Old grizzly chops is back with the BBC version of The Apprentice and Sir Alan is now Lord Sugar. The wannabes in suits seem a bit more bitchy and bossy like the first bloke to be eliminated in a dodgy sausage making contest. I almost expected to hear a plumy voice say no humans were poisoned in the making of this programme. So first up it was goodbye Dan. Like the Bill Cullen version, it seems to take three people to collectively do nothing and then blame it on the project manager. Lord Sugar, no doubt loves football analogies since his Spurs ownership days.
Filming a poem may not seem like attractive TV but when the actors are Alan Rickman (now starring in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin) and Emma Thompson the results are interesting.
Dramatising Christopher Reid’s poem The Song of Lunch was a great BBC2 idea for National Poetry Day.
It is the story of a man and woman who meet again in a favourite restaurant after fifteen years. She had gone to marriage and children in Paris and he, while a successful publisher, had gone to seed. Instead of poetic reconciliation he drank too much wine and went to the toilet and she paid the bill and left. No romance, no bittersweet redemption just a very clever poem turned into a sad and more realistic story.
GOLD the digital channel were quick into the memories with a tribute to the late Norman Wisdom. I didn’t know he was a multi-instrumentalist and he had tracked Ed Sullivan the legendary TV presenter to his New York hotel to get an audition and he was turned down but a year later Sullivan came to see him in England. Wisdom was a great comic talent and he gave up American fame to come home to take care of his two children, when as he said, his wife found someone taller and better looking them him. What tears lurked behind his song, – Don’t Laugh At Me Cos I’m A Fool. Happy memories.
Sky 1 is definitely pumping out shows at a faster rate than ever before and they have entered the Sunday market with Thorne, a detective series. Hard to see what, if anything is different here except a quality cast doing the same old, same old. David Morrissey stars as DI Tom Thorne and he is cut from the same imaginary template of single-minded dedicated, cut corners if you have to, but solve the case and put the baddie behind bars. The crimes are as grisly as you would expect and the editing is jerky rather than edgy and Morrissey co-produced it. Aidan Gillen is good as a dodgy pathologist but if he turns out to be the killer then it’s a take from Dexter.
There is also Natasha McElhone as the doctor with a bedside manner. Despite all the quality cast and a passable script you would have to wonder why and why would David Morrissey put his own cash into this run-of-the-mill but then again Robson Green got richer doing just that in Wire in the Blood.
E4 has a hit on its hands with the series Phone Shop. Don’t know if it started out on C4 or what as there was hardly any promotional buzz about it, but suddenly there it is and it is funny. Too often comedy shows just are not funny or not funny enough like Pat Shortt’s Mattie but this one is as good as The IT Crowd. Its character driven with at least four good comedy turns especially Janine who deals with pay As You Go not the better BillPay (contract). Lance is the battle weary boss and Ashley and Jerwayne the guys with all the cons going on. The innocent in the shop is college educated Christopher who is foil for the others’ crazy ways.
The BBC4 series A History of Horror is a glorious gory triumph as it looks back at the greats of Dracula and Frankenstein. In its way it is kinda sad that the wonderful Bela Lugosi ended up touring in England in a tame Dracula stage show. While Boris Karloff who made at least 80 forgotten films before he succeeded as the Creature in Frankenstein. A small disappointment was when Lon Chaney’s make-up case was opened it had little stuff in its rusty interior, except for a glass eye. But it was fun to relive my early fear of seeing Christopher Lee in Hammer Horrors, Dracula so long ago in the vanishing Coliseum with the legendary Miss Kerr behind the torch.