CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: Play Your Cards Right with no dolly dealers? What would Brucie say!
Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow
Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things
So many of Bruce Forsyth’s favourite catchphrases would be banned by the Fun Police today.
He could hardly bring on his glamorous assistant Anthea Redfern, as he did every week for The Generation Game, and invite her to ‘give us a twirl!’
Host Alan Carr stumbled over this difficulty straight away in a faithful but plodding take on Play Your Cards Right, the first in his revival series Epic Gameshow (ITV).
Alan was gritting his teeth as he introduced his helper, Sam Brown: ‘I can’t say you look very lovely tonight, Sam . . . I can say you look very workmanlike and efficient’
Brucie used to welcome the croupiers with a jingle: ‘Here they are, they’re so appealing. Come on darlings, do your dealing!’
The ‘dolly dealers’ were such a feature of the Eighties show, it’s impossible to imagine a remake without at least one.
Alan was gritting his teeth as he introduced his helper, Sam Brown: ‘I can’t say you look very lovely tonight, Sam . . . I can say you look very workmanlike and efficient.’
Phew — another sexist mantrap avoided. Heaven forbid any little girls watching might want to grow up to be gameshow assistants in ballgowns, flashing megawatt smiles and holding out both hands to display the show’s prizes.
Now ambitious girls can draw inspiration from the Kardashians and Love Island. In fact, one of Alan’s questions was about Love Island: how many women under 25 would give up a place at Oxford University to appear on the reality show?
Before you knew it, there’d be bikini models on revolving stages, tempting us to win Austin Allegros and holidays in Benidorm on Sale Of The Century.
Thankfully, the MeToo movement has put a stop to all that. Now ambitious girls can draw inspiration from the Kardashians and Love Island.
In fact, one of Alan’s questions was about Love Island: how many women under 25 would give up a place at Oxford University to appear on the reality show?
Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford guessed it would be more than 60 per cent.
‘Lower!’ yelled the studio audience, stabbing their thumbs and fingers downwards like a Colosseum crowd demanding the death of a gladiator.
Not many current shows cater for that urge to enjoy a good shout — audiences on Pointless, for instance, are expected to laugh obediently in the right places and otherwise stay silent. But the BBC never did like rowdy throngs. They’re too vulgar.
The ‘dolly dealers’ were such a feature of the Eighties show, it’s impossible to imagine a remake without at least one
Andrew Marr once described the audiences on The Price Is Right as ‘a baying, greedy mob’, which neatly expresses the Beeb’s innate snobbery.
Alan Carr is having a bash at The Price Is Right next Saturday, as it happens.
Will his version start, as original host Leslie Crowther’s did, with dazzling smiles and waves from young female assistants with huge hairdos? Spoiler alert: no, it won’t.
Girls in need of a stellar role model need look no further than the jazz biography Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things (BBC2).
The best contributions came from dancer Norma Miller, who died aged 99 in May 2019.
She recalled how the raucous audience at the Apollo in Harlem booed Ella’s very first appearance on stage — until the moment when she started singing.
Girls in need of a stellar role model need look no further than the jazz biography Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things (BBC2)
This respectful documentary put a lot of emphasis on Ella’s determination to break free from poverty, after a childhood of dancing in the New York streets for pennies and a spell in reform school.
What it didn’t manage to explain was the innocence in her voice. Where Frank Sinatra could take a song like I’ve Got You Under My Skin and make it sleazy, Ella imbued it with fairytale romance.
Near the end of her life, I remember, she appeared on Michael Aspel’s chat show. He asked her to name a great modern song and Ella sang a few bars of the theme from Neighbours: ‘Everybody needs good neighbours… that’s when good neighbours become good friends.’
Aspel was stunned, but Ella wasn’t joking. She really was that pure-hearted. What a wonderful woman.
Motormouth of the weekend: Remember when celebs were intelligent, charismatic, even controversial? Muhammad Ali was the favourite guest of U.S. chat host Dick Cavett, recalled in the superb Ali And Cavett (Sky Documentaries). Just unique.
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