Did we like it?
The idea of putting a celebrity novice in front of the camera and then to ask dumb questions of their peers as a way for viewers to pass time instead of slitting their wrists has often been tried before. But Lily Allen’s incarnation, even in the face of spiteful tabloid sniping, is one of the better efforts – certainly superior to Russell Brand, Charlotte Church, Sharon Osbourne and Antony Cotton.
What was good about it?
• This type of show stands or falls based singularly on the charisma of the ‘celebrity’ host, and fortunately Lily Allen is a likeable, quick-witted presenter. Sure her questions could have dropped out of a toddler’s mouth with the over-scoffed ice cream, but you don’t expect intellect and insight on celebrity chat shows, you often don’t even expect chat but a big translucent soap bubble of gossip branded with Pop Bitch and Holy Moly logos and a flickering effigy of Russell Brand with one eyebrow ironically raised.
• David Mitchell was a good first guest, not least for his talent for sitting in excruciating discomfort amid such goggle-eyed delirium not seen since the halcyon days of Caligula as Lily’s friends instinctively applauded everything single utterance in the same way normal people inhale oxygen in order to keep living.
• Mitchell also was disgusted by the facile audience habit of cheering every single thing that was said apart from eating puppies. When Lily asked him what law he would pass if he became PM, Mitchell replied, “I’d make university free again.” Cue, a swarm of flittering applause. “I now feel like a whore for choosing such a crowd-pleasing thing,” he concluded.
• Mitchell even performed an idiot test on the audience by telling a rubbish joke (“What’s grey and can’t climb trees?” “A car park”) to observe if any of the studio audience would stoop to such vulgar obsequiesity and laugh. Some did.
• Lily: “David, how much did you get paid for the Apple ad?” “Do you think I’m a moron? Is this the part of the programme where we show people’s tax returns?”
• Cuba Gooding Jr, who managed to talk for about 15 minutes without actually saying any words, instead effusing a maelstrom of entertaining nonsense about “getting naked” and Oscars.
• The quite good Reverend & The Makers, a band at least lightly dipped in the furnaces of musical hell, rather than the skin-shredding piety of every single band appearing on the Brit Awards next week; an assemblage of woe who all aspire to make comas a ‘cool’ lifestyle choice rather than the unfortunate consequence of a traumatic accident.
What was bad about it?
• Lily is an amateur; there’s no escaping this as she collapses into giggles after asking ‘naughty’ questions, and sometimes appears to be reciting basic words of English for the first time in her life. But rather than throw up your metaphorical arms in dismay, because she is so likeable you find yourself willing her to succeed, and when she does do something well you do share in her small victory.
• The bane of automaton TV audiences applauding continues to grate. While the floor managers obviously act as cheer leaders, it’s disconcerting and points to a future evolutionary path where only about one in fifty people will be capable of speech and reason, while the remainder dumbly indicate their pleasure or anger with applause or jeers. If you don’t believe us, watch X-Factor where a ticket for a show is tendered in exchange for a brain.
• The pointless interlude of what Lily has got up to during the week, filmed with wilful ineptitude to pander to a generation who equate stupidity and conformity with authenticity (like every single generation before them).
• With Jeremy Beadle fresh in his grave, the You Tube etc clips were a licentious homage to You’ve Been Framed; but they were so punishingly dull that it was You’ve Been Framed the Jonathan Friend of Robbie Williams Wilkes Years.
• The internet interrogators, who consisted of a tiresomely camp peacock pitching for his own five-minute live blog on the E! channel in between fawning adulation of Justin Timberlake and Tyra Banks, a bloke with a small-head who didn’t get to speak and a dirty old woman, who is probably an incontinent refugee from the Mrs Merton Show.
• Anyone who finds fame on You Tube has less worth to the entertainment world than an iron bar bent by a Hulked-up Lou Ferrigno. Tay Zonday has a deep voice and is worshipped by people who use their toes to help them tally up number of words in their vocabulary (not including ‘2’, ‘r’ and ‘u’).
• The Metros won the vote to play their song at the end of the show. The NME describes them as “rock and roll poets”; and any endorsement by the NME has as much credibility as a reference for King Herod as a babysitter. They might have talent, but this will become clearer once the singer stops imagining he’s chanting at a football match.