Pornographic TV

I have a critique of Mock the Week in Standpoint

The best way to picture Mock the Week is to imagine six men, with a low-grade but undoubted comic talent, late at night in a pub. Drink has dissolved their inhibitions and each is determined to push the others aside and prove he is top dog. The blatancy of their competitiveness sets them apart from other TV comics. Status anxiety torments performers in all panel games. But you never see Ian Hislop look resentful when Paul Merton comes up with a good joke on Have I Got News for You, or rush out his gags so he can be sure that he can get them on air. No veneer of conviviality hides the contestants’ jealousy on Mock the Week. They don’t laugh at each other’s jokes. They visibly struggle for money and fame as they interrupt each other and race to snatch the microphone in the middle of the studio. As tense and mirthless as saloon-bar fighters in the moment before the first punch is thrown, they will do anything to establish their superiority.

Boyle is the show’s strutting cock. A gaunt, aggressive, slit-eyed Scotsman with a neurotic determination to be heard first and always, he seems to have grasped that the critics will hail him as “edgy” if he courts the porn market.


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4 thoughts on “Pornographic TV

  1. I see that *uck the Week has had a time change – now 10pm. One wonders why it didn’t begin at that time to start with given the nature of the programme. But I guess it just shows the BBC’s thrust for the youth and potty-brained and what it presumes is ‘in’. I’m 33 and I can’t stand the friggin thing. I’d much rather see the amount of feet above sea level included with the house details on Location x3… something pointless like that but in line with the way things are going with these HIPS, etc. I’d love that.
    So a good attack which preceded the time change, Nick. Also, have you read any of Roy Porter’s books?

  2. One of the funniest things Ian Hislop has done, I’d say, is the impression he gave of the upper-class for an attack he was making against prince william’s use of the chinook helicopter, flying to stag do’s and the family retreat of his girlfriend, etc.
    Hislop is quite military minded and quite rightly couldn’t see why that particular helicopter was not being used in Afghanistan, where its need was essential. You could tell he really meant it.
    Real scorn rarely comes about on the telly, so I’m always glad to see it when it does.

  3. Oh come on Nick! How can you follow up that scorching piece on feminism and Islam with this? It’s like when Orwell suddenly starts reading too much into Billy Bunter.

    As a comedian Boyle is meant to pretend to be the lowest of the low. The time to worry is if
    masturbating over television in the afternoon ever becomes such an accepted lifestyle choice that
    there wouldn’t be any joke in claiming to do so. He’s also meant to be deadpan and unsmiling, or at least it’s a time-honoured strategy.

    The cock-fight atmosphere, the appearance of them elbowing each other aside, is a
    carefully-crafted illusion. The original recording of the programme will have run at least twice as long and been edited down to the best gags. Everyone will have had the chance to contribute as much as they pleased.

    I happen to find Boyle funny but the show also deserves kudos for giving a prominent role to the gentle, mannerly, altogether middle class Hugh Dennis who almost never descends to the risque.

    I agree with Ross above about Ian Hislop’s bracing scorn and I’m always surprised at people who
    find Have I Got News bland and toothless.

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