17 Jun 19
BBC1’S leap-into-the-future drama Years And Years forced viewers to ask themselves a pretty searching question last week. Could there be anything worse than a populist, right-wing politician, played by Emma Thompson, becoming Prime Minister?
And I know I wasn’t the only one thinking: “Yes, the real Emma Thompson becoming Prime Minister.” She’d empty the joint. It’d be Britain the “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” years.
Emma Thompson as PM would see Britain in the ‘do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do’ years
An horrific thought that certainly added a bit of perspective to the penultimate episode of Years And Years, which was written by Doctor Who’s Russell T Davies in a fit of anti-Brexit/Trump rage, thereby guaranteeing it would age about as well as Neil “Razor” Ruddock.
The blasé assumption that went with it was that this series would be one of 2019’s big hits, so I won’t pretend the fact it’s died like the proverbial flea in a Russian’s beard hasn’t given me a lot of pleasure.
It will have been a huge shock, though, to the BBC because, on the face of things, it was a bold and imaginative idea to travel ten years into the future with “an ordinary, everyday” family like the Lyons.
Or it was up to the point when it became clear they were the sort of “ordinary, everyday” family who lived in a million-pound mansion and had more ticked boxes than Stephen Hawking’s homework.
They were mixed race, naturally. One daughter was a lesbian left-wing activist, another was in a wheelchair, there was a gay son, with a refugee boyfriend, a cross-dressing nephew and niece who was “trans-human” and could take photos by blinking her eyes. All of them were bloody insufferable.
The plot didn’t offer a lot of joy or surprises either, as it began with Donald Trump starting a nuclear war. An idea that secretly thrills all those Guardian readers who long to shout: “I TOLD YOU SO.”
Armageddon quickly fizzled out, though, and was replaced by the melting of the North Pole, bananas becoming extinct, poor people being banned from London’s Kensington, Biblical downpours of rain and the Ukraine causing a refugee crisis when its Christian regime started arresting homosexuals, as Christian regimes so often don’t.
[boxout headline=”TV answers of the week”]TV answers of the week. Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Fandabidozi was the catchphrase of which British comedy duo?” Toni: “Morecambe and Wise.”
Ben Shephard: “What is the fifth letter of the alphabet?” Faith: “F.”
And Love Island, Tommy: “What year did World War One start?” Molly-Mae: “1964.”
Cheerful and brave, it most certainly wasn’t. The BBC doesn’t get a real buzz, though, unless it’s sticking it to the mother country. So, on last week’s episode, Viv Rook became PM and immediately started planning genocide on asylum seekers. It’s not an original drama idea, obviously.
Dennis Potter did the groundwork for Davies in Brimstone & Treacle, over 40 years ago. On Years And Years, however, plot twists come with a gear-crunching speech or a history lesson, spelled out here by the Thompson character.
“The notion of concentration camps goes back to the Boer War. They were British inventions built in South Africa. Everything old happens again.”
The thing about giving history lessons, though, is you’ve got to get them right. Years And Years didn’t.
Simple Googling would’ve told the BBC concentration camps were actually a Spanish invention, during the Cuban wars of independence, and forced labour dates back centuries.
Could there be anything worse than a populist, right-wing politician, played by Emma Thompson, becoming Prime Minister?
I suspect they didn’t bother because the BBC and Russell T Davies are both so full of self-loathing they want to believe the worst things they hear about their own country.
If you didn’t pick up that contempt for the audience from Years And Years last week, you certainly will have got a sense of it from the fact the BBC decided to land 3.7million people over the age of 75 with a £154.50 bill for the licence.
It’s unlikely anyone would volunteer to pay that sort of money to endure the Years And Years lecture, no matter what it conjures up in tonight’s finale.
I’ve not seen this episode yet, but listings mags suggest it will contemplate something even more horrific to the right-on community than genocide and nuclear war — the BBC itself is outlawed.
Though how the hell it ever survived to 2029, under the current management, will be the real mystery for most viewers.
[boxout headline=”GREAT Women’s World Cup insights.”]Laura Bassett: “The wide areas are often out wide.”
Shelley Kerr: “The one thing we want to do is win or get a draw.”
Claire Rafferty: “England need more of the same but different.”
Rachel Brown-Finnis: “Phil Neville is the female version of Gareth Southgate.” He is?
(Compiled by Graham Wray).
A swell time in spring
LONG, cold evenings in a Highland yurt, staring at the same ruddy animals year after year, can lead presenters down all sorts of weird television cul-de-sacs.
Michaela asked viewers if they could ‘imagine flying round with testicles the size of a bean?’
Take, for instance, Springwatch’s Michaela Strachan who, after a couple of weeks huddled in the Cairngorms, on BBC2, suddenly piped up with some hot news about: “Starling testicles.”
