Catch up TV review: Modern Life is Goodish, This Time Next Year, Trading History, The Next Great Magician
Ivan Radford | On 13, Nov 2016
Dave Gorman: Modern Life is Goodish (UKTV Play)
Ask anyone who’s been alive in 2016 whether modern life is goodish and the chances are they’ll say no. No, modern life isn’t goodish at all. Thank goodness, then, for Dave Gorman, who returns with his show on Dave not to dissect current affairs or talk politics, but to discuss more important topics, such as Photoshopping, the idea of “guilty pleasures”, being guilty, and – a pet hate of his – home improvement TV shows. Gorman has been doing this for four seasons now, but his endearingly timid brand of anger is as likeable as ever, while his found poems are little slices of verbal genius, distilling pedantry, pessimism and pithy observations into the best Powerpoint presentation you’ve ever seen.
Trading History (UKTV Play)
“23cm. What’s that in inches?” asks one auctioneer, as they prepare to put a pair of old shoes under the hammer. That’s about as thrilling as Yesterday’s brand new show, Trading History, gets. A six-part series starting on 16th November, with the first episode available already on UKTV Play, it aims to unearth history through the eyes of the auction house, delving into the past behind various objects about to go up for sale.
Expanding those 30-second conversations on Antiques Roadshow into full episodes sounds like an excellent idea, but the show is so keen to bring us those stories in more detail that it ends up cramming up a whole string of them into one hour – so really, they’re not expanded at all. The result is yet another montage of historical objects with brief recaps of why they’re significant. The show’s choice of stories is smart – the topical first episode features the medals of Flight Sergeant Frederick Cecil Davis, an unsung hero who spent five hours following the German battleship Bismarck while the Royal Navy closed in during WWII, as well as childhood photos of Queen Elizabeth II – but that topicality only makes you wish they spent more time examining what happened. And with no real focus on the auction itself, you don’t even get the fun of finding out how much they fetch from buyers. Just the thrill of people converting centimetres to inches.
The Next Great Magician (ITV Hub)
You can picture the conversation right now. Britain’s Got Talent has just ended. A magician has been crowned the winner. And so a suit at ITV immediately rings the commissioning editor. “How about a magic-themed game show?” Enter The Next Great Magician, the latest in a long line of attempts to bring illusions to the small screen. And so we’re treated to a parade of acts competing to be voted the best. The twist? The people deciding are the other magicians. The prize? Their own TV special on ITV, something “money can’t buy”. Unless you happen to be in the room when Britain’s Got Talent has just ended.
From a man escaping from a straightjacket upside down while on fire to (very funny) comedians Young & Strange and their magic dog, the variety of the feats that follow works highly in the show’s favour, marking it out from the channel’s myriad other talent contests – at this point, ITV might as well just rename itself “Coming Soon to Challenge TV” – but this still often feels as tired as the rest of them. It doesn’t help that the show is presented limply by Stephen Mulhern, who co-hosts with Rochelle Humes, or that ITV had already found the ideal formula for a magic TV show: Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, which it cancelled, only for Channel 5 to pick it up. The result is still refreshingly different to the norm, and enjoyably diverting for fans of magic, but treated like little more than Sunday teatime filler until the return of I’m a Celebrity in the primetime slot immediately after, The Next Great Magician seems to try its hardest to make even the most impressive trick slightly less spellbinding than it should be.
This Time Next Year (ITV Hub)
Can an obese person lose 10 stones in 12 months? Can a man follow his dream of becoming a pro-wrestler? Enter ITV’s new show, which deftly records the before and after of ordinary people’s life goals on a glitzy studio stage, sending them in the “This Time” door and back out the “Next Year” door 12 months later. It’s a neat idea and it’s fiendishly well executed, with the cuts between the then and now almost making it feel like real time travel. But that execution goes right down to the music, filmed videos charting their interim struggle, and interviews and speeches about journeys and potential. It is, make no mistake, manipulative drivel. And who better to host that manipulative drivel than – yes – Davina McCall? The former Big Brother presenter mothers each participant with the kind of earnest sympathy and fist-pumping motivational spiel that, were it anyone else on camera, would make you throw up all over your self-help books. You don’t, though, thanks to her commitment and the programme’s nifty ability to give you the answer to each person’s journey instantaneously – a trick that ensures the conveyor belt of sentimentality keeps moving quickly enough to keep your stomach. Who knows? It might even move you to the odd small tear.