Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Losing life in the fast lane

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“Television rules your lives” I used to tell my kids when they were young. They could no doubt level the same criticism at me today as they lead busy lives and I probably languish in front of the box more than I should. The truth is I barely venture off watching the state-owned channel TV One and so many apparent gems of the television viewing world have passed by me unnoticed.

For instance I have never seen Game of Thrones, for all I know “The Kardashians” may well be a mountain range in some remote corner of the world and Top Gear has never ever featured on my screen. Until last week that was. I now venture over to TV 3 in the mornings to see who my old friend Paul Henry is offending and an advertisement on that channel promoting the very last episode of Top Gear caught my eye and so I thought I’d better take the final opportunity to see this apparently iconic show.

It was an interesting experience. Top Gear seems to be broadcast out of a large tin shed to a surrounding audience who laugh at anything the presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond have to say. The audience amusement was apparently genuine, despite the comments being bland and almost childish and I found myself yearning for a return to the canned laughter which was a distraction in the shows of old and still occurs I notice when the grandkids visit and insist on watching the Disney channel.

Top Gear appears to feature well-known Britons driving a fairly modest car around a tar-sealed circuit at what is, I gather, a barely-used airfield. Then a poorly handwritten magnetic label advising the time it took the celebrity driver to get around the course is placed on a metal board in time order and the compliant audience gasp on cue at the outcome.

Riveting television – not; I’m fighting off sleep and it’s still quite early in the evening. I’m even wondering if “Jones” might have a rerun of The Beverly Hillbillies I could switch to.

Clarkson looks older than I am and feel and I’m amazed he had enough strength to biff one of his producers over some catering arrangements and in the process losing his obscenely highly-paid job.

Millions of devoted middle-aged middle-England fans have signed a petition to get him back, but I must say I’m full of admiration for the Director-General, Lord Hall, for deciding enough was enough and sending him packing despite the dear old British Broadcasting Corporation standing to lose a small fortune as a result.

New Zealand wine producers were cock-a-hoop when it was disclosed that Clarkson and his co-hosts listed Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc among the twenty bottles of wine they insist be made available in their dressing room for their Top Gear Live shows. But that was only for starters. They also required 24 bottles of Bombay Sapphire gin with necessary gin and tonic making materials and a refrigerated cabinet.

They demanded for each episode a table in the room covered in linen, preferably filled with green plants and a sofa large enough for six people, one of whom is 6ft 3inches and likes to lie down. It also needed to have a Sky TV connection, a DVD player, and iPod dock and a PlayStation 3 with two controllers and a copy of Call of Duty.

Feeding Clarkson and Co had to include “lunch and evening meals and hot snacks, for example pies, jacket potatoes, pasta and prawn cocktail” it was reported, alongside “jelly babies and a cheese board.” Healthy options were chicken Caesar, Nicoise and Greek salads as well as a fruit bowl.

Marmite, honey, jam, peanut butter, HP sauce and balsamic vinegar were also required.

Stranger items on the list included a copy of Scrabble and Pictionary, “nice rubbish bins” and a can of Dove deodorant for men.

“All three presenters have their eclectic tastes and they certainly know what they want,” a Top Gear Live source said.

“Jeremy also likes to be driven around in a Range Rover and it is fair to say he can be a little bit of a Prima Donna at times.”

I’m surprised the prats weren’t all fired earlier.

“Conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing it and using it well should satisfy one.”  - Louisa May Alcott


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