How Euro Are You?, BBC2

by | Oct 3, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A comical analysis of how this “nation of shopkeepers” feels about the rest of the continent.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A slapdash vat of swine feed mixed together with the dexterity of a one-armed gravestone.

What was good about it?

• The theme music which sounded like a speeded-up Art of Noise.

• Germaine Greer’s dismissive, derisive opinions on precious Britons’ mystifying obsession over their identity.

• Unlike Test The Nation etc. we didn’t have to wait two hours for answers to the quiz questions. We scored eight out of 12, by the way.

• Watching the audience during the duller panellists. At one point, one member seemed consciously comatose to the point where the saliva was drooling from their

mouth, while a neighbour mouthed the word “11” to the person sitting next to him, presumably as an answer to a query as to when this torture would end.

• Exposing the tabloid disinformation propagated about European laws. Firemen being prohibited from using their poles to slide downstairs and the compulsion to first cook pets before they are allowed to be buried (it only applies to BSE-infected cattle) were two such myths dispelled.

• The excellent, if sometimes slightly rushed, Dara O’Briain going down the scale of the audience’s level of linguistic skills. “How many of you are bi-lingual?” “How many know a few hundred words?” “How many of you speak English in a foreign accent and point a lot?”

• Please don’t storm away from this page muttering “fascist” under your electronic breath, but the Mail on Sunday’s Peter Hitchens was one of the better panellists. Not on an ideological level, you understand, but simply because he actually seemed to want to debate the future of the EU in an intellectual manner. Even though we disagreed with him when he joined verbal swords with Julia Gash, we were cheering

him on as while he invested his words with erudition she was defending herself using misquoted clichés such as “no country is an island” and “if Japan coughs, we sneeze”.

• Armando Iannucci and Tanni Grey-Thompson.

What was bad about it?

• The crippling vacillation between a humorous Carry On… outlook on Europe and a profound debate on the future of the EU.

• The way in which viewers’ attitudes towards Europe would group them one of four nebulous appellations such as Mr and Mrs Dover Straits which indicated a cautious welcome for Europe.

• Julia Gash’s proud, but ignorant, assertion that “trade is what made Britain ‘Great’”; unfortunately it was the slave trade.

• Bridget Roswell beginning an anti-EU diatribe: “I used to be pro-European…” This technique, employed in discussions of claiming to have once held the opposing view to their current one, is a hackneyed way of speciously validating their current view through the assertion of possessing a comprehensive perspective on the topic.

• Amanda Platell using the phrase “’fessed up”. Amanda you are a scholarly, professional journalist approaching middle-age, not a petulant 14-year-old gossiping about teenage promiscuity in some dimly-lit park.

• Julia Gash justifying the EU constitution by simply saying “it made sense”.

• Evan Davies’ test to see if Britain was more American or European was based on a set of artificial questions. They were selected simply because the British view or score happened to fall between that of Europe and America, while more pertinent questions which would give a more cogent answer to the bigger question were ignored as they didn’t fit this pattern.

• The audience’s atrocious drawings of how they viewed Europe. An utter waste of time.

• The abysmal design of the quiz to determine how European you are. How do you sum up the Germans? “Vorsprung Durch Technique”; “Beach towels on a sunbed”; “Two world wars and one World Cup” There wasn’t an option for: “I tend not to judge people I meet through bigoted national stereotypes disseminated

by our xenophobic media.”

• And the question which asked to what level “Europe can be trusted”, adopted the prosaic perception of footballers when they talk of “the continent”, assuming it to be one amorphous homogenised landmass from the steaming geysers of Iceland to the frothing straits of the Bosporus.

• And the question which asked whom should Britain side with over action on a particular bloody conflict, either the EU or NATO, the answer is highly dependent

on the nature of the conflict itself. For instance when Serbs, Croats and Bosnians were slaughtering one another, the EU took a vow of apathy (yes, we know the

big, bad-tempered bear of Russia was also a factor too), while NATO led the relief; but with Iraq, the EU took the admirable stance of abstinence, while the NATO stalwarts of the US and Britain led the charge for oil, sorry democracy.

• The tone continued through other questions and obliterated any notion the show had of clinically deciphering Britain’s view on Europe, seppuku-ing itself into obsolescence at the same time.

• Andrew Marr’s forced enthusiasm and robotic levity resembled Trevor McDonald at the National TV Awards. “It’s hotting up in here!” he breathlessly gushed after a stirring exchange between panellists. But his joy was misguided, as the passion was ignited by a widespread frustration amongst some panellists at the jaunty, meandering nature of the debate.

• The perspective on Britain from two French politicians wasn’t bad in itself, what was embarrassing was the deluded necessity to park both of them next to famous French landmarks to blatantly postmark their locations and then compound the insult by punctuating the piece with images of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. “Ah, yes. France. I remember it now!”

• Amanda Platell blaming the poisonous attitude of the tabloids towards Europe as them merely reflecting the will of the people is like a snake devouring a rat and blaming the rodent’s demise on its susceptibility to the venom.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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