Yes. Starling testicles, which are a bit like Aston Villa, apparently. Timid, puny little things in the winter but quite magnificent come the spring.
A fact that led Michaela to wonder if viewers could “imagine flying round with testicles the size of a bean?” I could, and it quite took the thrill out of my new superpower, I can tell you.
If that wasn’t a vivid enough image for you, though, co-host Chris Packham was on hand with a starling testicle-size graph and a prop, to tell her that if human testicles swelled to the same scale, they’d be the size of basketballs.
“And that’s quite a thing to get your head around, isn’t it?”
I’ll take your word for it, Michaela.
[boxout headline=”RE: Enquiry into the fire that destroyed Ronnie Corbett’s old house.”]Have they ruled out four candles?
Give me Maura this girl
HAVING gone absolutely nowhere for over a week, Love Island was transformed on Wednesday by the arrival of a heat-seeking missile in human form. She’s Maura Higgins, an Irish “ring girl”. A description you can interpret pretty much any way you like.
By far the best thing about Maura’s arrival in the villa has been her verdict on herself
Because she may look like one of The Corrs, but Maura has a gob on her like Father Jack and, within five minutes of meeting Molly-Mae’s partner Tommy, was telling anyone who’d listen: “I swear to God, the things I’d do to that man. ‘Oh Tommy, Tommy, Tommy’. I can imagine screaming his name already.”
That was just for starters, though.
By Thursday, Maura was announcing her intention to “wrap my legs round his head”, which Tommy said was “doing a 560-degree turn”, without any danger of cutting off the blood supply to his brain. And on Friday she told all the other girls Tommy was giving her “fanny flutters”, who I think I once backed to win the 2000 Guineas.
Tommy’s now wearing the same haunted expression as a male praying mantis just before his head’s removed during the mating process, but by far the best thing about Maura’s arrival in the villa has been her verdict on herself. “I’m a girl’s girl.” Remarkable
[boxout headline=”Random TV irritations”] All those football pundits currently gorging on the phrase: “Executing their game plan.”
The naive but still widespread belief Madonna will one day give a good interview. Channel 4 imagining it was doing us some sort of favour by replacing the brilliant Gogglebox regulars with witless minor celebrities.
And The One Show’s Matt Baker telling Clare Balding that women’s football is: “Much better than the men’s game.”
Suggesting Matt Baker’s either never seen a game of football in his life or he’s a disingenuous creep who’ll say absolutely anything he thinks will help him grovel his way up the BBC career ladder. Pitiful behaviour.
Mayo and chips
ITV’S England v Soccer Aid XI match was more entertaining and funnier than expected, largely thanks to Mark Wright’s penalty miss and Ant Middleton’s above-the-knee sock arrangement, which I think was meant to give him the graceful air of Thierry Henry, but actually just looked more like Lord Percy from Blackadder II was playing at right back.
Piers Morgan is so authentically Irish 75 per cent of his DNA can be traced directly to Mayo, the other quarter to chips
So why then did commentator Clive Tyldesley choose to cheapen the occasion by questioning Piers Morgan’s ethnic credentials for managing the victorious World XI, when tests have already confirmed he’s so authentically Irish 75 per cent of his DNA can be traced directly to Mayo, the other quarter to chips?
[boxout headline=”TV gold”]Netflix’s astonishing Last Breath documentary, which should stop everyone complaining about a “stressful day at work”.
Paddy McGuinness’ and Freddie Flintoff’s first Top Gear already looking like a vast improvement on all the other post-Clarkson versions.
BBC1’s landmark Thatcher: A Very British Revolution series. And Harry Hill’s savage Alien Fun Capsule introductions: “Bill Roache, you’ve appeared in so many . . . you haven’t actually, have you.”
[article-rail-section title=”MOST READ IN OPINION” posts_category=”317″ posts_number=”6″ query_type=”popular” /]
The resemblance is uncanny
THIS week’s winner is Curtis Pritchard, from Love Island, and Elvis Cridlington, from Fireman Sam.
Sent in by Irene E, via email. Picture research Marta Breese.
[boxout headline=”Great TV lies and delusions of the week”]This Morning, Stefan Dennis: “There’s probably a billion people out there who know I am.”
ITV continuity: “You can catch up with the brilliant and witty new drama Wild Bill on the ITV Hub.”
And Springwatch, Chris Packham: “You might think Paul Gascoigne’s goal against Scotland in 1996 was spectacularly beautiful.” Yeah, and I might not, badger-bothering BBC a**e.
[bc_video video_id=”6028005438001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Emma Thompson defends flying 5,400 miles from Los Angeles for Extinction Rebellion protest in London, saying she ‘plants lots of trees’”]
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