Actually, if Mike Leigh had filmed this gathering, he would have immediately been accused of malicious exaggeration. Surely nobody would take their guests through the lighting plan (controlled by a nifty little remote) before they sat down to eat? Surely nobody would be so exquisitely fastidious as to make no less than eight different desserts, each of which was perfectly colour-coded with the upholstery of the chair in front of which it was placed? Surely nobody would print up their own menu cards, giving each course a coy little title ("What a Catch!" for an arranged bouillabaisse garlanded with fishermen's netting and "A Wild Affair" for a salad of veal and wild mushooms)?
Yes, Gordon and Raymond would, and much more besides - I'd rather not go into the business of the courses being themed on the guests' old love- affairs, if you don't mind, as my stomach hasn't quite settled yet. You didn't, unfortunately, get to hear as much of the conversation as you might have wished, being restricted mostly to flurries of shrieks and hugs as the guests arrived, but it was a social document to be treasured.
Gordon and Raymond made the actors featured in Richard E Grant's video diary for The Works (BBC2) look positively down-to-earth by comparison. There was a certain amount of queeny preening about what a hard life it is making films (let's face it, some people would pay good money to hang around in a caravan with Helena Bonham-Carter), but enough self-deprecating moments to restore the balance. Enough honesty, too - walking away from a breakfast meeting with his Los Angeles agent, Grant allowed his spleen at the falsity of the man to froth up freely, and his late-night hotel room confessionals seemed plausibly melancholy about the humiliations of the publicity grind - not just an act of detachment.
Indeed, what is quite touching about Grant is the residue of delighted amazement which he has preserved in his success - he got very bubbly on the day of the Oscars, and the diary contained more footage of Steve Martin goofing around than was consistent with any narrative purpose. Look who my friends are now, this said, and who could really blame him. If my own home videos included shots of Winona in Steve's swimming pool, smiling affectionately at the cameraman, even the postman would be forced to watch them. The film wasn't, as a whole, very revealing about anything but the public relations treadmill on which film stars do so much hard trudging, but it passed the time amiably enough.
The Thin Blue Line (BBC1) appears to have returned as the PC Goody Show, with James Dreyfus's performance even more self-indulgent than ever. I have to report that the studio audience loves every flourish, but for me, his manner just raises a pertinent question - what is it that distinguishes this strenuous laughter-milking from Rowan Atkinson's delivery - sometimes almost as extravagant, but never so coercive? I think it has something to do with indifference - you almost never feel that Atkinson has your laughter in mind, or indeed anything but the bizarre thought-processes of his character. He seems to perform for himself as much as anybody. With Goody, on the other hand, you sense an actor willing to follow the audience anywhere, as long as they give him a laugh in the end.
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