RTE1 got their copycat franchise of Dragon’s Den off to a tentative start last week, but it seems a camera or two short to get interest in the Dragon’s, who are caught from one angle mostly. Fun to see crisp green €100 notes and the first contestants up with a money laundering cash register did seem a put-up to fool the Dragons, but they didn’t bite, not did they even nibble at an office aquarium idea or a pannini toaster. They passed on the drinks novelty of Boozeberries and gave the woman owner a hard time but they loved two fresh-faced farmers with a website idea for pedigree cattle. No smell of Benjy there.
It must be that chocolate, sex and sweet nothings froth of Valentines is catching but there is nothing Mills and Boonish about BBC1 bringing back Mistresses for a second go. It was a surprise hit first time out and the new series opens with none of the four mistress relationships. The acting is superb and sexy in a lot of different ways. Katie (Sarah Parish) is at a new hospital and meets a drop dead, drop your knickers, gorgeous heart surgeon. Trudi (Sharon Small) is ready to marry her steady strong silent type and sell cakes in the deli. Jessica (Shelly Conn) is marrying a dodgy philanderer while Siobhan (Orla Brady) is using a snazzy male escort service while living with the control-freak husband who is house-husbanding her child but not his.
There is a frisson, a tingle about this series that will delight if I can keep up with the pace.
It must have seemed like a good idea to have Jeremy Paxman front the new BBC1 series, The Victorians, with its familiar story of enterprise and poverty. An industrial revolution and the worst of times. Six million houses were built during the reign of Queen Victoria and the bubble never burst like it has now. In fact, Paxo is pointing up some obvious parallels with contemporary life, only he chooses to use drawings and paintings to reflect on the past. Art could hide the grime and did but it could also create a dark-sub-world that caused revulsion to an upper class who retreated behind closed doors and a philanthropy that kept the poor in workhouses, while the aspiring middle-class moved on in horse-drawn omnibuses to create a vast suburban social-scape. Whatever you may think of the message of the programme, it is very well made and in its own way, fascinating.
While RTE1 reduces this recession to a Question And Answers format of talking and twittering politicians, it was realistic to watch C4s Dispatches programme last week, The Big Job Hunt, where a cross-section of ordinary people who lost their jobs were treated at Job Centres. Sobering stuff, with a lot of political promises, not being matched with the reality on the ground. In Germany, to keep skilled workers in industry, the government subsidise big industries to keep the skills in work. The new UK Job Centres Plus are failing to cope with the ever increasing number of unemployed and it takes more than five weeks to get a Job Seeker’s Allowance. Not a lot of answers there either.
Not only have ITV initiated a pay-freeze for its top executives, but it has emerged that they have over £19 millions worth of dramas on the shelf or in cold storage with no definite plans to broadcast them yet. There’s a one-off adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s Octavia, a 90 minute Whatever It Takes featuring Shane Richie (perhaps this has something to do with Richie’s new success with Minder or Five). There’s even an Andrew Davies adaptation of Janna Briscoe’s Sleep With me.