Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Tudors: Verily, my Lord is so modern!

If you type in The Tudors on You Tube's search 'tool', the first suggested result for the programme is 'sexiest scenes' - which shows that the programme's makers most definitely know where its audience is, as they say, 'at'. It's all about the romping.

An easy criticism often levelled at this lavish period costume drama, beginning its fourth and final series on BBC Two, is that it is 'historically inaccurate' - but that's to miss the point: the inaccuracies (whatever they may be - I really don't care) are part of the fun. In fact, in some ways, The Tudors is so modern it's almost a comedy.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers' King Henry VIII, now in his forties and not far from death (assuming the producers follow his life span, y'know, roughly), is still as gym-toned as ever.

Padded out costumes do not a fat ginger man make, and gammy leg aside, the King's real-life decline and 21-stone frame do not seem that evident when on TV he's played by such a handsome actor.

"Obligatory sex-romps"

And when the King's fifth and latest bride, the 17-year-old Katherine Howard, fond of frolicking in the pouring rain wearing nothing more than a blowy nightie on account of the stiflin' summer heat of 1540, does a seductive dance for her husband behind a large billowing sheet - as may have been the custom in the 16th Century - you can't help but notice she appears to be beautifully back-lit by what can only be a great big bleedin' spotlight.

And in between the obligatory sex-romps (on average, two per episode, love-scene fans), the Queen and her ladies-in-waiting only ever seem moments away from checking their Facebook on their iPhone.

King Henry VIII aficionados probably aren't going to settle down to enjoy The Tudors for what it is, and may instead end up in mourning for what they think it should be, but pay them no heed - this is series four and there's only ten episodes before everyone who loves good telly misses it for evermore (or, erm, buys the boxset. Or goes on to this overwhelmingly thorough fan-site.)

And The Tudors' sexiest scene according to the mucky viewers of You Tube?

A Tudors clip-montage set to Gimme More by Britney Spears.

Of course it is.

Update: "they" - whoever "they" are - took the video down. Boo.

National Television Awards: Dermot/Doctor great, everything else ho-hum

Business as usual at the National Television Awards then. All a bit ho-hum, all told.

The winners are listed all over the internet if you're interested enough to look, like here, but the most interesting thing was the programme's start - a bizarre-Dermot O'Leary-in-the-Tardis-with-the-Doctor-mini-scene.

The pair of 'em - travelling about the fictional TV universe they were.

Dermot had over-slept you see, in his stripey blue pyjamas, and was late for presenting the programme so the Doctor came to the rescue. That's like the plot.

And on the journey they encountered various TV 'talent', complete with little jokettes. Witness: Ant and Dec's invisible hand-cuffs! Dot Cotton washing the Doctor's suit in the launderette! And other things worthy of a sentence ending in an exclamation mark probably!

But let us pause - for now we put out a call to the more serious Doctor Who fan:  please don't get panicky, because the implications of this mini-episode are clear.

If all these fictional TV characters know the Doctor, what does it mean for the universe as a whole? Is the so-called 'NTA  cutaway' canon? Could the Doctor have had regular unseen adventures in Albert Square before? (Yes! - possibly) Where were Amy and Rory? And could Dermot be the new companion?

(Yes, in a word, as long as his dialogue was minimal.)

And while we're here, let's take a look at Dimensions in Time - a Children in Need Doctor Who-meets-EastEnders charity special from 1993. Be warned...

If you've still got eyes, a soul, and an iron-like will, there's a part two for you to watch, if you dare, over on Youtube. There's no link though, I'm not that sick.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Artic with Bruce Parry: What's not to love?

You got to love Bruce Parry. He's so nice and polite, even when he doesn't have a clue what anyone is saying to him.

His latest devil-may-care exploits are taking him to the Artic where we shall watch him get up to all sorts, over five thrilling new episodes.

He does it so we don't have to.

He nods and and he smiles as a man - probably the village elder who emerges from his hut only on special occasions (who doesn't love a film crew?) - talks to him in his native tongue, which Bruce doesn't understand.

But fortunately for Bruce, he hasn't agreed to do anything too taxing this time - just a competitive yomp up the great big nearby Verkhoyansk Mountains, in Siberia.

Later, puffing and defeated at the top, he's got the good grace to admire the (literally) breath-taking view, and he'd even thought of the viewer too, as he'd also lugged a camera up with him. (Maybe that's why he lost the race?)

But what of his loved ones? His girlfriend? We know Bruce is an ex-Royal Marine, and as any attractive, drunken, former girlfriend of a Royal Marine will tell you (probably), they all make 'really shit' boyfriends, no doubt because they are away for months on end on missions of secret derring-do.

Still, I would suggest all of Bruce's followers aren't too troubled about what sort of partner he'd make in 'real life'. He's off the telly after all. The women who want him, and the men who want to be him, for an hour, as long as they're back for work in the morning, will love him unconditionally.

Bruce Parry, we salute you and your impeccable manners.

And behold: the BBC website has this rather nice 'my favourite moments' piece on him, in a section called Human Planet Explorer, which is the kind of title you have to read two or three times to check how much sense it makes.

Nigel Slater's Toast: Not about Nigel Marven

The nostalgic rite-of-passage drama Toast, based on the memoirs of TV chef Nigel Slater, told its story well.

But I spent the first twenty minutes unsure who Slater actually was, and instead had assembled an image based instead on another Nigel - Nigel Marven, the wildlife presenter.

Which, on reflection, may have made an equally absorbing 90 minutes of good telly:

"But dad I want to study Botany and pursue Great White Sharks in far flung places!"

And young Nigel Marven's dad, who is probably from Lancashire, I dunno, would reply: "Pipe down son, you're carrying on the family tradition of..." Erm. "...working in a shop."

But once I recalled Slater's 'Simple Suppers' programme and got the right Nigel, all was straight in my head - it's important to get your own internal narrative ticking along nicely in order to enjoy someone else's.

Ken Stott played Slater's annoyed and under-pressure father, having to deal (badly) with the decline and then death of his wife, herself unable to nurture young Nigel's interest in fresh food and cooking.

Instead, she'd always make toast and they'd eat it together.

Later, Nigel's widowed father marries Mrs Potter, their uncouth cleaner from Wolverhampton - but she's actually a whizz in the kitchen.

She whips up dish after ambitious dish - all photographed in vibrant colours, set against the dreary claustrophobic colours of the 1960s decor - but Nigel doesn't take to her, and after his father's death when he's 17, he leaves for London and a first job at The Savoy (recruited by Nigel Slater himself, in a small cameo role).

As explained in this piece in The Telegraph, the film had a long gestation, and its writer simplified the original memoir, removing other family members from Nigel's story, which has the effect of making Nigel's childhood that bit more sad for all us viewers who like a wallow.

But changes for dramatic reasons or not, the result is - hooray! - a success. It's an evocative, nostalgic - for food, for youth, for childhood - warm and engaging film.

Now about this Nigel Marven biography. Who can we get to play the croc?