Laughter Lines: Alice Jones
Losing heart: Has Miranda Hart sold out with new exercise video?
Miranda is releasing a fitness DVD. I know. Bear with. Miranda Hart’s Maracattack will feature routines from Hart and fitness expert Amelia Watts – cardio sessions, core strength exercises etc. - set to a feelgood soundtrack of Kylie and Take That and interspersed with sketches starring Miranda’s mum, Stevie and Gary.
“Fitness should be fun”, said Hart(right). “It’s about playing, not ‘working out’ and play helps your body, but also frees your mind. The DVD involves maracas, classic pop tunes, and is as much fun as a riotous camp, cheesy disco.” It will be released by BBC Worldwide next month, in time to fill Christmas stockings across the land.
I have been struggling with this a bit, and not just because I don’t own any maracas (a merchandise opportunity here, BBC Worldwide). On the one hand, Hart is known and loved for her physical comedy so perhaps a fitness DVD makes sense. It might even be inspiring. If clumsy, pratfalling Miranda can follow a 5-minute, high-intensity cardio workout, anyone can.
On the other hand, it looks dangerously like a sell-out. And of all the sell-outs, a stand-up sell-out is the worst. There is nothing more disheartening than the sight of a favourite comedian taking a break from sticking it to the man to hawk cider, cheap hotels or car insurance. Or exercise DVDs. Or anything, really. Comedy and commerce are an unhappy mix.
Perhaps this is unfair. It is not easy being a fictional national treasure. Create a much-loved comedy character and you are fated to be remembered as him or her for all eternity - trapped in a purgatory of catchphrases, fancy dress tributes and Christmas specials. The people always want more. The traditional options are to keep doing what you’re doing until you are as old as Compo and co. or to burn out gloriously in 12 episodes like Basil Fawlty.
Or, to diversify. Alan Partridge has managed it. Steve Coogan exhumed his best character first with a low-key web series, Mid Morning Matters, then with a couple of one-off Sky specials and finally a movie outing in Alpha Papa this summer. And now, a decade after the last episode of The Office aired, David Brent has returned. Like Partridge, he was first reborn online with a series of spoof guitar tutorials on YouTube. Offers to play Wembley apparently followed, and so this week Brent took to the Bloomsbury Theatre stage for his first work-in-progress gig, singing cringe classics such as “Slough”, “Free Love” and “Equality Street” to a delighted crowd. The sight of him walking onto the stage wearing an earring – “Fashion, innit?” – was enough to provoke waves of laughter. He didn’t do the robot dance. He didn’t need to. This was a new direction for a proven comedy hero and it worked.
Hart has also created a character so beloved that she could dictate the phone book and make a room howl. So it is to her credit that she is trying something new. Brent has taken up air guitar, Miranda has gone for maracas. Call it money-spinning, call it diversifying – as long as it’s funny, they can carry on.
New slant on TV panel show
Just when it seemed that every possible TV panel show had been commissioned, here comes a new one, from Fox. Its angle? It takes place at an angle. “Slide Show” will be presented by Steve Carell (above) and will pit teams of celebrities and comedians against one another in song, dance and sketch on a set that is tilted at a 22.5 degree angle. The show is based on the French format Vendredi, tout est permis which, from YouTube clips looks like a hyperactive Whose Line is it Anyway? Next up, Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave and Monkey Tennis, possibly.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 2 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 3 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 4 Fifa corruption: Qatar says investigations are racist, anti-Arab and show 'ugly face' of countries who lost 2022 World Cup bid
- 5 We have six months to save the world, says leading economist
Game of Thrones season 5's 20-minute Battle of Hardhome took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9: 'The Dance of Dragons' sees Jon Snow return to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Britain's Got Talent final 2015: 90 viewers complain to Ofcom about Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden's 'revealing' dresses
Ed Sheeran debuts new song 'Sweet Mary Jane' about his love affair with weed
Black Angel: Lost Star Wars precursor to be made into crowdfunded feature film
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers