The Excommunication of St Cadbury

Poor old St Cadbury.

Once the revered Christian saint of chocolatey goodness; now a despised infidel having stabbed Jesus, Christianity, Easter and no doubt the Easter Bunny firmly in the back. A whole Christian doctrine of Immaculate Eggs bestowed upon all believers at Easter time, as originally told by the Bible in the story of Jesus, St Cadbury and the Chocolate Factory (Wonka 4:15-32).

Who could have believed after all these years that in 2016, according to the Daily Telegraph’s John Bingham, the word “Easter” had been “quietly dropped from Easter eggs”? To make matters worse, at the head of this heinous, secretive and cowardly act was none other than St Cadbury himself, clearly egged on by the Dark Lord Nestlé. (Sorry. I have to allow myself one egg based pun.)

Immediately, St Cadbury’s Twitter feed was targeted by devout Christians everywhere, leaving many parishes across the country to wonder where they had been hiding during Sunday mass all this time:

“Shame on greedy St Cadbury for dropping the word Easter from our choc eggs”

“Disgusting you’ve dropped the word ‘EASTER’ #BoycotStCadbury (well the truth is if I didn’t like your choc so much I would lol!)”

“Is it true that you are banning the word  from your Easter eggs because it offends other religions?”

“St Cadbury – So my fiancé informs me your removing #Easter from your eggs in the future? I find this disgusting we have had Easter eggs 4 yrs”

“Well, St Cadbury,  why not stop selling chocolate altogether in case you offend people who don’t like chocolate?”

Outraged Christians overwhelmed St Cadbury who, as if blind-sided by the criticism could only muster the mealy-mouthed reply:

“Hi there, we haven’t removed the word ‘Easter’ from our products, it’s on the back!”

 A collective sound of mass self-righteous jaw dropping was heard far and wide across the land. What had happened to St Cadbury? OUR ST CADBURY!!! He of the Immaculate Eggs bestowed upon all believers at Easter time and to this day readily available at retail outlets for a huge profit! On the back indeed! ON THE BACK?!! Why this sudden relegation from the front to the back?

Despite no evidence suggesting the word “Easter” had ever been particularly or consistently prominent on the front, back or sides of such eggs since those biblical times of old; (largely because they only appear at Easter and tend to come in a large, clear, egg shape so that even the most moronic of dullards could hazard a guess as to what they are!) In stepped The Archangel Louise Mensch to drive out the now excommunicated former St Cadbury: (Notice I’ve resisted cheapening this story by not using “eggs-communicated” there keeping to my word about only one egg based pun.)

“St Cadbury. It’s Easter Day. Maybe ease up on the insults to Christians by telling them Easter is now “on the back” eh?”

And so, as it was prophesied in Charlie 16:1-7: “The nation’s moral compass, Hopkins, will be too busy striking down lefties, migrants and child sex abuse victims. So, the lesser Hopkins, AKA Mensch shall drive out St Cadbury from this great nation and free the people to worship through stuffing their faces with the Holy chocolate just as Jesus would have wanted us to do.

As for John Bingham of The Daily Telegraph? He slipped away silently, back into the darkness, his work on Earth done until the next opportunity to awaken the “political correctness gone mad” brigade with more spurious facts of an unspecified origin.

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You’re Back in the Room (Unfortunately)

Many years ago, I interviewed a comedy hypnotist on a live radio programme. Prior to the interview, I met the person in question at their home in order to arrange it. The whole thing is quite a long story but suffice to say that he was the dodgiest bloke I’ve ever met in my entire life and I’m saying this having also met and interviewed Fred Talbot! Yes, it’s true to say that I’ve had some glamour jobs in the past.

These days, both of those former interviewees have been put away, which unfortunately cannot be said for ITV’s comedy hypnotism game show, You’re Back in the Room which inexplicably returned to our screens last Saturday. Hosted by Phillip Schofield, part of the channel’s axis of entertainment alongside Ant & Dec and Stephen Mulhern, the show takes something that was mildly popular around 20 years ago and turns a 5 minute variety act into an hour long stretch. Indeed, it stretches the sheer notions of entertainment, credibility and how this came to get a second series to the very limits.

