Thursday, December 16

Review: The House That Made Me: Michael Barrymore

Michael Barrymore's retrospective is as selfish as it is chilling, says Mark Lewis

Maybe it is what made him such a compelling performer. But nine years after a young lad was found dead in his swimming pool with violent anal injuries, Michael Barrymore’s self absorption is ghastly.

In The House That Made Me: Michael Barrymore (Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm) his lack of empathy is as relentless as his self-pity. His bloated old cheeks forcing his eyeballs deep back inside his flesh; his brow furrowed by the years of frowning over his own misfortune, Barrymore does the Who Do You Think You Are bit with selfish gusto.

“My life would have been easier if I didn’t have to be gay,” he says. He goes back to a recreation of his childhood home: “Jumping inside your own life – that’s brave even for me.” The subtext is always the same: Something dreadful has happened to me.E  Why me? He died, but what about me? My dad was violent and fucked off when I was just 11. What about me? I was gay, growing up in South East London in the 1960s. Fuck him. Fuck that dead boy! What about me? What about me?

“Nine years after losing everything, Michael is going back to the beginning to find out where the problems began,” says the voiceover man, complicit in the sordid egocentricity.

“It’s like the night the guy died in my pool,” says Barrymore, “I know my part in it now.

“I’m not frightened to say now.

“My part was I didn’t say no. If I’d have been sober and together and had not thought you have to be good and nice to everyone, I’d have said you’re not coming back to my place”

Smirking: “I was trying to be popular and look what happened. I didn’t say no, you ain’t coming back.

“I was trying to be popular. That’s my part in it. I didn’t say no.”

Neither did Channel 4.

Wednesday, December 1

Review: Miranda

Stripped of modern gimmicks, Miranda is as old fashioned as crinoline and a shampoo and set, yet still manages to capture single womanhood in 2010 perfectly says Trudi Parton

It shouldn't work but it does. BBC2's Miranda, (Monday, 9pm) following the romantic escapades of the exceedingly tall and exceedingly funny Ms Miranda Hart doesn't have any particular structural quirks to set it apart. There's no first person camera thing like Peep Show. There's nothing like that football commentator thing they do in Pete Versus Life. It's not shit like Two Pints of Lager And a Packet of Crisps. It just has a solid script and great comedy performances.

Miranda works in a shop with her girlfriends and spends a lot of time in the neighbouring restaurant where the object of her affections, Gary, works as a chef. This week's episode focuses on Miranda and Gary's doomed attempts to get it on, despite a brace of lecherous would-be suitors, one of whom just happens to be one of her pal's fiance.

So far, so terribly old school one might think. Hell, it even has canned laughter and Miranda talks to camera - yes like Ferris Bueller does in his Day Off. But why should sit coms have to have gimmicks, when they are as charming as this, and deal with the dating dilemmas that face the modern-day Bridget Joneses (yes it was that long since the books). After all, overbearing mothers and smug marrieds never really go away do they?

Miranda and Gary's first date doesn't go well, though they do have velour-covered menus in the restaurant 'you know you're somewhere posh when they look like a smoking jacket' says Miranda. Quite. After a dessert-based fire, they then decamp to Miranda's pad where the moment is killed by a bout of indigestion and the word 'Wind-eze'.

Then, after a botched session of al fresco bonking, afternoon delight ruined by leg wax stuck to the bath  and a denouement that ends up with nearly everyone naked, 'It's just like a French farce' mugs Miranda, our unlucky in love couple never make it past first base. And then it's time for the credits to roll with the announcement that 'You Have Been Watching' (yes, like they used to do in Dads Army and Hi-De-Hi!) and another thirty minutes of shamelessly underrated sit com draws to a close. No doubt the BBC will pull it like Pulling, so enjoy it while you can.