Friday, 27 June 2008

in spiked this week

Patrick West

The funny side of food and cars

You don’t have to be a foodie or petrolhead to enjoy watching the big-ego, un-PC hosts of The Supersizers Go... and Top Gear.

"It was strangely appropriate that the conclusion of BBC’s The Supersizers Go... series, featuring restaurant critic Giles Coren and writer and comedian Sue Perkins, should have coincided this week with the much-anticipated launch of the eleventh series of Top Gear. The programmes share an uncanny resemblance. Neither really seek to educate and to inform, and both demonstrate that when the BBC does decide to entertain – albeit in a surreptitious manner – it can do so excellently.

I have previously bored spiked readers by explaining that Top Gear, in its original incarnation, sought to inculcate the best advice on what motors viewers should purchase. (See My name is Patrick. I am a Top Gear viewer.) But since its reincarnation in 2002, Top Gear has become increasingly less concerned with proffering plain consumer advice, and it has become more obsessed with just having a laugh. The programme’s hosts do things like destroy caravans, drive cars to the North Pole, or test how many vehicles an Austin Allegro can fly over while driving backwards.

Top Gear has basically become Jackass. And so what?"

Friday, 20 June 2008

in spiked this week

Patrick West
When swearing on TV is big and clever. Relentless cursing is ignorant and unfunny, but using profanity judiciously - like Joan Rivers did this week - can be hilarious.

"An old adage goes: ‘Is it big or clever to swear?’ Well, it depends if you are big and clever. If you are professor of astrophysics at Harvard University, weigh 16 stone and are six feet three inches tall, then I guess one can actually genuinely claim to be big and clever, and to be able use bad language at the same time. But if you are a petite 75-year-old Jewish New York comedienne, it seems you can’t be either.
Joan Rivers caused a stir in the UK this week while appearing on ITV1’s lunchtime Loose Women show. On Tuesday, Rivers described the actor Russell Crowe as a piece of ‘fucking shit’. She had pre-empted her outburst by telling the cameramen to ‘get ready to bleep’. Alas, as Loose Women anchorwoman Jackie Brambles embarrassingly had to remind Rivers, the show was going out live..."
Read on at

Friday, 13 June 2008

in spiked this week

By Patrick West
In an ugly world, we need ugly newsreaders

The rise of the husky-voiced, coquettish female newsreader mirrors the decline of that ‘masculine’ value: objectivity.

"Much of France is in uproar that its best-known television newsreader, the veteran Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, is to be replaced by the ‘glamorous blonde’ Laurence Ferrari. D’Arvor, 60, has presented Europe’s most-watched news broadcast for the French channel TF1 since 1987, and he is something of an establishment figure in France – an equivalent to Jeremy Paxman or Michael Buerk. D’Arvor is known simply, and affectionately, by the abbreviation ‘PPDA’, much like our own ‘Paxo’.

‘Industrial accident at TF1: PPDA knocked over by a Ferrari’, lamented the left-wing newspaper Liberation. To make a comparison, d’Arvor’s dismissal would be like David Dimbleby or Trevor McDonald being supplanted by the BBC’s ever-vacant Emily Maitlis, or that rather attractive cross-eyed looking one from Newsround, Ellie Crisell. In short, France is having its own panic about ‘dumbing down’, with not a little bit of misogyny thrown in.

But is this misogyny misplaced?..."