Monday, 19 July 2010

The TV presenter who ate all the pies throws a big, fat wobbler

What in the name of God made the BBC cave in to Ulster porker Eamonn Holmes’s demands that Jon Culshaw stop impersonating him on The impressions Show? A response along the lines of “Do one, fatty!” would surely have been more appropriate.

I passed Eamonn Holmes once in a corridor at TV Centre. He was, I seem to remember, having his make-up tweaked. Two thoughts entered my head when I saw him: he seemed an amiable cove, and he was almost unbelievably wide. We’re talking gastric band, wired-up jaws, handfuls of amphetamines, massive heart attack territory here. 

No two ways about it: the bloke was FAT.

As someone who has always inclined to be a tad overweight myself – give or take three stone – I felt sorry for the chap. I am only too familiar with the lure of a custard Danish or a Melton Mowbray pork pie or an extra large piece of battered plaice or a peanut butter sandwich (with a sprinkle of salt on top) or mounds of charred bacon or a gooey banoffee pie topped with Cornish cream… 

(I’m going to stop now, because I’m starting to salivate.)

But, I reflected, as I headed for some ghastly BBC meeting or other, the cheerful Irish hulk’s girth didn’t seem to have affected his career adversely, which was heartening in an age which increasingly vilifies the merely portly (let alone those who appear to have stuffed throw-cushions down their trousers and up their T-shirts). The very fact that a blimp like Holmes could enjoy extravagant success within a medium as obsessed with appearances as television seemed to represent something of a triumph for those of us sporting the fuller figure, and therefore a cause for celebration.

But now the lard mountain has gone and spoiled it all by indulging in elephantine self-pity.

Sean Connery has a major speech defect (“Mish Moneypenny, you’re a shite… for shore eyesh”, etc.). People have been doing (largely dreadful) impersonations of his inability to pronounce his sibilants cleanly for almost half a century, during which the former bodybuilder has proved one of the most successful and enduring film actors of all time. From what one reads, he can be a right grumpy-boots when the mood takes him, but I can’t remember him ever complaining about people making fun of a defect which, one assumes, he can’t fix(sh). Eamonn Holmes, on the other hand,  could lose a lot of weight by the simple expedient of not stuffing so much food into his fat face. His massiveness is his own fault – and yet we’re not allowed to make fun of him? Did Oliver Reed or George Best ever complain about TV comics cracking jokes about their drinking habits? Does David Dickinson burst into tears when people point out that he’s a weird orange colour? Does Janet Street-Porter cut up rough when people highlight her weird teeth and klaxon voice? (Well, yes, in her case, but what else would you expect?) 

If you don’t want people making fun of your gargantuan body, Eamonn – take a pay-cut and stick to radio. Otherwise, STOP EATING SO MUCH!

What’s particularly annoying about Mr. Wobble’s action – apart from the BBC’s display of fawning cowardice – is that the sketches featuring his character (in which, for those who didn’t catch the show, he is accused of eating a sofa, a collection of banjos, and Frankie Dettori) were amongst the few from the series that managed to raise even a vague smile. Culshaw is an accomplished impressionist, as is his co-star, Debrah Stephenson, but The Impressions Show suffers from the usual curse of all impressions-based entertainment – severely unfunny scripts. It’s as if everyone involved - including the performer - becomes so mesmerised by their mimic abilities that they forget to work up decent material, and end up scribbling any old rubbish down on a used envelope just before recording commences. 

The scripts for Spitting Image were dreadful (and most of the voice impressions were piss-poor). Rory Bremner – extravagantly gifted – spoils it all by his unrelentingly lazy, right-on political stance. And Alastair McGowan – again talented – suffered from some of the worst scripts I’ve ever heard.Dead Ringers started well enough, especially on radio, but soon ran out of steam on TV. Sounding quite like somebody else – or even exactly like them - just isn’t enough to sustain a half-hour of comedy.

And now, practically the only reason for catching Culshaw’s series has been removed.

Thanks, fatso!

1 comment:

  1. It's rather like the moral courage the BBC showed when Peter Mandelson objected to references to his private life - immediate and complete capitulation. It did serve briefly to reinvigorate Have I Got News for You as Hislop struggled inventively to find ways round the ban. I imagine Byford of the BBC was sympathetic to the sensitivities of the Belfast Blob. He looks as if he is no stranger to a deep fried Mars Bar himself.
    Friday, July 23, 2010 - 12:02 PM