The Cutprice Guignol

The Ninth Year: The Haunting of Swill House

Tag: Commentary

Talent and Relative Decency In Space

I’m angry just now. This is mostly due to the fact I slept in the most comfortable bed in the world last night: not only did it have the consistency of a cloud wrapped in a condom of love, but it had enough room to fit both me and one other full-sized human in it without one of them, say, waking up to find her boyfriend has rolled completely on top of her in his sleep and all unconscious six-five of him is now planking on her. Just hypothetically. And by the end of the night I had become quite emotionally attached to the bed; we weren’t thinking long long term but I had invited it to move in at the end of April. When I was made aware that I couldn’t live here till I died fat and happy years down the line, I was not best pleased. And now I’m back home, in my bed, feeling like I’m nipple-deep in dirty needles and Aberdonians. And furious.

I feel very similar  in fact, to the way I felt at the start of the last few Doctor Who seasons. I thought Freema Aygeman was a disgrace, Matt Smith was far too young to play the Doctor, and David Tennant wasn’t (swoon) Christopher Ecclestone. Something just wasn’t right. But, hand-on-heart, I loved this seasons rollicking opener, The Bells of Saint John.

Introducing the new assistant Clara Osmond, played by sexy Bambi Jenna-Louise Coleman, this episode focuses on something dodgy in the Wi-Fi  in a Black-Mirror-style techno kiddy thriller. I mean none of that in the disparaging sense; I found, for the first time in years, a few scenes to be genuinely tense, mostly due to a fabulously pinched Celia Imrie basking in the delight of a classically villainous Milf-from-hell role. And I’ve never liked any assistant straight off the bat except Billie Piper, but Coleman was surprisingly inoffensive  which is exactly what she needs to be right now. Let the Doctor do his thing and show off while the assistant gasps away and is alternately maternal and spunky-plenty of time to characterize  her later.

Shout out to a supremely entertaining script from Stephen Moffat aided by some cracking direction from Colm McCarthy-this episode set a gold standard that, with two episodes penned by Mark Gatiss and one by legendary Neil Gaiman coming up in the next few weeks, looks set to be continued. But tonight wasn’t about what was to come in the rest of the series; it was tea-time self-contained adventure that was all nicely resolved in forty-eight minutes- clapping-my-hands-together-and bouncing-up-and-down throwaway reference to U.N.I.T the icing of the Tardis . It was, in short, Doctor Who at it’s best. Apart from their continuing bastardization of the theme song. I’ll have you yet, Moffat.

A little bit married

I was enjoying a casual afternoon with a good male friend today. We got lunch, I sat and flicked through magazines while he got a quick trim at the barbers, then popped to Argos to pick up an inflatable bed for a visitor next week. Over coffee and idle leafing through of The Observer, we had to acknowledge that we were- in the most grimly platonic, middle-aged way possible- a little bit married.

This got me to thinking about platonic marriages on TV. Secret, unspoken matrimonies between presenters  and stars that dare not speak their name. Here are my favourites.


1. The Doctor and Captain Jack

The lurid sexual tension between Christopher Ecclestone and John Barrowman notwithstaning, the Doctor and Jack are obviously in love. They’re the couple at the dinner party who bicker the whole time with a twinkle in their eye. Jack would get a bit too tipsy and the Doctor would sweep him away before he made too much of a scene. I always hoped to see a DW-spinoff with this as the main plot.


2. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry

If ever I was to ship a couple, it would be this one. Berryhood display such constant, raw chemistry that I assume the other presenters are only employed to fill airtime as they made brutal love over the apron holders. With her matronly air  and his washed-up gigolo looks, Berryhood are going to be the next Brangelina.


3. Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams

Ever since I was young and sat in front of BBC Breakfast before school every morning, I’ve prayed for a wedding between the two brilliant presenters. Despite their constant playful flirting, Bill and Sian had a great respect and love for each other to such an extent I have and will continue to measure all my relationships against theirs. Romance incarnate.