Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back To The Future Then Hell And Back - A Lucky Man's Story

Usually I can’t stop writing. I find myself full of words, writing, speaking, it flows from somewhere. Sometimes at work I have to do presentations, speeches and try to make them as funny and as entertaining as possible. Why? Because that's what is expected of me, yet today, for the first time I find myself saying nothing. If there is one thing I can say is this: my words - be them rubbish or otherwise, I came across a very special and quite significant interview on YouTube. An interview by Michael J Fox filmed in 2002 for an American chat show/news item.

Today, I find myself trying to forward this piece of film in some way. I can’t. I’ll just show you this instead…..

To Michael J Fox….. Your platform, Sir….

Let The Auntie Of All Relatives Entertain You, You And You!

It has appeared to us mere BBC license holders this week that a new wave of globalisation is about to hit the television airwaves and it’s all from our friends at White City.

The BBC have announced that due to incredibly wonderful profits from fairly flat, yet glittering shows as “Now Strictly Come Dancing” the keen idea is to now sell the show all over the world. Why not? I hear you cry, it is just another commodity, after all. It should be exploited. We have done many a good turn over the decades with the shipping over of Benny Hill series’ to the US. So what is wrong with the slim built Japanese getting an eyeful of their very own Natasha Kaplinksy in a sequined gown and peep toe sandals? Absolutely nothing. Yet let us remember that we were here first.

There is something also very worrying about the idea of the global and highly profitable market of selling TV. We worry, just ever so slightly that there is some little country out there somewhere who is going to be a damn fine better job of what ever we have presented them with in the first place. It is not that long ago that we made the remotest mistake of selling on the unstoppable and yet physically cringe making idea of “The Office” from Messer’s Merchant and Gervais. What happened next?

The Americans took it and boy, they took it, shook it and dropped on the studio floor to see if the cleaner would sweep it up. And it worked - irritatingly. So what are we to gain from the Global TV market? Well, not only will we be able to promote Terry Wogan onto a universal platform other than the Eurovision orange box he is so used to, we can pride ourselves on reaping in a pretty £100 million profit.

However, the BBC are in a matter of crisis with staff being laid off and the ongoing matter of too many people in TV and Radio who are not even getting a wage. But that’s showbiz. Yet if we can get Heather Mills McCartney to step aside from her billion pound divorce row in the courts just for a quick twirl on the stage of “Dancing With The Stars” then viva la world! Let’s sell, sell, sell!

mduffy 2008.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lock Up Your Comedians, The Americans Are On The Prowl...

Comedy ain't what it used to be Richard Morrison Oh dear. The critics are being beastly about the latest cinematic exploits of Mr Bean. via Times Online

What have we done to comedy? The appeal nowadays seems to be pointing towards the rough, the blue and the downright border line. Gone are the days of wholesome family viewing when we would reach out to our friend, the telly, and welcome The Two Ronnies with open arms. We still do to a point, when we are celebrating 70 years of them. Will we still be housing this ritual for French and Saunders in 50 years time? We may well be, but 120 years of the Two R’s?

Certainly! So where was the turning point from the era of cosy, ‘know-where-you-are’ TV, to in -your-face, smack -me -with -a -kipper, Oh -my-God, did-he-just say-that? Kind of humour? I guess we could trace the roots of all that is alternative back to cheeky little chappies, ‘Not The Nine O’clock News’ when just about everything was in the firing line and much of Britain was left reeling in guilt. When we had laughed at Eric Morecombe dressed as a Roman with a bad script and Glenda Jackson wrestling with her flat lines of Cleopatra, we found ourselves the next week giggling at hedgehogs being flattened by hefty trucks and vicars getting the bashing treatment by little known comedian, Rowan Atkinson. Oh how did the world go completely wrong? It didn’t. Not really, we just allowed more freedom with script writers.

Not The Nine was one of the first sketch shows post Python which allowed young and unsolicited writers to come in and take a shot at a three minute slot. Many took the bull by the balls and sent in tonnes of the stuff. This was, for a few, the start of life long careers within either the BBC or a giant trampoline into other areas of comedy. It started up a whole new slant to the way comedy was written and performed. Up until then, it had either been stand up, Python or men standing around in front of BBC microphones putting on silly voices. The age of the general muck around was here to stay. Leaping forward some twenty years or so, we can look back and see a definite pattern, but where is comedy going to take us in the future?

The dreaded ugly head of the statutory situation comedy is back on the prowl leaving us with a few years left of Robert Lindsay in ‘My Family’ to endure, having said that, we would not have seen the talent of Kris Marshall come to the fore, if it wasn‘t for this piece of domestic aptitude. The world of comedy has also seen the stand up come back, then to fade, then to come back again. It would occur to me that the art of stand up goes around in stages, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Just when we thought we could happily snuggle with bliss to the wit and integrity of Eddie Izzard on stage, he suddenly turns tail and heads for the bright lights of Hollywood in search of a bigger pay packet.

