Television Mondo Rosso / Shooting Stars (BBC2)

Jasper Rees on the rise of schlock
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
One day Jonathan Ross is going to run out of haircuts. Maybe even run out of hair. When that moment arrives, he might like to think about seeking a home in radio, which, did he but know it, has been his natural habitat all along. He has the classic DJ qualifications of loving the sound of his own voice without having much constructive use for it. He is not humorous in himself but the cause that humour is in other men. Very Steve Wright, that.

Wright, of course, avoided TV for years because his face, even more than his voice, was just meant for radio. When he finally made it to the small screen, there wasn't a suitably wacky vehicle there waiting for him: Ross had already driven them all into the ground. When Ross reaches the pearly gates, no doubt dressed in a pearly three-piece suit, he'll offer as his passport to paradise 63 different series about the joys of ephemera. He's done programmes on tack, programmes on kitsch, programmes on trash. In a very subtle career switch, one that is all but invisible to the naked eye, he's now doing a programme on schlock.

Mondo Rosso is a themed chat show in which guests talk about terrible old films. Between clips they disappear along tangents, pursuing topics of legitimate public interest such as underwear, Elvis and karate. Our host, whose only audible flaw is a speech impediment that renders Rs as Ws, surprises us all by making reference to J Arthur Rank. Owing to a contractual obligation, requiring every BBC satire to allude to in-house embarrassments, there are jokes about Andi Peters and Bob Monkhouse. Eddie Izzard, a comedian famous for refusing to take television's shilling, makes his 314th appearance on television, very jolly it is, too.

There is one genuine novelty. Ingrid Pitt, pneumatic starlet of a thousand fangflicks, is invited to spectate as a younger version of herself is stripped to the waist and vigorously guzzled. Very Jonathan Ross, that, except it wouldn't work on the radio.

In Shooting Stars, Reeves and Mortimer take the game-show format, strip out the engine and insert their own customised model. The title is apt, because the celebrities are invited on as cannon-fodder only. Vic or Bob asks a funny scripted question, guest gives an unscripted unfunny answer, Bob or Vic sandwiches it with their own funny answer. Game, set and match. Peter Stringfellow, poor fellow, got a fearful pasting, although obviously that's the point of him.

One of the team captains is Ulrika Jonsson, who seems to have embarked on a heavy-duty course of self-parody. Hitherto a blemishless porcelain figurine, she's busy revamping her image. Or make that plain vamping. Last week she told Dennis Pennis she'd be keen to interview his pal Scrotum for Gladiators. This week, for Vic and Bob, she sank a pint of lager in nanoseconds. Next week, in a clip on Mondo Rosso, she'll be stripped to the waist and vigorously guzzled.

Comments