19
Aug 04

“These people have no televisual persona, do they? They just should not be on television!”

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“These people have no televisual persona, do they? They just should not be on television!”

A Quiz:

a) Who said that?

b) About whom?

c) On which programme last night?

Answers in the comments box please. All shall be revealed later today…

18
Aug 04

PRESENTERATOR

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PRESENTERATOR

Did you miss it? No? Alright then…

#3: RISHI “I’ll definitely be watching that” PERSAD

Rishi Persad was introduced into the BBC’s horse racing team at some point last year. Ever since, he’s been a somewhat awkward, hapless presence, plunged in amongst a field of ‘sons of’ and ‘daughters of’ and ‘former riders and trainers of’ and desperately trying to look a bit credible, without much success. He always seems to know what he’s talking about, but just seems that touch peripheral or surplus to requirements. However, seeing him on screen is infinitely preferable to seeing, say, Angus Loughran or any of the Channel 4 Racing presenters.

Unfortunately, poor old Rishi’s just been lobbed into a situation that finds him even further out of his depth – co-anchoring the BBC’s Olympic coverage. This afternoon-to-early-evening found him sat, sweating like a bastard, next to Sue Barker in the BBC’s studio in Athens, and looking utterly hopeless. Now, some people can get away with sounding somewhat stilted when reading off autocues. Steve Rider, for instance, sounds exactly the same, all the time, regardless of what he’s saying. You get used to it after a while. Some people can even make a decent fist of sounding like they could give two shits about the table tennis.

Rishi Persad sounds like he’s reading off the autocue. He sounds utterly disconnected from the action, like he’s going entirely on what he read in the David Mellor column of the Evening Standard. He’s just sort of there, reeling off a list of things and occasionally inserting an “I’ll definitely be watching that” as though the man at the other end of his earpiece has told him to. Sue Barker looks a bit sorry for him. You know how she feels. 3/10

3
Aug 04

PRESENTERATOR

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PRESENTERATOR

an occasional series rating the modern British television presenting animal out of 10

#2: “The Curious Case Of” SUZI PERRY

Suzi Perry, for the unfamiliar, is first and foremost the presenter of the Moto GP (i.e. big fuck-off bikes ridden by tiny wee men) races on BBC 2. In that guise, she’s a woman in love with her job, a cheery, knowledgeable presence with a delightful Wolverhampton accent, a knack for getting good interviews out of the riders, and fine relationship with the rather wonderful commentary team of Charlie Cox & Steve Parrish.

However, Suzi’s got a problem. She’s not very good at working off a script. This is most painfully evident in her advert for Freeview that occasionally gets screened in the daytime. Suzi is sat on a sofa in a room, watching television. Then, very slowly – “Do you ever wish you had more choice on your television? Well, now there are six new BBC channels…” She carries on very slowly explaining, then very slowly walks over to the television and very slowly explains that it’s available on cable, satellite, and now also on Freeview (the process feels like it’s taken half an hour by now). Then she very slowly explains that Freeview is a one off payment with no contract and you get a small box that you plug in. Then she plugs in the small box. The whole thing is done in the manner of something designed to reassure Daily Mail readers that Freeview is not going to make their teenage daughters pregnant on illegal Eastern European nude swearing drugs. It is agonising. She then used to do a voiceover explaining what the six new channels are again, but the BBC presumably realised what a monster it was begetting and got someone who sounds like the boring, monotonous priest out of the Christmas special of Father Ted to do it instead.

And this is the thing – Suzi Perry is on quite a lot of television programmes now, and never seems quite sure why. She always looks cheerful and comes across as being entirely likeable, but talks like a particularly nervy and stilted GCSE German listening exam, as though all she wants is to be back in the pits in Assen asking Norick Abe about his levels of grip. It can get very nerve wracking watching her muddle through these links that you’re not sure she really has any clue about. You end up feeling sorry for her, which isn’t quite the purpose of an introduction to an item about some bald bloke dropping a Mac G5 off a balcony. 7/10 for Moto GP, 5/10 otherwise.

31
Jul 04

PRESENTERATOR

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PRESENTERATOR

a new semi-regular thing rating the television presenters of current-day Britain

#1: MIKE “Weapons That Made Britain” LOADES

Mike Loades, according to a brief and slightly half-arsed Googling wot I just done, is a fight choreographer and weapons expert. From watching Weapons That Made Britain, I have also learnt that he looks a bit like Christopher Timothy. However, what is really important here is that Mike Loades is a man who really likes hitting things with sticks.

Not just sticks, mind. Swords, spears, lances (he really likes lances), it’s all gravy. This week’s edition of WTMB saw him hitting shields with things and, conversely, hitting things with shields. In what was actually a pretty entertaining and informative documentary about the story of the shield in British history, from the Saxons through to around the 1500’s, Mike found plenty of opportunities to hit shields with things. He got two or three shields specially made. Then he started launching himself at them with axes. Very big axes.

