ITV have secured the services of Simon Cowell for the next three years for the X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and US versions to be re-broadcast as well. Now that’s good news as these programmes top the current ratings with nearly 13 million viewers. Eastenders comes next with less than 10 million and Coronation Street with less than 9 million.
New comedy, perhaps, it is a pilot, on BBC3 called D O A (Dead On Arrival) and despite Kris Marshall as a doctor suspended while the death of a patient is investigated, goes out as a paramedic on an ambulance driven by Karen Taylor (comedian) which she uses as a delivery van for edible underwear and sex toys. Some of the jokes are good but even BBC3 will have trouble getting this to mainstream viewing as a lot of the humour is crude and distasteful. Perhaps it will be dead on arrival or it may never arrive at all. Still there is a spark between Taylor and Marshall that could carry it away from Shameless and vomit and mobile phones up yer rectum jokes.
It seems as part of the BBC4 series with Mark Gatiss about the history of horror movies, they also slipped in a scary story about the life and loves of Edgar Allan Poe, who was the American father of detective and the revival of Gothic horror stories. Poe had a short almost romantic life and he had great affection for his mother who married Mr Allan and had Poe educated in England. Poe believed in resurrection and some of his ghostly heroines came back from the dead. He married his wife Virginia when she was only 13 – normal in the America of the early 1800’s. He idealised her and her tragic death undid his mind and he took large doses of laudanum that fuelled his writings. He pursued another woman and poet and she consulted a psychic before refusing marriage but they had a friendship through poetry. The programme was called Love Death and Women.
Trust BBC2’s Horizon to give you a great dollop of education with a dash of human interest and that’s exactly what you got with Miracle Cure? A Decade of the Human Geonome.
It told in understandable chunks the research into one single gene and how they – the scientists – identified 3.6 billion letters of our genetic code. But it told its story by getting three people with genetic disorders (cystic fibrosis, cancer and alcoholism) to go and see how the research is progressing. We are still awaiting the magic pill to cure or prevent cancer or the spark or injection to banish heart disease but there is progress. In keeping with popular culture programmes it is almost mandatory culture programmes it is almost mandatory that someone cries and the cancer sufferer welled up a few times. Change is happening, results are getting better but the breakthrough might be a bit of a way off yet. Almost like recovery from recession.
Mask and gown stories are a staple of television channels and there was a rich crop on the topic both the mundane and the bizarre evident last week.
On BBC4 Jo Brand returned for more Getting On, a mordant medical comedy with smelly women, a bossy if not crazy doctor and more laughs than you could expect from such morbid material.
Holby city on BBC1 looked at the problems of cost saving and NHS cutbacks and after a long wait when you thought a cancer suffering consultant or a private practice surgeon were going to be made redundant, the programme did a quick backtrack and the suits selected five nurses for the chop. Roll the credits and more rows next week.
Over on More 4 it was outrage in a true story of Michael Mastromarino, who bought bodies from undertakers and sold them as tissue recovery and body parts. Bodysnatchers of New York was infuriating as it exposed a multi-million dollar business that traded as three legitimate companies. The matter-of -factness of it all added to the outrage, as Mastromarino, a dental technician, lamented his being branded a ghoul or a body snatcher by a sensationalist media. Apparently some people are worth more dead than alive, from a thousand dollars to 250,000 dollars. Only in America? Or could it happen here?