result of it all. Blame and Not my doing!
With the death recently of Renato Pagliari, a nostalgic story can be told. He was the male part of singing duo, Renee And Renato, who had a massive hit with Save Your Love in 1982. Renato, as a solo, won a slot in New Faces in 1975 but in 1982 two songwriters needed a duo to sing their Save Your Love and put Renato (he was born in Rome but lived in UK after 1970) into a studio with Hilary Lester, a soprano with an all-girl band. So Renee and Renato were born for Top Of The Pops but a Val Perry toured as Renee and this manufactured hit topped charts in UK, Norway, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Perry appeared in the promotional video but Lester sang the track. Daniel O’Donnell and Mary Duff revived it.
Renato had another hit on his own with Just One Cornetto (to the melody of O Sole Mio) which was used by Walls in adverts for over a decade and had a career at Italian song festivals.
Spare a thought for regular viewers of digital channel, Dave, who took part in a find the best joke at Edinburgh Festival to award £1,000 to. A panel of comedy critics did a shortlist from nearly 9,000 one-liners and awarded Dan Antopolski the prize for – Hedgehogs. Why can’t they just share the hedge. What does it say about Dave viewers or what does it say about me? Doh!