COMMENT: The 100 Greatest TV Moments From Hell - Page 3
First published December 2000
The 100 Greatest TV Moments From Hell
50. L7 on The Word

A woman with a guitar shows her pubic hair for all of a quarter of a second. Nobody mentions that this public display was actually a protest by said Riot Grrrl due to not being allowed to take part in some sort of 'best bare arses' item earlier on in the show. She later claimed 'they wouldn't let me show my ass so I gave them a bit of beav instead.'

Of course none of the above matters to the Channel 4 compilers who see nothing except a woman's bits.

49. Keep Fit Shows

Stunt-female Arabella Weir pretending to reminisce about stuff. TV critic Kate Thornton: 'I'll never forget Mad Lizzie inflicting her keep fit routine on Take That!'. I shouldn't think you would Kate - you only watched the fucker for the first time before the cameras started rolling, you lying little sod.

48. World of Sport Wrestling

So this is hell, yet Channel 4 habitually show overlong choreographed American wrestling matches throughout the night instead of Absolutely repeats. Leave now.

47. New Faces

Exactly the same clips as TV Hell. The teenaged girl from The Hart Family being slagged off by the panel because she's had the audacity to grow tits since a previous performance (and no longer wears a mini-skirt). Shame nobody thought to dig out The Goodies episode'Hype Pressure' which features the ultimate high-concept send-up of the show.

46. The Time The Place Studio Demo

Coupla shifty-looking coons being ultimately ineffectual . If that's how they feel, why don't they go and live in Russia...

('Hadn't you better explain that was irony, guys? Your readers might not understand otherwise...' - Channel 4 Ed)

They obviously wanted the Chris Morris appearance but found that the Brass List had all taped a Nick Drake documentary over the top, to impress a girl.

45. OTT

Once again, this is a received opinion based on skewed memories and little evidence. The horrible thing is, the C4 producers do actually have access to the archives and as such could refresh peoples memories if they so wished. Your humble Corpses watched every episode and found it exhilarating. And we have a few of them on audiotape too so this isn't a false memory retrieval.

Alexei Sayle, in his book Great Bus Journeys Of The World recalls how 'some of the script material was feeble but I was good, Lenny Henry was good...'. And they were. So were the rest of the cast (including Helen Atkinson-Wood). Certainly as good as Tiswas ever was.

Paul Ross totally misses the point by blethering about how it was 'an idea decades ahead of its time, pre-dating the laddish culture...' , blah, toss, drone... What nobody ever understood was the reason it worked was due to Chris Tarrant being this amiable, avuncular bloke who anchored the anarchy with comic dignity and aplomb. The idea of a bikini-clad woman having gunge poured over her isn't funny in itself but the fact that it was done while Tarrant was reading out competition winners in his fey voice (and, with Atkinson-Wood, affecting not to understand why the pleb-audience were whooping) was what made it fantastic. Something which all gunge-ridden entertainment shows have gallantly missed the point of since.

OTT was great. Naughty Bob Godfrey cartoons, vintage pop footage, Alexei Sayle doing his Stoke Newingtons every week. There was also a spin-off book (OTT - Beyond The Pale) but that was a bit rubbish.

Nice to see Dave Gorman's father John as a talking-head recollecting about the first show in which Malcolm Hardee (and 'The Greatest Show On Legs') first did their balloon-dance show-stopper on TV. Shame they didn't broadcast the opening sequence of the following show where each of the cast (in close-up) apologise earnestly in turn for the naughtiness (pull back to reveal them all defiantly nude with balloons).

'After the first series TV watchdogs refused to let the programme go out live', says the caption. There was only one series of OTT.

Much is then made of Gorman's statement about how Tarrant 'left television' and vowed never to produce another TV show, mixed through to a clip of 'Who Wants To Be Millionaire?' as if to prove otherwise. Ignoring almost two decades of other television work produced or presented by Tarrant. Well, who needs to worry about facts when you've got a nice production-segue...

44. Pan's People dance routine

Another dip into the TV Hell bag-of-pre-selected-clips. If you're worrying why we're so irritated by this lack of originality, just remember that it's through clip-shows borrowing easy choices from other clip-shows in this way which has lead to the all those 'Best Of Comedy' Basil-Fawlty-hitting-his-car / Delboy-falling-through-a-wine-bar / Fork-handles vote-results of the past decade. If the public are habitually served rehashed clips through basic producer-sloth then it stands to reason that they will become just as lazy. And this suits those producers just dandy.

