The one and only, Saturday evening BBC1
As a non-driver I’ve never really understood the fascination that car crashes seem to exert on motorists, the seeming obligation to slow down and have a good look at the tangled wreckage. Aside from that time I was in the back of white FIat in a tunnel in Paris the whole thing’s always left me bemused. Until tonight. For I have witnessed a programme that has forced me to question certain assumptions that have long underpinned my relationship with television.
To stress – I like television. I like good television. I can even find things to admire in bad television – the way in which the hosts of Channel 5’s daytime quiz shows keep going, improvising around the ineptitude of their contestants, praying that a producer from a bigger channel will watch them and think, “You know, what my show needs is a blond presenter with pointy eyebrows.” And certain kinds of bad television transcend their awfulness to become compelling viewing – car crash TV. Like tonight’s show “The one and only”.
The background to this show is that the Beeb some time ago pinched Graham Norton, the former stand-in presenter for JAck Doherty on Channel 5 and sexpert on ITV’s late night “Carnal Knowledge”, from Channel 4 for flipping great wadges of cash. Sadly they had to find something for him to do. This involved hunting for a format to suit Norton’s talents of shouting,insulting the audience, and making prank calls – and has seen the Beeb make a pale imitation of his C4 show on BBC2, various talent contests featuring John Barrowman (who having not appeared on telly for the past 72 hours is clearly at risk of some deadly disease related to exposure), and now this – a bargain basement version of Stars in their Eyes, your Eyes, a’body’s Eyes where people who neither look, nor sound like a celebrity compete to be chosen by three “super fans” (typically sinister obsessive middle-aged men, who’ve attended 200 concerts in the last world tour and can mouth along to each ad lib).
Some will recall the Peter Kay routine where he analyses “Stars in their Eyes”. Who are you going to be tonight, Matthew Kelly would ask – and the punter would say, “Well, he and I have a lot in common – in that we both have heads”. Well aside from that anatomical similarity there was little resemblance between most contenders and their chosen celebs (including a veritable plethora of top pop icons – you know him with that little beard, the fat one out of Take That, The one from Sonny and Cher that didn’t hit a tree, and a Tom JOnes who should really have asked Rob Brydon to fill in for him). One contender was introduced as a “Pub singer”, but without Vic Reeves’ redeeming qualities.
It was awful and is apparently going to be on again next week in a live version. Graham Norton must be very glad he jumped ship and went to the Beeb and I hope he and his salary are very happy. Next week though it’ll be up against Strictly Come Ice Skating on ITV, so let battle commence.
Thankfully I managed to avoid most of it this evening while watching how close we came to armageddon in November 1983 – featuring top telly spy (and fromer co-presenter with Richard Littlejohn of some Channel 4 show where you had to hunt people) Oleg Gordievsky. Next week, I’m washing my hair.
Oh, and PS for a show called “The one and only” there was one notable omission from the roster of celebrities that people wannabe.