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Zettel Film Reviews » I’d Do Anything (1) – the search for Nancy, Lord Rubber and Co

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I’d Do Anything (1) – the search for Nancy, Lord Rubber and Co

they'd do anything for him

they'd do anything for him

This reality TV show was a ‘journey’ for me – so I documented it. Just a bit of fun.

I’d Do Anything – BBC1 Saturday Nights from here to eternity.

Perfect title. But unwitting. Thousands of celebrity-addicted young women and precocious girls were whittled down to a chosen twelve. Disciples all – for it comes to pass that the omnipotent, fire-proof self-publicising Lord is now a fisher of women. Every terrifyingly obsessed ingénue, little and not-so-little, simpered and fawned over the slightly spooky Andrew Lloyd Rubber in a way that suggested they probably would do anything to be given the lordly nod to join his Saturday night harem of desperate don’t-wannabee-housewives. In the immortal words that launched the only serious competitor in the worst-ever smutty pun competition to the Nintendo Wii, these breathless booby babes wept real tears of joy when told they could be a Nancy. Week in week out, compere Graham Norton fails to keep a straight face at this one. Not surprising when you think about it.

What are we going to do about Maria was at times excruciatingly embarrassing but innocent fun and turned up Connie Fisher. Our ‘Con’, for yes she is ours ‘cos we picked her, is a likeable, Julie Andrews doppelganger. A perky lass with a winning smile and a great future playing perky lass parts ad infinitum on a London West End theatre circuit mostly dominated by musicals mediocre musically, dire dramatically and lyrically challenged; with the great Lord Rubber master of all he purveys. Never in the field of bored orchestra pits has so much loot been bestowed by so many into the bottomless pockets of so few.

Perhaps embarrassed by his own genius for publicity and coining unearned dosh, the nobbly, nobby – were are slyly told, nudge nudge – Lord has cut his arch enemy Sir Coconut Cameroon in on the wheeze with the cheese. At least the hugely likeable Any Dream Will Do brought us the phenomenon that is the hugely likeable Lee Mead – for whom, unlike cute Connie nicely settled in her life-long habit, that bloody coloured coat already looks too small and too kitsch for his genuine talent.

‘Maria’ and ‘Joseph’ were good early Saturday evening fun, slugging it out in the ratings with the Strictly Brucies and the Tordean ice-flyers – “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No…it’s Rudetski bombing Jason-the-Scarf from 20 feet hanging from a couple of re-cycled Peter Pan flywires. “No I won’t ever grow up” Rudy cries. We believe him.

If Maria was a bit like a genteel mannikin parade each week; and Joseph a weird but innocent mixture of mumsy “that boy isn’t eating enough” concern; and a Gay Cavalcade of male pulchritude, things have turned tawdry with the Nancy hunt. You really couldn’t make this up could you?

The first show was dressed, staged and directed like a middle-aged lech’s sex fantasy. Any conclusions you draw from that description are entirely yours, not mine – for legal reasons. The opener was the worst – until we saw the rest. We first saw sweet Irish colleen Jessie, at home in beautiful, County Kerry, surrounded by her obviously doting, supportive family. Cut to studio: after a few brief weeks of coaching and direction Jessie, slit-dressed like a tart has been persuaded to ‘go for broke’ in a grotesquely desperate imitation of Tina Turner’s life-won vulgar raunch with ‘River Deep Mountain High.’ Yes I know Nancy is a prostitute in Oliver Twist, but we are talking here about acting, not emulating. If it’s gotta be absolutely real, put all twelve on the streets for the night and see who can turn the most tricks.

Worse was to follow. Every girl/woman was dressed with stupefying tastelessness either in ‘look-at-my-tits’ low-cuts, baby-doll nappie-furled high-hems, or in the case of 17 year-old Samantha from the Isle of Man, where a languidly-lustful Barrie Humphries said he’d like to join her, in a tasteless figure-hugging hot pant number that even Kylie would have thought twice about at 17. Director Nikki Parsons, in case we hadn’t ogled Keisha’s beautiful breasts enough, had her pause on the walkway and lean forward over the barrier so we could see her attributes even better. This was frankly just exploitation. Women and girls all with some singing talent and some with great voices, were encouraged and coached to prance and parade, pout and put out like amateur performers in a stripper karaoke.

Don’t get me wrong, if the BEEB wants to put on a real sex show with professional pole and/or lap-dancers, strip…. er…exotic dancers – I’m up for that if you’ll forgive the expression – sorry this show’s tastelessness is catching. That would at least be honest. A little harmless titillation on a Saturday evening might make a pleasant change occasionally. I can’t guarantee to watch every week with the absorbed dedication with which I approach 154 hours of The West Wing, but a bit of honest sexiness might strike a spark from the odd ember of memory. But taking talented young singers, desperate to do what is necessary to get the nod from the Lord that might “change their lives”, and coaching them into desperate, embarrassing efforts to show how tarty they can be – is just grubby exploitation. Maybe it will get better, but this was no accident – these girls were used.

Poor old Barrie Humphries as a new judge was a sweet-old –fashioned thing, but looked a bit bemused – perhaps at the odd experience of appearing in public as a man. Whereas the ballsy partner of the Lovely Lee, Denise Van Outen struck sparks in flinty disagreement with the man with the perma-tan grin, John Barrowman. This little by-play between the feisty-sexy DVO and the ‘ain’t-I-lovely gay John is worth a programme on its own. And the feline Graham Norton should be putting on loadsa weight smiling smugly each week as if he’s snaffled all the cream South of Watford Gap.

The singing was generally good, the genuine passion to do well in the girls’ performances did them credit even if the misuse of it by the programme-makers was a disgrace.

One last, far from insignificant thing about this first show proper. There has apparently been some controversy about the fact that Francesca has worked briefly with DVO in Rent. On the night I thought Francesca gave an almost flawless performance yet first DVO then Smiley-John both under-valued this performance. It certainly looked like a blatant effort to defuse criticism by biasing their comments. If so this cuts to the heart of this kind of programme. We may corpse a bit at the sight of a pop-panel judge delivering his/her opinion with all the self-important gravity of a black-capped judge recommending the rope, but within the sub-basement ethical level of the role, we do expect the judgements to be fair. The programme picked Francesca – they owe her the respect to judge her fairly. Not surprisingly, the public followed the panel’s lead. If they don’t sort this one out Francesca might as well quit – because she’s on a hiding to nothing – win or lose.

Lord Rubber’s genius idea may be a bit past its sell-by date. Yes I’ll be watching next week. I really must get a life.

(2008)

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