After his last "…And Me" run, which covered the world's smallest, hairiest, tallest and fattest, Mark Dolan, who has hopefully resigned himself to becoming known as "the poor man's Louis Theroux", returns with a second quartet of superlatives. Read more...
Despite everyone being struck down with the credit crunch bug, it seems there's going to be no let-up in programme-makers packing celebrities off to glamorous locations to make travel shows. It sort of works, though, since no one will ever be able to afford to go on holiday ever again – but sending king of smugness Piers Morgan to Dubai, where the spookily clean streets are paved with tax-free gold, does seem to be rubbing it in a bit.
Never mind, because Piers actually does a pretty good job of it, meeting both the expats and the rich Arabs who live in the country and gawking at some of the impressive sights dreamt up by PM Sheikh Mohammed. These include such follies as the new seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel which cost so much to build, it’s expected never to make a profit (despite charging £12,000 a night for one of its top-end rooms), the 800m- tall unfinished skyscraper (160 floors and counting), and a theme park which, when complete, will be bigger than Birmingham. As Piers says more than once: "This is absolutely ridiculous."
The former Mirror editor is from the Jeremy Clarkson school of confident motormouthy presenting, at one stage pointedly telling a pair of investors who've just plugged $50m into some redistributed sea bed (i.e. sand): "You've both completely lost your marbles" – but with such enthusiastic camaraderie, it makes the interviews sparkle, as well as making this pair think they're crazy maverick pioneers.
The dizzying figures make for an eye-opening watch, the material feeling fresher than Griff Rhys Jones's recent Greatest Cities trilogy. Piers doesn’t quite get to the bottom of it all, though: it might have been good to hear from, say, someone who has come to recognise Dubai for the soulless money pit it probably is, or – perish the thought – a poor person.
This is going to sound a tad pessimistic, but could the Obama reign signal the end of (or eight-year break from) the modern day protest song? The early 21st century produced a bumper crop of classics, but what will we all sing about now?
Can you imagine Jarvis Cocker writing – or daring to release – 'Running the World' in 2009 ("Bluntly put, in the fewest of words / Cunts are still running the world")? Green Day's 'American Idiot' is now a twee period piece ("Welcome to a new kind of tension / All across the alien nation / Everything isn't meant to be okay"). And Arcade Fire, whose apocalyptic sophomore album was shot through with veiled and not-so-veiled anti-Bush polemic (“I don't wanna live in America no more"), are reportedly hurriedly rewriting their third album, which initially went by the working title of 'McCain Glovebox #4 (Brackets)'.
I have one answer in the form of a commuting poem I originally wrote in response to a short ditty posted on Facebook by my old boss Martin (his went: "From London Victoria / To Brighton Central / I am always sitting / Next to someone mental"):
From Kennington To Paddington I get a lot Of reading done.
This is probably going to make me sound a bit like a list-making OCD wrist-wringer, but for the past 11 and a half years, I have been writing down the name of every book I've read. It's simple, really: when I finish a book, I add it to the list.
I started doing this back at school in 1997, after a teacher, Mr Macfarlane, told our history class that the 19th century British Prime Minister William Gladstone used to read around 60 books a year - during his premiership. The man was devouring books like they were cheese and chive flavoured Pringles, in between running the country, bickering with Disraeli and inviting prostitutes back to his house for tea and biscuits. And I began to wonder if I got through that many (books, not whores, or biscuits), as someone who didn't have to rule the UK as well. So I started making a record.
Then, a few years ago, I discovered that Art Garfunkel has been doing the same thing since 1968 and I realised that untamed haircuts aren't the only thing we have in common.
Anyway, the reason for this confession is because I recently digitised my list, in case of fire (oh, all right, because I was bored), which means The Electric Goose now has a sister blog, called Blog After Reading. She wears glasses, is slightly pretentious and lives here.
Although it begins with a blonde bombshell being slaughtered by a
weird furry monster with eyes like magical gobstoppers, the thing
about Demons that will most shock viewers is probably the fact that Philip ‘Life on Mars’ Glenister speaks in... an American accent. Yikes!
Seriously though, it actually takes ages to get used to. Glenister plays Rupert Galvin, an über-confident cliché-spouting hardman without, sadly, any awareness of how silly he sometimes sounds. He rocks up at the house of teenager Luke (Christian Cooke) one day claiming to be both his godfather and a “warrior” whose job it is to rid the earth of “inhumans”.
Luke’s not convinced – and he has a test tomorrow – but Galvin insists that these creatures are everywhere. It is a bit surprising no one’s noticed them, though: the one hunting Luke is a seven-foot-tall trenchcoat- wearing Marilyn Manson lookalike with bad teeth who spends his time sitting in bars on the South Bank eating cockroaches and snarling. And his evil boss Gladiolus Thripp, played by The Office’s Mackenzie Crook, has a prosthetic nose nicked off the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family and hair so outrageous he would’ve been thrown out of Kajagoogoo. Inconspicuous they ain’t.
There are a number of awful moments: Luke’s
attempts to save girlfriend Ruby are set, hilariously, to
the musical strains of the Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘Ruby’, the
fight scene with some hoodie ninja bear-men is
ludicrously leaden and Zoe Tapper, who’s had herself a busy lesbian Christmas, what with the Survivors finale and Affinity, doesn’t convince as a blind seer.
Despite all that, Demons is so irresistibly bizarre and nightmarishly disturbing, it’s hard not to like. The words “cult viewing” are written all over it in big silver writing, and whoever scheduled this show for primetime Saturday night will prove to be either a madman or a genius.