review

A minor satirical genre is under threat. It's surprisingly common, in gloomy prognostications about the future or mischievous accounts of the present, for writers to include imaginary game shows in their creations - programmes which demonstrate how debased television, or indeed society as a whole, has become. In these the hosts are often leering Frankensteins of artificial excitement and sincerity (fish-eye lenses are popular, the better to register the conspiratorial asides to the audience at home). Flanked by pouting, wiggling acolytes, on a primary colour set, the fictional game show host is the very epitome of falsehood. But how will this moralistic cottage-industry achieve its effects when The Shane Richie Experience (C4) is being broadcast every week? To start with, Richie - "the retailer of romance, the ambassador of amour" - is himself his own caricature; topped by an oversized quiff, conducting the blatting fanfares of the band with wild arm-waving, giggling at his own irrepressible zaniness and deploying the sterilised brand of impertinence indispensible to such shows - "only joking love", he grins, after some mild insolence. He cuddles the losers sympathetically, shouts for the winners, yells, leaps and pirouettes - a one-man factory of ersatz fun.

It is the sort of talent that is worth its weight in gold on a rainy afternoon in a holiday camp. This is the show that promises you "a real weddin' ", with registrars "ready and waiting " to marry off the lucky winners, three biddable couples who have decided that the beginning of their joint journey through life will be most auspiciously marked by an appearance on prime-time television, complete with curvaceous dancers in Anne Summers wedding outfits and a Tammy Wynette number (if only she had sung "D.I.V.O.R.C.E."). The on-screen wedding looks like something of a con - with an odd continuity leap between the winning couple's disappearance through the dry-ice and their telescoped nuptials, which seem to have been filmed with a security camera - but who cares anyway? What matters is that this solemn way point in life has not been marked by tastelessness. "It's fun, it's cheeky, it's BOTTOMS UP!" shouts Richie, introducing a game in which the blushing fiancees have to grope a line of disembodied male buttocks, to establish whether they can tell the difference between their own true love's rear end and that of various minor celebrities.

Lucy Gannon's drama for Screen One (BBC1) took a rather less confetti- strewn view of marriage. Trip-trap began with an image of domestic safety - three generations crowded affectionately on to a sofa as the man of the house reads the children a story - the tale of the billy goats and the troll. Portent pounds heavily at the door, with the assistance of a meaningful travelling shot, away from the warm lighted windows and into the dark recesses of a grated cellar. Could it be that the fairy tale has a darker significance here? Does ITV sell advertising space? What followed, fortunately, was less contrived than that - or at least contrived in a subtler manner, using the charge of genre thrills (woman in peril, flight and pursuit) to power something far more ambitious. In particular, Gannon's portrait of the wife-beater offered you a complicated monster - not just a fairy-tale beast. Kevin Whately's schoolmaster is a convincing portrait of derailed ambitions and endlessly inventive self-acquittal - he blames his wife for provoking him, then blames her for making him feel guilty, when the orgasm of violence has left him beached and empty. He even resents the long convalescence his brutality has made necessary, as if her broken hands are a sort of unjust nagging. He sees himself as under assault and even, in one strangely convincing scene, pulls a window frame against his own fingers, as if to claim for himself a share of the pain he's inflicted on his wife. The ending abundantly satisfied our aroused appetite for justice, but didn't exclude the sense that this was a tragedy with two victims, not just one.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor