Jo Brand's week

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The Independent Online
The Channel 4 show TFI Friday is in big trouble, because being a live show people can't seem to stop swearing on it. Even the precaution of pre-recording an interview with Shaun Ryder didn't work, because he managed to sneak the F-word in several times to a Sex Pistols song he and his band performed live. So now the whole show is being pre-recorded half an hour before it goes out to stop the use of those words people don't want to hear at six o'clock in the evening.

Live television has proved to be controversial because people do not behave themselves with the decorum that the television companies expect.The Comedy Awards are a prime example of how performers will not censor themselves to please the viewing public. Although some of it is funny, most of it is just a bit sad and makes them look like w------. Perhaps it's time to change the show's name to THI Friday - Thank Heavens it's Friday. So much nicer, don't you think?

Driving along the side of the river in London the other day, I noticed a huge billboard that bore the words, "He say Pocahontas is now on video." Eh? Pulling up at the lights, I spotted that the "he" in question was some poor sod dressed up as a native American chief (red Indian to you, grandma) standing on a somewhat precarious platform, with smoke belching out behind him in a sad little signal. Our chief, whose name was probably Out-Of-Work-Actor-Who-Will-Do-Any-Job, looked remarkably cheery to me, considering he had become merely a product. I tried to get him down with a brick to sympathise with his plight. Oh, all right, then, I just waved. Wonder how much Disney is paying him for this indignity?

I think quite a lot of women perked up when Miss World finally bit the dust and disappeared from our screens in the Eighties. Some women thought to themselves: "At least that cattle market, in which we are just treated as objects, will fade away." Wrong. It's still going strong and this is one of the few countries that doesn't actually show it, much to the distress of that lovely couple the Morleys. Not only are the women still strutting their pouty stuff, the contest now includes a section for men, who were seen in a documentary this week, preparing for the big one.

"I don't want to look like a fool," commented one bloke sadly. Keep well away from the whole caboodle then, mate. The eventual winner of the contest made it through purely on a two-dimensional ticket. Having failed at a few live contests, he managed it with a photo entry. This perhaps sums up the whole sorry exercise. Any encroachment of personality is a no-no. Some of us women have been cringed nearly to death with these sort of competitions for years. Don't you start now chaps, there'll only be tears.

One of the things tabloid papers love doing is catching stars looking like a pile of cack. They then gleefully accompany the photograph with text that reinforces the hideous sight. For example, I saw a picture of Bette Midler the other day walking down the street with no make-up on in rather scruffy gear. So what? Funnily enough, most people don't go to the shops with full make-up and a glittering ballgown on. Is this really that important? I don't think so and if we're going to have to suffer these childish and trivial features, let's leave the women alone and have a look at a few blokes who have just got out of bed.

I sometimes wonder if there's any point in commercial TV companies actually bothering to make programmes in between the ads. Why don't they just have different adverts on all day long? First of all loads of ads seem to be running little stories like the Gold Blend couple (who probably aren't going to tread on a land mine, though that would make my day). Added to that, you have the slightly more mysterious beer ads with French people disappearing out of rooms all the time for no reason whatsoever. Now we have so many programmes sponsored by various companies, why don't they just come clean, forget the original plot line and push the goods? Coronation Street has just fallen into the clutches of Cadbury's, forcing all the actors no doubt to line up with giant bars of chocolate all over the place and scoff the stuff until it comes out of their ears. The company says that its chocolate is not about to be featured at every opportunity in Corrie. I say, keep 'em peeled in the shop. Watch out for the choc.

Mad cow disease has permeated all our lives in one way or another. I was in my local shop the other day and I heard two students discussing the problem. One was saying to the other, "Well, you just don't know which stuff has beef products in it," as they examined tins of soup. I was tempted to remark, "It's too late now anyway," but I kept schtumm as they continued to play BSE roulette round the shop. I get the impression that no one really knows anything. We'd all like to believe the experts and as soon as anyone puts on a white coat, their word seems to be law. Having studied the process of science at college, though, I learnt that science is almost as much of an arbitrary exercise as art is. Depending on one's political stance, you can get an expert to say pretty much what you want and then find another one to refute the first expert. All of which isn't much of a consolation, I know, but it warns us we should perhaps look at where the expert is coming from before we swallow their advice.

I'm off to Australia in a couple of weeks to do a bit of a tour there, and I am planning to fly over to Tasmania for a couple of days to see a friend of mine who is a GP.

Tasmania apparently has the reputation of being Australia's Isle of Man in that homophobia is rife. So much so that Julian Clary's show there was banned a few years ago. Unfortunately, I suffer from a congenital penchant for wanting to wind up rednecks like this. Must remember to put "professional lesbian" on my passport and see what happens.

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