The Sarah Millican Television Program is TV about TV – yes Meta TV – and so this blog post to be a TV appraisal about TV appraisal – the Meta-Meter is going off the dial here! – as if said critic hoisted up their big fat lardy tv-watching ass from their oh so comfortable armchair and stepped through the screen to chance their thoughts with both a studio and TV watching audience at large.
A potential infinite loop of the Sarah Millican Television Program reviewing the Sarah Millican Television Program reviewing the Sarah M…
It is not quite as if Caitlin Moran or Grace Dent took their TV critic routines from their respective newspapers to the Telly Box as Sarah Millican is already a star of sorts of the TV screen – she has been a regular guest on comedy panel shows popping up on Frank Skinner’s Opinionated, Jimmy Carr’s 8 out of 10 Cats… in fact it would be quicker to list the British comedy shows over the last five odd years that she has not appeared on. She even appeared regularly for a while on Loose Women which really is no laughing matter. Some relief from its cheery banality I guess. But this show is her first where she is as they say stage-centre.
This is a Telly show about Telly but one that is not embarrassed to admit that affection and that it is a near-all-consuming one. For many a TV critic it seems TV itself is far too low-brow and a temporary gig where they will be calling themselves a Culture Critic whilst waiting to be taken more seriously reviewing Art or even Film. Not Sarah Millican.
She begins this show by commenting
I love TV, it has taught me everything I know. I spend so much time with my TV it is like family. Take Eastenders. Eastenders has taught me many things. Turn off the baby-monitor before shagging your neighbour. And at some point we are all going to have to marry Ian Beale!
When Eastenders is not being the most watched TV show in Britain it is only because Coronation Street is being the most watched TV show in Britain – we Brits like our Soap Operas. Perhaps this is true of all Countries – that we all love our Soap Operas more than any other format whilst at the same time all of those said shows being incomprehensible outside the country they were made in – and not just because of their native language! I understand that Coronation Street for example never took off in the USA – and indeed had to be subtitled! – last time I checked Mancunian was English! Of course I know we don’t all love our soap operas, there are likely far more that never watch them than do, but we can take that as a given that when we mean most watched what we really mean is least unwatched. Clear?!
She then comments how she uses the TV schedule to plan her day, like the One Show.
When you hear the music for the One Show you know that technically it’s okay to start drinking!
For those of you not familiar with the One Show, which is as likely to apply to those living in Britain as outside of it, it kicks off at One in the afternoon not the morning! And for those of you outside of Britain she is not meaning drinking tea! I will let Sarah Millican explain what it is about
It is a magazine show. You know, those magazines you can get that are about spiders, different types of ham and what JLS think of dry-stone walling!
In each episode of her show she will be looking at different aspects of TV viewing – previous episodes have looked at wildlife and dating programs, and yet another costume dramas with special reference to zombies. Alas I missed that one! This episode will be looking at food and survival programs – another natural coupling!
And so on to the aforementioned main courses. Though as she explains the closest she gets to both is
Eating chips outside
She describes cookery shows as like ‘food porn’ saying that she is not really interested in the making of it just ‘the money shot at the end’! Next in her sights is Nigella Lawson where the TV camera often seems more interested in how she is shot than any meal she might happen to be preparing. Or has she more pithily describes –
Nigella is shot like an episode of CSI. Only shot from the waist up! I love those bits when she comes out in the night for a snack, like a sexy badger!
A sure sign that I watch too much TV is her next joke about Gordon Ramsay’s corrugated forehead ‘from constantly looking under the grill’ reminding me of another joke about the Scot Chef’s washboard forehead from Sean Lock’s Lockipedia Live show ‘the shit that must have gone on with Gordon in his past’! Yes it is quite a specialized hinterland of comedy the comedy about Gordon Ramsay’s creased forehead that I have found myself in!
On meals for one she commented that she did not like them
Not because they make me feel lonely. I just don’t think they are big enough!
As with a lot of comedians ‘it is the way they tell’em’. I am writing her jokes down but that may not really do justice to them. Or be the point. These jokes have to be heard not read, you cannot hear the vocal inflections nor see the facial ticks, when the words are rendered cold on the page or screen. Perhaps too you need to hear her accent, its jaunty Geordie (North East England) melody. Likewise the interaction with the TV audience – the laughter, and whether uproarious or embarrassed or hesitant and the pauses in the jokes to allow for all of that too.
