Saturday, 23 June 2012



This, then, is my blog, upon which I will presumably write things in future. Precisely what I'll write, beyond this rather pointless introductory post, I have no idea, although I suspect it will tend to focus on television, cinema, comedy and '60s/'70s pop music, as those are the things I'm interested in.

(I'm also quite interested in sharks, although not to the extent that I actually know much about them. Come to think of it, my knowledge only extends to the information contained within the novel, Jaws, and the subsequent film adaptation. So I probably won't be writing about sharks. Unless, that is, I happen to actually write about Jaws itself, which is highly probable as it's something of an obsession of mine.)

So, I suppose this will end up as a rambling extension of the TV columns I write for The Scotsman, albeit with more swearing and whimsy. And my God, doesn't that sound like an enticing prospect? Entire empires have crumbled on less.

The other likelihood is that it will end up as an interminable catalogue of increasingly bitter and miserable complaints, none of which anyone with even a mere shred of sanity will wish to read. To be honest, that probably is quite likely. So for God's sake, bail out now while you can.

But for anyone reading this RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, then I suppose I should justify the existence of this post by making a few quick TV recommendations.

Beginning on Tuesday on BBC2 at 9pm is the generically titled Line Of Duty, a nominally topical thriller about police corruption starring - and this is where BAFTA sits up and takes notice - Lennie James, Gina McKee, Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure. It is, like the dodgy cop played by James, flawed, but compelling nonetheless. Although nowhere near as eccentric and mannered, it's vaguely redolent of Hugo Blick's magnificent The Shadow Line from last year, at least insofar as its themes go. And the acting is very good, as you'd expect. However, I should point out that I've only watched the first two episodes, so if it all goes to shit after that, then please don't blame me.

Also, as much as it pains me to flag up anything on Sky, it's increasingly difficult to avoid given the number of prestigious US imports it now owns, plus the fact that they've stolen virtually every talented TV comedian in Britain from the BBC. So I've got no choice but to mention it's new Monday night comedy schedule, which begins with the highly anticipated Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life. I think I'll write more about that at length after it goes out, but suffice to say it's incredibly funny and provides further proof that Steve Coogan - and his exceptionally talented, albeit mysterious, new collaborators, the Gibbons brothers - are currently delivering Partridge material every bit as inspired as anything from the character's '90s pomp. Which is quite remarkable really.

It's followed by Partridge co-creator Sir Armando Iannucci OBE's Veep, his HBO offshoot from The Thick Of It, which, judging by the first three episodes, is as bland as the latter is barbed. I'm a huge Iannucci OBE fan, so I take no pleasure from writing it off, although I gather from reading the indispensible comedy website, Cook'd and Bomb'd, that it improves as it goes on. It could hardly get any worse - I barely cracked a smile while watching it.

Sky's Monday Night Ha-Ha Barrel (as I believe they're calling it) finishes off with Walking and Talking, a sun-bathed autobiographical fancy written by Kathy Burke. Set in 1979, it's a modest proposition in which teenage Kathy and her mousy best friend set the world to rights on a leisurely walk home from school, with occasional interruptions from Burke herself as a foul-mouthed nun and the great Jerry Sadowitz making a rare TV appearance as - yes - a ranting Glaswegian lunatic.

"Gentle comedy" is often used as a dismissive euphemism for toothless comedy that's in no way funny at all, but Walking and Talking is a likeable show abetted by charming performances from its two young leads, and Burke's eye for adolescent angst and conversational curlicues. Yes, that's "conversational curlicues" (an underrated band; signed to 4AD in the early '90s I believe).

I've actually written about all of these programmes - using slightly different words - in The Scotsman's Saturday magazine this week. I'll post a link to the article once it's online.

Right, that's my first blog post, then. It's far, far longer than I intended, but I suppose I've got nothing better to do at the moment. Reading it back, it comes across as slightly surly in places. Sorry about that. Terrible things, personalities.

And remember: nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humour.



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