Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Peter Kay on Britain's Got the Pop Factor...

Sunday was Peter Kay night on Channel 4.
This involved a pointless hour of all the jokes you’ve already seen on the DVDs and some sub-standard behind-the-scenes malarkeying.
Luckily, the rest of the evening consisted of a giant all-night spoof of the X Factor called Britain’s Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice.
We sat down to watch this with slight trepidation – despite the all-star cast Kay had assembled (Sir Paul McCartney, "Dr" Neil Fox, Nicki Chapman, Pete Waterman, Cat Deeley, Shelley off Corrie...)
After all, the X Factor practically spoofs itself now. How funny could this be?
The answer, we soon found, was oh rather.
The only tedious bit was the singing, which meant the jokes had to stop (although we did love Kay’s Home And Away duet).
First we saw the auditionees who included a pensioners version of the Sugababes who got rather narked when they weren’t picked to go through ("You’re looking at 200 years of talent here!"), a man who couldn’t get a dog to jump through a hoop (after looking at it closely, he revealed: "I’ve brought the wrong dog") and, best of all, a man who was dressed as Freddie Mercury down one side and Monserrat Caballe down the other swivelling from side to side to perform a Barcelona "duet". Better than garlic bread, that.
Eventually they were narrowed down to three finalists:
R Wayne (the Geordie version of R Kelly) "The Lark of Tyneside" who faced being booted off because his "story" wasn’t sad enough – then, luckily, his nan died
Two Up Two Down (a husband and wife quartet, two of whom were in wheelchairs.) Yes, taste flew out the window – but doesn’t it in the X Factor?
Geraldine, an Irish transexual who eventually won.
"People have been really supportive," she said, "which is funny because before this competition, they wouldn’t have p***ed on me if I was on fire. And now I believe they would."
Sadly, she was last seen choking to death on ticker tape while performing her winning ballad. "Is there a doctor in the house?" cried a panic-stricken Pete Waterman. "I’m a doctor!" shouted Dr Fox, leapfrogging over the judges’ desk. Brilliant.
We didn’t do any American history at our school. European history, yes. British history, kind of. The industrial revolution? Only 79,000 times.
But the Americans? The most powerful nation on the earth? Nope, we’ve no idea how they came to be there.
So Simon Schama (BBC2, Friday) has a mammoth task on his hands in his new series as he educates ignorant Brits prior to the US elections which, you may have heard, are taking place next month.
We do like Schama. He’s not ubiquitous, obsessed by his own celebrity.
He only goes near the gogglebox when he has something to say.
That said, there is A LOT of history to cram into four episodes, so Schama always seemed in a bit of a rush.
There’s also a tendency on British TV to belittle the Yanks and this show does occasionally fall into that trap.
This week’s "theme", for example, was the environment and Schama tut-tutted about America’s hoovering of natural resources.
"Are the Americans good at adjusting?" Schama asked two farmers, at the end.
"Not really." they admitted, before coming right back at him with "Are you? How are the Englishmen then, Simon? Bingo!" Lots of laughter.
As Schama concluded: "While American resources are in short supply, its resourcefulness is not."
A fact you can’t help but admire them for.

Comedy high of the week:

Harry and Paul’s Royal Henley Northerner Show, 2008 (BBC1).

Comedy low of the week:

Stephen Fry on Buzzcocks (BBC2). Individually, hilarious. Together, they just didn’t work.