TELEVISION / A game of wo Calfs, and a funny old game too

IN THE end, everything becomes the butt of a parody, even when it doesn't merit it. Video Diaries, the BBC's generally laudable effort to hand the reins of creativity over to Joe Public, never did anything to harm anyone, but its solipsistic style - somewhere between a confessional and a fly on its own wall - was always begging to be taken off. Paul Calf's Video Diary (BBC 2), a squalid study of urban deprivation, social inadequacy and great hilarity, did so with a kind of loving vengeance.

One day Steve Coogan will be a household name, as seems to be the birthright of every achiever on the radio who is coaxed by the box's plumper coffers. He is so possessed by his own inventions that, to borrow the phrase of someone else who also does this quite well, it is almost spooky.

Paul Calf, whose sorry tale of lost girlfriends and unwashed underwear this was, is how Andrew Aguecheek, flaxen of hair and short of words, would turn out if he had the ill fortune to be beamed into the 1993 / 1994 season as a Man City supporter. This makes him a less purely satirical creation than his sister Pauline, whose peroxide curls and whippet's tongue are the product of pitiless observation.

As for the video, it had a plot, about Paul and his mates plotting to win back his bird Julie, which tended to differentiate it from the formless format it lampooned. But if it was a home movie apparently filmed by pillocks, it allowed itself the privilege of being knowing. When a check-out girl asked Paul if he was having a party, he said 'no' in an aggrieved voice as the camcorder pulled deftly away to dwell on a grotesque stash of beer cans. A normal video diarist would never attempt anything so artful. And when Pauline goes home at the end with one of Paul's mates (Patrick Marber, who co-wrote with Coogan and Henry Normal), they planned to watch The Crying Game, with its own hidden gender agenda. They must have known there was not much point to this in-joke, but everything else was bang on.

Coogan will have discovered that it's one thing to get all the vocal tics right on the radio, quite another to add the visual ones on television. By the look of things, though, he is a chameleon down to the very pit of his soul. Compare his skills with those deployed in Rory Bremner - The Man and His Music (Channel 4), in which the best impressionist currently under contract continues to prove that impersonation works best when the only costume is a voice. His Ken Clarke, say, is infinitely subtler and sharper than his Bill Clinton, because he doesn't have to dress up to reinforce the act. With almost every joke dredging up something that left a bad taste in the mouth in the last 12 months, this was a good way to say goodbye and good riddance to 1993.

On the same day that the BBC relaunched one of its trusty flagships, Antiques Roadshow (BBC 1), the corporation trumped itself with a similar show with knobs on. The first part of Auction (BBC 2), which inspects the inner workings of Sotheby's, carries on where the senior series leaves off - at the point where the evaluation of the objets d'art has to be put to the test in the sale room.

At first sight you'd dismiss this work as a second-rate and unimportant study of men with cut-glass accents and pinstripe suits who missed out on jobs on the Stock Exchange, but closer inspection unveiled a fascinating X-ray of human behaviour that could easily have been attributable to a student of Hogarth.

On the day that a woman on a day trip from a block of flats in Stockport brought in a tatty little Dutch work in a shopping bag, a Goya showed up that had been in the same Spanish family since it was painted. One was worth millions, the other a few paltry thousand; and as its owner waited humbly downstairs, the Old Masters experts upstairs snootily trashed it. 'School of the Wirral,' one scoffed, and you wanted to land one on him, especially when a colleague came down and cooed: 'This is a lovely little picture you've discovered.' A man may smile and smile and be shown up on television.

Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are releasing Plectrum Electrum next month

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?