What’s available on-demand on Freeview? Keep up-to-date with our weekly catch-up TV column, including reviews of shows on ITV Hub, new releases on All 4 and a guide to My5.
(For BBC TV reviews and round-ups, see our weekly Best of BBC iPlayer column. Or for reviews of the shows on All 4’s Walter Presents, click here.)
Very British Problems (Channel 4 / All 4)
Can a Twitter account be made into a TV show? Channel 4 have had a stab with Very British Problems, based on the @SoVeryBritish account. With 1.12 million followers, the stream of tweets about everyday awkwardness has spawned everything from t-shirts to books being plugged on Amazon. The secret to its success is pure, old-fashioned observation: the ability to distil a relatable situation into under 140 characters and, thanks to social media, have people across the country share in that instant sense of recognition.
The TV show tries to take that formula and spin it out into an hour’s worth of programming, as a line of celebrities queue up to rant about those moments when someone looks through your fridge without asking or you worry about how to give a good handshake. Us Brits, eh? It’s a wonder we can do anything.
But what feels like a novel, everyday exercise for those million online followers is transformed into yet another bland, list-based show, with talking heads talking about whatever topic they’re given until the next ad break. The concision and connection of social media is replaced by people effectively reading out a Twitter account on camera – but explaining every joke in excruciating detail. “Tutting is one of the most British things,” notes narrator Julie Walters. You nod and, as you prepare for 10 minutes of other people repeating exactly what she’s said, you fight the temptation to start tutting yourself. That awkward moment when a TV programme is rubbish but you don’t want to offend someone.
Photo: Faye Oakwell / Alaska TV
Flockstars (ITV 1 / ITV Player)
“Release the sheep!” shouts Gabby Logan at the start of each round in ITV’s Flockstars. What follows is a minor celebrity attempting to herd sheep around an obstacle course, followed by 3 minutes of advertising, presumably to allow the audience to come to their senses and turn off the telly.
Except it’s surprisingly hard to do that, as Tony Blackburn and Kelle Bryan take their turns to instruct their sheep dogs while struggling to remember how to say “Come by” and “Away”. ITV has a long tradition in game shows, specifically ones that turn out to be painfully naff, be it Simon Cowell’s betting show, Red or Black, or Splash, the celebrity diving extravaganza endorsed by Olympic medallist Tom Daley. This car crash is almost as enjoyable as that watery bomb, but with fewer neon diving boards and more montages of former Radio 1 DJs hugging dogs. It’s one step away from Alan Partridge’s Monkey Tennis.
“I came into it thinking it was about sheep, but it’s actually about family,” says Kelle Bryan at one point, with a straight face. Queen of the flock, though, is Gabby, who steps up to the mark and bleats her three words with deadpan professionalism. It’s enough to fill anyone with shear terror.
Katie Price: In Therapy (Channel 5 / My5)
“Everyone thinks they know everything about me, but they don’t.” So says Katie Price, Page 3 girl, former partner of Peter Andre and author of five autobiographies.
This Channel 5 show, which claims to offer us a new insight into the mind of the model, actually gives us more of the same, rehashing her life story on screen, in case we didn’t read any of her pentalogy of literary tomes. The problem is the way it is presented: the details of her relationships, her plastic surgery and her fame are slobbered over by a tabloid-style voice over, which uses statements such as “Once she did it, she could no longer be on page 3…” as cliff-hangers for breaks, before returning to discuss her “plastic surgery obsession”.
There are therapy sessions thrown into the mix, as Dr. Claudia Bernat reassures her millionaire client that she’s not obsessed with cosmetic surgery. They range from the sympathetic – Price talking about her son, Harvey – to the therapist’s more obvious conclusion that she should try disclosing less of her personal life to the public – which is, of course, exactly what she isn’t doing by televising these apparent sessions. As Price recounts her romantic history (“every man has hurt me, apart from the ones I’ve dumped”), you begin to wonder how much of this is a PR exercise in itself. That thought almost makes for intriguing viewing – until our narrator returns to describe things as being “as outrageous as her breasts”.
Photo: Channel 5
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