Belfast Telegraph

TV View: Lovely bubbly Waterworld

By Joe Nawaz

Another week, another tellyful of copa le monde madness, dear reader. Love or loathe the World Cup, like that annoying acquaintance you accidentally make eye contact with on the street, you can't really avoid it.

By the time you read this the England football team will already be home. Luis 'Nosferatu' Suarez, Woy's not-so wemarkable Wovers et al will have been raked over with a fine-toothed Neil Lennon and co in the BBC studio. And your sweepstake team still won't have picked up a point.

Speaking of the BBC World Cup studio, it's also where they've decided to place the most distracting TV table since that one they used to have on the Nolan Show that was actually smaller than him. The multi-layered Nineties Habitat 'Swiss Army' table that has Gary Lineker swearing like a docker every evening as he repeatedly bangs his shin off it on the way to his seat.

But the real question this week is, where does the discerning local TV-trawler go to get away from all of the ball-shaped hubbub? Well, there was any number of fly-on-the-wall reality fests, from the local, hastily repeated jigs and wigs variety to the bonkers "made from real whale's ivory" posh car boot antics of C4's Auction House.

But I stumbled upon a briny bauble from the BBC NI treasure chest whilst waiting for my own sweepstake hopefuls Russia to get trounced by Belgium. Some of you may remember Waterworld from the first time it was on our screens some aeons ago. Not the sorry washout of a Kevin Costner movie, but presenter Darryl Grimason scuba-diving off the coast of Rathlin. With cameras. Sounds like Alan Partridge's worst TV programme pitch, but was a gentle reminder from the oul' days of what a welcome antidote programmes about here, but not for a change about "us", can be.

Elephant ear sponges that would cut you to pieces and colourful Deadman's Fingers may seem exotic but are as local as May McFettridge. All that, and Darryl got to exclaim "yeow, that's class" whilst being impressed by weird fish and wearing breathing apparatus.

More exotic scenes of local wildlife on our screens that don't involve burning car tyres or police blockades please. And if you felt you were on something of a roll after Waterworld, you'd have checked out Alison Steadman's Shetland (ITV). The Gavin And Stacey actress may have claimed to adore the great outdoors and be partial to a bit of "twitching" (that's birdwatching), but the only twitching she inspired in this armchair naturalist was in the remote finger.

"Home to the exotic, the rare and the breathtaking," Steadman said, with all the enthusiasm of a woman being made to publicly read out a love poem she'd written in sixth form, when in fact she should have been hollering "yeow, that's class!"

For those of a more high-brow disposition, y'know – Roger Moore lookalikes, customers of Scissors Palace on the Saintfield Road and cultural sorts, but mainly cultural sorts, there was our very own Arts Show (BBC2). It's a remarkable programme if only for its longevity.

It is now two years on the go, and shows no signs of disappearing up its own holistic approach.

This week it went back to the Belfast School of Art Final Year show and interviewed local celeb illustrator Oliver Jeffers.

It doesn't always get it right but that's OK – neither does art.

And besides, there's always the footie on the other side.

Suspense almost killed me as HM’s chattels were inspected

The Queen and Prince Philip admire sculpture of jockey

Remember Utopia — that Channel 4 horredy drama of a year and a half ago? You know, so violent you often had to watch it behind splayed fingers?

Painfully funny, dark as moonlit pitch and smart as Steven Hawking's three-piece suit? No? Not many people did.

It was one of those cult shows that was slavishly followed by nerds like me, but gained something of a “reputation”, as the arbiters of TV taste like to call it.

Anyway, I was reminded of it while watching Queen Elizabeth this week pottering around her, um, pots and pans at Hillsborough Castle with the Antiques Roadshow team.

Why? Because it really, really resembled a scene from Utopia. It was all awkward pauses and suspenseful worried glances as Hilary Kay prayed she'd got the date of a certain priceless trinket right. I half-expected Liz to turn round and brain Kay with the very expensive Pierre Jules Mene sculpture.

And then get a couple of staff to clear up the mess and casually move on to a Victorian horse brass.

Fortunately she didn't — and the Antiques Roadshow lived to evaluate another array of chamber pots and plates (for insurance purposes, of course).

Even more fortunately for the discerning viewer, the real thing is returning in July for a dark and sticky second series. And I've been reliably assured there's no royal subplot this time.

Legend Eli rides off into the sun

My earliest iconic TV memory you ask? It was a friend's birthday party.

We were playing cowboys and more cowboys (his parents ran a progressive household) and the very unsuitable western The Good, The Bad And The Ugly was on the telly.

What I much later recognised as the unmistakable, shrieking notes of the film's signature theme rang out, and Eli Wallach leered out of the screens at us as the ratty duplicitous and eponymous “Ugly”.

Much later still I realised what an important and prolific actor he was.

He died this week, but memories of Saturday and Sunday afternoons on the couch watching the likes of The Magnificent Seven, How The West Was Won and The Misfits are indelible.

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