It’s Grim Up North, BBC2

by | Sep 2, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Eminent wits entrenched in the north and south of Britain joust hilariously about the foibles and faults of their geographical counterparts.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A grimy market stall flogging second-hand hackneyed hyperbole and oily opinions drawn from the deepest pigeonholes in the country.

What was good about it?

• Keith Barron’s inflated mock rage as he recounted the ills of the south-east and why the north was so much better than it in so many ways.

• The commentators jovially applied their own experiences to the north v south battle; Mark Radcliffe bemoaned the point just past Coventry where the country turns into “a homogenous grey lump”.

• The humorous tone of the show was purposefully designed to pit a bunch of likeable northern folk (Radcliffe, Tony Wilson and Noddy Holder) against the leering pomposity of the south (Michael Winner, Brian Sewell and Simon Heffer, the hideous Daily Mail columnist who looks like Tintin would have done if he had served under Adolf Hitler).

What was bad about it?

• The conflict was almost exclusively joined between the north and London, which, when you consider that one of traits which irked the northerners most was Londoners ignorance of life beyond the M25, was a rather ironic way of precluding the south and south-west. It provoked those of us from those ignored regions to take little more than a cursory interest in the dispute as if looking on at two drunken yobs slug it out after closing time, one scarred by and bespeckled in road grit with a vocabulary of abbreviated terms devolved to the semantic equivalent of single-celled amoeba, whilst the other was drowning in his own hair gel as vulgar vowels clambered awkwardly from his mouth like inmates making a jail break.

• Very few observations that don’t come from either the Stereotypical Tome of Northern Habits or the Big Book

of London Knobbery were apparent. Did you know: people in the north are friendlier? That a tiny flat in London sets you back a fortune? You can get to the countryside quicker from central Manchester than you can from central London? Driving in London is near impossible? Of course you did, and that’s why large chunks of this show wasted time in embedding, often very wrong, beliefs into the viewer.

• The lack of originality and wit in many of the commentators’ observations. Michael Winner, almost choking himself on a bitter mix of his own bubbling conceit and excess saliva, remarked: “Birmingham is a visual toilet.” While Brian Sewell, a man whose voice

is so odiously, frigidly smooth he could hire it out as an ice rink, said he hoped for “another plague, Russian flu which could reduce the population so we could abolish the north.”

• When not blasting cannonballs of mindless insults at one another, the talking heads would pause to launch some typically blunt barbs against Birmingham, which was defenceless save for the querulous bleating of Noddy Holder.

• The pride with which the statistic that “more people visit Blackpool Tower than the Vatican” was heralded.

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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