Review

In the short term, Annie's Bar (C4) - the House of Windsor brings you the House of Commons - was unlucky in its timing. There have been boasts about how the last-minute production schedule will allow the scriptwriters to respond to recent political developments. So, in the week that 300 MPs had put in for a rise, and the Commons corridors can have been buzzing with talk of little else, it was distinctly underwhelming to be fobbed off with a tiny two-second reference to the issue of the hour.

In a larger sense, though, Ardent Productions may have hit their moment - as politicians slither ungracefully towards the hour of reckoning, viewers will need a sardonic outlet for their mute disgust. Last night's episode ended with a Labour MP staring fixedly as a Tory member takes his ease at the urinal. "What are you staring at?" he is asked. "The next election," he replies darkly.

Clearly, Annie's Bar is prepared to take the piss out of our elected representatives, but it seems to have settled for something well short of outright cari-cature. The opening episode used the shock by-election victory of a naive Tory candidate (implausibly naive, in truth) to introduce viewers to the native fauna of this unique habitat - lissom researchers scraping past the pin-striped paunches of Tory backbenchers, thug-gish whips and scheming ministers, the badly-foxed political journos propping up the members' bar. At times, naturalism, in the shape of some rather stilted local colour, conspires against comedy, as does the decision to give full rein to the thespian ambitions of real MPs - those, at least, who have decided that high office is beyond them.

In one scene, after the new boy has mistakenly supped tea with the enemy, he is hooted at by a clutch of his colleagues: "We do expect you to know the difference between Conservative and Labour," they yell. Austin Mitchell, the enemy in question, stretches out his arms pleadingly: "Tell us, tell us!". This is an interesting spectacle, but not exactly rib-cracking. Edwina Currie's appearance was decidedly stifling, too - a deadening air of charity charades, in a production which needs to be offhand and understated if it is to capture the sense of public performers caught off-camera. The less explicit Annie's Bar is, the better it is, though this may be a problem specific to first episodes, which carry a heavy duty of explanation. As a maiden speech, this wasn't bad at all - a touch nervous here and there, let down occasionally by poor delivery, but showing definite promise.

It was odd that Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld's (BBC2) visit to Texas, spiritual home of the unrestrained ego, should turn out so muted and dull. I am prepared to admit (usually after a brisk massage with a torque-wrench) that the series can be quite watchable, but this was as flat as the landscape in which it found itself, a state where speed-bumps would count as scenery, were speed-bumps not reviled as an unconstitutional Commie plot. Perhaps it was simply that Clarkson had found the one place in the world where his top-fuel, unmuffled loud-mouthing would come across as English reserve.

Jeremy drove a bigfoot truck (which frightened him) and met several red- necks who could outperform him in the swaggering bullshit stakes (which, understandably, startled him), but he never quite turned the key in the programme's ignition.

I had thought that the year could offer no more painful musical experience than the whining infants in Wednesday's Under the Sun. My complacency was immediately punished by the aspiring holiday-camp entertainer in Seasiders (C4), who managed to work his way through "La Bamba" without hitting a single note. For some reason, he accompanied this defiance of statistical probability with a mime of a scuba- diver trying to get an eel out of his wet-suit. The stunned managers, auditio- ning for summer season, struggled to lift their lower jaws back into place. Haven holidaymakers have apparently been spared the misery of being serenaded by this man. Irene Cockcroft's engaging series will follow those who made it.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US