Show Me The Monet

Show Me The Monet - BBC Website ImageI have planned to blog about Show Me The Monet for a while.

Show Me The Monet is an arts program from the BBC where artists submit their works to a panel of critics with the potential to have their work exhibited and sold at an Art Gallery.

You may not have heard of it outside of the UK and even if in the UK you may not have as it was a program hidden away in the schedules of daytime telly.

Anyway having finally got around to writing about it I discover this sorry message on the show’s production website.

Show Me The Manet - off air message

What a pity.

Even if I did not enjoy the art being presented by the hopeful artists or care very much for the critics who they must first impress I would still watch this show purely because of the opportunity it presents for, in the main amateur, artists to show their works and get a wider audience. Even if the critics say no to the works we the audience may well say yes to them. Other opportunities may arise for them and their art because of all the TV Eyes upon it.

Sure for artists themselves there may be more effective routes in what is in effect a large-entry competition with a pyramid prize structure – a kind of X-Factor for Painters, Photographers and Sculptors.

Show Me The Monet - various clipsThe title of the show is an obvious pun on French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. In some parts of our country the show may be referred to as Show Us the Manet, phonetically punning after another French Impressionist (if more proto) painter Edward Manet – I just had to crow-bar this joke in!

With the decommissioning of the show the website itself has also given up the ghost. But there is still program information to be found on the BBC channel that broadcast it BBC 2.

The show’s Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Tulisa were Roy Bolton, David Lee and Charlotte Mullins. Their backgrounds as you might expect were in art history and criticism – Roy Bolton also is a dealer.

The Dermot O’Leary of the show (okay that’s enough over-working of the X-Factor comparison), the presenter was Chris Hollins whose background is in, well, presenting.

The show did manage 2 series and 25 episodes in total displaying therefore many works in the process.

And the real interest of the show was the artists and their art.

Katy Sullivan displays 'Disneyland'The image above is of former GP Katy Sullivan, with a portrait of her daughter titled ‘Disneyland’, standing expectantly before the judges at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. Incidentally the judges are referred as ‘the hanging committee’ – hopefully not as in ‘hanging them out to dry’!

As well as presenting their art to the judging panel they have to explain a little about it and put a price-tag on it, being asked how much they think their art is worth. What an impossible question to answer I would have thought.

They were very impressed with Katy Sullivan’s work and could not believe it was only her fifth ever oil-painting. Katy Sullivan has her own website with includes a portfolio which presents a better image of this work.

Disneyland portrait by Katy Sullivan

They voted it through to the Show Me The Monet Exhibition. It was also selected for the Holburne Portrait Prize courtesy of  the Holbourne Museum in Bath, England where it won the People’s Choice Award.

I am not going to detail all the art featured as there is a great deal of it and it is better viewed on the BBC 2 program website itself. But I will display a few more to give you an idea of the type and standard of work featured.

Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf - JuneThis next is titled June by a London based artist Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf. It passed muster with the judges but remained unsold not meeting her guide price of £1800. One great thing about the web is that most artists will have if not their own website then their work hosted elsewhere to be seen alongside their other works providing further context. It can also provide an opportunity to see what the subsequent fate of a featured work on this show was.

Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf with worksFontaine-Wolf has her own website and you can see her here stood before June and other of her work. Her work can be seen in higher resolution on her site too. And it transpires that ‘June’ was subsequently exhibited at the Royal College of Art’s Henry Moore Gallery.

I thought I should finish with a work where the judges voted No but which I would have voted Yes just to remind too of the subjective personal nature of art. However, on the website at least, all the work featured was either unanimously yes or at least majority yes. There were certainly works that were declined so clearly the website has spared those artist’s blushes being repeated.

So in this spirit of positivity to finish on a work the panel were unanimous about. This one is titled ‘Between ‘me’ and ‘you’ (1) – History Series’ by another London based artist Laura Jacobs. Her guide price was for £2000 and it sold close to it at £1750.

