Monday, February 19

A Fish Needs a Bicycle

Helen Parton looks over Sunday night’s TV with more than a little bile against the unfairer sex

By rights, I should hate Top Gear (8pm, BBC2). It’s presented by men for a start, and I’m none too keen on them at the moment (I’ve not turned lesbian or anything, I’ve just come over a bit ‘I-got-to-thinking-were-all-men-schmucks’ Carrie Bradshaw stylee). And not just any men, but bawdy, sexist, middle class Tory voting men. Well, that’s Clarkson neatly summed up – Richard Hammond’s clearly a nice guy and James May as docile as an elderly spaniel, which is handy ‘cos that’s what he looks like too.

I kind of like all the torque talk, carburetor chat and turning a Robin Reliant into a spaceship, don’t ask me why. I was mainly watching this episode though for special guest star in a reasonably priced car Simon Pegg (my erstwhile TV crush before Noel Fielding appeared on our screens and I started stalking him around Camden). Success seems to have turned Pegg into a bit of a smug idiot sadly. And Clarkson’s assertion that 4x4s were now uncool because, ‘socialist women hate them and they’re better in the bedroom than Tory women’ plus ‘there’s very little room in the back of this Porsche 911 but you’ll have thin children anyway, because driving this means you’ll have a thin wife’ did stick in my craw, so I speedily turned over to Leewiiiiiiiiiiiiiis (ITV 1, 9pm). I defy anyone to read the title of this post-Morse comeback for the Oxford constabulary in any other fashion than John Thaw’s exasperation at his sidekick’s inability to appreciate the finer things in life like classical music, stout etc.

The Geordie philistine needn’t fear in this new series, because now he has his own mini Morse in the form of Sergeant Hathaway (played by current Billie Piper knobber Laurence Fox) who has a neat line in Nietzsche, classic mythology and, er, phoning up sex lines in order to catch the woman responsible for the demise of a group of self-satisfied middle aged blokes who’d murdered her friend during their drug addled youth so they could remove her adrenal gland and get high on the contents (and you thought the infamous Morse ‘rave’ episode was a substance too far).

Strong stuff for a Sunday night - as was Meerkat Manor (6pm, BBC2). And you thought it was all fluffy-wuffy creatures living happily ever after? Not so – the alpha female Flower has not only banished her one daughter Tosca from the entire group for challenging her authority, but she made another one, Daisy, leave her pups to die when the group moved burrows. Whether mendacious meerkat or murderous cleaner just remember, boys, hell hath no fury….

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