THAT WAS THE BOX – May 2014 (Week Four)

By on 1 June, 2014



As part of the fiftieth anniversary of the start of BBC2, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse presented their own take on the history of the channel and I have to say it was hilarious. Almost as funny as ‘The Cricklewood Greats‘ (best spoof ever). We had mock interviews with batty World War One Survivors; every former BBC2 head of programming was called Jonathan Oxbridge or Jonathan Cambridge – a telling nod to the Beeb’s tendency to favour Oxbridge grads over anyone else (believe me, I’ve had first hand experience of this). I loved the spoof of ‘The Forsyte Saga‘. Having watched my mother’s DVD of this programme, recently, I wondered why the hell something so wooden became a cult hit. But I suppose this was in the days before Sky and people had little else to watch.

We were treated to ‘I Claudius’ being called ‘I Clavidus‘ – because that’s what it looks like. With a cameo from Frankie Howerd at the end, straight from ‘Up Pompeii‘. Unlike most BBC retrospectives, they weren’t afraid to admit that Monty Python were a bit crap by the time the series ended, and a spoof of ‘Call My Bluff‘ had the host claiming that there was no such word as Paedophile – a cheeky nod to the BBC’s alleged attitude towards Jimmy Savile and his friends back in the 1970s.

One of the most inspired skits was the take on ‘Blackadder‘ set around the abdication of King Edward VIII. It was almost believable, and I think it should be made. Also, can we see Harry Enfield as Maggie Thatcher more often? It was hilarious. I could also go on about the pisstake of ‘The Singing Detective‘ or ‘The Office‘, but I won’t as I would go on for ages. This was such a clever programme and Harry Enfield is still funny. A triple bill of this, ‘The Cricklewood Greats‘ and ‘Holy Flying Circus‘ would make me a very happy girl!




My weekly round-up wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory look at the seedier side of life! Channel 4 do seem particularly obsessed with prostitution at the moment, and this week’s focus was on ladies of a certain age who provide services to young men.

There was sixty-four year old Beverley, who looked as though she had spent rather too long under sunbeds, who got into prostitution 25 years ago when her husband left her penniless. There was fifty-something Sophie, a rather odd woman who insisted on wearing a mask and wig to be interviewed, but proceeded to show us pictures of her younger self, so surely those who know her will recognise her. She has chosen escorting over her son and grandchildren, and appears to show little remorse about it. Although I did notice that most of the things she said were through gritted teeth. I feel there was a lot going on with Sophie that we were not party to.

Star of the show was Octogenarian Sheila, whose grand-daughter (and seeing as her name was blanked out on the show, I’d better not name her here) was on ‘The X Factor‘ a few years ago, when it was revealed that her dear old nan was a hooker. Now, I like to consider myself pretty open-minded, and I could see that both Beverley and Sophie had their charms if a man liked a buxom, older lady. But I do question the mentality of a man who chooses to pay for sex with a woman who has a home filled with mobility aids. Sheila could barely walk down the stairs without getting out of breath, so heaven forbid how she does anything else. She claims she escorts because she misses the company of men after out-living two husbands, but surely there are safer and less exploitative ways of meeting the opposite sex? When she proudly showed the presenter her sex tape, all I could think was that I was thankful I wasn’t eating my dinner while I watched it. Maybe I’m getting sensitive in my old age, but I find someone wanting to sleep with Sheila as disturbing as someone who covets an eleven year old girl. Okay, Sheila can make a more informed choice when it comes to consent, but even so. Ugh. Makes me shudder.

One thing I have noticed, watching all these programmes about prostitution and that is that they’re usually very witty. I guess they have to perfect their social skills because they’re dealing with so many people. Although I do think it’s time C4 redress the balance and do a show about male escorts.


TV REVIEW: CARDINAL BURN, Series 2, Episode 6


Cardinal Burns‘ has come to an end and I’m gutted. This is by far one of the best sketch shows I’ve seen in a very long time.

Unlike BBC stalwarts such as Mitchell and Webb and Armstrong and Miller, there were very few misses in a series full of hits (remember the M&W sketch where they discuss deliberately writing dud sketches just to appease their critics). On a personal level, I’m off to see CB live in the Autumn and I hope their theatre show lives up to the TV series. My personal highlights were;

1. Hashtag & Bukake – the Turkish minicab drivers, who are in their own 1980s American Cop show. Like a lot of ‘Cardinal Burns‘ sketches, there is an element of homo-eroticism, with these macho men constantly groping one in other (in a manly way of course!) and being temporarily tempted by offers of sexual favours from Scooterman, the drifter who hangs around outside the cab office. Honestly, they could make a film of Hashtag & Bukake. I’m betting it would be funnier than Ben Stiller’s remake of ‘Starsky & Hutch‘.
2. Young Dreams – although Rachel is a little too close to Jamie King, who can fail to laugh at Yumi’s frequent faux pas which are always followed by a pitiful “Rachel Pleaaasssse?“. Best one for me was the yoga class in episode 1, where Yumi farts and causes great embarrassment to Rachel who is trying to impress the yoga teacher – Simon Phoenix.
3. The hotel cleaners – the cutest sketch ever, where two golden Labradors in maids outfits, magically clean a ransacked hotel room (leaving a present behind for Dustin to step into)
4. Phil and Jase, the paranormal investigators. The funniest sketch was where they go to perform an exorcism and are distracted by a sexy priest played by ‘Benidorm‘’s Jake Canuso.
5. I Know Your Name – where an interviewer called Maris Piper interviews a nobody about his insignificant career as a shop assistant, but done in a way like he is a great actor. Fantastic.

If you get the chance, check out the episodes on 4od, they are hilarious. Some of the sketches are a bit dark but if you can stomach a bit of gore and strong language, fill your boots. I can’t wait for series 3 and to go and see their stage show in September. Although I hope I’m not too close to Dustin Demri-Burns as I might not be able to help myself…..


About Karen Mason

Karen Mason is a London-based writer. She has published fifteen historical fiction novels and is currently working on her sixteenth. She is also an avid movie goer, with a particular preference for gritty British cinema and a weakness for Jason Statham films! Her music tastes stretch from Muse to the Cinematic Orchestra and she loves discovering new acts.

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