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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Couch Potato on The Valleys, Baggage and X Factor’s love affair with Rylan Clark

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QUITE the wide and varied choice, in TV land, between 10pm and 11pm on Tuesday night.

It was take your pick from Shameless, Men Behaving Badly, Embarrassing Bodies, Sins and Secrets, Dog Patrol, Boys With Breasts, Creature From The Haunted Sea, Monsters Inside Me, Maneater, Monkey Life, and Wasted, on Playboy TV.

Meanwhile, over on MTV, all of the above.

We’re in The Valleys, a reality show, of sorts, on behalf of the Glamorgan Tourist Board that could have been called How Obscene Was My Valley?

But before we plunge into its murky depths, there’s one matter to be addressed.

You see, before it aired there was a predictable outcry from several quarters, including Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, Plaid Cymru, and the understated and demure, erm, Charlotte Church, that the series would be “hideously patronising”, “exploitative” and “horrific”.

To which I say, of course it flippin’ is. But only if you take the programme seriously or have a longing simply to get your name out there.

So well done for giving yourselves, and the show, the publicity all sides wanted.

The fact is it’s impossible to take it seriously. It’s even more ludicrous and on deeper well-trodden ground than Geordie Shore, MTV’s own blueprint for The Valleys, which itself is a copy of a copy of a copy.

So now we’ve put that little debate to bed, what’s it all about?

Honestly? I’ve no idea. There’s a vague plotline that eight kids from South Wales move to Cardiff to pursue their dream jobs, but 90 per cent of the action is drinking, debauchery, bitching and bed-hopping, to the point that it got tiresome within the first 10 minutes.

But, bless them, MTV went through the motions to set the scene anyway, with the Valleys painted as a place even bleaker than Milton Keynes and the Welsh capital like it’s the gold-paved lost land of Atlantis.

“Going to Cardiff is a dream come true.”

“If you want to do something with your life, the place to be is Cardiff.”

“Moving to Cardiff is possibly the best thing that’s ever going to happen to me. It doesn’t happen to people from The Valleys.”

No, no-one up the road from Cardiff has ever made the move to Cardiff. It doesn’t happen. Reach for the stars, kids.

Then, of course, we were introduced to the self-absorbed cast of twonks, including:

Lateysha who thinks she’s the “best-looking thing in Wales” and announced: “When people see me, they think I’m Beyonce,” which is odd, because I thought she was a bouncer;

Habitual bum-cheek barer Aron, a kick boxer who “wants to be the Welsh Van Damme” but has more chance of being the Welsh Hoover Dam;

DJ Liam, the only gay in the village; Nicole, the self-declared thicko of the bunch, which is saying something, whose least annoying habit seems to be urinating in the shower;

Carley, who flashed her boobs within moments of meeting the others and said: “By day I work in a call centre, by night I’m a legend.”

And Jenna, whose mother paid four grand for her boob job and whose highly protective father is a big, thumpingly burly, tattooed man who keeps guns.

So she seems quite nice.

But once you’ve met them, that’s about it. Nothing else happens. The Valleys will have a niche audience like all the other shows before it. And, frankly, they’re welcome to each other.

It was Liam who, watching his housemates drunkenly romping around on a nightclub floor, summed it up best: “I was just thinking this is embarrassing now.”

Amen to that.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

The X Factor quietly ditching Frankie Cocozza wannabe Eddy String.

ITV2’s The X Factor USA new judge Britney Spears doing what Cheryl Cole failed to do on her first show by rejecting an old friend.

Another award-worthy episode of The Thick Of It.

The sight of Shaun Ryder holding up blue and pink glittery table tennis bats on All Star Mr & Mrs.

John Lydon inadvertently putting in the funniest karaoke turn I’ve seen, with Public Image Ltd, on Later... Live With Jools Holland.

The final ever episode of The Sopranos repeated on Sky Atlantic.

The restraint shown by Watchdog’s Matt Allwright when a vile rogue trader tipped a bottle of urine over him.

And “Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes”, 70-year-old twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (I’m not making this up) turning out to be the most entertaining guests in This Morning’s history and plugging two of their books, both in Dutch, on Tuesday.

