Monday, 17 January 2011
That Sunday Show, ITV
On the BBC, the star is like the inadvertent star of a wildlife documentary. Unassuming but endearing, eliciting affection through its shy charisma, its cheerful inquisitiveness and a stable, intriguing environment.
Then the ITV trappers arrive on the scene, draping from each and every tree some enticing bait flavoured with gold. The BBC creature nuzzles the bait warily but soon cannot control its now rampant egotistical appetite and gorges on it.
By the time it appears on ITV it is little more than a scabby husk, hollowed out of all life and stuffed by a taxidermist to be put on proud display on some populist show utterly unsuited to their talents.
Adrian Chiles has so far followed this sorry trail; a decent presenter tainted and wallowing in the dross with which he is now associated.
Whether That Sunday Night Show offers some salvation or weighs him further down in the swamp was difficult to tell.
Chiles’ ability to host this candyfloss satire is unquestionable. It’s more of a problem he isn’t stretched more than feeding lines to a panel to ‘comment’ on the news. And it’s by the quality of the panel that this show will stand or fall rather than Chiles’ presenting.
Four of the six guests are perhaps most well known among your typical ITV audience for appearing on either Strictly (have they done away with the ‘Come Dancing’ part of the title so infrequently is it used?) or I’m A Celebrity… (likewise).
Pamela Stephenson could have been replaced by a block of slowly melting ice, while Shaun Ryder’s accent voyaged from the depths of Manchester via Ascot Race Course and back again. And on the bit about cosmetic surgery he didn’t have the courage to speak about his suspiciously white teeth, which are certainly in a better condition than five years ago when they jutted from his mouth like jaundiced cannibals belligerently warding trespassers off their territory.
Still, Ryder offered the only spark in the show, veering dangerously off-piste when he blamed the prison riots on the heavy-handedness of the prison guards until reined in by Chiles.
The prison riots were explored further with former inmate Lord Brocket, who arrived and departed to rapturous applause despite it being revealed he was banged up for trying to swindle £4.5 million in a fraudulent insurance claim. He could have vomited a more worthwhile contribution to the discussion.
Darren Gough blithered incoherently about England defeating Australia to win the Ashes, which was interspersed with a song from the ‘Barmy Army’ – a deeper reservoir of national shame than Oliver Cromwell – directed towards the Australian fans of, “You all live in a convict colony” as if this startling inanity was their own and not made some 200 years ago.
A clip from the King’s Speech of King George stammering in front of a large crowd led into A Fish Called Wanda’s Ken Pile stammering and tenuously into a guest slot from Michael Palin – who played Pile – to talk about stammering. Barely topical, rarely funny but, oddly, the highlight of the show.
With the right guests, That Sunday Night Show could mimic the similar successes enjoyed by Clive James in the 1980s – or perhaps the show is damned to failure as it seeks to copy an outdated formula – but needs to bring in a whole panel of comedians or inventive thinkers rather than just one – in this case Al Murray – and expect them to carry the burden of the numb, sagging sacks of refuse from reality shows by themselves.
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