Show Me The Monet proved that not all daytime TV is created equally. And reminds that there is much artistic talent ever to be discovered.

Laura Jacobs - Between me an dyou

David McCue…Trumping Donald on Canvas

Donald Trump Red Money

Warning: Not for those of a sensitive disposition. This post contains many images of Donald Trump.

Each year Single Malt Whiskey distillers Glenfiddich host a Spirit of Scotland Awards. It has a number of categories including for music, screen, art and writing.

Glenfiddich 2012 Spirit of Scotland

For the 2012 awards there were some controversy. Not for the music award which went to Gaelic folk-singer Julie Fowlis, or for screen which award went to actor Kelly MacDonald, not for art, awarded to the owner of Edinburgh Arts hub Summerhall, Robert McDowell, or for writing where the author Ewan Morrison took the award.

It was for the prime award itself, the Top Scot, which was won by Michael Forbes. You may not have heard of him but ask Donald Trump about him, mmm on second thoughts do not do that. Beyond the expletives and the bluster you will not be enlightened much.

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

If you don’t know who Michael Forbes is then the Glenfiddich web page detailing these awards describes him thus:

a farmer from near Balmedie in Aberdeenshire,

who became known after his refusal to sell his home

to billionaire Donald Trump for a luxury golf course development.

So you can at least understand Donald Trump taking a personal, very personal affront at this award.

He had previously described Michael Forbes as ‘living like a pig’ and his land as ‘a slum’.

Michael Forbes on land, photo courtesy of the BBC

Michael Forbes on his land, photo courtesy of the BBC

There had been considered Compulsory Purchase Orders (a UK legal statute that allows public authorities to buy land that they believe is in the public interest such as for roads and housing developments without consent of the owners) to remove his and others homes so as not to spoil the view for those visiting this golf course development (titled almost inevitably Trump International Golf Links), a sort of class-cleansing. Apparently Trump thinks golfing holidays for the wealthy are in the public interest!

His response then to the award and Glenfiddich came in the form of a tweet on December 5 ‘We are getting rid of Glenfiddich garbage alcohol from Trump properties’!

Only problem with this is that the Top Scot Award is not chosen by a behind-closed-doors select committee of Glenfiddich staff but by public vote! The Scottish public sided with feisty Farmer Michael Forbes over belligerent bully business-man Donald Trump. As we also saw with the 2012 US Presidential Election in a democracy the people will not always vote the way of wise Donald!

By coincidence at the time of Trump’s Twitter Diatribe against Glenfiddich I was watching You’ve Been Trumped the 2011 British documentary directed by Anthony Baxter and described by IMDB thus

In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century,

a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on

celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up

one of Scotland’s last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.

It was released August of this year and broadcast by the BBC in November causing Trump to Tweet ‘No surprise that BBC is in a major scandal for shoddy journalism. Any network that air’s Anthony Baxter’s garbage has zero credibility’ – conflating a whole range of issues in typical Donald style!

You've Been Trumped Poster

But this post is not a review of the documentary (but you should see it!) but of an artist, David McCue, whose work was featured in the film and the film’s poster. He is a Scottish painter and was commissioned to host an art event detailing Trump’s golfing resort development and various residents resistance towards it. It was titled pithily Triumphant? The Art of the Deal and took place on the farmland of Top Scot Michael Forbes, in July 2010.

David McCue Triumphant ExhibitionIn addition to McCue’s oil paintings the event included a crazy-golf sculpture, selected written correspondence and other related artefacts.

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

The oil-paintings were of both Donald Trump and Michael Forbes and even had I no knowledge of the events inspiring them I think the context would be very apparent! I  find them very striking.

Michael Fobes by David McCueThis first oil painting ‘Local Hero’ makes reference to the 1983 film by Scottish director Bill Forsyth of the same name in which an American oil company seeks to buy up an entire Scottish village so as they can build a refinery without local opposition – very obvious parallels to real life! Burt Lancaster plays the Trump role (Hero or Villain – a rhetorical question!) of oil billionaire Felix Happer.

