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WHAT’S EATING THE MILLIBAND BROTHERS?
By Ed and Dave Milliband
Ed - Chat Will Eat Itself
You’d have thought that after Alan Partridge satirised the medium so brilliantly, chat show producers would’ve learned a lesson or two in the past decade. After watching Jonathan Ross interview Graham Norton about which guests Norton would be interviewing on his own chat show, they obviously haven’t and the whole incestuous cycle now seems complete. Ross is on the way down, not because of ‘ManuelGate’ or because of his obscene wages but because his shtick has become predictable, boring, lazy and smug. Ofcourse Ross has always been these things, but resurrected himself by being incredibly rude to certain guests (easy targets usually, never the real A Listers who he sucked up to.) Likewise another great BBC talent, Norton has also found himself being paid to tone down the kind of saucy camp flim flam that made his name over on Channel 4. Together they managed to provide a telling example of how the being chained to a financially lucrative yet creatively stifling golden handcuffs deal has frittered away whatever talent they once possessed.
In the chatosphere, Ross became famous by attempting a kind of third rate version of Letterman back in the 80s. Whereas the standard British model of chat was largely centred around relatively probing and in-depth interviews by the likes of Parkinson and to a lesser degree, Russell Harty, the American versions were far zappier, more comedic, looser affairs all round. Ross was the first British chat show to attempt an admittedly third rate copy of the Letterman/Leno formula with The Last Resort. What else was there; Wogan? Norton followed the likes of Julian Clarey and Paul O’Grady with a mix of feeble smut and innuendo stretched out with tedious, suckholing interviews with so-called ‘gay icons’ and third rate cabaret.
Commissioners think that anyone can present a chat show – even the likes of Davina McCall and Charlotte Church. In the US the likes of Gary Shandling mocked the Lettermans and over here Mrs Merton and Partridge parodied UK programmes so effectively that no-one should ever attempt a chat show before watching one or both series to avoid the usual pitfalls; bad research, poor questioning, crap guests with nothing to say (but a book/film/product to plug), gormless hosts who can’t adlib but stick rigidly to pre-prepared questions, chummy backslapping sessions with showbiz chums, inane ego massaging for Hollywood stars, shite house bands, dim straight-man foils etc etc. A return to 70s style in-depth interviewing would be nice and whilst the likes of Mark Lawson can do this, he’s usually shoved away at obscure times on obscure digital formats. The mass audience, so the thinking goes, cannot stomach the kind of interview Parky used to do in his prime but now prefer fluffy exercises in product placement and cosy mutual masturbation. Ross interviewing Norton on his chat show about which guests Norton would be interviewing on his chat show is perhaps about as absurd as it gets.
Well we had a couple of months where we could get served at Dorys or McCanns (it’s still McCanns OK? Tom Thumb can fuck off lid!) without being stuck behind a – what’s the collective noun for students? - an ‘irritation’ of students talking in that generic accentless, plazzy posh, middle English student voice, wearing their stupid fucking ‘Grimshaw’ outfits (50s asylum haircuts, tatty too tight cardys, ball breaking shit toppers and comedy slip ons…and that’s just the girls!) thinking saying ‘I’m gonna do Dizzee Rarscal; the Musical’ is funny and marvelling at all the pathetic, desperate ‘Freshers Week’ club posters (Trainspotting poster skits in 2009? Radical!!) and all the usual shite will be trotted out; that students provide a valuable source of income to the night-time economy and maybe that’s true; students spend money on themselves, then fuck off back to whichever nondescript Daily Mail shithole they came from after completing their studies. Students exist in their own privileged bubble and the only economy yhry contribute to are those of nobhead club promoters and er, how shall we put it ‘property developers.’ Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of a universal education system that rewards talent and hard work but today’s student masses are a very different breed to those who used to pollute ‘alternative’ discos in the 80s. At least they pretended to be political for the few years inbetween leaving public school and a job with daddy’s firm. Today’s lot with their smurf hats, berets, wacky barnets, 50s slap and La Roux haircuts think swearing in Subway is an act of defiance. Let’s hope the recession culls thousands of these clowns. See how they’re all jumping up n down now the recession is affecting THEM instead of those useless ‘chavs!’ It’s sooooo unfair! This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. All those A levels and diplomas and degrees and they can’t even get a job at Burger King. At this rate, they’ll not be able to go out on the piss six nights a week at Indiecation and help the night-time economy recover from decades of underinvestment. What will happen to us all?