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Jan 06, 2008

Carry on Cruising

Voyage of the Damned

News broadcasters. They're a strange sub-strata of humanity. Charged with injecting current affairs into our brains at regular periods after meals, like some super news drug that needs to be taken with food, often imparting the worst information in the world that any of us are likely to hear. Is it any wonder they all go a little queer, if all they do day-in-day-out is dole out misery and despair to an already confused and terminally frightened populace.

"Quantel effects box jacked up on stoat tranquilisers."

And if that's not enough, those unlucky enough to anchor a broadcast have to sit there in the middle of what looks like a Bond villain's nuclear bunker, ducking random CGI headings as they're blasted around the studio, whilst the most inane, dumbed down, mushed-up facts are spoon fed into us by a Powerpoint jockey presenting pointless packages from ridiculous locations. Whether it's Huw Pym using a Quantel effects box jacked up on stoat tranquilisers to describe to us what a house is, or a Robert Peston piece on how the credit crunch really happened - presented using nothing but glove puppets whilst wearing only a thong, they really do have it bad. Open wide, here comes the aeroplane with this evening's headlines on it...

So you can almost forgive them for diving ankle first into any sort of camp frothy nonsense without a second thought. Usually it's the latest dull but worthy charitython. Back in the day it was Morecambe and Wise, or The Goodies. Now it's Doctor Who.

"Grappled with protesting lesbians."

Witchell And the next cab off the rank is Nicholas Witchell. Of course, St Nick, is no longer to be found seated behind a desk - although he's been there and done that. And you've got to admire a man who famously grappled with protesting lesbians live on air as Sue Lawley continued telling us about the decimation of the south Yorkshire cheese industry. Probably. And he plays a lead role in my second favourite audio clip of recorded out-takes to have made it online. All damned good grounding for a staring role in a Christmas edition of Doctor Who.

"What on earth is Mrs Overall doing in this?"

Kylie Who next then? Moria Stewart's out of a job at the moment. Too old to front a news broadcast apparently. Yet even she doesn't look as old as Kylie did in the Christmas special. Seriously how much did they spend on the prosthetics to make her look that old? I know she's been through one hell of a year but she's standing there in a maid's outfit with stockings and knee high boots and all I can think of, when she's holding a drinks tray, is what on earth is Mrs Overall doing in this? It was the Titanic that the show crashed into, not Acorn Antiques.

"At the end, it felt like I'd just sat a BTEC Diploma in BBC Sitcoms."

Captain Although as the comedy stars (and someone from Tittybangbang - which isn't, despite Radio Times billing to the contrary, a comedy show - it's an expose of high altitude breast implant explosions) troop through the set and onto the rotating knives of death you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise. It's a case of, "oh! it's him from that thing who's married to that woman who can't cook", then it's "oh! it's him from that thing who's married to that woman who pretends she's posher than she is" etc... At the end, it felt like I'd just sat a BTEC Diploma in BBC Sitcoms.

"Profiteroles and honey glazed racks of Kerry Katona."

In early December I predicted Voyage of the Damned would be "all teeth, tits and tinsel - it'll be spectacle and little substance - it'll annoy the hell out of us and be loved by the masses". Of course, it got 12M plus viewers, but almost half that number had consumed such an excess of food that their body mass just fused with the sofa they'd slopped down in after eating their way through 4 Iceland stores worth of Profiteroles and honey glazed racks of Kerry Katona. They'd barely register as sentient life, let alone viewers. DFS could make a fortune from these new sofa people.

I'm off to Dawlish now with a pack of crayons, 40 stone of lard and a camera crew to put together another stultifying inane package for a flagship news programme on the global obesity epidemic.

Happy Bloody New Year.

The absolutely last and final ever entry in The Bumper Book of Made Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Voyage of the Damned: in the first draft of the story the setting was to have been Dame Ellen MacArthur's yacht - until the BBC One controller stepped in as distraught women by themselves at Christmas was usually something that Eastenders handled and couldn't they come up with something that had at least 6 billion of something in it instead?


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