Friday, 5 September 2008

The kids are all right... not

THERE’S nothing quite like an ITV Drama Premiere, is there? Except, of course, for another ITV Drama Premiere.
And this week’s ITV Drama Premiere (you can’t, apparently, say it too many times) The Children (ITV1, Mon) ticked all the boxes previously ticked by other ITV Drama Premieres.
First requirement is it has to lull you into a false sense of security.
So it’s normally sponsored by a cosy household name (in this case Sainsbury’s, telling us how we can make “crushed potatoes with crumbled Stilton... mmm”). It will also star a cosy household name... in this case, Cuddly Kevin Whately. The opening scene even showed Cuddly Kev driving a Volvo and listening to Classic FM. What could be cosier? We just knew something awful was around the corner.
Sure enough, the next scene showed a woman stammering to the camera: “She’s j-just lying there!” There was the sound of sirens, a brief glimpse of a body bag and the sound of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending in the background (Kev had thoughtfully kept Classic FM on to give us an Ironic Juxtaposition, another predictable feature of Drama Premieres).
We then flashed back to “three months earlier”. Cuddly Kev had, it turned out, left his wife (Lesley Sharp, being Magnificent But Flawed, as she’s required to be in all Drama Premieres) to set up home with Geraldine Somerville. Lots of sex ensued which we could have done without.
Cuddly Kev had a miserable teenage son. Gerry had an adorable little daughter Emily with glossy brown hair who liked barbie dolls. We were only two minutes in and, already, we suspected, we’d stumbled across our body bag occupant. Poor mite. Emily’s real daddy had just had a baby daughter with some tetchy bint. By the end of episode one, Emily had gone wandering off with the baby because she was being ignored by her useless daddy. We suspect the body-bag finale may be a revenge attack.
Throughout, the adults kept behaving like children (irony, again, put there especially for anyone playing ITV Drama Premiere bingo), squabbling and being generally unbearable, all the while saying stuff like: “The children mustn’t suffer”. And, of course, we know they do.
We kept getting blue flash-forwards of everyone looking devastated. Geraldine was going: “Nooo! Nooo!”
Yeah, we get it, already. In three months’ time, something terrible will happen. The Children will suffer.
We’ve still got another two weeks to find out how, precisely.
Unfortunately, one of the other Very Predictable Features of ITV Drama Premieres is the Ludicrous Ending That Makes You Wish You Hadn’t Bothered.
Of course, The Children may be the exception. We do hope so.

ON to other matters and we cannot let this week go by without a passing mention for Big Brother 9 (C4, daily).
OK, maybe everyone else in Britain has given up on the format, but we’ve stuck with this year’s show through thick and thin, through the good times and the bad (mostly bad) and you know what?
We still love it. And we’re still excited about who wins tonight’s finale.
And we still won’t be the slightest bit interested in any of the inhabitants once tonight is over and they all come back into the real world.
You see, Big Brother works. But it only works while the show is actually on. We don’t want to see interviews with Kat on GMTV or a follow up show with Rex and “My Girlfriend.” We don’t want to read the £6m Hello! magazine deal scored by Mario and Lisa. We don’t want to hear about Mikey’s take on living with blindness.
So thanks chaps for an entertaining summer, but we’ll bid you goodbye and good luck now.
Anyway, when does Strictly Come Dancing start?