Notepad on Life

April 8, 2013

My takeaway from Ant and Dec? That there’s a difference between characters and character

Filed under: TV — - @ 10:27 am
Tags: , ,

It was like being at a dinner party where two of the guests start having a heated argument. That slow progression of unease, denial and  embarrassment at what’s developing in front of you.

It’s meant to be fun, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, yet the growing concern at what you learn about the British public  as the show unfolds reached a level on Saturday where my family looked at each other and wondered out loud, “Is it just us?”

Part of the show’s format involves surprising audience members with minor skeletons in their closet – past indiscretions, deceptions or weaknesses, following tip-offs from friends and family. Only this time – and maybe it is just us – we seemed to move beyond foible and into the realms of stuff that’s just plain wrong.

One person in the audience apparently sold her partner’s suit on eBay without telling him and kept the proceeds for herself. Then there was the woman who dented a friend’s boyfriend’s car bonnet by sitting on it and never let on. Wonder if she’ll offer to pick up the tab now she’s a star?

And then there was the bus driver, whom we learnt is prone to skipping the last stop on his route if he is late for a tanning appointment. If you’ve ever had to wait half-an-hour longer than expected at a freezing, wet bus stop, you’ll have howled at this bit, I’m sure.

“He could be sacked for that,” said Younger Son. We live in hope.

To listen to the rest of the audience, mind, you’d think the guy had pulled four children from a burning double-decker. They hooped and hollered in acclamation. He’d just secured his 15 seconds of fame (that’s inflation for you, Andy Warhol) and that apparently trumped all.

So it was no surprise when the lady who turned out to be star turn in this roll of dishonour was lauded like Audrey Hepburn at the Oscars. Notwithstanding that she once took flowers from a roundabout opposite a florist to use at a funeral, or had taken dentures from several patients in her care as a nurse to clean them, forgotten to whom each set belonged and then just returned them in any old order, hoping for the best.

I found myself staring open-mouthed at this celebration of woefulness. Led up onto the stage into front of the adoring crowd for a mock award ceremony, she was rewarded with a free holiday in the Maldives.

I have no doubt Saturday Night Takeaway will scoop a gong or two for light entertainment next time the real awards ceremonies come around. I wonder, however, if the show’s producers will be sufficiently savvy to enter it in the ‘documentary’ category as well. Because, as an expose of  where this country and its people are right now, it is increasingly in a class of its own.

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