I’m a relatively late convert to the Channel 4 programme Come Dine With Me – it’s been running five years, and I’ve only just really started watching in the last few months. And yet it is compulsive viewing. I’m not sure when it’s actually on TV, but thankfully there’s almost always new episodes on 4OD for me to watch. I quite often find myself sitting and watching all four or five episodes of a particular city in one go.
It’s a brilliant format, with so many variables in each episode. Can the people cook? Will they be able to cook on the night? Will they get along? What are their houses like? How drunk will they get?
What absolutely makes the programme is the wry commentary of its VO guy Dave Lamb – and there’s an interesting interview with him here on the C4 website. Omniscience really helps him stay funny.
The other thing that sets CDWM apart from other programmes is its choice of music. I’m a little bit out of it when it comes to music, so I’m probably missing half the jokes, but there have been some hilarious pairings of music with actions. An artist got the Heartbeat “gallery” theme music played as his paintings were displayed. Some of the leitmotivs associated with particularly annoying or snobby guests are brilliant – but the best bit I’ve heard lately was when a flirty young man arrived first at a glamorous older woman’s house, and as she showed him into the parlour, the band struck up with… the theme from The Graduate
There are so many variables that there doesn’t seem to be a sure fire way of winning every time. But there definitely seem to be some things that regularly go down really badly and should be avoided:
- Cooking something you’re unfamiliar with or have never tried before. Why would you do this? There’s £1,000 and your credibility on national TV at stake! The least you could do is practice. Cook the menu for friends beforehand!
- Spending a fortune in an effort to impress. Srsly – hundreds of pounds on caviar and foie gras? A king’s ransome on the wine? Stick to good wholesome homecooked food.
- Cooking something too complicated. Unless you have a kitchen/diner where you can cook and play host at the same time, you need a menu which doesn’t need too much last minute attention, so that you can spend time with your guests. Your saucepans already know what you look like.
- Getting too much outside help. It’s all about whether you can cook, not whether you know top chefs who can come in and fix things up for you.
- Being a complete nutter/having a complete lack of self-awareness. To be honest, if this is you, then a) you probably don’t realise it and b) you’ll have been chosen for the programme because of this and you should probably play to your strengths.
For the last few months, me and P have been jokingly discussing whether I could go on the programme, and I have looked into it. There are all sorts of hurdles to me doing it – the dish selection would be constrained by crockery (if the starter is in bowls the pudding can’t be!) The house is not ideal and would probably need a professional remedial clean. I don’t even have matching cutlery for five.
Still, it would be interesting. I’d love to know how it all works. How many camera crews are there? Do the guests leave one by one so that the camera can go home with them, then come back for the next drunken invité with the score cards? How much kit do they put in your house? Do contestants ever even meet the VO man?
Jonathan Calder (who I seem to linking to on an almost daily basis lately) says he is #3 in the google search each week after Mock the Week on the term “Russell Howard is not funny“
I have to say I disagree. I think he’s rather good. And taking a comedian to task for clowning seems a little odd, for sure.
I also like Hugh Dennis. I particularly like him on the Now Show, and it’s sometimes a little strange when material from there gets recycled on MTW. But he’s good on both.
The Scottish comedian with the on-again off-again ginger beard – Frankie Boyle – he’s very funny. So very shocking, but greatly funny too. The funniest of the bunch.
Andy Parsons? Not funny at all. Don’t like him. Awful delivery. Grr.
Special mention for Stewart Francis. Like him too.
It’s just a shame they don’t manage to book more women. There’s never more than one, and sometimes they don’t even get around to letting her speak.
There are some things you see on an American TV show that you just know will have been excerpted onto YouTube.
Just like this one.
(No spoilers – it’s House doing his clinic duty and doesn’t cover any of the wider story…)
One of the things I bought with my Amazon One Click was a “best of” CD of the Who, that featured the three tracks from which the three theme tunes for CSI, CSI Miami and CSI New York are taken. (Who Are You?, Don’t Get Fooled Again and Baba Riley)
I thought it would be good to listen to the whole songs, and a bit more by the Who.
Actually, having now heard the songs and most of the CD, I think I prefer the short versions in TV serial titles. Bah.
Finally caught up with last Saturday’s Dr Who this evening. Erm. P enjoyed it and has watched it three times. I thought it was OK. Hasn’t Dr Who already met Shakespeare? Or has he just referred to it?
The use of the Globe was spectacular.
The witches were a bit silly.
The ending was odd.
But the thing that was exercising my mind was – if the Doctor showed up and offered to take you anywhere in space or time for just one trip – would you prefer to go forward in time or back? Back to any part of human history you’d wondered about and wanted to see for yourself? Or forward to see how some current controversy pans out?
