Friday 31 October 2014

The right on comedy show that parodied itself

Published 10/05/2013 | 18:00

David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr present 10 O'Clock Live
Ken Burns reigns supreme as the documentary king with The West.
Nadia G host of Bitchin Kitchen

10'clock Live

Wednesday, Channel 4, 10pm

Bitchin' Kitchen

Monday-Friday, Good Food, 11pm

The West

Monday-Thursday, PBS, 10.15pm

S o 10 O'Clock Live should be a TV dream team. The panel consists of Charlie Brooker, Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell and Lauren Laverne and, to use footballing parlance, the management had indeed picked the right line-up. The problem was just going to be how they played.

Each one has a position to fill – Carr is the smirky, shifty one making rude jokes down the back of the class before adopting a "me? What have I done?" look of innocence when the audience groans; Charlie Brooker is, well, Charlie Brooker. Meanwhile, Mitchell plays the lost soul/young fogey, while Laverne is the host

Presumably she is in that chair as a result of the producers' belief that the guys on the show would be so busy waving their dicks at each other and trying to be top dog that the calming, civilising presence of a woman would put some manners on the boys.

Brooker, sadly, seems to have morphed into the kind of TV staple that he once so brilliantly dismembered and obviously struggles with the dynamics of being a celebrity . . . while ripping on other celebrities.

And while he seems to have toned down the hectoring in the this new season, there are few things more frustrating things than watching an obviously bright guy simply regurgitating the same old guff his audience expects of him.

Mitchell just gives the impression that he wandered into the wrong studio by mistake.

Laverne flits between insightful and self-consciously ditzy and Carr remains the one loose cannon who at least looks bored by the same liberal/Guardian clichés being spouted to seal-like applause from the audience that wants its own righteous prejudices upheld.

It's still worth tuning into, of course, if only on the basis that with four people like that running a show, you're virtually guaranteed a few laughs.

But as with so many other supposedly satirical TV shows, what 10 0'Clock Live proves is that the hip, trendy and ever so right-on chattering classes can be just as intolerant and unreceptive to an unpopular point of view as their conservative opponents.

If the people fronting this show want to keep it going, then they need to seriously up their game and lay off the easy gags.

Q There was a time when food presentation on TV got about as a dangerous and edgy as the matronly Delia Smith (a woman whose off-camera life, ironically, puts those rebellious, rock 'n' roll chefs to shame) teaching you how to boil an egg.

Ultimately, they became more sophisticated and then they tried, God forbid, to be hip.

In fact, I imagine the pitch meeting for Bitchin' Kitchen went along the lines of: "We're going to make it hip and fun."

It is neither. It is, in fact, an insult to not just the intelligence of the viewer, but even the intelligence of the ingredients.

Hosted by Nadia G (left), a straight-from-central-casting Italian-American, this actually manages to be more annoying than any other cookery show out there – and yes, I am including Rachel Allen in that. When it comes to cookery on telly, it might be time for this viewer to go on a hunger strike.

Q He is the Leonardo Da Vinci of documentary makers, an artist whose projects have added immeasurably to the sum of our knowledge and we owe a debt to the brilliant PBS for giving us a chance to enjoy Ken Burns' stunning history show The West.

It started last week, and this eight-parter, shot in the master's trademark style, is quite simply a thing of beauty as well as a fascinating insight into one of America's most iconic, yet misunderstood, periods of history.

iodoherty@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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