The Influence of Charlie Brooker, Clive James and Barry Norman…
Here is just a wee autobiographical account of how these famous reviewers – and television stars – who helped bring me here to writing my blog.
Clive James and Barry Norman photographs © BBC and Charlie Brooker’s photograph © Channel 4
When I was a wee girl, as opposed to the vertically challenged adult I am today, I wrote two poems and got them published in the school magazine. The first was a poem called “Choosing a Pet” (spoiler: I chose a cat), when I was about 8 years old and the other poem at aged 12, warning the other schoolkids about the joys and downside of secondary school called “When you are in Junior School”.
Around this time we did English Comprehension exercises at school. In these exercises, we read the excerpt from a book and answered questions – which would so help us in the future – such as “what similes are in the text to describe the character’s anger at his brother?” which were useless unless you wanted to express your feelings to your brother in similes and impress your English teacher and parents at the same time. During one such exercise, I remember reading and really enjoying an excerpt from a Clive James’s television review book about the Saturday night, before the pre-watershed series, The Incredible Hulk (1978).
I then thought what a cool job that would be watching television all day and getting paid for it. I then rushed to get this book from the library and avidly scanned it for Dallas (1978) references, my then (and some may say still current) obsession. Having got my Dallas fix, I then read the rest of the book. If you are my mother please stop reading now as you just may be upset at my then career choice of film and TV critic and join Doctor Who in his Tardis or Back to the Future’s Marty in his DeLorean and replace the Clive James’s tv review book below with something else…
socrates2006a, A Short Clip from Clive James at the Movies – A British B Movie Alien, http://www.youtube.com
Also I remember watching the BBC’s Film…(insert year) review series when Barry Norman presented it. I stopped after he left the series. I vividly remember watching Norman review films, I wouldn’t be able to see. It was either because I was too young or much worse I would get sent away from the cinema by the cinema booking office. Being wee really doesn’t help if you want to see a Bette Midler age classified 15 film and you’re tiny. I also remember his Spitting Image puppet. Around this time, I started writing a diary full of my teenage angst (why I then thought being told to F… off by my then crush was a good thing I really can’t fathom out), teenage crushes (Nick Berry being crush of the year 1986 in his Eastenders days….when I was 16 going on 17) and the occasional informal TV reviews such as It’s a Royal Knockout Tournament (1987) (then it was fun game of spot the celebrity, now watching on repeat it would be a game where you identify celebrities would be interviewed by Yewtree).
Barry Norman introduces North by Northwest, VHS Video Vault, http://www.youtube.com
Fast forward to approximately 20 years later from this time and I meet my darlin’ husband. Having recently gone through a retro TV reminiscence phase reading all of Clive James’s television reviews again and other retro themed books. Darlin’ then future husband suggested reading a Charlie Brooker TV review book. After watching Brooker’s TV programmes I found a fellow cynical, acerbic but hilariously funny reviewer. It was fantastic as to be honest not much makes me laugh. my theory is it was because I was brought up on canned laughter at parts of the programme which were not funny at all.
I laugh more and random things such my husband when does an impression of an actor’s voice at a totally appropriate time. Or when films or tv are parodied in Family Guy (1999) sketches such as Tootsie (1982) and The Incredible Hulk. In the latter parody, I sobbed when Stewie mocked the Incredible Hulk pilot ending. Which is why girls, a wee bit of advice, if you get a toy boy, 3 (not 7) years younger is best because believe me the line, “Who’s Sue Ellen?” will make any idea of a much younger man plummet dramatically like a drunk superhero in flight. Darlin’ husband and I still watch Brooker since we moved here when we are back in the UK. Now we watch him as expats, we are in one turn relieved we miss the latest crap TV series airing back in Blighty, but then we get terribly afraid a Finnish television company will buy the airing rights..