Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

TV View: Finding comfort in Sarah's charming TV tat

The programmes to watch... and the ones you really want to miss

Presenter of The Magazine, Sarah Travers
Kellie Maloney

I was having a dog of a day. You know the kind of day where your self-pity reaches Oscar-snub proportions? And you get can't wait to stumble through the front door, slam it shut then toss a coin as to whether you switch the TV or kettle on first? Just me then, but you surely know the kind of day where you just want to "put your feet up"? Of course you do.

Well, anyway, with 'hug in a mug' in one flipper and channel flipper in the other, um, hand, I flopped across the settee like so many dejected kind Edwards, ready for the flickering cathode rays to bathe my listless eyes in reassuring tea-time inanity.

I was in luck: The Magazine Special Summer Edition (UTV) was on. If ever a sequence of words was designed to stir the mentally stable, the creative and the reasonably contented into productive non-TV related activity, it's surely Magazine, Special, Summer and Edition. But fortunately for me (or for them – who can say?) I was in no state to resist.

So I let La Travers and her motley compendium of celebrity tat and local brickabrack wash over me. Much like the drizzle on evidence at Truckfest Ireland. In fact, so psychically demure was I, that it took me a good half hour to work out that Sarah Travers was actually presenting the best bits of The Magazine from the past year, plus some new bits.

You know like those greatest hits albums where the band is contractually obliged to record a couple of dud new tracks to beef up the back catalogue? In this instance, the 'new tracks' were a trip down memory cul de sac with Pamela Ballantine.

Pam and Sarah basically chatted about going on holiday as kids; it was like accidentally eavesdropping on a conversation next to you on a long-haul flight and realising with some horror that you haven't even taken off yet. But to me it had the welcoming effect of half a valium and swig straight from the Gordon's gin bottle – the better to save on washing up.

Pam's admission that she had something called "brown fingers" was a slightly unsettling cue to take a trip around DJ Carloyn Stewart's garden, which boasted a impressive array of radishes, lettuces, strawberries and chives.

Five minutes of airtime dutifully filled, matters switched from the organic to the utterly synthetic, as the illiterate vinyl homunculus known as Joey Essex popped up at Truckfest. "Chrome smile, tanned upholstery" purred La Travers by way of an introduction before she attempted something never before seen on our sreens: an interview with a plasticised sock puppet. "I can't believe the wevva. They told me it was wild, but it's boiling," said Joey as a small hurricane blew the smaller trucks into the air outside. Sarah asked the question all magazine viewers wanted the answer to. Namely: what had he been up to recently? "Partying in eyebeefa, relaxing in eyebeefa." Was the erudite answer. Moving on, Julian Simmons honked his horn and accused Travers of "blocking his passage" and so on and so forth.

The rest of the show appeared to be greatest hits, such as Kian Egan and Jimmy Nesbitt on the couch, although by that stage I couldn't be sure whether I was hallucinating (Nesbitt's hair for example appeared to be hovering hesitantly just above his head, reluctant to land), and what was real time, and what was like, the past. At least it geared me up for next week's Doctor Who. And you know what?

As TV for the broken, the downtrodden and the dispossessed goes, The Magazine's Greatest Hits just about trumps the One Show, if only for finding an outlet for Julian Simmons to pursue his single entendres.

Suitably pacified then, I had a nice cup of tea and realised that a world with The Magazine in it isn't such a terrible place.

Storm in a D-cup as Kellie joins 'stars' on Celeb BB

So then, what do we all make of the Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5) line-up this year?

The word 'eclectic' doesn't begin to cover it. A more suitable word might be 'huh?' In amongst the usual array of reality 'stars', including eejits from Benefits Street and Gogglebox and long forgotten ex-soap actors, there's also the usual pouting, preening ludicrously inflated 'celebrities' ready and willing to gurn and flirt for our viewing entertainment. The bookies are already taking odds on who'll be the first pair of narcissistic mannequins to make the Beast with 2 BACS payments, but really, the proper horror viewing will be in the dreadful likes of right-wing mentalist and Hollwood star Gary Busey. Think Jim Davidson times 100 in all things – sexism, homophobia, unpleasantness and fame. But my favourite has to be transgender boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, who may have had a complete he-she makeover, but remains resolute in her attitude to gay people, ie she doesn't like 'em much.

I don't expect I'll watch very much more of the storm in a D-cup that is Celeb BB, and it won't be attracting new headlines beyond idiot blogs, but yet, like cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust, it still skitters about the periphery of most people's TV awareness. Or Channel 5, as it's officially known.

Why we'll all miss Gerry's true genius

Local broadcasting might be affectionately known as patchy. That's been reinforced this week with the sad news of Gerry Anderson's passing.

Not only was he a lovely bloke, but he was a broadcaster – on TV and radio – who was light years ahead of anybody else we've (excuse the deliberate pun) thrown up these past 40 years.

When he was snapped up by BBC Radio 4, he was too subtly mercurial for them. But he was always best doing his thing on the radio in the mornings, gently belittling and beguiling all at once. The most obvious sign of his genius? There's nobody remotely capable of filling his immaculate brogues.

Switch on...

It's approaching faster than a Dalek fleet with a bit of a gripe. Peter Capaldi's Dr Who, all furrowed brow, dark mystery and downright Scottishness. If you're a Doctor Who fan of any worth, this is the best news since Christopher Eccleston signed on the dotted line nearly a decade ago.

Switch off...

Sexy Beasts is back. Think blind dating amongst pretty idiots made up to look "horrific". Cue mock surprise as said idiots mimic real human actions such as appreciating personality. Then relent when the face behind the mask isn't "up to scratch". BBC3 at its best/worst.

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