It was great to see Waterford-born Paul Hennessy of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, on the high-powered corporate interview panel that grilled the last four contestants on The Apprentice. He was the mildest and kindest of a trio, where the other two bullied answers out of contestants and made one woman cry. These so-called reality shows seem to revel in tears. Surely corporate interviews cannot be so unpleasant. One interviewer seems to relish his time in front of the camera and took pleasure in causing hurt to contestants. By the time you read this, I expect Brenda, freckles and all, to win and both she and her three-year-old child to be in tears.
Oh no, not another moody cop show, with a top class cast, lots of dead bodies, rumpled crumpled suits and cold watery locations. So that’s the new BBC1 cop show that is expecting to out-Morse Morse. Wallender is no Van Der Valk and cold clinical Sweden is not Midsomer whatever. But, more importantly, Kenneth Branagh doesn’t cut the tension, in fact he hides his unease, if not embarrassment, in moody boring bits and an unhappy back-story of his father as an artist with Alzheimers. (David Warner is wasted on this tosh too).
But it was so boring and those shots of a Volvo pulling up in front of posh houses in watery sunshine. Product placement is all very fine but we got the message that Volvo means Sweden. If it was meant to be edgy, it wasn’t. Apparently the books sell well, in well Sweden but what was the point of all the English actors but newspapers and shopfronts in Swedish. And whose idea was it to film it in a field of yellow rape seed under blue skies, as if we didn’t already know the flag of Sweden is yellow and blue. One thing missing was Ikea furniture.
The BBC2 series, WWII: Behind Closed Doors, has proven to be a revelation without any over-the-top exaggeration, zippy or noisy editing, just good recreations and a declaration of facts that made for sad, if not painful, viewing. Laurence Rees fine series looks at the secret history and negotiations of the Big Three of Stalin, Roosavelt and Churchill, as they manoeuvered to put their own countries in a much better situation. The cold calculation of Stalin and the extraordinary steps he took to cover over the Soviet murder of 22,000 Poles at Katyn in 1940, was shocking but this was topped by his ethnic cleansing of Tartars and other races in a re-organisaed Europe. Makes for gripping, if sad, viewing and a fine antidote to the advertising for Christmas.
In the pre-festive rush, before we get the wall-to-wall specials, tv programmers get to unload stuff that might never have found a place or an audience, in the schedules. At the posh-end of tosh, BBC2 gave us one of those young smiley trendy professors in Do You Want To Know What Time It Is? He made a fun, but big deal, about the nature of time. Talking heads waffled at blackboards in gardens, lots of time-lapse photography and all the while you felt like saying what a waste of time. Does it matter if time past and future already exists and its always later than you think.
Another filler was C4s Sex Trips For Girls, that turned out to be senior citizens, and elderly women, going to the Dominican Republic for sex and fun. So there were the leather-faced, peroxide blondes in colourful clothes ogling hunky young men who, no doubt, provided whatever service was required. But these old dears were annoyed to be called sex tourists. One 67 year old woman said she was not that sort of person.
BBC Radio stars don’t seem to have learned much from the Brand Ross episode, as the grossness continued last week with John Barrowman, star of Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood, getting out his tackle on the urging of Nick Grimshaw on a BBC Radio show. Online listeners saw this as there was a webcam in the studio. Barrowman Grimshaw and co-presenter Annie Mae knew the webcam was on when Grimshaw urged Barrowman with – You’re famous for getting your willy out in interviews. So Barrowman obliged and later said I didn’t take the whole thing out, but got my fruit and nuts out. Whatever can he mean?
A BBC spokesman said only one complaint had been received and that the show had – overstepped the mark. Barrowman said ‘I was wrong and it will never happen again’.