Luke ON TV: The Great British Body, How TV Changed Britain, My New Best Friend, Living Lohan

I am man, hear me ROAR! I might not really enjoy my football or grunt a lot but I am a man. The reason I felt it necessary to bring this up is that I do have a secret love which this week I’m forced to share with you. I, a man of 24, quite enjoy the programmes of Trinny & Susannah. I’ve watched them and secretly enjoyed their brutal honesty since the heyday of What Not To Wear.

Their series on ITV have been good as well even though they’ve been turned into physiologists, plopping their badly dressed subjects on a couch and delving deep into their pasts to find out why they think a bright pink hat and brown shoes go together.

Their new series, The Great British Body, takes the girls one step further and takes them one step too far. A few weeks ago my eyes were burnt almost beyond repair thanks to the grossly graphic images that dripped from Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies. Just when those images were beginning to fade, the Great British Body (not looking its greatest) brings them back to the forefront again with a vengeance!

The disappointing three-parter sees Skinny and Susannah literally examining every inch of the so-called GBB, involving a series of questionnaires, spitting into a test tube for DNA and getting a small camera to point at their body parts giving us an eyeful. I sat cringing and surprised at what was allowed to be shown. The real victim of the piece though was the tiny camera which was thrust down trousers and up noses without time to breathe.

The programme had a surprise lack of Trinny & Susannah and watching people strip off and show their favourite body parts was a novelty that wore off very quickly. The examinations on the bed were far too reminiscent of Embarrassing Bodies rather than something new and revolutionary.

The one interesting piece of the 47-minute nude fest featured people learning whether they had the “fat gene”. A lot of overweight folk were shocked to discover that it was the amount they were eating that was causing them to balloon and not a gene in their makeup.

Over the years I’ve avoided Channel 4’s Top 100 wotsits or Top 50 So and so’s but its new TV history series, How TV Changed Britain, seemed a step in the right direction. For a start, it wasn’t presented by Channel 4’s only host Jimmy Carr.

The first of this six-part series focused on how TV changed the police. I’m a sucker for a well-done police drama, although I’ve grown tired of the tortured soul type characters our TV police have become. That’s partly the reason that I think that Life On Mars legend Gene Hunt was such a hit with viewers because he wasn’t divorcing his wife or trying to cope with a gambling or alcohol addiction; he was just a copper.

This programme attempted to show us the change in police dramas through the years from the truly awful Blue Lamp, which spawned the far too tame Dixon of Dock Green, to Gene Hunt and Jane Tennison.

The problem, though, was this programme didn’t sufficiently answer any of the questions it posed, choosing instead to focus on the opinions of a few talking heads and a TV historian who didn’t offer any new insights.

The best parts focused on the non-fictional coppers, looking at the BBC’s hidden camera documentary, The Secret Policeman, and World in Action’s investigation into the Birmingham six. This aspect of the programme did show how TV has changed the way the police worked but it came close to the end credits and was glossed over too quickly.

I was surprised how little we saw of the only A list talking head, Helen Mirren, and did find the insights of former Met Police man Brian Paddick interesting but this wasn’t the in-depth look into police drama it could’ve been.

BBC4’s Childhood season has been interesting. The first two episodes of the three-part documentary series My New Best Friend have painted a fascinating and sometimes bleak picture of current school life. The series follows children as they make the awkward transition from primary to high school, struggling to find their place and make new friends.

The first followed girls who joined Cheltenham Ladies’ College and the second followed a mixed group making the bigger jump from schools on small Scottish islands to the mainland. In a time where screens are over populated by reality or talent shows, I find documentaries like this and BBC1’s wonderful Child of Our Time are the real gems.

My New Best Friend had a simple premise but was completely engrossing and endearing. This is proper reality television, really touching, funny and sometimes bleak. Both episodes presented an accurate picture of what the children featured were going through and, perhaps even better and rarer in TV at the moment, everyone featured was likeable and I was sympathetic as they struggled in their new environment. In a climate obsessed with Nancys or 12-year-old opera singers, it was nice to see some real kids on the box coping with everyday problems.

I’ve got a mole on the back of my fingers. Okay, it’s not news but, over the past few weeks, I’ve become very familiar with my fingers as I’ve been watching a lot of TV through them. Mostly The Apprentice and, more recently, E’s Living Lohan.

The Osbournes have a lot to answer for; since their documentary on MTV, every slightly famous person in the US has had cameras invading their homes. In some cases, it has been interesting but most shows have been painfully boring. This week, the States saw the premiere of two such series: Denise Richards: It’s Complicated, which follows the antics of Charlie Sheen’s ex, and the bizarrely engrossing Living Lohan on E!. Oddly, the series doesn’t feature the most famous member of the clan, Lindsay, but spotlights Mum Dina, 14-year old Ally and younger brother Cody, who have their own dramas to contend with.

This would probably be carcrash telly if Lindsay was added to the mix but the family aren’t too far from normal and I was surprised just how modestly they live. It’s not going to set the TV world on fire but I’ve been bombarded with news about this family for years and the opportunity to peer behind their net curtains was a real temptation.

The series will follow Ally’s attempts to launch a career as the next Lindsay and I’m sure I’ll soon tire of their antics as mother Dina was already staring to grate. The series isn’t any different from the “celeb reality” we’ve seen in the past perhaps with one difference – I’ve actually heard of these people.

My New Best Friend is desreving of my CRUMBLETASTIC rating this week and Trinny & Susannah’s Great British Body was a real BLACK PUDDING for its overload of floppy flesh. It went too far for this prude!


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