Friday, 15 August 2008

Vegas by the sea?

Oonagh Robinson and Jennifer Scott look back at the week's TV...

IF you’re a fan of teatime TV, you’ll know that after Countdown and before Richard and Judy, there’s a little cheap-as-chips show on Channel 4 called A Place in the Sun.
However, the channel seem to have run out of Malcolm-and-Denise types searching for their dream holiday pad with rental potential in sun-kissed Bulgaria, so they’ve decided to call this series A Place By The Sea (Ch4, Mon-Fri).
The presenter is a girlie with a really (“rurly”) patronising voice called Seetha who promises sea-seeking couples the “parfect” coastal retreat, then shows them a dilapidated outhouse in Morecambe.
Bizarrely, on Tuesday, the buyer-to-be was Johnny Vegas. It wasn’t a celebrity special or anything. It seemed Johnny had just taken the Joe Public route of writing in and asking if they’d find him a £150,000 bolthole in Galloway.
Johnny wanted somewhere really remote, “where ordinary people couldn’t talk to him”.
So house-hunting on daytime TV was an ingenious idea, in that case, keeping everything highly top secret. Ahem.
First off, Seetha announced she was showing Johnny a property on the “worst side of the island”. “Why would she want to show him the worst side of the island?” we asked ourselves, until we realised she was saying “west”.
Johnny wasn’t so struck with the pine floors, fixtures and fittings.
“I feel like I would have to join some sort of pine appreciation society,” he said.
“...there’s a fridge,” said Seetha.
“... cleverly disguised as pine!” said Johnny.
Eventually Seetha found Johnny’s dream home, an old mill.
But, brilliantly, Johnny had disappeared.
“This would be ideal, if only he were here to see it,” said Seetha, through gritted teeth.
She eventually tracked him down to.... who’d-a-thought... a pub.
As she’d suspected, Johnny loved the mill.
“Now, you will move quickly, won’t you?” asked Seetha anxious for him to clinch the deal.
Johnny assured her he would. Two minutes later Seetha revealed someone else had beaten him to it. Shocking. Still, at least Johnny knew where to drown his sorrows.

THE thing we’ve found with ubiquitous TV house building guru/all round nice bloke Kevin McCloud is that.... his shows have got a strange tendency to send us to sleep.
Grand Designs – the programme that made him famous – is a wonderful format and features some truly inspirational houses. We adore the end scene where the property is at last unveiled and Kev takes a tour with the proud owner.
It’s just the bit that goes before we have problems with. The architect quitting, the project manager having a nervous breakdown, the rain ruining a state-of-the-art roof, the builders not turning up, the endless mud.
And it was exactly the same with Kevin McCloud and the Big Town Plan (C4, Monday).
This time, though, it wasn’t just one measly house in the spotlight.
The ambitious production is following a five-year plan to regenerate the entire town of Castleford in Yorkshire. Or Cass, as Kev and the locals affectionately refer to it.
The first episode followed the trials and tribulations of building one of the key elements of the regeneration – a dirty big bridge spanning the alarmingly wild-looking River Aire.
There were arguments. There were hitches. The first effort had to be scrapped and redesigned. Some landowners objected (mainly to the idea of 40,000 visitors finishing up in their front gardens, one supposes). The locals gave up on the bridge ever being completed.
But the £3.2m snaking platform was finally unveiled and it did look rather fab... when we woke up at the end.

- I think that’s a nickname
- I hope so
Swimming commentators Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jameson on some American women’s relay fans waving a banner emblazoned with: “Go Dogs!”

QUIP OF THE WEEK: “You look so young. Are you sure you haven’t had surgery? I don’t believe you! You look nothing like Michael”
– Simon Amstell to Jerome Jackson on Never Mind The Buzzcocks