Magazine article The Spectator

Perfect Happiness

Magazine article The Spectator

Perfect Happiness

Article excerpt


A few months ago, our friends Dan and Nic moved from their home just down the road from us in Camberwell to a remote farm in Cumbria. To help them cope, they bought an obscenely enormous TV set with a DVD player and Sky Digital attached. The problem with owning equipment like that is that you tend to use it. Whenever we stayed with them in their crappy-TV-owning days we used to do fun things like play Pictionary, Pass the Pigs and Switch. Now all we do is flop in front of the box, flicking through the zillion and one channels you get with your digital package until we find something that vaguely suits.

My personal favourite is this channel whose name I forget, but it's MTV something. MTV itself is a very useless channel, with gauche, stupid Europresenters, obtrusive bits of animation called 'idents', rubbishy videos of chart bands you hate and far, far too many adverts. But the MTV something one I'm thinking of is ace. It just plays wall-to-wall videos of really cool music, with no adverts. If I didn't have a family, I think my idea of perfect happiness would be to lie on a beanie bag watching this station while my private nurse injected me with medical-grade heroin.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that these multi-channel digital packages are very very bad for you. And I had long held out against getting one until Channel 4 went and ruined it by launching this digital offshoot called E4, which shows lots of programmes you no longer get on terrestrial TV such as Ali G and The Adam & Joe Show.

The clever thing about Adam (Buxton) and Joe (Cornish), as I've probably said before, is that even though they pretend to be inane and talentless, they are among the most astute commentators on popular culture on TV. They're also very talented good at accents and very good at using Star Wars figurines to make animated pastiches of popular films and programmes - as you'll have been reminded if you caught last week's spookily accurate Jedi version of The Royle Family.

Sometimes I look at them enviously and think `Wish I could just muck around in front of a camera and get paid for it!' but I soon change my mind when I see the hideous public embarrassment they sometimes have to endure - prancing about shopping malls and pretending to be enthusiastic presenters of awful daytime TV shows, and so on.

The other big star of their show, of course, is Adam's crusty old man, Nigel (aka Bad Daaad). His expose of the agonisingly crass parties for toff teenagers organised by a creepy-looking character called Justin Etzin was investigative journalism worthy of the best of Panorama, but done with twice the wit and in a sixth of the time. …

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