As well as her stand up comedy routine she also has guests. Her first is a Wine Expert – Olly Smith from Saturday Kitchen and Iron Chef UK who she describes as having ‘a firm body, nutty top notes and a lovely nose’!
Her opening question sets the tone for what is to follow
Olly, do you ever worry that you’re encouraging people to drink wine a bit early in the day?
A few questions later she asks him whether he prefers
To spit or to swallow
The questions in between did not depart too much from that Graham Norton vein. Despite Olly ostensibly being invited on to talk about wine she had told him early on that she did not actually like wine – unless it was sparkly – heathen!
Her humour being a playful white wine rather than the dark underbelly of a red wine.
A Sarah Millican interview is not really a dialogue rather a comedy monologue with her guest as much a victim as an equal partner but as ways to die being tickled toward it is not a bad way to go!
She ended with a joke about her being a boozing lightweight
The last time I had a pint of Shandy I went to Tescos afterwards and I was a little big giggly and I bought furniture polish and I don’t even have furniture to polish!
She then moves on to Survival programs
My phone died last week and I had to use a Pay Phone, I felt like Bear Grylls
On advice from her father following passing her driving test.
You should always have in the boot of your car at all times, a blanket, a shovel and a flask. And he’s right because whenever I’ve killed a man I’m always parched!
Her guest for this survival part of her show is Charley Boorman as much it seems for his motorcycle adventures in Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor. He talks about one episode in Mongolia where desperate for something to eat they got themselves invited into the home of a Mongolian family and were presented with 200 testicles – we learn that they pop when you eat them! Mmm – I would have to be very hungry.
It is during this section that we also meet Sarah Millican’s dad which is also another regular part of this show. They hook up via Skype. I am not sure that this section works – it feels a bit folksy and the genial family banter not really translating out of their family home to our homes, family or otherwise.
His relevance in this section however revolves around the survival skills he taught her when she was a young child such as how to escape a burning building! Charlie Boorman when asked whether he has given any such advise to his children answers only ‘that they should get marshmallows’!
She then moves on to another comedy routine about food commercials. Commenting on the (upmarket) Marks and Spencer TV advert with sexy female voice-over ‘It’s not just chicken’ she compares to (downmarket) Aldi and suggests that they should have their own version ‘It’s not quite chicken’!
We then move on to the Great British Bake Off and her final guest Celebrity Baker Paul Hollywood which culminates in them preparing a scone-mix which leads inexorably it seems to a recreation of the Demi Moore Patrick Swayze Ghost scene not forgetting the Righteous Brothers crooning over it all – only bread-dough filling in for clay! Finding out more about Paul Hollywood (is that name for real, really?!) and by that I mean looking him up on Wikipedia I discover that before studying as a baker he studied as a sculptor. Spooky?! Or more likely the show’s researchers also use Wikipedia! And apropos of nothing the other key fact about him it seems is that he was responsible for creating the most expensive bread in Britain, Almond and Roquefort SourDough, selling for £15 a loaf at Harrods – now you know, whether you wanted to or not!
Sarah Millican asks him if he were a bread what kind would he be. She states that his fellow baker on the show Mary Berry would be a sour-dough. He replies a Baguette. I mentioned Graham Norton earlier but this really is just another strain of Oo-er humour running back through Julian Clary and Les Dawson all the way back to the Carry On movies – perhaps it is Protestant humour – that necessary mix of risque and repression…she adds that she thinks she would be a Crusty Bloomer. After a while of this sort of humour every household object in eye-shot becomes a symbol of some sexual adventuring. He adds that he prefers the dough wet to dry, if it is too dry it does not work – your mind is now working over I am sure – innuendo is insidious!
The episode ends with some closing jokes.
How Soufflés are like boyfriends – you can always try again but it is annoying thinking about the time – and eggs! – you wasted on the last one!
It now seems a near pointless detail to include what time TV shows are broadcast, even on which channel they are broadcast, such are the endless ways they can be subsequently seen. But if you want to catch it when it is first broadcast, or indeed are able to, The Sarah Millican Television Program is a BBC Two broadcast, of a Thursday evening, of about thirty minutes and for a six week run.
- TV Shocker! (fordingtonfield.wordpress.com)