Did we like it?
Aside from films about the people who are most in need of charity, such as disadvantaged children, sick African infants and the humanity of Jeremy Clarkson, and Parky and Rossy, this was entertainment hypoxia with each appearance by Chris Moyles, Westlife or the Top Gear ‘boys’ draining that last ounce of oxygen from your lungs before drowning in a cesspit of indulgence and mediocrity.
What was good about it?
• The films of those people whom Sport Relief is trying to aid were once again the most touching and hypnotic moments of the whole evening. There were stories of disabled, terminally ill children from Britain to South Africa, tales of debilitating poverty from Africa, such as Kelly Holmes’ film about little boys running across a busy train line where one was killed as she filmed and wan parents pleading with runaway children to return home.
• A Question of Sport Relief was passable, with a few merry quips from Jimmy Carr crowbarred in between David Mitchell’s embarrassed but well-practised ignorance of all sport.
• The swim by James Cracknell and David Walliams across the Straits of Gibraltar, even if there was the indelible stench of extraneous celebrity spillage with the addition of Walliams to this most visual leg of Cracknell’s endeavour as if he wasn’t considered famous enough to carry the section by himself.
• We didn’t expect much from Jonathan Ross’ chat with Michael Parkinson but were surprised that Parky is a far more abrasive interviewee than he is interviewer. He spoke eloquently and irritably on the failings of George Best, and even made a timely tirade against the abdication of responsibility by all politicians towards the promotion of sport amongst young people.
What was bad about it?
• Davina McCall came dressed as a red card. And in her world everything is either “amazing” or “so amazing”. She also forms her hand into a phone in the most chilling television metamorphoses since Leona Lewis was altered from pleasant young woman into mechanical monstrosity by Simon Cowell.
• As “it’s all for charity” this means that the lowest common denominator of humanity must be pandered to, hence Leona Lewis spewing out plastic fumes and Westlife standing in a line that would provoke even the shyest, baldest Buddhist to devise an impromptu firing squad.
• The assumption that the explicit deal between viewer and sports relief was that you paid “for an entire night’s entertainment for the price of just one phone call”, but 10p overpriced the majority of this rubbish by 100%.
• The sadness of sporting greats Kelly Holmes and Steven Redgrave, and also Alan Shearer being reduced to charity stooges because now their athletic peak is long passed they are bereft of any transcendental talent. It was also something Michael Parkinson touched on in his interview with Jonathan Ross.
• Sport Relief Does Come Dancing once more tried to elevate the mundane, creatively barren pursuit of ballroom dancing to the status of artistic beauty through a bunch of people who aren’t very good at doing the day job doing something they are even worse at for the senseless adulation of viewers who had their brains packed into their skulls like a scoop of vanilla ice cream, while stray dogs lick up the runny remnants trickling down the sides of their malformed craniums and the ghosts of abandoned children cackle manically.
• Bruce Forsyth dances like a Brazilian prostitute. He also says “Kara Tointon” as though he’s been practising all day like a small boy with a single line in the school Nativity Play.
• The Dragons’ Den dragons are tossed on stage with all the direction and purpose of dry, brown requiem of drifting leaves cast out of the heaven of the tree branch and left to furiously spin in an eddy of thwarted ambition before being crushed beneath the heeled shoes of a mindless pedestrian. Even the sight of them pathetically trying to buy charisma and popularity by donating £5,000 each isn’t enough to elevate them to the primal dignity of a farmyard animal.
• Chris Moyles, a man who talks with the guttural snipe of a man pushing a puppy into a vat of acid.
• Nick Hancock’s tribute to silent films with his contribution in The Apprentice.
• Top Gear Does Groundforce was one of the most appalling pieces of television we have ever seen – petrifyingly unfunny, borderline xenophobic, diluted and derivative. It was set up as being a realistic version of what happened when Clarkson, May and Hammond renovated the garden of Sir Steve Redgrave, but it was soon evident it was a highly scripted farce. But as it was such an artificial contrivance it must be judged in the same way as a sitcom, and by this standard it was terrible.
• None of the presenters can act, every single one of the things that happened were devised by the sort of imagination that – if not given the privilege of public school and an overbearing boorish personality – would be the sort of creative shipwreck left to rot the uninhabited archipelago where axed ITV1 shows regularly wash up.
• Did Clarkson really tread “in some dog poo”? Do Polish immigrant builders wear out-of-fashion tracksuits rather than the proper overalls and hats, and stand about shiftily, fleeing at the first sign of trouble, perhaps in the world of the Telegraph, Mail and Sun they do. In real life they do not. Clarkson also spoke to them with the same inherent disdain as a white-legged, crotchety colonel barking orders to his Indian servants at the height of the British Raj.
• “Why does everything have to be in Latin?!” complained Clarkson in that strident tone that dually calls for Britain to invade any nation who doesn’t bow before ‘us’ and speak ‘our’ language while he simultaneously put his thumb over the English translation – Witch Hazel – an enervating manoeuvre he used at least twice more, pretending that he had confused another plant with a non-English name with “Gorgon Zola”, and then wilfully mispronouncing the Latin name of Ellwoods Gold as “Chlamydia Lausmila”.
They also knocked over a plant pot at the garden centre and crushed a bicycle that was supposed to belong to one of Redgrave’s children; Clarkson shot May’s tape measure with a rifle, and later the branches off a tree to enable Hammond’s tree seat to be lowered on to a trunk after the ‘incompetent’ Polish builders neglected to construct it around a tree; a mechanical digger falls into a trench, which is a facile prompt for Clarkson to rant about health and safety with the scorn of a mill worker resentful that he is paying the wages of one of his slaves who lost an arm in an accident the day before; a new digger ruins the lawn; May’s shed is wrecked by a crane, is blown up, crushed by rugby posts and finally set alight; and Hammond gets stuck in the cement patio, but Clarkson, walking on just moments later, does not.
• The whole abomination had the impression of what the career of Laurel & Hardy would have been had they been born a century later, force-fed through the talent strainer of Simon Cowell, thus blow-torching off their imagination, humour and wit before being locked in a room with only a copy of the Daily Telegraph for company – and even then we doubt they’d be as abhorrent as that one man abscess of putrid shame Jeremy Clarkson.
• Lewis Hamilton had the audacity to ask people to give money to Sport Relief while he could pay off the national debt of Botswana.
Aired: Friday 14 March 2007