Hunted was trailed hard by Channel 4. Almost as hard as the fugitives were trailed by the all-powerful surveillance team in the control centre and their operatives on the ground. I’d been really looking forward to the show but found the first episode a bit disappointing. There wasn’t enough preamble about the format or why or how they’re doing it. I understand they’re trying to make the viewer feel something of the chaos the participants are thrown in to, but the speed and the panic of being forced to flee their homes with only 60 minutes notice (Go!Go!Go!) was exciting enough. A proper introduction would have been fine. Thank goodness the production team decided each set of participants needed a proper trained cameraman with them. If this was all filmed on shaky GoPros like a British Blair Witch Project I’d have turned off inside the first 10 minutes.
I find Danny Baker (radio DJ, talking head and Twitter dick) and Peter Kay (kitchen sink nostalgia-peddling comic) pretty annoying. They both seem to have peaked years ago and now they’re trading on past success. So Cradle to Grave featuring both was something to be avoided. Mr H was a big fan of Peter Kay’s last tv outing Peter Kay’s Car Share and the classic Phoenix Nights (Chorley FM – coming in your ears!) so we watched it anyway and it was surprisingly enjoyable.
Repeat warning: Haven’t we seen this somewhere very recently? Yes, yes we have. It was Dara and Ed’s Great Big Adventure (BBC2) in which Dara O Briain and Ed Byrne drove the length of Central America in the footsteps of pioneering journalists who braved the then wild Pan American Highway. And sadly for Stephen Fry, the Irish comics did it better – they had more fun and seemingly a better connection with the people they met. Fry straddled a gulf between sincere and aloof. He was at a massive protest march in Mexico City marking the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 students and he found it very moving. He was genuinely upset, but this was undermined by a lack of explanation, or follow up with the protestors or anyone involved. All we got were his thoughts and observations as an outsider. It wasn’t enough. Two minutes later and we were back on the road again and Mexico City was forgotten. It was a real shame as you can’t fault Fry for a lack of curiosity.
I’m looking forward to watching Sue Perkins on Kolkata. She was a revelation on the Mekong River – a travel guide who wanted to give you an insight longer than a few scribbles on the back of a postcard. She had conflicting feelings towards the countries she travelled through and the aspirations of the people she met, and wasn’t afraid to make that clear on camera. There was a depth and breadth to her travels that maybe 60 minutes without adverts on the BBC could offer but ITV couldn’t.
Repeat warning: Haven’t we seen this somewhere very recently? Yes, yes we have. It was 24 Hours in the Past (BBC2) in which celebrities and assorted household names get to grips with various levels of society in Victorian Britain. Basically an excuse to watch people doing necessary but unpleasant jobs with horse manure and saltpeter. I sighed at another repeated format and watched Time Crashers anyway. I did enjoy it more, perhaps only because Ann Widdecombe wasn’t in it, pretending to be a socialist revolutionary while dressed as Widow Twankey. I like a pantomime as much as the next Brit, but come on, we’re not falling for that from a Conservative MP.
I understand people are naturally squeamish to things that we’ve been conditioned to see as revolting or dangerous (uncooked meat, waste products, Conservative MPs) but if one more woman accepts a job in a precise historical reenactment of an Elizabethan kitchen and cries at having to skin an ickle animal I will hurl my Deluxe Meat Feast pizza at the tv. I’m not saying that I could do it; I’d be anxious about my very poor knife skills and making a right mess of the food and possibly my hand, but if I thought I might freak out I wouldn’t agree to be on the show in the first place! Fortunately the cameras didn’t make much of the blubbing and moved away from celeb heartache and on to show the strangeness of the rituals associated with the lavish dinner and how much hard work the servants at every level had to put in to make the occasion a success. Next week it’s off to squire for knights at a joust in 1468. I will be watching.