There was a segment where Mike got some volunteeers to attempt to learn the art of the Saxon shield wall. They had to do this in a clearing in a forest, partly for space and authenticity reasons, and partly because Mike also likes riding around on a big horse like a slightly more chivalrous Adam Hart-Davis (if Adam Hart-Davis shopped at River Island). There was much opportunity for Mike’s co-experts to tell people not to do that or they’d be killed. Mike walked up and down the line… “you have learnt what to do? You are confident as a unit now? So I could just jump into you at any point, and you’d hold steady?”

….

So he jumped into them and they held steady. “Good!”

Mike went on to illustrate the usage of shields by modern riot police, the shields’ effectiveness coming in their flexibility and ability to deflect blows, as well as maintaining the old Saxon formation of a wall of police with long shields locked together, with another unit of police designed to rush in and quell situations with smaller, buckler-type shields. A policeman demonstrated the flexibility of these shields by getting Mike to hold one while he whacked it in various places. Mike seemed a bit nervous about this.

However, the piece de resistance was the segment about duelling shields, purpose-built shields from the 15th century (I think), sort of shaped like a long, thin oval but with spikes on the end, and with notches cut out for hooking people around the leg and so on. He and his hapless assistant engaged in a reconstruction of one of these duels. Much whacking of shield upon shield until Mike noticed that he had an opening, said “aha, yes, but now you’ve left yourself open here, and so…” he hooked hapless assistant aroudn the leg and sent him crashing to the floor, then swiftly levelled the spike on the bottom of the shield at his face and intoned – “Endgame! Look at my face.”

It was wonderful, particularly considering we could have been watching Simply The Best instead. And after WTMB finished, we did. More on that later, possibly, but for now, Mike “Come And Feel My” Loades gets 8/10.

Weapons That Made Britain, Saturday 7:10 p.m., Channel 4

28
Jul 04

The Indycars on Channel 5

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The Indycars on Channel 5 are, in one way, ideal viewing at about half-one in the morning. The commentators are unfailingly dull , and the action (My brother: “So basically all they do is keep turning left?”) gets squished into forty minutes with little regard for bothering to explain when they’ve cut from one bit to another bit that happened half an hour later, which isn’t much help as the editing is of the usual random hacking standard of most of the sports programmes Five imports from the US. Lead changes are about as frequent as they are pointless. Round, round, round they go. And again. And again. Eventually someone wins, but you’ve fallen asleep long before all that.

However, there’s a slight problem, in that you may well not have fallen asleep before the ‘grid sequence’. This isn’t good, because the grid sequence is one of the most indefinably eerie things currently on television. What you get are computer-generated models of the cars rolling out onto a black and green wireframe reconstruction of the track. Then, above each car, the disembodied head and shoulders of its driver, announcing their name and the car number. “Tony Kanaan, Car 33.” Then it moves on to the next one. The whole exercise is conducted with the minimum of atmosphere, these one-second glimpses of complete strangers, no music or anything, just disembodied heads checking off the name and number, almost like they’re heading off to their own cremation. Brr.

Still, at least it doesn’t feature James “Look Mum! I’m Out Of Murray’s Shadow!” Allen, which is a sort of blessing.

26
Jul 04

WA-MUTHA-FUCKIN’-HEY!!!

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WA-MUTHA-FUCKIN’-HEY!!!

TIM KASH IS GONE!!!

Obviously the show’ll still be a fetid crock of shit and will still feature that horrific voiceover woman (and James effing Cannon), but…

WA-MUTHA-FUCKIN’-HEY!!!

25
Jul 04

The Square Table Speaks, The World Listens (sort of)

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The Square Table Speaks, The World Listens (sort of)

A bit of the video for ‘Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy’ was briefly aired on the news segment of CD:UK yesterday. Course, CD:UK’s track record at breaking North American artists isn’t that great (see Fannypack, FeFe Dobson), but on the other hand I saw the Fannypack album in the basement of Mister CD for a fiver once, so it ain’t necessarily so bad…

The video itself appears to feature Big & Rich partying down on a bridge while wearing some very large feather boas. It’s not as funny as the new Dizzee Rascal video. British rapper = sexy beefeaters, obv.

