Episode Six opens with a summery of what’s coming up in the show: Charlie Brooker is doing a bit on hate preachers, David Mitchell is hosting a debate about equality for women, and Jimmy Carr is talking about, er, a kettle that looks like Hitler. But first…
Week in Review
Carr this week told us he’s nostalgic for the good old days when all preachers wanted to do was fiddle with our kids, and then made some much better jokes about the debate over selling arms to Syrian rebels, or ‘operation petrol on barbeque.’ If we send them arms now, he says, then later we’ll have to send them legs and wheelchairs.
There weren’t too many good jokes, but I did like the line about increased deaths at weekends in hospitals: ‘My Nan died…because there weren’t enough staff on duty; there was no one around to stop me finishing her off with a pillow.’
A week after the attack in Woolwich, Brooker started his Newswipe criticising the media for giving hate preachers and extremists the oxygen of publicity. Because of how harrowing the footage of the attacks were, the news ‘took the sensitive decision to only show this footage a mere 50,000 times a day, in slow motion, on a loop, 24-7, for 3 days.’
There was a little bit about Islamic self-promoter Anjem Choudary, whose representation of British Muslims is like ‘Fred West representing the British patio industry.’ We can’t ban him from TV though, because he loves the telly ban.
It was a little light on laughs this bit, but better was the mockery of the English Defence League’s idiocy. ‘As an English man, I don’t feel very defended by the English Defence League,’ Brooker said, wishing they would defend instead English values like kindness, which lead into a funny bit where thugs chanted aggressively sweet songs: ‘I’m going to shake, I’m going to shake, I’m going to shake your fucking hand. I’m going to learn about your culture, I’m going to shake your fucking hand.’
I usually always like the Newswipe, and I did this week, but I feel like it could have done more. Brooker could build a whole show about the attacks in Woolwich and the various reactions to it. Instead we get a short 10 minute bit. And what did the rest of the show discuss? Little bits and pieces from the news that will disappear in a few days. I’d like the show to take more risks; to really dig into weighty issues and rip them apart. Right now too much of the show is like an 8 Out of 10 Cats discussion of the news; light and jokey but without much intellectual satire.
Roundtable on Politicians
The hosts next sat down to discuss David Cameron’s holiday break. The discussion doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s followed by a bit showing holiday photos of each of the hosts on the beach.
It’s not really satire; it’s just discussion with one-liners. That’s okay for a topical comedy show, but this is a satire show, right? Or maybe I’ve got it wrong all along and it is just a topical comedy show. I hope not though, because in Brooker and Mitchell they’ve got two great satirists and they have an hour of live prime-time TV each week. It’s a waste just to lightly discuss the news.
There was a bit about MPs second jobs that was a little better. Brooker says he’s okay with it, ‘as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to do fuck all the rest of the time.’ Mitchell proposes that we pay MPs more money, and the general consensus is that it’s a good idea. I’ve always fucking hated that idea though. MPs get paid £66,000 a year. That puts them in the top 10% of earners in the country (probably top five actually, but it’s complicated). For more than 90% of people an MPs salary is a huge pay rise; if our democracy can’t find MPs from 90% of the country’s population then our democracy is flawed, not MPs remuneration.
Anyway. They moved on and discussed Boris Johnson’s comments that £250,000 a year in extra income is chicken feed, and Lauren Laverne said ‘You can’t stay cross at Boris, because he keeps doing adorable shit.’ I could have used another Brooker rant about Johnson’s shield of buffoonery at this point.
Debate on Women and equality
Mitchell opened the debate with a funny summery of sexist attitudes and some sarcastic lines about how women are completely equal to men now. With him to debate the issue were three woman ‘and no men. But at the end I’ll decide so it’s like society.’
Feminist Laurie Penny, non-feminist Angela Epstein and Christine Hamilton make up the panel. The debate wasn’t that well structured, and became a discussion largely on feminism rather than the role of women in society. It was interesting though, just to see Penny and Epstein passive-aggressively throw daggers at each other. They did that awkward thing where two people try to be all civil and friendly while attacking each other.
The rest of the debate wasn’t great though, and Mitchell soon closed it down and cut to some ‘adverts from the patriarchy.’
Sally Bercow memorial guide to internet etiquette
A new bit this week, which I was glad to see. I’d rather it was Brooker or Mitchell getting some more air time, but I’ll take anything different over the increasingly unwelcome roundtables.
It was okay; basically a more structured version of the opening monologue. He advised people not to use Twitter to play ‘spot the paedophile,’ made a terrible joke about Jimmy Saville, and warned that there’s no point reading YouTube comments unless you want to see ‘how much your mom loves sucking dick.’ You should always use an accurate photo on Grindr, he said, so some poor guy doesn’t ‘go all the way to Swindon to give you a handjob with my eyes closed – with his eyes closed.’
Good Week/Bad Week Roundtable
A quick discussion about Bercow’s idiotic libel defence was followed by a clip of a former Australian prime minister downing a beer, and an attempt to get Brooker to comment on a clip of a politician fucking up a speech received a mock-angry reply: ‘I don’t think that’s fair. You’ve cherry picked one clip. What do you want me to do; call him a stupid foreign idiot?’
They closed the show discussing Ed Balls, and Mitchell went on a nice little rant about how false politicians are. That’s how 10 O’Clock Live seems to work; Laverne gives a prompt, and then we hope someone comes up with a funny and satirical reply. But wouldn’t it be better to sit Mitchell down in a room before the show and say: ‘Ed Balls said this thing. Write five minutes of the outstanding satire you are clearly capable of and then later we’ll film you saying it straight to camera. Maybe we’ll add some animation, or something.’
I’m not a TV writer, so my animation idea is probably shit, but surely the hosts can come up with something innovative and worthwhile between them? And if not, just put Mitchell or Brooker in front of a camera to do some scripted satire. I’d much prefer that than hoping something worthwhile will stumble out of the roundtable discussions.
The episode ended with a review of tomorrow’s newspapers, and Brooker revealing he’d drawn a penis on an illustration of a dinosaur. ‘It’s not the first Prehistoric predator we’ve seen on the front pages of the papers recently,’ said Carr, which is a pretty good joke to come up with off the cuff, but not one that can cover for the lack of insightful, scripted satire on the show.
- ‘I quite like sitting in the sun…It’s not an interesting anecdote, but it reveals a level of normality…I also eat meals…this water? I need it to live.’
- ‘And if we can’t trust the views on feminism of a man who’s unable to enter the United States in case he’s arrested for rape, who can we trust.’
- ‘I think Wayne Rooney has quite an ugly face; I’m sorry.’
- ‘Do you enjoy finding out about what politicians get up to in their spare time?’ ‘I don’t, no. I resent their attempts to present themselves as normal human beings.’
- ‘I’m a likable guy, I’m not tremendously conceited about my singing voice, you might want to make me in charge of all the country’s finances.’