What to say of you liked it
A cauldron bubbling with mischievous pranks and pratfalls that qualifies as the definitive guide to hoax TV.
What to say if you didn’t like it
A litany of exploitative humour in which the weak and frail are bullied by the credible whose only talent is to diminish the work of others while creating little of note by their own hand.
What was good about it?
• Some of the hoaxes were still quite funny. But most remarkably, those that have aged best were dreamt up by the much-reviled Noel Edmonds. Winding-up Richard Whiteley on Countdown with two contestants who were incompetent neurotic cheats saw the smooth host lose his temper after Richard the contestant proudly solved the numbers puzzle by listing the three single digit figures 6,2 and 3 to arrive at 623. Or the pair struggling to come up with more than a six letter word with the letters OMETHINGS.
Britt Ekland’s plea in the Carla the Elephant Appeal on Brass Eye. “Last week they stopped a pig jumping from a tree on to a python in a two-way death pact.”
• Jeremy Beadle was a surprisingly engaging host rarely indulging in his own work and instead displaying a passionate insight for the hoaxes devised by others.
• The hoaxes from foreign TV shows such as Diego Maradona being set-up on a golf course. It didn’t quite work to begin with as when someone pretended they’d been struck on the head by a ball, the portly Argentine rode off in his buggy laughing loudly; but they did get him by causing a jetty to collapse as he sized up a tee-shot dumping him in a lake.
What was bad about it?
• None of those who actually devised and pulled-off the stitch-ups actually took part in the show, which rather drained it of insight. The closest we got was Brass Eye writer David Quantick explaining the Carla the Elephant Appeal, but he is a talking head on everything from the World’s Shortest Cliff-face to the Top Ten Ways To Extract The Last Bits Of Margarine From The Tub, so he doesn’t count. We also had the relatively extraneous views of various producers, directors and Channel 4’s lawyer.
• Many of those who contributed to the show seemed to appear for the same reason why they were such easy targets for the hoaxers – an insatiable desire for publicity. Dave Lee Travis, John Fashanu and Peter Stringfellow were the victims because they contribute nothing else to culture other than to be deluded ciphers and caricatures who invite mockery and derision through their manifest lack of talent.
• John Fashanu emphasising the word “Jeremy” when he spoke to Beadle about being duped by Ant & Dec as if to aspire to instill his testimony with a fallacious sincerity. And later his hollow threat to get Ant & Dec back as it’s unlikely he will be given a vehicle to perform such a stunt, and the same goes for DLT and his warning to Noel Edmonds.
• The contribution of Emma Jones whose voice vacillates like an air stewardess stumbling down the aisle to soothe the nerves of passengers during a particularly heavy bout of turbulence and has the substance of the contents of Laika’s lungs ten minutes after the oxygen ran out.
• The revelation that DLT’s “off camera” rant at Noel Edmonds has gone “round the world on the internet”. Who would be interested in a washed-up DJ hurling profanities at a colleague from about 15 years ago?