23
Jul 04

Go to bed, Mr Swygart

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Go to bed, Mr Swygart

It’s bizarre what manner of shit the crap-telly-enthusiast can persuade themselves to stay up and watch, sometimes. Last night, for instance, it got to about quarter to two. I found myself sat in front of ever-dire cop series The District, where Craig T Nelson stomps about Doing The Right Thing and Telling It Straight etc. for an hour, and thought I might want to go to bed now, when suddenly it ends and 2001…Forever comes on. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it involves a string of thirty-second snatches of music videos from a given year or on a given theme being played back to back while a very bored man from South Coast regional television quips over them. It can occasionally dig up something quite interesting – for those episodes dealing with the late eighties or early nineties, the clips are often interspersed with clips of highly disinterested interviewees talking shite about themselves on ‘The Music Box’, the music programme that South Coast regional television man used to do but doesn’t anymore. Look, it’s House Of Love. How silly they look now. Oh, and here’s Warrant. How silly they look now. And so on.

Anyway, 2001…Forever didn’t have any of that because they couldn’t get interviews with any of these people. Instead, we got a succession of clips of stuff seemingly designed specifically to demonstrate that this year’s charts haven’t been that wretched after all. 2001 was the year of new-meddle, of course, which led to fifteen solid minutes of me going “Oh GOD” as laconic regional TV man reminded me of the existence of OPM, Crazy Town, Alien Ant Farm, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Blink-182 (pre-‘I Miss You’) and Sum 41, one after the other. We would occasionally get brief respite, spots of Missy Elliott and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, then they’d go and do something daft like decide that the ideal thing to follow on from ‘Miss Jackson’ is Samantha effing Mumba. In between, South Coast regional television man points out that Mis-Teeq isn’t spelt properly. Still, if nothing else, it did serve as a timely reminder that Claire from Steps really did have a staggeringly cavernous mouth.

Anyway, that’s followed by Cybernet, which you could sort of argue is one of the better television programmes about computer games by virtue of not featuring Iain Lee or Dominik Diamond. What you get instead is an American man doing voiceover in the manner of the commentary track for SEGA Worldwide Soccer over clips of someone playing, I dunno, Onimusha 3 or something. “You are cast as a – JAPANESE SAMURAI – who must battle – EVIL WARLORDS. On your way, you will encounter -VILLAGERS – who will help you with – ITEMS.” Then he reviews them: “The – GRAPHICS – are STRONG, but it is let down by – POOR OPPONENT AI – which serves to – WEAKEN – the – GAMEPLAY.”

It’s all very entertaining for a minute or two, but then I kept switching over to Channel 4’s KOTV Classics, which entails edited highlights of old boxing matches being strung together for an hour. However, it’s the presentation that’s really worth watching for, whether it be the old commentators from the 60’s and 70’s whose style consists of saying nothing for about a minute then piping up with “Nino Benvenuti is from Italy,” or the modern-day sports presenter who does the links between fights and occasionally has to do some over-dubbed commentary, and always talks in the manner of a man who’s just finished doing some woodwork that he’s really pleased with – “And nowww, over to Frarrrnce to watch tough Gharrrnaian Ike “BAZOOKA!” Quarrrteyyy…” The real icing on the cake, however, is that the producers have decided to preface each bout with a mock newspaper front page carrying notable stories of the year in order to set the mood. Hence last night, a fight from 1950 got “KOREAN WAR STARTS – Formula One Racing”. Oh, and regardless of whatever year the fight took place in, there’s always a picture of Roy Jones Jr. at the top of the page.

But anyway – we flitted through that till we got to last night’s real main event, the thing I’d been eagerly anticipating – Planet Rock Profiles: JJ72.

The Planet Rock Profiles series are twenty minute programmes in which the hip bands of the day are interviewed by Irish TV type Tom Dunne, interspersed with clips from their fantastic videos. Last night, Tom was a bit excited. His introduction began by outlining the apocalyptic climate of manufactured pop in which the music lovers of today found themselves, all soulless and icky and ugh. But wait! What light shineth from yonder window? It’s JJ72, who, as Tom explains, “are a real band… who make real music… they play real gigs… they played Glastonbury…”

We then get a bit of interview with Fergal Matthews (the drummer) and Mark Greaney (guitar, singer, visionary genius). Fergal will say something and then sit there and look like he wants to punch you. Mark, on the other hand, sits there and is quite possibly the most boring man alive. He starts wittering on about how they were backstage at U2 and he wondered how many of the sound crew they really needed because it was all about the synergy between the four guys out there on the stage who had the synergy. I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich. i then ate the sandwich. I went back to the telly and Mark is still talking about the synergy. He has a very high yet strangely monotonous voice that sort of twitters endlessly. They talk about starting the band and being in a band and how Mark said to Hillary Woods (the bass player) “D’you want to be in a band?” and she said “Yeah” and then he went “Yeah!” and then they started playing in Dublin in the pubs and then they started playing Glastonbury and Mark was like “Wow, yeah!”

Fergal liked playing Glastonbury. He also liked playing Reading.

