2004 – Television and radio

(NB. I’m sticking all of these 2004 reviews in the ‘nostalgia’ section. Even though looking ‘back’ on the year we’re still in isn’t terribly nostalgic, it probably will be if anybody ever looks at the nostalgia section in 2006.)

I’ve actually spent a fair chunk of the past few days trying to think of television and radio programmes that I’ve enjoyed watching in 2004. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are very few. So this is going to be less of a list, and more of a general review in a couple of paragraphs.

Little Britain
Lou and AndyYeah, I know. EtceteraSomehow, this was a real slow-burner for the whole of the nation. Matt Lucas and David Walliams joked that – having begun on Radio 4, moved on to BBC Three, then BBC Two and BBC One – next year they’d be on BBC −1. The second series probably was funnier than the first, mind you.

But because of the type of programme that it is, it’s beginning to suffer from what I call Chewin’ the Fat Syndrome. You may call it The Fast Show Syndrome. It’s when the jokes begin to all be the same. It’s always the same punchline, the same bunch of catchphrases, and all you end up doing is waiting for the catchphrases to come along then switch off.

Little Britain hasn’t quite got to that stage yet. Lucas and Walliams have been quite clever, because the funny bits of Little Britain aren’t the catchphrases (although this is what most people watch for), but the situations. This was a bit of a gross-out series, seeing how far they could take things. They kept on managing to shock and surprise me, taking things further and further throughout the series. But this can’t go on forever.

Little Britain is fantastic. A third series would be a disaster.

The Mark Steel Lectures
How can the funniest programme of the week not be a comedy programme? Doh. You might learn something aswell.

Fighting Talk
I ended up watching all of the episodes of Fighting Talk, but it’s still far better on the radio. The problem is that it’s just a radio-style format. As much as Johnny Vaughan seems to love them, silly sound effects simply don’t work as well on television as they do on radio.

Dick and Dom in da Bungalow
Still the funniest children’s programme I have ever seen. Also on the children’s front, Popworld is also quite funny.

I’ve discovered that chatshows are an entertaining way to spend an hour or so. Friday Night with Jonathan Ross is very funny; Ross is quick and witty. I’ve also begun to watch The Late Show with David Letterman. Shock horror, a good programme on ITV2. It’s genius scheduling aswell, on at about 1:45am – perfect post-pub viewing.

2004 also saw the end of the classic entertainment gossip-type programme Liquid News. Just months after a bought the Freeview box that enabled me to watch is aswell. Damn. Although Liquid News always seemed to be the late Christopher Price’s programme, I thought the Patrick O’Connell / Claudia Winkelman version was often just as funny. It’s a real shame that it went.

Apart from those programmes, Nighty Night promised much, but I couldn’t be bothered watching past the first episode. QI was also quite good, but I didn’t watch it religiously. The same goes with The Alan Clarke Diaries. Bo’ Selecta, as Jonathan Ross said at the British Comedy Awards, “is still working on that difficult second joke.” I think, all-in-all another average year for television.

My radio habits haven’t really changed at all. I still listen to BBC Radio Five Live just about all the time, except during Breakfast when the presence of Nicky Campbell forces me onto Radio 4. My favourite radio progamme is still Mixing It.

Radio 1’s changes earlier this year were interesting, and a step in the right direction in my opinion. I thought the scheduling of John Peel’s programme was a bit sloppy though – it broke up the apparently carefully crafted pseudo theme nights (ie. a night for ‘alternative’ music, a night for dance music and a night for ‘urban’ music). In the aftermath of Peel’s terribly sad death, I thought Radio 1 responded fairly well by replacing Peel with Rob da Bank. All tribute programmes, apart from perhaps the first Mary Anne Hobbs one, about John Peel missed the mark for me though.

Occasionally BBC 6 Music comes out with something good – usually in their token dance slot, 6 Mix. That’s about it though. Apart from that, the station seems terminally stuck in the past.

One thing to look forward to in 2005 is the new Chris Morris outing, Nathan Barley, based on the eponymous character from TV Go Home. Apart from that, who knows?

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