And I should add many of the locals are in favour of the project as with Aberdeenshire residents today, as it promises jobs and money after all. The resistance comes from a hermit, known only as Ben, living on a beach who also owns that beach, the Michael Forbes figure as it were, played by late Scots Actor Fulton Mackay.

And as with Donald Trump the Felix Happer character believes his great money can persuade everything only to be disillusioned of this notion.

Donald Trump New York Clown

On David McCue’s site though I could find no other work of his beyond this Triumphant Art of the Deal commission. Perhaps it was his first work but I would think it is doubtful that an unknown artist would get such a commission, but possible. I would have to explore further.

Googling did not reveal much about him at all contending as he does with a much more documented American businessman of the same name – perhaps an unintended irony!

There is a very brief article in the Aberdeen Voice which describes him as a ‘Glasgow artist’ and in an interview on his own website he describes Andy Warhol as an adult hero. But much of the rest of that interview is about the Trump project including possible future developments

It is possible that the art works may be recontextualised in the future

His words, not mine! He is meaning that this Donald Trump Golf Development story is not over yet.

But nothing much forthcoming about him or the rest of his works.

Intriguing!

Michael Forbes Local HeroDonald Trump - Trump StakesMichael Forbes No More Trump LiesDonald Trump Think Big and Kick Ass

Pablo Lobato – picturing celebrity

Bevan tried to change the nation
Sonny wants to turn the world, well he can tell you that
he tried
I could make a transformation as a rock & roll star

written by David Bowie

Having featured three illustrators recently from Europe (Italy, France and Spain) today I feature one from another continent, America, more specifically Argentina.

Michael Jackson by Pablo Lobato

Michael Jackson

Pablo Lobato is his name and he first came to my attention, as with last week’s featured Cristina Grossi, on the Chicquero blog in a post from June of this year titled Celebrities Illustrated. And it is his illustrations of celebrities that this post will be focusing on.

And he is one of us. A WordPress blogger that is!

His most recent post a striking illustration of Bob Marley. Bob Marley the Rihanna of his time – I shall just leave that there without further explanation!

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

But what you may also note about this post is its date – 6 November 2009. Regular readers (are there any of you?!) will know that November 6 is a special day but that is not what I am alluding too, rather that the last post was over three years ago. Is he no longer illustrating or more likely has he given up the ghost on WordPress blogging for lack of page views and user feedback?! (I am in no way projecting my experience upon him here!).

We may be able to discover as there are links on his blog to his Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts. And also ‘My Reps’ – a link to his management company website.

His Facebook page though does not link back to a professional portfolio business type page thingey rather a personal page where we/I learn that his TV likes include Modern Family and Music likes Lou Reed. Listed among the Other, being his other interests, are American Caricaturist Al Hirschfield and another American illustrator, cartoonist and author Bob Staake.

But this is getting me and more importantly you nowhere. I say you because for myself there is great pleasure to be found in getting lost, going astray, the best car journeys etc etc…but you are just a flitting reader of this blog-post and I have already likely trespassed too much upon your time…

So perhaps his Flickr page will be more illuminating. And yes his work is featured and recent – he is alive and illustrating! His work his grouped into Sets and we can see that his work has featured in The New Yorker and the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival among others.

Flickr page

Flickr page

He has also done twelve pieces based on the Western Zodiac. I do not believe in Astrology but here is his Scorpio, my star-sign! Star as in astronomy not celebrity!

Scorpio

Scorpio

If you do believe in Astrology and want to see yours and the rest or if you just believe in his illustrations then please follow this link.

Finally I would expect no dead-ends from his management company, Anna Goodson Management, and I was not disappointed – is that two double negatives making a positive?!