Mark liked playing Reading and he liked playing Glastonbury and he liked the connection they got with the audience as well because that’s what really matters as well, like, you see a lot of bands and you think to yourself that’s not what I want to do, y’know…

We also get to see some of JJ72’s videos. This is slightly confusing because they all appear to be exactly the same, in so far as JJ72 are playing in a room in a house. Mark does his vocals and convulses a lot because he is feeling the genuine emotional connection with the music. Hillary just sort of stands there and plucks the bass occasionally. Fergal plays the drums with the face of a man who wants to punch you. However, there is the interesting variation of the video for ‘Oxygen’, where towards the end Mark flings his guitar into the drumkit. He then starts shoving the speakers and the drumkit over. Him and Fergal tussle. And then we go out into the woods, where JJ72 are running for some reason. And then Mark flings his guitar into a tree.

We then get on to the matter of JJ72’s second album, I To Sky (“already being called the most spiritual Irish album since U2’s October” according to Tom). Mark reckons that every lyric on the album is totally honest and they haven’t thrown in any lyrics just they because they needed to add an extra rhyme or something, ha ha ha, and they were really pleased to be working with the producers of the Smashing Pumpkins, (A Famous Record Producer Whose Name I Have Forgotten) and Flood, and you could tell Flood was a really good record producer because he’d just stand in the door and tell you what you were doing wrong, but really you just wanted him to tell you his stories about working with The Smashing Pumpkins. We then get the video for ‘Formulae’, the first single off I To Sky. This marks a progression for the band because instead of playing in a room, they are now playing on a rooftop. Also, Mark has a fringe and a leather jacket. Tom ends it with the statement “JJ72’s fans will hope that the band have a long career with a catalogue of landmark albums, that inspire other people to start bands.” I think they’ve split up now. Hillary’s left anyway.

Oh, and then ITV Nightscreen, where they screen the press releases for dramas about Alex Ferns on a battleship in popular ITV drama Alex Ferns On A Battleship to a funky house backing. I think I fell asleep instead.

20
Jul 04

THE THRILLS – Not For All The Love In The World

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THE THRILLS – Not For All The Love In The World

Theh AWL SOWNDID THUH SAY-EEEEEEMMM… yes, last year The Thrills really were the runts of the litter, weren’t they? Incessantly pushed by Radio 1’s New Sound Of Not Quite Able To Reach The ‘Off’ Switch posse as The Next Big Thing In This Wonderful Wonderful Music Industry Of Ours, they produced a couple of half decent singles, then a couple of somewhat duffer singles that sounded exactly the same, then they re-released their first single again. An indistinct mass of lank, greasy hair and subdued sha-la-la, the archetypal band that were just sort of… there.We didn’t get wet, we didn’t care.

Anyway – they’re back, releasing something called ‘Whatever Happened To Corey Haim’ at the end of next month. I’ve not heard that, but I’ve heard this, and, well… maybe I’m just talking shit, but if every dog has its day, then this feels like an entire fortnight. Someday in the future, you and I both will doubtless be heartily fucking sick of this record, Collnanayditt etc. repeatedly describing it as beautiful or lovely or stunning or fahntahhstick before a competition to win tickets to see The Red Hot Chilli Peppers on an oilrig or whatever, giving the kneejerk reaction to whenever some boys in jackets do a ballad. For that reason, they don’t deserve to be right, and this doesn’t deserve to be great, but it is.

Conor Deasey is the singer, and he would appear not to have a girl, but he’s seen one, he’s “seen past (her) laughter lines,” he wants to show her how beautiful the world is – “we could drive for miles and miles…”

But She Said No.

Conor isn’t heartbroken though, far from it: “Then you said, “not for all the love in the world”; but she didn’t realise, now that’s a lot of love…” He’s sure, y’know, she’d love him if she could only see him, if she’d only let him have a chance (“People aren’t puzzles to be figured out”), so he keeps on trying. We aren’t told how it ends. If it ends. But there’s this noise, this beautiful sound like four rainddrops landing in succession in the chorus, after every repetition of her saying “Not for all the love in the world”, the sound of another heartstring breaking, then another, then another – and throughout it all Conor doesn’t get downbeat, cos he’s so stupidly sure he’s gonna be right, even when everything else in the song is absolutely dead set on telling him otherwise.

In the middle comes your stereotypical Modern Indie Ballad Bit, the guitar that tries that getting a bit epic as the singer gets his proper singing chops out and tries holding a high note, having built up to it with a succession of oh’s rammed into the end of the chorus. It lasts for all of five seconds. Then Conor concedes “I guess that everybody went to better parties,” and it all starts to fall away again, then Conor starts to repeat “Not for all the love in the world… not for all the love in the world…”, almost to himself, then for the last time – “but she didn’t realise, now that’s a lot of love… ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh…” as the guitar slowly plucks its final notes, like it was at the start, except this time it’s like the sound of something unravelling…

A fortnight of heartbreak.