Normal service

Telly Addict number nine is up on the Guardian website. (By the way, if anybody’s clever and uses WordPress, would they have any idea why embed codes don’t show up when I copy them into my blog entries?) This week, with my bloodshot right eye fading at last, I review my first ever episode of Top Gear on BBC2, and the opening episodes of HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce on Sky Atalantic and new comedy-drama Sirens on C4.

Incidentally, when I announced on Twitter that I was watching Top Gear for the first time (it has been going for 17 series since its stadium relaunch in 2002), a couple of very protective Top Gear fans informed me in a somewhat high-handed manner that I was not allowed to review a programme which I have never watched before. This was news to me. I objected to their objection. If I reviewed it and did not reveal that it was my first ever episode, then it might be a dereliction of critical duty, but since I make a point of it, I can’t see the problem. (It’s the first episode of a new series – my guess is that BBC2 would be delighted if some people started watching it.)

It’s amazing how proprietorial fundamentalists can be. Anyway, you’ll see that I have a certain amount of praise for the show, which is a big enough brand to juggernaut on for another 17 years without my patronage. Or until the oil runs out.


20 thoughts on “Normal service

  1. If you are still having difficulty with embedding videos why not intsall one of the many wordpress plugins for youtube, just do a search for “youtube plugin for wordpress”.

  2. I just tried it in my installation of WordPress as mattshaw85 suggested, pasting into the HTML view (as opposed to the Visual view), and it worked.

  3., as this blog uses, is different to normal self-hosted WordPress. doesn’t easily let you embed videos that don’t come from “trusted” providers like YouTube. (You can’t install plug-ins either.)

    However, offers a bookmarklet. Using it on your Guardian video page will produce an embed code that accepts. (Using the HTML view is important too, but that alone is not enough to get it working.)

  4. Loving the reviews, great work! I, too, have never watched an episode of Top Gear in my life; I thought I was the only one for a while. Re: Mildred Pierce, I thought the opening half hour was pretty flat in all areas but then drew me in, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. (Sorry about your latest podcast upset, but thanks for sharing)

  5. I’m really enjoying these TV reviews. Extremely well written and delivered. There’s at least one moment in every episode which makes me laugh out loud.

  6. …..erm isnt this supposed to be about the telly review article and HTML embedding.The Herring thing has been covered quite substantially already.

  7. Also, wanted to comment on the actual blog! I don’t see why the Top Gear fans are being so protective. I’d want to know if the person reviewing it never actually saw the series and how they perceived it. New sights from new eyes, yanno?

  8. Stewart Lee has said some (very good and funny) things about Top Gear before.

    It’ll be interesting to see what you manage to add that’s new to the debate. To be honest I’m dumbfounded that Top Gear fans are still up in arms that not everybody loves their show. As it’s one of the big BBC flagships, and stands as little more than a platform for petrol-headed Daily Mail types, it’s ripe for criticism as far as I can see. I just wish that most articles on the subject could push forward the envelope a bit more than they do.

  9. Another excellent review – this is fast becoming a highlight of the weekend. I’m not sure if you picked the right time to watch Top Gear, and I think you gave the reason during the review. I’m not a car bore either, but I’ve been a fan of this version of the programme for most of its seventeen series, after coming across it by accident a year or so after the relaunch. There used to be a lightness to the wit on the programme that made you, if not forgive, then at least excuse most of the more neanderthal, neo-Thatcherite comments that Clarkson came out with. Unfortunately, as the other two were given more screen time (which I used to want when Clarkson seemed to dominate every part of the show), that wit has degenerated into something less appealing. In both the clip you showed and in the infamous Mexican insult session of last year, it was Hammond and May that seemed to drive the lumpen abuse. I actually got bored with last Sunday’s episide before it got as far as the interview with Alice Cooper, and I think it just might have jumped the shark.

  10. Wish this was in words and not just pictures so I could print it off and read it at leesure!

    Also when are we going to have another Andrew Collins’ book please? They are my must-have comfort reads.

  11. Surely they must have literally jumped sharks in Top Gear by now?

    Kids love that show, don’t they? I hear them discussing it with their parents all the time. I’d probably have loved it when I was nine. Mind you, when I was that age I seem to recall my favourite show was Points Of View with Barry Took on Friday nights. So maybe I wouldn’t have done.

    Clarkson is like Cowell. If I ignore him, it doesn’t matter whether he goes away or not.

  12. I was expecting the worst kind of nonsense, as Andrew Collins has famously argued that Three Men and a Baby deserves six stars out of five. But this was a surprisingly good review of Top Gear. I’ll tune in again!

    • When did I argue that? I’m confused. (Did you mean six out of five? How can it be six out of five?)

      • In one of your Radio Times reviews – you said if you could give the film 6 out of 5, you would.

        Robin Ince brought it up in a podcast you did with him, but it’s been mentioned in several places. 🙂

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