Tuesday, 11 January 2011

On Stevie G, Matt LeBlanc And Nigel's Scream

The broadsheets' weekend glossy magazines devoted page after page of space to BBC2's new comedy "Episodes" over the last couple of weeks. I've loved Tamsin Greig ever since the fabulous Black Books and Stephen Mangan's Dan in Alan Partridge was one of that show's classic characters. Together in Green Wing they gave stand out performances. So the show was eagerly anticipated in this household. Having somehow managed to miss every one of the million or so episodes of Friends, I am not familiar with Matt LeBlanc who plays himself in this new series but Greig and Mangan's presence was enough to guarantee that we would be watching last night. It's difficult to draw a conclusion from this first airing. The first show, which is about a husband and wife writing team taking their hit UK TV show to America, was setting the ground and introducing the characters - LeBlanc had little more than a walk on part. But there weren't a lot of laughs for us. A dictatorial studio boss who doesn't watch TV (son Paul tells me that these people do exist)raised a few smiles and there was a nice cameo from Richard Griffiths but there were no great comedy moments. Viewed as a light drama a la Cold Feet, it was enjoyable enough but I do hope that the laugh per minute ratio improves as there are another six episodes of Episodes to come.

I don't like Steve Gerrard. There I've said it. Sacrilege for a Liverpool fan (and when I say I don't like him I mean as a footballer, he may well be the nicest bloke in the world). How can I say this about someone who single handedly won Liverpool the Champions League and the FA Cup? The answer is there in the last sentence - "single handedly". When Stevie G flicks that switch that turns him into a Roy of the Rovers superhero and takes a game by the scruff of its neck and beats the opposition into submission on his own, it's a joy to watch. But it's a joy that happens infrequently (Napoli alone this season) and most of the time Gerrard is a sulking presence on the field who knows that he is better than everyone else and makes sure that they know it too - hardly likely to instill confidence in his team mates. When the wonderful Gary MacAllister, who played in a similar role to Gerrard, came to Anfield, he involved the entire team in his play making but when Stevie is on the pitch it has to be all about him. Liverpool's best performance this season was at White Hart Lane when the team, sans Gerrard, put on an excellent passing display that involved all eleven players and, but for abysmal finishing from Rodriguez and Torres, should have won by a mile. Now we have an interesting scenario. Gerrard will miss the next three games through suspension. If Liverpool start to play well and win those matches will it be as a result of new manager Kenny Dalglish's brilliance or will it be because Stevie is a player that we are better off without? I look forward to seeing what happens.

One of the nice things about being retired is we can go to the pictures at 1 o'clock and that's what we're going to do today. I'm looking forward to The King's Speech. It has been universally acclaimed and in yesterday's Guardian summary of the ratings from all the papers it scored an impressive average of 9/10 compared to 7 for 127 hours which I thought was OK but not exceptional. I'll let you know what we think tomorrow although with such praise from everyone I doubt that there's much that we can add.

I am indebted to the excellent Tim Harford and his Radio 4 show "More or Less" for his investigation of Nigel's scream that was the highlight of last week's 60th anniversary edition of The Archers. In case you missed it, here it is

Tim and his team thought that this was an incredibly long scream for someone falling off the roof of Lower Loxley Hall and by doing calculations involving velocity and height he deduced that for a scream to last this long (3.5 seconds), assuming that it started as Nigel fell and ended as he hit the ground, the roof of the hall was as high as the tower of York Minster. We always knew that those Pargetter's were posh.

I'll leave you with the ending that we Nigel fans might have preferred.