Rumours that Wayne Rooney has requested a transfer to Ajax are unconfirmed.

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Groundbreaking, daring, compelling. None of which describes this next show that Channel 4’s continuity man felt compelled to preface with: “Drugs Live includes some scenes of drug-taking.”

You dare say. Yet none of it was actually done live, for obvious reasons, unless you include Jon Snow’s tie, which appeared to have taken acid after Wednesday’s programme.

A controversy-for-controversy’s-sake effort by C4 that turned out to be the dullest ever two-part episode of Brass Eye, complete with a giant flashing brain during the studio debate, indicating which parts of the viewers’ hypothalamus were activated during sleep while they were watching.

There was some “serious science” behind this – 25 volunteers, including Keith Allen, whose hand presumably went up first, given an 83mg dose of MDMA (ecstasy) in an officially licensed clinical trial.

But the substance’s main possible medical benefit, to treat soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, had the rug pulled from under it when an ex-SAS serviceman taking part in the experiment was the only one who had a bad experience on the drug and wanted a fight, a fundamental drawback which the experts simply shrugged off.

It made the exercise as pathetic as the regular users featured, including “long-time raver Shabs who has been taking MDMA since he was 14. He’s now 38”.

And really needs to grow up.

Short of Christian Jessen asking professor of psychopharmacology (say that after taking “E”) Val Curran to pull up her top so he could examine an embarrassing growth, nobody was going to be engaged by this.

And it was so lopsided in favour of the pro camp that I began to finish Jon Snow’s sentences for him: “Now, we are not suggesting that you take illegal substances but...”

Here’s the mobile number of Keith Allen’s old supplier.

Peace, man.

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The Valleys’ Lateysha, posing with crustaceans during a beach model photo shoot: “What kind of boy is going to fancy me when I’m covered in crabs?”

A regular visitor to Merthyr Tydfil GUM clinic?

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Gok Wan dating game show Baggage has “singletons looking for love” and, instead, finding visions of hell and human restraining orders, as the contestants’ emotional “baggage” (see what they did there) is revealed in increasing scales of horror.

“I eat mashed potato for breakfast.”

“I don’t wear knickers.”

“My skin doesn’t fit.”

“I believe I died on the Titanic. I’ve checked the crew and passenger lists but I must have had a different name because I can’t find mine.”

And this one, announced by C4’s Gok on behalf of Leeds barmaid Sophie, to engineer Gary for the chance of a date: “If inside this baggage it says ‘I stalked my only boyfriend’, you pair are going on holiday...

“Yes, you’re right!”

And they say romance is dead.

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Given the air miles to exotic climes he clocked up, you’d expect me to be banging on about Andrew Marr exceeding even an average Kate Humble jolly in the making of BBC1’s History of the World.

I’ll be honest. That’s what I expected too.

But three weeks ago, photographs were published of him outside a Soho bar at 2.30am embracing a female producer, nuzzling her neck with his hand down the back of her jeans, at the programme’s wrap party.

It has put the married man’s narration in a whole new light and made this big-budget, eight-part series far more entertaining than all the pointless CGI and gruesome re-enactments could have.

There he was, examining 27,000-year-old handprints at Gargas caves in southern France, walking into his first trap: “Mouth and hand. It doesn’t get any more personal than that. There is something so common, so ordinary about making a handprint that you can’t help but feel oddly connected to them.”

It would certainly seem so.

And he blundered into another one in the ancient Egyptian town of Set Ma’at: “The records are packed with human life – children’s homework, laundry lists, and a remedy for piles: green beans, salt, goose fat and honey, on the backside for four days.”

That’s his excuse and he’s sticking to it.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:

The X Factor’s inexplicable love affair with that berk Rylan Clark, and Nicole Scherzinger bottling it when challenged for the judges’ reasons by a rejected group;

Gok Wan using the phrase: “My darling,” 34 times in one episode of Baggage (I counted them), 35 if you include the name of one of the cabin-crew girls, Bayley Darling.

And this Aled Jones introduction: “After the break, he’s sold 62 million records worldwide and more singles than any other artist in the UK this year. So what’s making Flo Rida cry?”

Best guess? Having to plug his new record by being interviewed by Aled Jones on Daybreak.

 

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