That’s assuming you got to choose of course – Martha didn’t!
Just one more episode of House before I hit the sack… just one more.
Bah, I’m as addicted to the programme as Greg House is addicted to V… (I’m not going to type it, it’s a huge spam magnet.)
House is not a good thing to watch during an election campaign. I get urges to berate voters and attempt to wittily browbeat them. The last few days have been keeping up with the leafleting, of course, but also starting to get our first voter contact of the campaign.
First job is getting nomination papers signed. In order to stand for election, candidates have to be qualified in one or more of the following categories: on the electoral register, live in the electoral area, work in the electoral area, own land or property in the electoral area. In addition to that, those of us putting ourselves up for election can’t be insane, bankrupt or have a non-expired criminal conviction. I bet you feel relieved already.
But having qualified candidates is just the first step. Once you have the candidates, you
then have to get them nominated. To stand in any given ward, ten people who are on the electoral register in that ward have to sign a bit of paper to say you can stand.
All well in good. In most wards where we are active, there is no problem finding ten people we’ve helped or who support us. But we also have to stand candidates in areas where we are less than strong. Areas where don’t have people ready to sign your form. Areas where what you have to do is find a nice long road, with loads of people living on it, and knock on doors one by one explaining what you want. “Hello. I’m from the Lib Dems trying to get candidates on the ballot paper in your ward, but to do that I need people who live here to sign a piece of paper saying they don’t mind.”
Amazingly, some people do sign. But you do have to knock on a lot of doors to get just ten signatures.
I’ve been watching House – the medical drama with Hugh Laurie – in odd spare moments.
Are hospital beds really that amazing? They seem to be able to switch at a moment’s notice and do all sorts of things. Not only can they tilt and raise up (I could do with that. Eight years into my GERD diagnosis I’ve still to raise the head of my bed like I’m supposed to) and hold many different positions, they also have many cool attachments. Places to hang your catheter bag too.
Suddenly feel bugs crawling out of your arms? No problem, there’s slots where velcro restraints can be attached so they can tie you down. Suddenly start a seizure? “Give me suction!” (Why?!) And all those tubes – oxygen readily on tap.
The rooms around the beds all seem really well stocked, with hypodermic needles stocked with epinephrine in every drawer, and ready access to exactly the right drug the doctors needed in the middle of the emergency.
The wider hospital is staggeringly well equipped too. Dr House’s patients get access to the MRI scanner more easily than a bloody lift! I’m sure it’s the ultimate diagnostic tool but is it really that easy to get into an MRI scanner in the US? And do they really make that strange banging noise?
The MRI scanner’s the tip of the iceberg, but there are some other sweet features too that I’ve seen in just the first episodes. The Clean Room for severely immunocompromised patients. An ice bath for a fever of 105 F (bloody hell – that’s 40 deg C, no wonder she needed to get cool). And probably more things, but it’s getting late, and I should stop watching House now and go to bed.
I’m watching tv out of the corner of an eye whilst editing leaflets and generating PDFs, and there was a rather lovely song in an episode of Bones. Guitar-ry, piano, sad, hummable bass line, a little like Dido, although no-one else on the internet seems to be saying that, so maybe that’s the only thing in my frame of reference.
I can’t see the stars any more living here
Let’s go to the hills where the outlines are clear
Bring on the wonder, bring on the song,
I’ve pushed you down deep in my soul for too long
It’s by Susan Enan, who doesn’t yet have an album you can buy, and isn’t on iTunes, but does have two songs up on her Myspace Music site.
You can also sign up to her “coming soon” website, and know when the first album will be ready. Latest news on Myspace is that it was being mixed in January by someone with a serious music CV.
I’ve been watching a lot of Bones lately. It caught my eye because it looked like something I’d really like – forensic procedurals like CSI, and early Patricia Cornwall are firmly in my list of favourites. I read Kathy Reichs avidly too, and this series is stars her character Dr Temperance Brennan. Or at least a version of her. And it also has the guy who played Angel. Who could ask for more?
Well, actually, in the first few episodes it seemed really clunky. Some of the invented technology and the clumsy characterisation really jarred. But as the first series progressed and the second series started, there’s a change in feeling, and it’s deliberately tugging at the heartstrings much better rather than making fun of the geeks. The extensive back story is great.
EDIT: P’s just come in and said that if I like that Susan Enan stuff I’d like Sarah McLachlin. Then he played some, and unfortunately, and for no reason I can put my finger on, I don’t. Bah.
Major spoilers for final episode of Torchwood follow…
This is largely P’s thesis…