TELEVISION / Beggars for human kindness can't be choosy
So Children in Need (BBC 1), lit by a blaze of artificial light and artificial jollity, came as a life-saver. It placed this reviewer in a quandary though - the event itself is often ludicrous and consistently dull (despite the pretence that a nationwide link- up is the most exciting thing since the moon-landings). But it is driven at the grassroots by exactly the virtues that, at times last week, seemed to be fatally endangered - social involvement, care for others, the refusal to merely stand by.
I know people enjoy sitting in baths of baked beans anyway and there might be more productive ways of raising money than pursuing their vice in a shopping mall, but we are beggars for human kindness just now and can't be choosy. Even so, my nerve broke at the prospect of representing the evening as an unblemished festival of human love. I resolved instead to donate a sum of money for each unworthy thought. For once, you'll be glad to know, these aren't cheap gags, but moderately expensive ones. Let us begin with the presentation. You need a new word for Children in Need, a word that describes an apparently spontaneous moment which turns out to have been meticulously planned but then goes wrong. Celebrities were expressing fake astonishment all evening - there was poor old Terry Wogan doing his bit in the foyer of Broadcasting House when all of a sudden he's kidnapped by the entire cast of Casualty and taken off to drum money out of the audience for Sunset Boulevard. Why, he was so surprised you could have knocked him down with a giant cheque (events like these remain, for the immediate future at least, the only times that companies can buy advertising on the BBC).
The chief draw of the evening was 3D television - we were promised that a 3D Dr Who would be dropping into EastEnders and that later this week Take That would perform their new single in 3D. Personally I think they should tackle two dimensions first and see how that goes. But that said, the technology worked quite well, giving spectacled viewers an astonishingly realistic impression of a novelty postcard without inducing a migraine in everyone else.
The normal rules of television drama are reversed in 3D - the idea is to have inanimate objects - bushes, market stalls, railings, Mike Reid - intervening between the camera and the actors at all times. In the case of the Dr Who segment, this leads you to the discovery that the drama was most vividly three-dimensional when the cast was invisible; Tomorrow's World (BBC 1) promises to explain how the system works this Friday but I have formed my own theory already.
Various people opined that comedy 'is the new rock 'n' roll' in The South Bank Show's (ITV) entertaining mish-mash of clips and interviews. I'll believe that when Lenny Henry is mobbed on landing at Heathrow and people start writing 'Jim Davidson is God' on walls. The truth is that comedians aren't suddenly as big as rock stars - they're as big as big comedians used to be.
This A-Z of British comedy abandoned its bid for intellectual structure almost immediately (C for Cruelty was followed by O for Oxbridge) but was another moment of relief in a dark week, serving up an anthology of 'best bits' and broadly unpretentious theorising. Stephen Fry's observation that 'there are more momenti mori than there are momenti botti' probably puts the case for puerile lavatorial humour as cleanly as is possible.
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist in Russia narrowly misses being hit by car and lorry
- 2 Y-40 Deep Joy: The world's deepest swimming pool
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Syria air strikes: President Obama undergoes Damascene conversion as Isis forces America to change tack
- 5 Pink Floyd new album: Band unveil cover art for first record in 20 years
Idris Elba 'absolutely' wants to play James Bond
Cilla, episode 2, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith continues to shine
Kendrick Lamar: New song 'i' released on Soundcloud sampling Isley Brothers - listen here
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Labour Party conference: Ed Balls to set out plan to freeze child benefit to balance books