Trying to get on The F Word again

My last attempt to get into The F Word audience ended with no success. But they’ve started signing up again for the new series so I’ve added my name to the list for tickets. Fingers crossed, hey?

However, this time, instead of ‘journalist’ as my profession, I’ve put down ‘writer’. Maybe that’ll go down better. It works for all those Guardian journalists when they do those Channel 4 list shows.

Then again, I’ve been honest and listed the shows that I’ve been to see recorded: Absolutely, Time Gentlemen Please and Two Pints of Lager. Do they sound like Gordon’s kind of shows? Think they might reckon I’m too lowbrow or have no pallet? It’s not like I ever order lager and crisps…

I actually left out my losing appearance on Either/Or (in which I was eventually insulted by an opera singer), but technically I wasn’t watching it being recorded, I was being recorded. Do you think that makes a difference?

PS Incidentally, according to the mail out I got sent “Vegetarians need not apply” for F Word tickets…


Review: Teachers (US: NBC)

Only one episode to go on so far, but Teachers is shaping up as distinctly average. A re-make of the Channel 4 show, it’s been turned into a bog-standard NBC sitcom: frankly, if it weren’t in widescreen, I’d have assumed I was watching something from the mid-80s. Plot for those who don’t know it: teachers at a school aren’t really the altruistic providers of knowledge to kids that propaganda would have you believe. Except (NBC twist here), they secretly are and are just playing at being rubbish in case that stops them being cool. Oh dear.

There aren’t really any saving graces: the characters are all stereotypes of the genre – there’s the nerdy one, the cool one who really isn’t the total slacker he pretends to be, the ‘babe’ who the cool one fancies and who’d go for him if he wasn’t such a slacker and oh God I’m falling asleep just listing them. The dialogue is actually surprisingly clever in places, but is delivered badly and is mostly drowned out by an awful laughter track; Sarah Alexander is Sarah Alexander but with a slightly exaggerated Englishness (“What’s your favourite thing in the world?” “A perfectly brewed pot of tea”. Give me strength, guys. You couldn’t do better than that for an English character when the whole show was lifted from a British comedy series?); and the rest of the cast is pretty uninspiring.

Predictions: liable to be cancelled very soon. Probably won’t be picked up by the UK except on late-night satellite (maybe Paramount Comedy).


The Heist hijacks more genres than you could shake a stick at


Scottish boy Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible 2, Ever After) has landed himself his own series in the US. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not half bad.

Exec-produced by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mrs and Mrs Smith, Go), Heist has much in common with Liman’s other work as well as with many other genres. Scott plays a jewel thief with the cracking plan of robbing every jewellery store on Rodeo Drive in the US on the same night – Oscar’s Night. Its dialogue makes more than a few passing nods to Tarantino and Guy Ritchie and the plots are just as implausible. There’s a female cop chasing after Scott, with whom he tries to strike up a romance, for just a hint of Out of Sight. And there’s more than a few nods to the con jobs of Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible.

But despite being about as derivative as they come, there’s still a certain sparkle to the show. Scott, despite his fake American accent, is a compelling lead and his burgeoning relationship with the lady cop does have some chemistry, at least. The dialogue may not bear the full stamp of Tarantino approval, but it’s still amusing enough. And the various contrivances of the plot aren’t as staggeringly obvious as they might have been.

Worth watching for a couple of episodes at least.


Review: A for Andromeda (UK: BBC Four)

Wow. I know A for Andromeda was on a week ago, but I’ve only just got round to watching it. To rephrase a famous quote from 2001/2010: “My God. It’s full of arse.”

I can’t believe how mind-numbingly dull it was. Seriously, how do you compress six episodes of an old serial down into an hour and a half and still produce something so unbelievably tedious?

There was a good plot in there, trying to get out. I could see it. It had some nice moments and occasional touches of atmosphere. There were even some good actors. But direction and script? Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Fair enough that the original wasn’t much cop, but it still had some interesting ideas in there. With a bit of nurturing we could have something really worthwhile. But we didn’t.

So, it looks like this might be the last of the BBC4 “classic” remakes, then. So much for The Road: I was really hoping they could redo that, given it’s been wiped from the archives and it’s got one of Nigel Kneale’s finest scripts behind it. But on this performance, I’m guessing we won’t be seeing much more in a similar line from BBC4, especially with FictionLab given the shutdown orders.

Can’t believe that’s an hour and a half of my life wasted, as well as my childish enthusiasm totally dashed. There is no Santa Claus, after all.