London Live launch review: A-listers, sharp chat, great food – and that’s just the first course
Ellen E Jones gives her verdict on the launch of Britain’s newest TV channel
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Monday 31 March 2014
It’s been a whole year in the making and, at 6.30pm on Monday, launch night finally arrived for London Live on Freeview 8, Sky 117 and Virgin 159. Londoners now have a TV channel to call their own and non-Londoners can feel the buzz too – without the extortionate rents – via londonlive.co.uk.
The very first face we saw belonged to Maleena Pone, one of the roving presenters on daily entertainment-news show London Go and a sunny enough presence to shine through this overcast evening on the Southbank.
It wouldn’t be live TV if there wasn’t one unplanned interruption, but it’s an auspicious start that this one was in keeping with the housing theme – two Russell Brand-a-likes shouting “It’s better to squat than let homes rot!” in the middle of one of Pone’s interviews.
A slightly panicked cut took us to Leicester Square where Pone’s colleague Gavin Ramjaun was interviewing an uncharacteristically friendly Russell Crowe at the Noah premiere and actress Emma Watson looked stunning in a white gown (a nod to the new England kit, perhaps?).
Hackney-born Ray Winstone also gave London Live a propah cockney seal of approval. Yep, he’d heard of the channel, that is owned by Evgeny Lebedev, publisher of The Independent, and he’ll be watching .
At 7pm, it was time to retire inside the cosy loft-style apartment of Not The One Show presenter Louise Scodie for an hour of off-the-cuff chat on the day’s big news stories. Okay, the studio in West London isn’t really anyone’s residence, but the relaxed, irreverent style of Scodie and her lively, funny guests made us feel instantly at home. This was most definitely not The One Show – and all the better for it.
Emma Watson and Russell Crowe at the premiere of 'Noah' at Odeon Leicester Square (Rex)
London Go and NTOS make up 90 minutes of the channel’s five-and-a-half hours a day for news and current affairs programming, but London Live also has a roster of carefully chosen entertainment acquisitions to showcase, including old favourites Peep Show, Spaced, and Twenty Twelve. At 10pm, there was a chance to watch much-missed sci-fi comedy drama Misfits right from episode one, preceded by a triple-bill of original commissions. Innovative new football stunt show F2 Kicks Off kicked off at 8.30pm and at 9pm we were introduced to new young comic talent in Alex Zane: Funny Rotten Scoundrels.
The stand-out, however, was Food Junkies (8pm), a mouth-watering show about street food which made an instant star of black cab driver Joey ‘I’ll eat anything, me’ Bone. Bone drove around the city sampling pie and mash shops, while adding his own inimitable cabbie commentary: “Being a Chelsea fan, I’ll struggle to get it down me,” he winced while ordering at Arsenal specialists, Piebury Corner. Another stop in the borough of Waltham Forest was a trek too far in Bone’s book.
“Should’ve brought my passport,” he grumbled “It’s bandit country!” For all the polish of the presenting talent, it was local characters like these who really made this launch special.
Londoners often wistfully observe that even with so much culture on the doorstep, they never seem to find time to be a part of it. Well now, with London Live delivering all the good stuff direct to your living rooms, there really is no excuse. And yes, Joey Bone, that does include going south of the river. Even at this time of night.
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