Friday, December 29

Beefcakes Browns and Baldies

Nick Yates picks at the TV not tasty enough for Christmas but too Turky for the New Year.

And so Christmas melts away like the snow used to before global warming. The memory fades of an old, fat, bearded man unloading his sack in children’s bedrooms on the 25th, and family stress reaches the heat of an excessively boiled sprout at this time of year,

The antidote during this period of limbo between Christmas Day and New Year? Well, those clever bods who come up with the programmes threw a whole host of peak time TV at us on Wednesday night in the hope of lifting festive spirits.

In our living room, some slightly past-their-best chestnuts roasted on an open fire and a stereotypical cast of characters gathered around the idiot box. Present and correct was my dad – who regular readers of this site will know as TV Review contributor ‘Big’ Brian Yates, my mum, my brother and my brother’s girlfriend. As ever, they were full of opinions and more than willing to separate the Bad Santas from the Santa Claus: The Movies.

First up was BBC2’s stab at a macho Christmas – Beefcake: A Very British Sex Symbol (Wednesday, BBC2, 9:00). Presenter Tony Livesey (‘who?’) talked bollocks over an hour of looped clips from The Sweeney. He posited the theory that there was a golden age of British TV shows and films in which men were men and birds were birds. The era featured ‘men who could break down doors but never cooked’. But, wait, these guys are now making a comeback with the newly rough Bond and derivative John Simm cop show Life on Mars.

Beefcake had rounded up a host of talking heads, including Germaine Greer, Nick Moran, Britt Eckland, and the co-founder of Loaded (Was James Brown busy?). [He means the James Brown who founded Loaded, not James BrownBread - ed]

The family’s verdict
“Did they put the show together based purely on the has-beens hanging around the pub one particular evening?” wondered my little bro. There indeed seemed to be some very tenuous links made in the narration. The Sweeney’s coppers, we were told, were the original ‘men behaving badly’ as Beefcake segued into an interview with Neil Morrisey tamely agreeing with whatever question was fired at him. Britt Eckland had cameos in two macho films, Get Carter and Bond. ‘She must have needed cash for her latest face lift.” My mum suggested. My dad thought her face was already lifted enough – sitting, as it was, above her actual head.

There was time after this to catch half an hour of The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2006 (Wednesday, Channel 4, 9:00). In their mission to have host Jimmy Carr on the television 24/7, this was a lengthy special edition of the panel game show.

The celebs occupying the hot seats were Noel Fielding, Russell Brand, Cat Deeley, Jonathan Ross, David Walliams and Rob Bryden. It came with a health warning: Woss and Brand in the same room together can cause epileptic fits.

The family’s verdict
Rob Bryden definitely won the battle of the funnymen, it was agreed. The highlight was the cameo appearance by that bloke who mistakenly wound up as a live spokesperson on the news having turned up for a job interview. More of him in 2007 please. My brother’s girlfriend likes Brand’s and Fielding’s hair.

Imagine (Wednesday, BBC1, 10:30) rounded off the night’s viewing. The Beeb’s arts programme took a look at the Las Vegas show Love, a high tech melting pot between The Beatles’ back catalogue and Cirque du Soleil. Time was when you could just listen to Revolver and be done with it. Now, if it’s not re-mixed by an aged George Martin and set to hundreds of acrobats leaping around a stage in octopus costumes, then the Four just aren’t Fab enough.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Star did the hard sell to presenter Alan Yentob.

The family’s verdict
Watching this makes you realise just how good The Beatles are. If it aint broke, don’t fix it, seemed to be the verdict. My mum liked Alan Yentob’s lack of hair.

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