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

On clicking the ‘Artists’ hyperlink we come to this striking representation of the Anna Goodson Management client-base, with intriguing glimpses of yet more illustrators that I hope to explore further at a later date.

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

And Pablo Lobato being referred to just by his first name here, Pablo. If you name your child Pablo do you predispose them – boy or girl! – to become an artist genius?! At least to place the name and idea and grand possibility of Piccasso into your heart and mind…

His client page includes a link to his own website but we are greeted with this message – moving on!

His website down

This client page provides a brief bio about him

Soon after finishing his studies, Pablo started working as a graphic designer for different magazines. This, however, only lasted five years, since total boredom drove him back to his first passion – illustrations. Today, Pablo has made quite a name for himself in Argentina where he lives and works.

And it provides a good number of his works. I won’t have to go Googling today.

As Lobato has a fascination with celebrity I could just have featured a dozen or so of his illustrations without comment but as if I can keep my words to myself! I could also have featured them without name too and set up this post as a competition to see how many of them you recognise and to which then you could submit your answers to me by Email with the first to submit all correct answers to receive a lovely celebrity themed prize from me. But I’m a bah humbug and I ain’t giving any prizes away!

Jay-Z

Jay-Z

Pablo Lovato Beyonce

Beyonce

One famous person illustrated was also illustrated and featured in my post about Jorge Arevalo – namely Amy Winehouse – the link is to his illustration by way of comparison.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

He also features Heads of State such as Obama, Chavez and Merkel. Are Heads of State celebrities? Is Obama? Perhaps some of them aspire to and would be better leaders if they did not.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

Not all of his work is celebrity-fixated. He does very good illustrations too of jazz-ensembles – not that Jazz and Celebrity cannot be synonymous but come on let’s be realistic here! – and you should check them out.

I have focused in the main on celebrities from music and the movies but he also illustrates sporting and fashion stars too.

Finally more of the population of Celebrity-Ville where only the famous and infamous are allowed.

Elton John

Elton John

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

Madonna

Madonna

Fame, (fame) what you like is in the limo
Fame, (fame) what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, (fame) what you need you have to borrow
Fame (fame)

written by David Bowie, John Lennon and Carlos Alomar

Jorge Arevalo in The New Yorker, and beyond

Jorge Arevalo Illustration of Audrey Tauto France

Audrey Tautou

I came upon Jorge Arevalo, well I nearly passed him by. If you read or have ever read The New Yorker then you will know that in amongst the endless words which you pretend you are swimming with but have long-since drowned, in amongst all these words are occasional pictures and photographs of which to serve as some relief from those words but are as often and quite rightly demanding our attention too. I must admit I usually but glance at them eager enough to keep up with those words but on this occasion I was distracted enough by an illustration to decide to explore its creator’s work further.

This particular issue was the October 22, 2012 one and the illustration in question was not even attached to a written piece but in the Goings On About Town which I usually rush through as not actually best placed to gad about New York what with being on the other side of the Atlantic and all. More particularly it was in the Movies Opening section illustrating ‘Nobody Walks‘.

Nobody Walks Jorge Arevaldo IllustrationWith the web an easy enough task to delve deeper and or wade wider and his own website  was quickly stumbled upon. It greets us with a photograph of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin). Clicking on we see his illustrations. There is not much detail on his website and perhaps there does not need to be.

His site does detail his clients, the list is not that long but again perhaps it does not need to be including as it does in addition to the aforementioned New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

He has a number of books published of his portraits and illustrations too – I am not going to detail them as I have enough to gabble on about here. But if you like what you see here and want more of his work then there are links to his publications on his site too.

Juliette Binoche by Jorge Arevalo

Juliette Binoche

I’ve not included all the photos as what would be point of that when you can visit his site on his own terms and what-have-you, but instead a list of those not featured here who you may want to see illustrated in this fashion – Kate Moss with and without Pete Docherty, Chet Baker, Kate Hudson, Sasha Grey, Martin Scorsese, Lady Antebellum, James Franco, Kanye West, Jonas Brothers, Garrincha, Jane Reno, Jackie Kennedy, James Brolin, Elijah Wood, Chloe Sevigny, Pharrell Williams, Grace Coddington, Stacy Peralta and Alexander McQueen. A lot. Or enough.