43. Jeremy Paxman at the Berlin Wall

Yeah, typical mentality here. A momentous event like the passing of a fascistic regime can only be remembered for the fact that some fireworks were obscuring what a bloke was saying. 'This is pure Monty Python' , says a spectacled gentleman to Paxman. No, it's not even slightly funny.

Interestingly, this clip didn't become a 'classic moment' until earlier this year, when it was unearthed for the (rather better-researched) 20 Years Of Newsnight documentary. Excluded from both said compilation and from ...TV Hell was a similar clip featuring an earpiece-free Alan Clark trying to make out what Kirsty Wark was saying - 'This is just like The Day Today!' he quipped, leaving Wark to move swiftly on. The difference is that the 'Monty Python' allusion was merely an amiable comment on the incongruous setting for a political debate (showing that the spectacled gentleman had a better understanding of the term 'Pythonesque' than all the spammy parrot idiots who do hack-job tributes to said programme), wheras Clark's comment actually undermined the authority of Newsnight itself.

42. Mini-Pops

Not only do all the clips in this entry come from TV Hell, it's obviously also a VHS copy of the show. Odd, considering it was a Channel 4 programme. And the picture quality suggests that whoever taped it has watched it again and again and again. Sweaty commissioning C4 Ed Mike Bolland talks-head exactly as he did on TV Hell.

Meera Syal tells us how much she wanted, as a kid, to be on the show, but then - remembering where she is and what she's supposed to say - lies through her stupid teeth about how she found it a bit 'disturbing'.

CD:UK - Ant (or is it Dec) introduces the latest hit by Steps next to a starry-eyed 13-year-old who's been told by the director to point her puppy-fat knockers at the camera
A few things which are never mentioned on this subject: firstly, the Minipops existed before Channel 4. There have always been little stage kids who enjoy plastering their faces with lipstick pretending to be adults. Whichever stage-school belched out these tots was already releasing singles, LPs and foisting them on other TV variety shows as little novelty compact versions of chart-toppers. Secondly, nobody at the time really gave a fuck about the 'moral implications' of the show. It was broadcast in innocence and received in innocence. It was, after all, a teatime children's show, and not really that removed from other shows of the age. Lastly, anybody who might sneer at the bygone era of broadcasting a sexualised image of children might like to shut their stupid mouths and watch any Saturday morning kids show where they will see dozens of them every week accenting their barely developed tits with designer Wonderbras, gyrating and thrusting to the very best of that week's sexy pop hits.

41. The Stone Roses On The Late Show

Indie-idiot Ian Brown acts like a spoilt little cunt in front of himself. Another far too obvious choice, untimely ripped from the womb of TV Hell. 'Singer Ian Brown was angry about persistent technical problems', says the idiot caption for anybody who might have their fingers in their ears at that point.

40. Private Dicks

Yeah, go on, show a bit of recent Channel 4 tack, just to blur the edges between good and bad even further. A sunburnt woman opens her mouth with amazement at several partially denuded penises in turn. Are they showing this because they genuinely think it's hellish and regrettable? Or are they insisting, as Zoe Ball frequently dictates throughout this travesty, that bad TV is actually fantastic. If all these errors of judgement are presented as 'Great TV' then what the fuck can anybody learn from it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. How dare Channel 4 so blatantly insult us?

39. Junior Showtime

Another well-worn VHS from somebody's 'private collection'. The 'Adam' one from 'Adam & Joe' goes on a personal journey of recollection we could well do without.

38. Game For A Laugh

Usual reference-comedy jokes about Jeremy Beadle (without ever attempting to analyse the origins of his foibles). No conclusions drawn from the clip shown. And no Not The Nine O'Clock News clip either. A throwaway choice. And again, we all quite liked it as kids.

37. Disco Dancing Championships

Ricky Gervais attempting his fucking comedy intercut with clips of disco dancers. TV Hell, blah. Regrettable.

