28 MARCH 1998, Page 38


Get a life, Chris

James Delingpole

This week I'm going to tell you about a programme even better than Our Mutual Friend. It is a work of such awesome genius that every time I watch it, I have to pinch myself to be sure that I'm not daydream- ing. But before I go on, there are few other things I want to get off my chest, starting with that letter from Christopher Bland objecting to my description of the people in charge of the BBC's programming as `philistines and morons'.

I'm sorry but the weight of anecdotal evi- dence does rather suggest that I'm right, though I do regret the timing of my remark. The person, of course, whom we should all be attacking right now is the MP Chris Smith for his monumentally fatuous edict that the BBC should dump toff- friendly costume drama in favour of gritty social realism.

Chris, you are a total dork. As anyone who spends any time watching television knows, there is no stronger incentive to reach for the off-button than yet another serious drama about angry, unwashed low- life on council estates. Get a life!

Now on to another of my bugbears: that toe-curling Frazier episode involving a pub full of characters with 'English' accents that made Dick Van Dyck sound as Cockney as Bob Hoskins. Is there really such a short- age of British actors in America? Was no one in the script team capable of recognis- ing that Mancunian Daphne would refer to `last orders' rather than 'last call'? More to the point, how on earth are we supposed to take Frazier's claims to sophistication seri- ously when it insults us with such glaring solecisms? Oh dear, I'd better be quick with my other two grumbles or there'll be no room for that brilliant programme. 1. Sorry, but the new Father Ted (Chan- nel 4, Friday) simply isn't as funny as the first two series. Too many unnecessary out- door shots; not enough character-based comedy; too much gratuitous surrealism. 2. David Starkey's series on Henry VIII (Channel 4, Sunday) is a load of tripe, which depresses me because normally I agree with almost everything he says and does. His great talents have been wasted on a series so vulgarly determined to make Tudor England 'relevant' and 'accessible' that it keeps rubbing our noses in stupid footage of tanks, the Royal Wedding, the TGV etc. It would have been better done on the radio.

Hurrah! We're there: the brilliant pro- gramme! It's called The Adam and Joe Show (Channel 4, Friday). Adam (Buxton) and Joe (Cornish) are two nice middle- class boys (late twenties, I'd guess) who write, present, record and edit their home- made comedy show at their Brixton bedsit. The idea, apparently, is `to recreate what it's like to go round to your mate's house on a Saturday night and just totally randomly talk about pop culture and pop stars and films and music and books and all kinds of stupid bollocks.' This they do rather well. Among the show's highlights are their stop-motion animation parodies of cult television shows and movies (ER, Friends, This Life, Trainspotting. Star Wars etc.) made using their collection of cuddly toys and Star Wars figurines. Their mimicry and satirical observations are spot-on. Even if you were among Friends' few remaining fans, you certainly wouldn't stay that way having seen Adam and Joe's viciously accu- rate pastiche. Some of the show, inevitably, is a mite creaky. I have my doubts about Vinyl Jus- tice where the duo dress as policemen with CDs on their helmets and visit pop stars' homes to unearth embarrassing records. The pop stars always seem to be too well in on the joke. But the good bits far outnumber the bad. I love the Baadad section where Adam's crusty old father Nigel vents his bufferish spleen on pop videos, rock festivals and the like. And I admire hugely the chutzpah dis- played by the duo on stunts like the one where they visited a supermarket and chomp their way through 20 per cent of any foodstuff marked '20 per cent extra free'. The 'free' claim, they concluded after being forcibly ejected, was misleading.

Best of all, though, is the brilliance with which they dissect the really important cul- tural issues of the Nineties: the crapness of the Internet; the CD versus vinyl debate; how best to play with your candle when you're sitting, bored, in a restaurant; The Adam and Joe Show is a sine qua non for anyone who wishes to understand the mores and preoccupations of young Britain. It is, as I say, a work of total genius. And it has absolutely nothing what- soever to do with Blair's mythical Cool Bri- tannia. Watch it and weep, Tone.