UK TV

The most popular British comedy sketch in Germany – and you probably won’t have heard of it


Dinner for One

It’s called Dinner for One (oder Der 90 Geburtstag), is the most repeated TV programme ever, yet has never aired on British television since it was made in 1963. But every New Year, half the German population sits down to watch it (and you can, too, by clicking on the picture).

Next time I’m in Berlin, I’ll have to try “The same procedure as every year, James,” and see what happens. Until then, Glückliches Neues Jahr Deutschland!

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What Charlie did next

Charlie Skelton, astronaut
In case you’re wondering what Charlie Skelton, Space Cadet, has been up to since he returned to Earth, you may be interested to know he’s set up his own company.

It doesn’t actually do anything, this company. But apparently he likes the idea of things such as team-bonding exercises and outwards bounds courses and doesn’t get that kind of experience any more, even though he’s a contracted writer for Endemol. This way he gets to enjoy the perks of company life without having to actually do contracted employee things full-time.

Nice bit of lateral thinking, Charlie. Sign me up for the white-water rafting!

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UK TV

Review: Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion

The Christmas Invasion
Did everyone watch the Christmas episode of Doctor Who? I know 9.4 million of you did, so fess up. What did you think? I actually thought it was rather good. A couple of embarrassing moments at the beginning, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.

Heresy though it seems to be these days, I didn’t like the first season of the new Whos. Christopher Eccleston was good at the intense and miserable stuff (QFS!) but couldn’t pull off the lighter stuff at all. He clearly thought it was all beneath him: certainly if you caught any of the Doctor Who Confidentials (what can I say? I’m a sucker for a behind-the-scenes documentary. I even listen to the audio commentaries on DVDs, sitting through all three of the Se7en voice-overs), you’ll recall him saying “he didn’t need to get out his Stanislavsky” for the role.

Most of the scripts were equally toe-curling and there was more than a hint of “Oh my God! They’ve given us a budget but we don’t know what we’re doing! Help! Help!” in the earlier episodes. Given that the exec producer, Russell T Davies, is more than capable of writing drama for children that’s also suitable for adults – as anyone who watched Dark Season or Century Falls in the early 90s can attest – it’s a surprise that he went with fart jokes, belching dustbins and slapstick as a way to bring the kids in. Still, what do I know? Look what the ratings were.

Anyway, as a result of all this childishness, I never bothered to make a date for most of the episodes.

‘The Christmas Invasion’, however, is probably the first of the new Whos that I would want to watch again. Everything worked. David Tennant, with toned-down London accent, was very good, maybe needing a little more gravitas at times, but excellent for the most part. The script was good, with no fart gags and no tiresome deus ex Piper at the end: the Doctor actually earned his victories this time round. There was also a darker edge to it that hinted at a more adult tone for the show.

The trailer at the end of the episode has made me eager for more, which is something I wasn’t expecting. Curses. I really don’t want to be a Doctor Who fan. Don’t do this to me!