36. Novelty variety acts

A clip of the bloke who used to bang a tea tray on his head while singing 'Mule Train'. And is that Bill Oddie, just visible in the background, giggling? Much is droned about the smugly aware sensibilities of this post-irony age, but the inherent ridiculousness of the gentleman's act (a stalwart of Tiswas and OTT incidentally) reveals the basic truth that most people were actually a lot more aware about things in the 70s and 80s than people assume. It's the offspring of these wonderful, silly people who have rebelled against their parents to the extent of becoming humourless opinionated bastards. Zoe Ball being a moot case in point.

35. Prisoner Cell Block H

You twats. Hilary Kingsley (once a mere tabloid TV critic, now a 'TV Historian' apparently) blethers about how it was great that Australian TV recognised that lesbians existed. Paul Morley once again excels here by stating the obvious - that it was actually a 'tender show' with some genuinely moving storylines. And it was. Garry Bushell by way of contrast comes out with a load of crap about how bad the acting was. 'The series was made in Australia between 1979 and 1986', says the caption. An Australian soap opera made in Australia? Surely not. At least nobody did the 'wobbly walls' observation (mind you, they'd already done it in reference to Crossroads...).

34. Sale Of The Century

Go fuck a pig.

33. Iggy Pop's Trousers

Mr Pop not even slightly showing his genitals on The White Room.

Stuart Maconie reading his script
32. DIY Shows

Yes, he's back. Stuart Maconie strikes another blow where it hurts. He pulls no punches here as he offers his valued critique on nice friendly blokes giving household tips. Backing this uselessness is Zoe Ball's intro (from Maconie's script) which further insists that this old-school style of presentation was a load of old rubbish but with the nice populist (successful) Carol Smilie approach, we've achieved greatness. Contradicting this is an on-screen caption which points out that one of the nice friendly DIY blokes 'received up to 35, 000 letters a week' when he was on the box. And what's more, nobody had to come on TV and tell those bygone viewers how fucking popular and successful he was. There's a lesson there somewhere. But Maconie and Ball are too busy rehearsing their opinions for a fee to learn from it.

31. Norwegian Eurovision entries

Same clips as TV Hell. All opinions replaced by a captioned 'nil point' joke which doesn't work in print.

30. Timmy Mallett

'These days, Kids TV presenters are suave, sophisticated and on the cover of glossy magazines...', says Zoe Ball with no concession to the basic human trait of humility. The truth is that Kids TV presenters are boring self-publicists who care not an idle toss for the idea of television for children and that's why they're on the cover of glossy magazines - so they can whore themselves onto video promo shows and follow in the stinking footsteps of Zoe Ball, etc.

They are doomed to failure however as most Kids' TV presenters don't have a father who was much loved as a kids' favourite in the 70s whom they can latently diss at every given photo opportunity in an attempt to cast off the weight of the past.

29. Johnny Rotten On Juke Box Jury

The bored PiL singer acts like a spoiled little cunt in front of Alan Freeman (who tells him to shut up). Excellent. Not hell, but very entertaining. Noel Edmonds as host also being lovely. Lydon affects the most ineffectual walk-out in TV history, angered by The Monks and Donna Summer. Paul Morley is the talking head. 'It's all in the eyes', he says of Lydon's performance. And of course, it is.

28. Hoddle & Waddle on Top Of The Pops

Oh give us a break, please...

27. Going For Gold

Much comedy has been extracted from the idea of the unfairness of contestants from all over the world battling each other on a quiz show where the questions are asked in English. Well balls to that. a) If the various nationalities can write a letter asking to be on the show in the first place then they're fair game.b) The questions are about people and things which aren't specifically Anglocentric (even so, statistically it's more likely that someone from across the water will have heard of a British playwright than a Brit will have heard of a Yugoslavian one).c) Henry Kelly hardly talks 'Radio 4 English' anyway.d) This observation originated in The Mary Whitehouse Experience , which none of the ...TV Moments From Hell compilers ever heard - and MWE surely only mentioned it because they understood that Steve Punt saying 'We do not get Top Gear in our country' in a Norwegian accent was the funniest thing ever.

26. The Grand Knockout Tournament

The Royal one. The 'Adam' one and the 'Joe' one off of Adam & Joe pretend to do amusing off-the-cuff comedy even though it looks scripted and ultimately worthless. Off-the-cuff observations only survive if they are genuine. Otherwise it's just another insidious way of getting away with crap material. Adam & Joe have always excelled at doing stuff that's sort of okay because it's a bit amateur.
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