Last Night's Television: The funny guys go red in the face
Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, BBC1
Red Riding, Channel 4
Friday 13 March 2009
Aha! So that's how Jonathan Ross filled his months off. All that time we thought he was prancing around town, posing in his ridiculous harem pants; in fact, he was filming Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, plotting and scheming with a host of other celebrities. The silly trousers are still there, though; this time, great, billowing red things, flapping in the wind like elephant ears. No, more like... well, more like two red noses, bulbous and bursting at the seams. Hmm.
Of course, it didn't take long for Sir Alan to have a dig. "I hope you're going to suppress your childishness, Jonathan," he barked. "We've got some serious business here." But he's a pussycat, really. "This is a tremendous cause, and there are some great brains involved." By great brains, of course, he meant above-average TV talent: Gok Wan, Jack Dee, Alan Carr and Jonathan Ross on the boys' team, with the added help of the online jewellery whizz Gerald Ratner. Carol Vorderman, meanwhile, was representing the girls, along with Ruby Wax, Patsy Palmer, Fiona Phillips and the very photogenic lingerie magnate Michelle Mone.
The task was to create a new toy, and sell the idea to a room full of executives. The girls came up with their suggestion in approximately two and half minutes. "How about hugging suits?" said Patsy. "Hugging suits with Velcro!" added Ruby, brilliantly. The boys had rather more difficulty. "Yo-yos!" cried Gok. "Aliens!" said Jonathan. "A leather-look belt!" argued Gerald. Oh, dear. In the end, they hired some kid to do their dirty work, heading to a toy store and accosting him, before nicking his idea to pass it off as their own. The result was a plastic cummerbund called "swap belt", which, somehow, I couldn't quite see tempting the nation's youth away from their Xboxes.
Still, onwards and upwards. The girls were getting along swimmingly. Too swimmingly. Enter Patsy Palmer, her temper ablaze. "Rickkkaaay," she screamed (or something). Apparently, she felt she was being belittled, and she didn't like Michelle's tone of voice, a complaint to which Michelle could easily have replied: what tone of voice? She didn't, though, so the storm passed; one suspects that it may never have been more than choreographed turbulence in the first place. Instead, the presentations ensued.
The boys', predictably, was all over the place. Less predictably, the chief gaffe came courtesy of Gerald. "Somebody once said, 'Profit is sanity, turnover just vanity'; I think it may even have been Sir Alan." Er, no, Gerald, it was that bloke off Dragons' Den. In the end, the girls cinched it, and they had to, really. Who wouldn't want a suit made of Velcro?
Actually, I think I know who might not: the whole cast of Red Riding, the miserable bunch. This time – part two of the trilogy - it was 1980, and the Yorkshire Ripper had been at work for a good five years. So the local brass had decided to bring someone in to investigate. Enter Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine), who was tasked with rehashing the local police's work in the hope of finding out what went wrong. Last time, he was given this sort of responsibility, we learnt, was when he had to look into the Karachi club shooting (remember? First episode).
It was, quite clearly, an entirely different entity from its predecessor. The premise was similar: outsider heads to Yorkshire, where he is met with bleak skylines, rolling hills and a distinct lack of Northern hospitality. Even some of the characters were the same: those (few) that didn't end up dead in the first instalment were still hanging around, ducking and diving and shooting one another. But the mark of a new director (this time, the Oscar-winning James Marsh) was all over it. For one, it was clearer, both visually and in narrative terms. Gone were the sepia tones of 1974, replaced instead by a relentless 24-hour white light. Gone, too, was that provocative opacity, those barely audible conversations and that teasing ambiguity. Instead, we had a rather more traditional offering. Less challenging, perhaps, though no less enjoyable.
Initially, I found Considine not quite right. There is something rather baby-faced about him, not yet tough enough for the role. That soon went, though, as he substituted tough for thoughtful. Maxine Peake, meanwhile, made a gritty but fragile Helen Marshall, Hunter's partner and one-time lover. The episode's conclusion, as with its predecessor, was the very epitome of bleak. I won't detail the ending, for those who've yet to see it. Suffice to say, it wasn't too different from last time. If I had one complaint, it would be the occasionally spacey camerawork used to indicate Hunter's emotions. It only seemed to happen a couple or so times – not so frequently as to become properly irritating, but not enough, really, to become a trademark. Still, it's a minor quibble. In every other sense, Red Riding's second part was a more than worthy successor to the thrilling ride that was 1974.
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