ITV1, Wednesday

TV review: The Brit Awards - When did boring become rock'n'roll?


Emeli's lovely, and Adele's a class act even when she's somewhere else, but this was a show defined by what didn't happen

The best way to experience The Brit Awards these days is invariably to read all the "Best Brits moments" lists chundered out beforehand. That way you can briefly transport yourself back to a time when the Brits still had "moments". Like blottoed, block-shaped DJ Brandon Block trying to take the Best Soundtrack award hostage. And Geri Halliwell emerging from a giant vagina. And presenter Norman Tebbit MP declaring "I don't know anything about pop music!" before being descended on by George Michael dressed as a bare-chested cowboy.

Well, it's fair to say Norm would have felt totally at ease at Wednesday's ceremony which, according to the conventional understanding of "pop" as "fun", was less pop than an evening with Hansard. The story of last year's shindig, of course, was Adele's curtailed victory speech. This year, she had her revenge by being the most charismatic presence of the evening, despite being absent: on a video link from LA, she taunted us with her sentience and sensibility and, in 19 seconds, trumped the entire laugh count of host James Corden.

Indeed, from that headline no-show onwards, this was an event defined by what didn't happen. Harry Styles didn't look red-faced, merely poker-faced, in the inevitable cutaway to him during the appearance of presenter-cum-supposed-former-teenybopper-power-couple-partner Taylor Swift. Justin Timberlake didn't bring sexy back with his wipe-clean tux and antiseptic ballad. And Emeli Sandé, lovely as she may be, didn't do or say anything to justify the inordinate amount of exposure that led to the foregone conclusion of her double win.

What's clear is that when you're trying to create an entertaining awards show at a time when pop stars are so assiduously understated – some of them, like the singer from Alt-J, have actually gone mute – it's time for radical measures. Perhaps organisers should heed the MasterCard ads that punctuated this year's show and replace the stars with hyperventilating superfans until they buck up their ideas. Alternatively, if everyone involved really just wants a drink and a catch-up complemented by a warm sense of achievement, they could shut off the cameras and style it like any other awards event. Here's to a Hilton function room, a swing band playing Black Eyed Peas covers and a Moss Bros discount deal for 2014.

For further adventures in celebrity solipsism, there was Meet the Izzards (BBC1, Wednesday/Thursday **). "The epic story of humanity's journey from our shared origins in Africa ... all the way to Eddie Izzard" was how the voiceover teed up this two-parter – due warning of the programme's skewed perspective. Putting a primordial spin on genealogy hit Who Do You Think You Are?, it had the comic tracing his lineage back 10,000 generations or so via some cutting-edge analysis of the DNA in his saliva. Naturally, given TV's penchant for sending comedians on jollies, this led him from Cameroon to Denmark in search of "genetic cousins". And, naturally, 200,000 years of history were only as important as their impact on one famous 51-year-old, as he hung out with Kalahari desert tribesmen, Djibouti fisherwomen et al, and marvelled at his new-found sense of kinship with the world.

A shame, though, that the programme's own kinship was so hazy: here we had a celebrity travelogue wanting to pass muster as a serious science documentary without scaring viewers off with too much actual science. And so much of it passed by in a forgettable blur of inexpert commentary (keywords: fascinating, fun, wow) and spurious set pieces: Eddie sleeps out in the bush and is comically perturbed by elephants etc.

It was unfortunate, too, that the whole early migration/evolution thing was covered far better by Alice Roberts's BBC2 series The Incredible Human Journey a few years back. As noble as its attempt to make anthropology a prime-time proposition might have been, rarely has so little been said about so much.

All the better for not trying to say too much, meanwhile, was The Fried Chicken Shop (Channel 4, Tuesday ****), a documentary hooked off the becrumbed boom in high-street KFC imitators. Avoiding the obvious public-health angle, the film-makers instead concentrated on the souls eating the sorta-soul food, setting up a series of cameras in a Clapham branch of Roosters Spot and observing its teeming customer base over a week. And, some 2am brawlers aside, they tended towards the endearing and eccentric, from bolshie college girls to waltzing panto princes. Screenwriters take note: there are the (grey, discarded) bones of a sitcom here.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing