The Meaning of Life, BBC1

by | Jan 14, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Thanks, but no thanks Jean-Paul Sartre, take a hike Soren Kierkegaard, get back in goal and shut your moaning trap Albert Camus, we’re done with your profound considered philosophies on the meaning of life. Instead, we’re going to blindly heed the five-minute philosophies of intellectual demi-gods such as Alan Titchmarsh, Carol Smillie and Nick Knowles to form our opinions on why we’re all here.

What was good about it?

• The loveable Stuart Maconie recognised the silly format for what it was and concentrated on making amusing quips rather than trying to solve mysteries that have confounded the human race as he took a walk in the countryside. “I’d take a Swiss army knife with me to heaven as it would be useful for getting stones out of horses’ hooves.”

• The way Trisha Goddard tenses and releases the muscles in her indignant face was like a show jumping horse approaching a testing fence.

• The clip of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as dead folk complaining about how dull heaven is.

What was bad about it?

• The joy of Grumpy Old Men was that embittered grouches would sourly look back on their lives and reminisce how things hadn’t turned out as perfectly as they had imagined and moaned wittily about the discrepancy. The problem with The Meaning of Life was that the talking heads were looking forward to death, heaven and other things they have absolutely no knowledge of. This meant that rather than being based on sore experience, they seemed to have been mined from the loony astrology section of the Daily Mail, or speculative literature that preys on the insecurities of people who are scared of dying.

• John Lydon wasn’t angry enough. Cast as a calm, occasionally miffed 50-year-old stockbroker, his contributions would have been anonymous were it not for the fact that age has carved his features to project an even more belligerent stare.

• Many of the talking heads proved why they earn a living from broadcasting rather than writing. Fern Britton: “Money is like manure – it’s no good unless you spread it around.” John Humphrys: “I like books. I get an enormous amount of pleasure from reading.” Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen: “Frighteningly, I like being in churches, scarily.” Carol Smillie: “I do believe in fate.”

• It was reality TV at its most rotten. It assumed that the viewers would genuflect to the beliefs of a gathering of arbitrary people simply because they were famous.

• Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen is a humourless puddle of frothy urine seeping down the cracks of anonymity.

• Whenever Nick Knowles appears on screen we’re afflicted by a malaise that causes us to hallucinate that we’re weightless and slowly falling towards his gaping mouth, which now seems to stretch from one side of the galaxy to the other. And as we fall, we’re overcome by the stench of house paint emanating from his lungs until we wake, paralysed and embedded in one of his monolithic teeth destined to spend all eternity listening to cheery DIY advice while choking on the aroma of sawdust and earnest hard toil.

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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