Last Night's Television: Gavin & Stacey, BBC1
Jess: Britain's Youngest Sleepwalker, Channel 4
The Restaurant, BBC2
Friday 27 November 2009
I can see why people like Gavin & Stacey, I really can. It's warm. It's cuddly. It's the celluloid equivalent of on a mug of tea and a slab of Dairy Milk.
And it really is all of those things – Joanna Page, who plays Stacey is cute as a button, just Bridget-Jonesy enough for us empathise with, the type of lass any well-brought-up young girl would want to be friends with. And Mat Horne (Gavin) is, for want of a better word, fit. In a safe way. And well dressed, with the not-at-all-bad-looking Page as his girlfriend, so mothers like him and men have a degree of grudging respect for him. And then there's James Corden, who plays Gavin's best mate, Smithy, and everyone knows that James Corden's lovely. So yes: as Bob Hope would say, what's not to like?
Except, erm, I'm afraid I don't. Like it, that is. I like Ruth Jones, aka the indomitable Nessa, fag-smoking, drink-swilling best friend of – inexplicably – Stacey. But that's all. At least Nessa's funny, a quality which, it's worth pointing out, is rather useful when it comes to a comedy show. But apart from her, I can't fathom one of them. Not even Bryn, played with aplomb by Rob Brydon. He's too nice. Far, far too nice. They all are. The whole thing is. It's so nice, you cease to care. It becomes... elevator music.
But anyway, what do I know? Clearly, nothing. Seven million people watched the Christmas special last year, and seven million can't be wrong. Can they? Anyway, last night was the start of the third (and last) series, which saw Gavin settling into his new job in Barry, while the Essex crowd geared up for the christening of Smithy and Nessa's baby, named – wait for it – Neil Noel Edmond Smith. One of the few laugh-out loud jokes of the episode. Any Gavin & Stacey fan would have been thrilled, I'm sure. All the usual bumf was there: Stacey freaking out over an article she's read in Psychologies magazine, Bryn popping his head through Gavin's office window, Smithy ordering enough food for an entire army. Me? Well, like I said. Elevator music. Pleasant enough, no plans to buy the album.
Far more interesting was Jess: Britain's Youngest Sleepwalker. Three-year old Jessica leads a double life. During the day she's as good as gold, but at night she becomes someone else entirely: a wild-eyed, hyperactive little chatterbox, oblivious to any form of parental cajoling. "I try to ask her questions to understand what she's doing, but she doesn't answer," explained Tanya, her mother. Jess is, it would appear, entirely unconscious: dancing, prancing, grinning, muttering, giving the thumbs-up – all in her sleep. "She'll be awake for 36 hours before she gets two hours' sleep. All the doctors say they've never seen anything like it."
Jess's explanation was that her "friends" come and play with her at night. "They won't leave me alone," she pleaded. She's been seen by numerous epilepsy specialists and countless other doctors. All the while her parents have become more and more concerned about the long-term effects her disorder will have on her health. Last night, we saw her undergo observation at Evelina Children's Hospital, which boasts one of the country's leading sleep-disorder clinics. As it turned out, Jess is entering a sort of meditative state – named "eidetic imagery" – whereby she plays with a cast of imaginary characters. Once reaching the state, she has so much fun that she stays there. It's all well and good, except for the fact that she could be impairing her development through lack of sleep. Thus began a complicated routine of reward charts and bedtime stories to coax Jess out of Tanya's bed and into her own. Miraculously, it seemed to work. We left Jess happy, and Tanya thrilled: "I'm not tired anymore. I feel like I could... run a marathon."
I've yet to review The Restaurant, the series in which couples compete for the opportunity to set up their very own restaurant, which will be financially (and inexplicably) backed by the Michelin-starred chef, Raymond Blanc. Which is not to say I haven't been watching; quite the opposite. I haven't been able to tear my eyes away. I mean, the horror! Quite where they find these people (the contestants, that is) is beyond me. They are terrible. Just. So. Awful. The only ones, to my mind, who showed any sign at establishing their own tea party – let alone restaurant – have been Badger and Bodger (sorry, Barney) – and they're out now, so poor Raymond looks doomed. Still, he has little choice but to continue the charade of assessing the various other contestants as they compete in a range of tasks: J J and James who couldn't even bake a cake for their afternoon-tea service, Daisy and Nadine who served potato, pasta and bread to a non-carbohydrate-eating rugby team and Chris and Nathan, the latter of whom does absolutely nothing to help the former, who toils away for them both. They're my second favourites, definitely. But, like I said, what do I know?
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