Pippa Harris watched TV, and on TV, Paddy McGuinness was watching TV…
We’re all happy to vegetate in front of the cheap-and-cheery Frankenstein’s monster of comedy clip shows now and then. Archive footage from ye olde TV is like watching creatures in a sitcom on the moon – “Did people actually think that outfit/that shameful racism/that creepy attitude towards children was normal?” Footage of some of the inanity shown now is even worse (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. No further comment).
But while probably anyone could have a rummage around the lower-brow digital channels and pull up a fresh, steaming handful of nonsense, what really makes a show like this is a skilled entertainer to be the glue – there’s a reason Harry Hill keeps winning British Comedy Awards.
Paddy McGuinness (permanently in my bad-books for daring to not be Irish: see also O’Leary, Dermot) has now been allowed behind the wheel of funny-clip vehicle Paddy’s TV Guide (Channel 4, Fridays, 10pm). The title sequence shows him gurning at a television. He has two distinct gurns: one where he opens his mouth wide and points at the TV while shaking his head (this means he likes it) and one where he points at the TV and shakes his head while mouthing ‘No’ (this means he doesn’t like it).
Then Paddy and a spandex covered fat man bound into what is essentially the set of Alan Carr Chatty Man, but with a sign on the wall that says ‘Bolton – 3 miles’. Our host picks up a burger and says “This is Bully – from Bullseye” which makes the audience near wet themselves with laughter despite being a) not a joke by any stretch of the word ‘joke’, and b) such a dated cultural reference that 50% of them at least should have been scratching their heads blankly.
The show is loosely themed around ‘exercise’ (aha, the spandex fat man is explained). Paddy has his own exercise that he wants the audience to do, called a Bolton Wobble. We can all see where this is going but under his tutelage they stand up obligingly, lean forward and wiggle from side to side. “All right lads you can sit down, girls, keep going,” he says, before breaking off to breathe heavily. Oh, Paddy, you rascal! I see what you’re doing there! Boobies!
He finally gets going with clips from a programme about some elderly body-builders. “He looks like a walnut,” says Paddy about one grizzled muscle-man. Good one! Score nil points for originality, and you will definitely look like a walnut too when you’re 80 years old, but never mind.
When the parade of bright orange lunatics (must have made him feel at home, eh, Take Me Out fans?) is over, he shows a genuine gem of oddness past with clips from Boomph with Becker, a Sunday morning fitness show from the 70s. At one point Becker shimmies over to a patch of carpet where she sinks down and performs a – what I can only assume is meant to be seductive – candle dance. It is beyond surreal; a middle-aged woman writhing backwards while gyrating candles in bowls over her head, even more so because she prefaces it with a creepy “I’ve got something special for you,” to an elderly guest on the programme (whose feelings about the dance will remain forever unknown). The comic fodder of something so bizarre in the hands of an actual comedian should be plentiful – I’m thinking of Russell Brand’s Ponderland here. What does McGuinness do with it? Not even a weak pun, he just lolls his head sideways and fake snores.
I don’t know what clip he was watching. The one I watched definitely inspired strong emotions running the gamut of revulsion to a grudging awe (the woman was flexible as a garden hose), but I’d not say it was dull.
Paddy’s TV Guide is the kind of curve ball Channel 4 likes to throw in amongst Homeland and documentaries about dolphin murder and the alarming 5 minute thought-provokers like Random Acts. Into the mix will suddenly appear something that seems to have burst through the wall from next door at ITV, offerings like the eejit-whisperers of Tool Academy, the now defunct Love Shaft, and the chat shows they keep trying to give to any female celebrity that can make it through a comedy panel show without clawing Jimmy Carr’s face off (remember Charlotte Church’s chat show? Anyone?)
The rest of it drones on with a smattering of sub-Hill physical sketches and commentary that adds about as much as those dialogue boxes that pop up in front of YouTube clips. I don’t think any of this is really Paddy’s fault – the problem is this format has been done before and much better; he’s out of his depth. If he must be on the goggle-box, someone needs to lead him back towards the neon glow of the gameshow.
After watching 45 minutes of it, I found myself hoping that in a not-so-distant future, Paddy too will look like a moon-creature. “In 2013 it was all right to let a buffoon command women to jiggle for him, and his catchphrase was ‘No likey, no lighty?’ Mad.” This’ll teach me to watch Friday night TV instead of going out on the lash though, I suppose.