So what are we left with in the meantime? It would seem that right now, we are waning somewhat with not so much as a repeat of Porridge to look forward to when sitting down to beans on toast. The Office has lost it’s cringe effect after too many re runs of David Brent finding the dildo, and we are left with a desperate feeling of hankering after an episode of ‘Bless This House’ just for something familiar to watch. The world is an open stage right now for British comedy since selling the very last of our talents or script ideas off to the other side of the pond. At the same time we find ourselves hanging most affectionately on to such historical figures as Stephen Fry and John Sessions hoping that they will forever stay British.

Mr Fry has a passion for Radio Four. So long as we can hold down Woman’s Hour for a few more years, we should be okay….

mduffy 2007

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Computer Age Takes It's First Limbs And Soon We Will Have No Backbones

Ready for today's economics lesson? Okay, everyone take your seats, leave your pencils and notebooks in your bags, flip up your desk LCDs, pull out your control pads, and...first one to secure our borders ... via PC World

It is a wonder what will happen to the human race over the next thousand years or so. Whilst aimlessly wandering around the Natural History Museum recently (and free, I hasten to add, but not for much longer if the Tories have their wicked way,) and as I strolled passed the giant shape of the largest animal of Earth, the ‘big,-can’t-think-of-another-word, whale,’ it suddenly occurred to me that us mere mortals who are standing upright, destroying the world, will have to evolve yet again and what for this time? What reasonable notion will jump to the fore, leaving us no choice but to move with the times and change the way we sit and move our limbs?

The computer.

They may be a part of out past time right now. We socialise on them, we shop, move house, go on holiday and even meet up with old friends and find new lovers, but the human race will have to adapt to our new friendship we have with the QWERTY keyboard and the 15 inch screen. Our back bones will be the first on the list for Mother Nature to scratch off with her eco friendly finger nail, that’s if she has any. We will be more curved I feel in the way we stand as from now on, we are only going to sit, hunched over a desk for most of our lives.

After all, we certainly don’t have to get up and do anything these days. Wait for it, there will be the day when we can pee through a tube so we don’t have to got to the toilet, just in case we miss that vital snore at 2am on Big Brother Live on line. She will also take a good look at our knees, so not only will we be forever peering at the floor, as if looking for that contact lens, but we will permanently be sitting down.. She might even come up with a plan that will mean we will never have to get up again. So what is in store for all these plastic, unreal, Barbie doll types we see flexing their abs on every shopping channel on Sky?

Will they finally give in to the yearning of the Pc or will they burn themselves out of existence simply through shortening the 10 second abs down to ‘abs-done-before-you-are’ theme? Who knows, yet I think we can safely see them attempting to take a feel-the-burn class for your fingers. We are heading for that downward spiral into technology Hell if we are not too careful. Cascading through a surge of deeper, darkening Ad words before coming to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the online ocean, stuck forever in the sludgy sands of Google.

It can’t be all as bleak as that, so what can we do to stop our feet healing up and our knees to become permanently locked in a right angle? We can still believe that there is more to our web like existence than a Pentium processor. We can press that circular switch on the tower, and swing round to take a look out of the window.

The sky may not be it’s bluest today, but it’s till worth checking out to see if your knees and feet are still working ok….

mduffy 2008 (pJ)

Monday, January 07, 2008

HRT - Hot Rampant Theatre or How To Get An Entire Company To Swallow The Menopause

FIVE floors up, on the roof deck of Soho House private members club in central London, invited guests are gathering for the launch of West End producer Paul Elliot's latest touring enterprise. via Living.scotsman.com

We have had just about everything thrown at the unsuspecting audience as we can handle in the West End. The Vagina Monologues where followed by something to do with someone's penis hanging out, so are we at all suprised when it is women of a certain age who are getting a shot at centre stage this year?

When trying to think of a show surrounding the not so hilarious change in a woman's life, I am quickly brought back to one side splitting night of recent months where I sat through a night with Jenny Eclair and her sweaty, bristly legged stand up show with equally puffy, yet energetic supporting cast. So if we have had the best that the Menopause can offer an unsuspecting audience, how can we be educated further in the art of agression and willingness to take up smoking?

A new musical is about to hit our stages with great pizzazz and mountains of Tena lady. It is called Hot Flush! A Menopause Musical. What exactly this will entail I have yet to realise yet we can be sure of a night of hot sweats, no sleep and lack of an sexual content. To be honest, on the first night of their tour, The King's Theatre will not know what's hit them.

Not only does this cast insist of a few household names from the past (and probably the first time you will see Marti Webb smiling and cracking a joke) but it will inform, entertain and downright shock anyone under the age of 45. It should be worth a look, even if only to make sure Webb doesn't coin the opening line,

"Take that look off your face....."

mduffy 2007