Incidentally, what is it with ITV? They basically have 4 presenters and two of those are a double act! Don’t get me wrong, I rate them all highly but there’s no need for them to host everything the channel has to offer. I imagine them sitting in a room at the beginning of the year playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who hosts what. Schofield clearly lost out here. In parts it’s just totally unwatchable. It’s just noise and people running about like they’re trapped in an adult nursery. Let’s face it, you know something has had its day in show business when it becomes a mainstay of the entertainment programme at a Pontins or an All Inclusive resort in Benidorm. (See also Rose Marie, Jimmy Cricket, Dr and the Medics and that bloke from Brother Beyond)

Comedy hypnotism really should not be prime time Saturday night television in 2016. The fact that here it actually is again just shows you where we are at in today’s multi-channel, multi-platform era. Just why do we need hypnotists anyway? Let’s face it, Big Brother got George Galloway to pretend to be a cat without any need for “suggestion”. All he needed was a white dressing gown, Rula Lenska and a scant regard for personal dignity.

The Trouble with Gameshows

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Gameshows are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Often maligned as cheap, low-brow or tacky and let’s face it some of them have been, (Sue Pollard’s Take the Plunge I’m looking at you!) a good gameshow can provide those essential talking points for the next day.

– Notice I avoided the phrase “watercooler moment” there. Personally, the only “watercooler moments” I’ve ever had have been wrestling with the cheap plastic cups from the dispenser, a distinct lack of cool emanating from the water from the watercooler and back trouble from stooping to get the water or from lugging a watercooler refill around. There is nothing remotely cool or momentous about the watercooler.

Anyhow, I digress. – A good gameshow should fulfil some very simple principles in order to get people talking and tuning in again for the next episode. Essential to the format are the contestants. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? However, a gameshow should choose its contestants wisely and the format should bring out the best in them. Essentially, for a gameshow to work, an audience must invest in the contestant. They have to be likeable and the audience needs to be on their side so that at the finale they can share their delight at winning or pain at losing.

All too often though, gameshows are being let down by their choice of contestants and how they are encouraging them to come across to the viewer. There seems to have been an increase in the “serial contestant” desperate to put themselves over as funny, or talented and hoping to be given a shot not at a big star prize, but to become a star themselves. They are those people at the very bottom of the wannabe food chain, moving from gameshow to gameshow and no doubt constantly sending their wacky audition videos to Big Brother.

Producers of some gameshows seem to actively encourage these people to apply to their programmes. Dermot O’Leary’s bulging snooze-fest, The Getaway Car is a prime example. Their audition process for contestants specifically referred to wanting “lively, up-for-it” couples. This is TV executive code for loud, annoying fame-chasers. Sure, you don’t want contestants to be boring but you don’t want them forcing the issue either for their own ends. In an hour long show, already 50 minutes too long in the first place, these people don’t instil any empathy with the viewer and so you don’t care about them winning and the whole show is lost.

Stephen Mulhern’s Catchphrase with Stephen Mulhern as well as Stephen Mulhern’s daytime vehicle Stephen Mulhern’s Pick Me also starring Stephen Mulhern are other examples of shows deliberately featuring the “up for it” contestant. Catchphrase, in particular, is a show with a long history and a favourite in the eyes of the British public following its original run from 1986. Its current incarnation however, is virtually unwatchable and it’s through no fault of Mr Mulhern (who I rate, incidentally!) but the obsession with contestants who are more concerned about themselves than the prize, or the show or anything else going on in their lives. They come across as annoying and self-centred, desperate to be noticed morons, which is exactly what they are and destroy a perfectly good format because you can’t invest in them and so you’re left with nobody to root for at the end.

So what’s the point?