Friday 24 November 2017

Televison review: A Neanderthal orgy reduced to wacky Fancy Dress Ball

* Darts (Sky Sports)
* Andre Rieu (Sky Arts)

Michael van Gerwen celebrates
Michael van Gerwen celebrates
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

The triumph of corporate culture is such, that anything that is any good is in constant danger. Now it seems with their endless desire to turn everything into some sort of anodyne executive entertainment, they're even destroying the Darts.

You'd hardly even notice it at first, but then that's the way they work. The Darts itself is still fine, the venue is still the vast Alexandra Palace, there is still a sense that this is now an essential part of the Christmas and New Year TV experience for everyone - well, for everyone who enjoys watching men playing Darts.

Yes it had started to attract various celebrities including Prince Harry, anxious to align himself with what he perceives to be the salt of the earth, but such manifestations are now quite a normal feature of anything that is shown on television, and it didn't detract from the integrity of the event - there was still something about the Darts which can only be described as "inappropriate".

That indeed was the making of it, this sense that something was going on here, that shouldn't really be going on at all.

And it wasn't just the antediluvian practices involving the use of women purely for decorative purposes, accompanying dart players as they made their entrances through the drunken throng to the oche.

It was a broader sense of maleness of a type that was last seen in an unregulated environment during the 1970s, all that drinking from large jugs of ale, the primitive dance of the crowd as they rose to declare their happiness to be alive at the end of a set, alive and loving the Darts in the Ally Pally.

And then I noticed it - the funny costumes. Now there have always been people dressed in funny costumes at the Darts, to show how mad they are, but now I started to notice that there was something more organised about it. You'd see five chaps together, all wearing the same "jailbird" stripy costume. And as the camera panned around the arena, you'd see that loads of other parties had made a similar effort, that what was once a defiant Neanderthal orgy, was being turned into a Fancy Dress Ball.

That instead of actual men carrying on as if freed from all of life's cares and expectations, we were now looking at an enormous corporate outing literally in disguise, yet another edgy entertainment drained of all its vital juices, and given over to the lads who spend their days slaving away over some hedge fund in Canary Wharf.

Sky Sports has done to the Darts what it does to everything that it touches, bringing in the "smart casual" brigade, sterilising it for the business classes - the game's gone. But if anything that is any good is in constant danger, there are also the things that weren't good in the first place. For example I caught Andre Rieu's concert in Venice on another outpost of the Sky empire, and was of course disgusted by it in every way.

The culture of Europe will not survive much longer if the likes of Rieu are not stopped, and it is a sign of how far the Darts have fallen that it would not seem out of place for those "mad" fellows in the prison uniforms to materialise at a Rieu concert, such is the "wacky" atmosphere which the maestro seeks to create.

No, we will not be able to resist the dark forces which assail us, if all we can put up against them is a Europe defined by the muzak of a Rieu.

And how can the Left respond when in Britain it is led by a man such as Jeremy Corbyn? I knew that Jeremy was a bit out of the loop on various aspects of contemporary life, but it was only on "Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe" that I learned he had been shown a picture of Ant and Dec, and had failed to recognise them.

Jeremy Corbyn doesn't know who Ant and Dec are. Then again a pollster on Newsnight recalled asking punters if they would vote for Jeremy Corbyn, only for the punters to reply that they didn't know who Jeremy Corbyn was.

So that's fair enough.

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