TV Review: Jeremy Kyle, X Factor & The Code

The Jeremy Kyle Show (ITV1 every weekday morning…forever) was in 2007 described by a district Judge in Manchester as a “human form of bear baiting”. The continuing success of the programme is as extraordinary as it is depressing. In this execrable show, we have the messed up lives of real people put on a stage for a pantomime.

Superficially, the raison d’etre of our hero (let’s call him Jezza) and his show, is to help people put their houses in order (so to speak), perhaps advise people who would be going through similar crises in how to deal with them in a dignified manner.

If that is the case then the fact the show has been running for seven years would mean it has been a miserable failure in that mission as due to the fact that they keep on finding fodder to appear on it. Nobody appears to be listening to Jeremy’s message.

In October 2010, Jezza, along with George Osborne chaired a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference called Getting Britain Back To Work. I can’t think of a better incentive to find a job, any job, than the thought of sitting in the house watching this garbage.

On Friday (10th October) we had a love triangle. Jezza would prowl and scowl around the stage, asking questions with the aggression of a particularly robust detective. The audience would be sitting there, ostensibly on the moral high-ground whilst cheering and booing like they were at a Punch & Judy show. The two men were squabbling on the sofa’s while the woman was on a screen behind them, occasionally contributing to what could be very loosely described as the debate.

Jezza would sporadically tell the woman (whom he described as the mans’ bird, because he’s real) to be quiet, he could just as easily have arranged for her mic to be turned off, better still perhaps, arrange for the mic, camera’s and have the whole plug pulled on this diabolical excuse of a television programme.

The X Factor has a similar pantomime format to Jeremy Kyle but apart from the occasional and compulsory mawkish sob story early in the series, doesn’t appear to take so much glee in the struggles of anybody appearing on it. One other thing that separates it from Kyle’s show is that for all it’s phoney dramatics, it is not as mean spirited or as cheap as Kyle’s show.

This doesn’t make the X Factor (Saturday and Sunday nights ITV1 8PM) perfect, far from it. The X Factor is a classic example of the talentless ruling over the talented. Dermot O’Leary is an excellent presenter and with Lauren Platt, Andrera Faustini and Lola Saunders there are some excellent singers taking part on this years show.

However, for all the technical excellence of the performers left in the process, the star of the show is undoubtedly Simon Cowell, followed meekly by his fellow judges. If anybody doubts that then it’s telling that since the programme commenced in 2004, the vast majority of X Factor winners disappear rapidly into obscurity.

It’s hard to ascertain what Cowell has ever contributed to popular culture or arts in his own right but whatever he hasn’t given the world, he has a massive influence on what it listens too.

The elimination process on the Sunday night seemed to last forever. The first to be unceremoniously voted out were Blonde Electra, a sort of female equivalent to Jedward. For the sing off, Louis Walsh protégés Overload Generation, generated an overloaded and underwhelmed response from Simon Cowell, who described them as “shockingly bad”.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (as she is now known) introduced the excellent Stephanie Nala in the sing off with all the gravity of a war declaration by the Prime minister. Nala won the sing off and the popular vote, she deserved to for her mentor’s introduction alone.

Meanwhile over in Australia, I’m delighted to say that with The Code (BBC4 9PM Saturday), the Aussies have sent a bona fide masterpiece to the TV screens of their mother country. Australia has in the past, given us Prisoner Cell Block H, A Country Practice, The Young Doctors and unfortunately, many others of that ilk. In short, there has been an awful lot of rubbish that has somehow ended up on our televisions from the lucky country.

The Code centres around an investigative journalist called Ned Banks (Dan Spielman) who has an autistic brother called Jesse (Ashley Zukerman) who’s an expert at computer hacking, something that causes great distress to both Ned and his brother when he hacks into the system of a biotech and medical research company.

The ramifications of Jesse’s hacking skills lead to him being kidnapped and interrogated. Through his genius for hacking, he has information which could scandalise the Australian Government.

The Code has all the ingredients for a classic drama. Political corruption, double dealing and the ease that innocent bystanders can get caught up in life changing events. The only criticism I would have of the programme is that Jesse is a stereotypical autistic. Formidably intelligent but with poor social skills, it’s become the easy way of typecasting people with autism but apart from that, it is top class drama which I would recommend to anyone.

This was first published on Quays News on Monday 13th of October 2014. The original article can be found here

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