The ramifications of ending the incessant stand up tour schedule are becoming apparent.
Last night, I watched prime time Saturday night TV.
And it was a telent show.
What has become of me?
It was the honey trap of Bernie Clifton that did it.
I am not sure Saturday night prime time was ever meant for me. Once Doctor Who was finished, what joy was there for me? I watched it, its limited channels and limited hours meant novelty alone would keep me goggle drawn.
In the last twenty years, my work schedule meant I was rarely in for the sparkling confetti cannons and increasingly desperate, melodramatic kitsch collisions between impresarios moonlighting as jukebox juries or spotify hangmen.
By my late 30s, I had already reached that pipe smoked face of miserablism that lowers his Penguin Modern Classic and asks, “who is making that awful noise?” or “this doesn’t make any sense at all”.
Watching from afar, or at least peeking over Hangover Square, Saturday night TV had a bland yet iron grip, a flaccid, boneless hand that somehow still wouldn’t let go. I saw the viewers like that actor in the 1980s anti heroin commercial who told us he could give up at any time. Colder, greyer, their skin beginning to rupture, the saturday night crowd could not see what had become of them.
But it was an old showman, best known in the 70s, the sort of fellow you might catch of Seaside Special, who drew me into The Voice.
And I quite liked it. I mean, it won’t become a habit. I am just a casual use of primetime.
It began with a great big setpiece combining the judges – Will.i.am, Boy George, Paloma Faith and
Ricky Wilson belting out Whole Lotta Love. I’d had a couple of drinks already, so my mind was open to spectacle. Having enjoyed Wayne Sleep’s Puttin’ on the Ritz and Ben Adam’s of A1 singing Take on Me on a magic carpet at the panto only six days before, I was still open to pizzazz.
BBC1 took no risks with their first contestant. The show was thrown into the arena of Ken Russell’s Cat People, as a singer with a vast lipstick sneer and dressed like an eroticised, anthropomorphised leopard sculpted by Ray Harryhausen belted out Nutbush City Limits (which I think was also in the panto, though sung by Widow Twankey, so it had quite a different sense of occasion).
A vicar expertly expressed some tune I knew little of (the number of Nick Cave, Anna Calvi or Sparks songs was low). A short man with a young face sang something operatically and everyone was surprised that such a short man with such a young face could sing so deeply.
Bernie Clifton sang The Impossible Dream very impressively, particularly for a man in his 80th year.
It all ended with a young Burnley emo type creating Shane Meadows’ Mamma Mia the musical as she did something rather good with Lay All Your Love on Me.
And then everyone cheered and Bernie turned up on his ostrich and Boy George and Paloma Faith got their iphones out and filmed the felt mayhem.
I was relieved the vicar didn’t get picked, fearing that balance would force Richard Dawkins to audition with Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter next week.
Having witnessed the glutinous dribbles of reality cruelty – laugh at this idiot, see this person who thought they were someone eat a cannibalised backpacker’s sphincter etc – I was won over by the good-heartedness of The Voice.
There was delight in the carnival.
Not too much lachrymose back story.
No sense that somewhere within we should revel in other’s shame or delusion.
You know all that already I imagine.
I won’t do it again, it might taint my curmudgeon capacities.
The music podcast I do with Michael Legge is HERE
The book podcast I do with Josie Long is HERE (currently available to hear, interviews with Chris Hadfield, Mark Gatiss, Sara Pascoe, Stewart Lee and more)
I won’t be watching The Voice next week as I will be doing a benefit with Richard Herring, Shappi Khorsandi and lots of others HERE