Meryl Streep by Jorge Arevalo

Meryl Streep

Miles Davis by Jorge Arevalo

Miles Davis

The ones I have included I have kept my responses, bubbles of thought to a minimum  –  as I’m not you and you’re not obviously me therefore and it follows you will respond in your own unique way so I don’t think you are much interested in my view overmuch. We are all narcissists together on the world wide web after all. But anyway bravely, foolishly I include a few of my thoughts in words however invisible they may be to you between Arevalo’s portraiture.

Amy Winehouse by Jorge Arevalo

Amy Winehouse

Disgracefully I have never written about Amy Winehouse – her music, her voice, her life – what’s that about (?) but then I read your blogs dear subbers and you’ve not written about her either – what really is up with that?

I like the unfussy statement of Arevalo’s portraits. A kind of a doodle but super-charged in full colours.

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo

Mad Men – y’know those Ad Men

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo
More mad men…

Mad Men by Jorge Arevaldo
Mad Women…

His time frame stretches from Dean Martin to Miley Cyrus, the young at heart Dean to the old head on young shoulders Miley …

This picture of the Olsen Twins captures their innate spookiness well I feel.

The Olsen Twins by Jorge Arevalo

The Olsen Twins

The next of the singular time-defying Grace Jones and it looks like she is singing I’ve Seen that Face before!?!

Grace Jones by Jorge Arevalo

Grace Jones

Some of his illustrations are a bit more busy but no less bold.

The Black-Eyed Peas by Jorge Arevalo

The Black Eyed Peas

Charlotte Casiraghi by Jorge Arevalo
Charlotte Casiraghi, some minor European Royal

So if this has wetted your appetite, piqued your curiosity, stirred wonder in your hearts…you know what to do.

The Bridge – whose truth, whose story…

The Bridge - Opening credit imageA body is found on a bridge. Except later we discover it is two bodies waste up and hip down of two different women. One half-body found in Denmark, one half-body found in Sweden. For the bridge the bodies are found together on is the Oresund Bridge, the bridge which joins Sweden and Denmark. Where the killer has arranged the bodies so that the line of their decapitation is also the border-line of Sweden and Denmark. Two different women then from two different countries and indeed from two different worlds, the upper-half a high-profile Swedish politician, the lower-half a low-profile Danish prostitute. A crude point perhaps being made by the perpetrator about politicians and prostitutes being indistinguishable.

So begins the grim premise of this new crime drama The Bridge currently airing BBC 4 of a Saturday night. It was broadcast originally in both Denmark and Sweden on a Wednesday night. The opening music Hollow Talk is by Danish band Choir of Young Believers. They really should have had a Swedish band for the closing music if not a collaboration between bands from both countries?! The dialogue for the show is in both Swedish and Danish.

Crime is a staple of the TV schedule in the UK – we have many home-grown TV cops – some of which I have reviewed on this blog – Identity, Scott and Bailey – see what I am doing here?! – and we have as many US imported crime dramas, again some of whom I have reviewed on this blog, Castle, well okay one of whom I have reviewed on this blog – but anyway  they are very many and that is just the good ones and we will all have our favourites – a few favourites off the top of my head – Cold Case, The Closer and Law and Order, in particular the spin-off series with Vincent D’Onofrio, oh and Dexter, and well see it is endless. Euro-cops on the other hand are a more recent import – and I am not going to get into a Geopolitical discussion here around the fact that the UK itself is part of Europe and so Rebus and Morse are actually Euro-cops too!

