TV review: I’m watching telly addicts watch telly. Help!

Orwellian dystopian nightmare: Gogglebox. Photograph: Channel 4
13 Mar 2013 @ 8.56 pm
| Entertainment
Orwellian dystopian nightmare: Gogglebox. Photograph: Channel 4
Orwellian dystopian nightmare: Gogglebox. Photograph: Channel 4

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwSTANDFIRSTLucy Bellerby finds that she’s not the only one with low opinions of Jeremy Clarkson


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I’m reviewing a TV programme about people watching TV (Gogglebox, Channel 4); I wrote about Charlie Brooker the other week, I might drop him a line and see if he wants to use this as inspiration for the next series of Black Mirror.

So have I fallen into an Orwellian dystopian nightmare or are Channel 4 just getting really, really lazy? They’ve put cameras into people’s living rooms so that we can watch them watching Top Gear, so I think it’s a bit of both. Although thankfully most people seem to hate Jeremy Clarkson, branding him “stupid” with “a big gut and a horrible hairdo”, which should help to slow his rise to crap jumper wearing overlord of Britain.

“I’ll be all right if there’s nothing to do with balls,” murmurs one chap as he and his mates gamely tune into Embarrassing Bodies, but of course there are (loads of them) and a nation is shown looking nauseous and clutching the sides of their sofa till their knuckles turn white. Everyone seems to come out in support of the Bank of Dave, as he marches about taking on The Man and speaking all northern to confuse the viewers.  One large woman with a “no regret in Jesus” bumper sticker stuck to the front of her telly screeches “ME LOVE HIM! HE’S LIKE A LIKKLE PHIL FROM EASTENDERS!”, and mini Phil goes on to save the day, resulting in cheers erupting all over the country.

Steph and Dom live in a 17 bedroom house in Kent, but behind closed doors they may as well be living on a council estate in Hackney. They may speak like the royal family but Steph spends the evening swearing at her husband and drinking a succession of vodka red bulls, before bitching about Carol Vorderman and angrily stuffing popcorn into her mouth.

They act the way I hope Charles and Camilla would do if filmed slobbing out on the sofa at the Palace. Camilla in her slanket, drinking gin and chucking crisps at the TV as Carol reveals the winner of the best pork pie in the UK. “Charles!” she shrieks, “it should have been you! Hers aren’t even ORGANIC!”. Now that’s a programme I’d really like to watch.

Fat and smelly dogs need not apply… Crufts. Photograph: Channel 4
Fat and smelly dogs need not apply… Crufts. Photograph: Channel 4

I have a dog, but I’m afraid she is not going to be entering Crufts any time soon. I’m not sure how much this is going to harm my (non existent) street cred, but I love watching Crufts (Channel 4). I love dogs; I love fat ones with sad eyes, smelly ones, and wiry mad mongrels. Most of all I love my dog. She’s a rescue greyhound called Honey, and she is the most stupid dog I’ve ever met. Last night we sat watching Collies bound over agility courses, and Retrievers help their owners put their socks on. Honey lay in front of the TV, sighing and farting, as her tiny brain ticked over with such complex thoughts as “Rabbits! Rabbits! Sausage! Rabbits!”.

She is 12 years old and cannot sit, stay, speak or roll over. But she can ransack any bin that contains so much as an empty Muller Light packet, and she’s extremely well trained at weeing all over the house at 3am. Last Christmas she ate a load of the chocolates off the tree and then threw them up as a present for us to find in the morning. Despite this I haven’t been put off dogs, and so tune in to Crufts every year to see Claire Balding interviewing a labrador with three legs.

The best part of the whole thing is the owners. Once a year, Birmingham’s NEC is filled to the brim with preening ladies in too tight suit jackets, and outstandingly camp men who are so competitive that they are willing to fight to the death to see Pickles lift that trophy. “It’s all for the dogs, they love it,” bustles Sue, as she attaches a bow to a miserable looking Pomeranian.

The owners line up their glossy pure breeds and make them trot around in a perfect circle; not one of them stops to eat a plastic bag off the floor or attack an errant pigeon; it’s all a bit staid and boring. Meanwhile, Honey rolls over with legs akimbo, smiling in her sleep as she dreams of running around in a circle for eternity, and I think… she’s not that bad really.