TV review

Published Monday 17 July 2006 at 16:00 by Harry Venning

Forget Italy versus France in The World Cup Final, the only contest worth watching last weekend was Daleks versus The Cybermen on Doctor Who.

Exploiting yet another one of those pesky portals in time and space, clouds of flying Daleks filled the skies over Earth, whilst on the ground 5 million Cybermen stomped about in a cyber strop, having seen their invasion upstaged.

An action-packed, effects-laden two parter culminated in The Doctor sending the whole lot packing, sucking both invading armies into a black hole of nothingness at the top of the Canary Wharf Tower.

Funny and fantastic, scary and sad, Doctor Who has everything. Well, nearly everything. Future series would have to do without Billie Piper who has retired from time travel. Teasing trailers had ominously implied that super sidekick Rose would be killed off but she actually ended up in a parallel universe Norway, which actually sounds a worse fate.

Rose and The Doctor’s parting was a very emotional affair, beautifully written and movingly played. Not a dry eye in the universe.

It won’t be long before Ant and Dec will have achieved global domination in the light entertainment world. Not only do they present the new game show PokerFace and present it with characteristic charm and wit, they devised it as well. Clever boys.

The show combines bluffing and general knowledge, with contestants going into a final face off unaware of their opponents scores. Like all the best game shows, the concept is simple and dramatic. It also offered a £1 million prize at the end of its week’s run, which also cranked up the interest.

Modern Toss is a cheap and cheerful combination of rudimentary animation, barely live action and profanity. Featured amongst the bizarre cast of characters are a French signwriter called Monsieur Tourette, the Drive-By Abuser, an accident and emergency reception and my own favourite, a malicious black squiggle of ink called Alan. Being, quite literally, one dimensional, most of the characters have only the single joke inside them but they are pretty good jokes. Watch the show after a night at the pub and I suspect they will transform into hilarious jokes.

Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive stars Rob Brydon as an embittered, acerbic version of Rob Brydon, whose downward career spiral has forced him into a job hosting a comedy panel show called Annually Retentive. With me so far?

Flicking between production meetings and studio recording, we see Bad Brydon’s contempt for his production team, guests and the show’s transparently derivative format. Which is a bit rich, given that Annually Retentive is itself a bit of a steal from the late, great Larry Sanders Show.

However, Annually Retentive is great fun. Brydon is satisfyingly unpleasant, the supporting cast are splendid and the script both clever and funny. The show also features C-list celebrities playing C-list celebrities. Oh, the irony.

Bored of Davina, bored of the swearing, bored of the crying, bored of the old housemates, bored of the new housemates, bored of Big Brother. So how come I’m still watching?


Doctor Who - BBC1, Saturday, July 8, 7pm

PokerFace - ITV1, Monday, July 10, 8pm

Modern Toss - C4, Tuesday, July 11, 11pm

Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive - BBC Three, Friday, July 11, 10.30pm

Big Brother - C4, daily, 9pm


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