In the last few years we have had Swede Wallander which also had its own UK adaptation with Kenneth Branagh in the eponymous role. From France we had Spiral and from Italy Inspector Montalbano. And most critically acclaimed from Denmark, The Killing. And BBC 4 to their great credit has been responsible for airing all of them.

Have I missed out any other Euro examples reader? Any Spanish Sleuth or Icelandic Homicide Detective I should get myself acquainted with?

The Bridge - credit sequence imageAnd now with The Bridge we get further crime sleuths from Sweden and Denmark.

The Swedish lead cop in The Bridge is called Saga Noren. Saga is almost literally literary – Scandinavian story. Would I name a child of mine Story I ask myself. A child is a story made flesh and blood – we are all stories, each others tales – in the beginning was the word or at least before there was the word there was no way of events being described let alone made sense of – without the word there can be no thought, idea, sense – instead a brew of feelings, wonder and terror admixed – the world about us an inexplicable indistinguishable joined up mass – not that language will necessarily make it more explicable – but it will try.

Our life itself is terminal but its story is always left unfinished…how much are we the authors of our own stories and how much the characters purposeful and purposeless in other author’s stories…well The Bridge writer Hans Rosenfeldt if you will name one of your main characters Saga I will go there!

The Bridge - Saga

I could sleep but…

The Danish lead cop is called Martin Rohde. And Martin is not such an innocent name as you might think alongside Saga – Mars, Martial, War – but I am not going to get on board that train of thought – the story you want to hear about if you are reading this is that of The Bridge – what is it about and what do I think and feel about it and likely not even that latter part you dry information seeking travellers of the web! – unless you are one of my subscribers who perhaps long forgot what it was they signed up to in the first place. I wish I could tell you but I am only the writer of all this.

Well, some dry synopsis then. Martin Rohde is married to his job but then that is another definition of a vocation – he is having a part-time affair with his wife and sometimes baby-sits his children. The criminals he seeks and sometimes catches are better known to him than his own sons and daughters whose many mile-stones more often than not will pass him by.

The Bridge Saga Noren & Martin RohdeAnd Saga his Swedish counterpart is not even having an affair with a husband. Her job is as devoted to her as she is to it. They hardly spend any time apart.

In one scene we see her in her bra as she changes her top – she is not changing her top in her bedroom, or in anyone-else’s bedroom, she is at work. And she is not changing her top in a rest-room or any other clandestine space but at her office desk which is open-plan with only computer terminals dividing one worker from another – it is not just that this is unremarkable to Saga but it is to her colleagues too – they are used to it and her, only visiting Dane Martin feigns to hide his incredulity. Saga is an astute detective in spite of her lack of personal skills and empathy – or perhaps because of it – think an unselfconscious Monk.

Their teams have established that their victim is not one but two and will begin to wonder if the perpetrator is also not one but two, or more.

The perpetrator later identify himself/herself/themselves – trying to describe a plot whilst not spoiling it at the same time is a delicate tightrope walk we critics (even of the ‘so-called’ and ‘self-styled’ varieties) have to balance – as Truth Terrorists or TT. They come with their own website too! And with two web-addresses – one SE and one DK.

I had to see if the show’s creators had gone to the trouble of creating the websites too but the risk with typing Truth and Terrorism into the Google search engine is you are inevitably greeted with websites and articles titled surprisingly ‘The Truth about Terrorism’ and then wary in a quite reasonable and not remotely paranoid way about attracting the attention of the FBI and the intelligence services of other countries as to why it is you are searching for such information in the first place! – so Intelligence Services of whichever country if you are reading this post as well as snooping my web-browsing then you now know my Google search was a very innocent one!  My search was a fruitless one too, or rather I could not find any such site listed on page one of the Google search results – is that a new definition of invisibility – if you are listed on page two and beyond of Google search results you might as well not exist at all?! Or just that I am lazy-assed and would not know research if it slapped me hard across the face with a wet kipper…!

