Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: Praising Big Brother, Advocating Nuking Nick Robinson
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: Praising Big Brother, advocating nuking Nick Robinson
AS a smug, entitled, metropolitan dicksplash with a $50 vocabulary and a tendency to watch things with subtitles now and then I’m meant to dismiss Channel 5’s rebooted Big Brother franchise. Richard Desmond is a porn peddler turned newspaper baron turned TV channel king so we’re meant to squish our faces into cartoon disgust as if a man selling jizz mags is worse than arms dealers, Saudi princes who keep their people in a state of oppressed ignorance or Russians whose money was scrabbled up in the twilight of the Soviet era by standing on the heads of others and doing a fair bit of backstabbing both literal and figurative. Richard Desmond doesn’t seem like a particularly nice bloke but most newspaper proprietors are like crap James Bond villains so it doesn’t make him stand out really. I like that he’s invested money in bringing Big Brother back to its best because Desmond and his demonic underlings understand the key point of Big Brother: make it funny, make it entertaining, make it ridiculous. Channel 4’s problem was that it kept trying to hang on to the notion of Big Brother as social experiment rather than freak show with freaks who bloody love all that attention.
Celebrity Big Brother is the zenith of the Channel 5 Big Brother experience. It has got casting down to an art – Jim Davidson chained to a Nolan, Lee Ryan being Lee Ryan, Evander Holyfield looking more out of place than a box of condoms on the Mother Superior’s desk and a smattering of models whose only point is to feed The Daily Star with more big breasted happy-faced types to plaster on its pages and allow its readers to fantasise that such women might ever look at a Star reader and think “mmm, the egg stain on his tie and the sweat crusted under the arms of his shirt are such a turn on”. CBB on Channel 5 is a formula but one that Channel 5 has totally nailed. Emma Willis is also 500 times the presenter Davina “This is Davina” McCall ever was. Big Brother on Channel 5 is the Big Mac of popular television, disdained by hand-wringing liberals who want to tell you what to enjoy but perfect for the job it’s designed to do.
Also from the drawer marked “Stupidly Fun”, Sherlock this week was much, much, much, much better than the first episode of the series. With the introduction of Drunk Sherlock and the teasingly built structure of Sherlock delivering a best man’s speech jumping through flashbacks and building a case that came to pass during the wedding, Moffat, Gattis et al nailed it. Mycroft in lycra was also quite the sight. Ultimately, Sherlock is at its best when the writers bring a modern spin to a Conan Doyle original. This week they did that rather than going too far off piste despite some viewers decrying the seemingly ‘sitcom’ structure of the episode.
Moffat is right to say that Sherlock is “not a detective show but a show about a detective”. That’s where it becomes interesting. It is not a police procedural but an exploration of a web of knotty relationships. When it gets too meta and too smart about its motivations, it’s tedious but The Sign Of Three which, at times, came off like Spaced with murders, was perfectly pitched – clever enough to delight but well-built enough to avoid leaving engaged audience members befuddled. The episode’s conclusion – no spoilers – with Sherlock once again wondering how he fits into the world was quite lovely.
Not lovely? Nick Robinson. A man whose pretence of objectivity is paper thin, Robinson boils my piss so rapidly I ended up watching The Truth About Immigration through a cloud of stinking steam. A programme that sets out to talk about immigration under the title The Truth… is never going to be anywhere near “the truth”. Robinson wanted to be counter-intuitive and provoking, he was, as he frequently is, simply irritating. He predicated his argument on the notion that politicians have swerved away from discussing immigration properly since Enoch Powell’s notorious Rivers of Blood speech. Only, that, for a start, isn’t true…
Robinson failed to provide any decent answers on the huge gap between the largely positive influence of immigration and the charged anti-immigration rhetoric of all the mainstream parties and the weird ones too. It is not possible for Robinson to provide a counter-view to the political consensus because he is so deeply inculcated in the elite and in the stories and intrigues of Westminster. His vision is clouded by a professional mindset that encourages him to report on politics as if it were simply professional wrestling for weedy people, a world of heels and heroes, narratives and faked controversy. Immigration debates are almost always a distraction from even trickier issues and Robinson just added his own sparkler to the fireworks display with this thin and badly constructed documentary.