The Bridge

Homeless…

As it transpires the self-titled Truth Terrorists are committing their crimes – as there are many others to come beyond these decapitations – to make political points – specifically that both the Swedish and Danish crime prosecution and detective agencies will pursue some crimes more than other crimes dependent on the demography of the victim – in one episode the homeless are subject to poisoning alongside property owners and developers being kidnapped for high-ransom – making the deadly point that if a crime is committed against the underclass it is more time and effort than it is worth to investigate – the death of such people is prioritized far less than any petty crime you care to think of committed against the wealthy and powerful. Likewise such priorities are expressed by the media – it is the kidnapping of the wealthy property owner that makes the news not the serial killing of the almost invisible homeless.

The Bridge Kim Bodnia

Father and son…

An additional point is made by one of Martin’s sons – that each year far more homeless die of cold and hunger than the body count in this sick Truth Terrorist killing spree – and that this is not investigated because its perpetrators are politicians or more amorphously societal indifference. If someone is murdered in the woods and no-one witnesses it did the murder take place sort of thing…that is if a deed goes unreported on mainstream media did it not take place. Further if the victim is not sexy or cute then they are not meriting of air-time – or if the perpetrator is not obviously a cartoon villain and so not easily vilified then it is passed over for some other more inconsequential news item. Is the News Industry in the Information Business or the Entertainment Business. This question is damning not just of them but we the viewers who clearly in the main could quite happily live on a diet of gossip and tittle-tattle alone.

For the other main character in The Bridge is a tabloid journalist (funny how when I write out the word tabloid journalist the shortcut hack comes instantly to mind) Daniel Ferbe or rather his newspaper or news media in general is the main character – Daniel Ferbe one pawn of many – the term ‘useful idiot’ is applied against those who support a cause they do not fully understand but whose charisma and popularity none-the-less will still promote that same cause and sadly applies to many journalists too – except here it is The Truth Terrorists who are trying to make a useful idiot of Ferbe and his newspaper for their own criminal ends rather than the traditional arrangement where political parties do such.

The Bridge

…the journalist…

Paradoxically the Truth Terrorists are doing some of the investigative journalism that Ferbe and his colleagues should be doing themselves, providing him with incendiary internal policing documents – as typing this and having watched four episodes I only now have made the connection to Wiki-leaks and Julian Assange – it is not that I am slow on the uptake but that I take my time to process and percolate information – urgh! – instead of the crony journalism and lazy cheer-leading of the incumbent ruling political party that his paper usually indulges in.

We have the suspense of the Swedish and Danish detectives seeking to catch the killers, we also have the suspense of what crimes the TT will commit next and for what purpose – what crimes of society will they be looking to illustrate next by committing crimes against those crimes as they try to make an ultimate right out of multiple wrongs multiplied against multiple wrongs.

The other notable presence in The Bridge is the décor – both interior and exterior painted in shadow. Police, villains, media, all moving among the gloom – in some scenes their faces barely visible, characters distinguished instead by their shapes and their sounds. And also their smells (our imaginations filling the gap that TV technology cannot provide, yet).

Martin has a brief encounter with the perpetrator – they are inevitably masked and brutally dispatch a beating to Martin – though only to injure, almost as if he wants his pursuers alive, to continue to investigate and by doing so to continue to publicize – and I write perp but is this one man TT or one of its many hiding faces?…

A later episode has a crime committed simultaneously in Sweden and Denmark – so it must be more than one person mustn’t it? Must it? We will find out. Maybe.

The Bridge - closing credits image

The Sarah Millican Television Program – a little bit of what you fancy

The Sarah Millican Television Program Audience shotThe 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!

The Sarah Millican Television Program Opening Couch sequenceWhen 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.

The Sarah Millican Television Program Olly Smith

Olly Smith

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!

The Sarah Millican Television Program Charley Boorman

With Charley Boorman

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!

The Sarah Millican Television Program with Paul Hollywood

With Paul Hollywood

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.

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