Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jolly Hols

TV Review
by John Stafford

I really thought there was nowhere else for reality TV to go, but “Five!” (it really does have an exclamation mark!) found somewhere even lower than its ever-subsiding predecessors. Whoever thought there was a TV series in the idea of bringing Enid Blyton’s Famous Five to a reunion on Kirrin Island? That may sound a rhetorical question, but Radio Times has the answer – Joe Hope, that’s who, known to media insiders as Hopeless Joe. Conceived, narrated, produced and dumbed down to within a centimetre of its life.

Julian’s over sixty now; Dick, Anne and Georgina can’t be far off. Oh, George, she still likes to be called George. That's only a famous four, not five, but you’ve forgotten, as I had, that Timmy was a dog, not a child, and therefore has been long buried on Kirrin Island. Yes we did see his grave, and yes, everyone wept. They’ve replaced him with a glove puppet – so much easier to control, and cheaper. Did you think they were all made up characters? Well so did I, and I’ve read all the books. But here we have them. Bulging, blustering, balding Dick. Simpering George, who can’t keep her hands off presenter Cat Deeley. Anne seems to be using the opportunity to launch a late blooming musical career – it’s a pity she still performs Joni Mitchell songs. Only Julian is at all impressive: his suave charm and Savile Row suit might not match the concept, but it should get him a deal on an auction-your-granny show.

The challenges were mundane for this sort of programme. They moved a gipsy caravan from in front of the cave entrance before they could sleep there. They captured a pirate gang armed only with piano wire. Eating chocolate biscuits and drinking ginger beer may not seem as disgusting as the stereotypical live spiders, but these people should be on a good-for-your-heart diet at their age.

There was no opportunity here for the participants to talk privately to camera. For that you need to press red on the remote control, and mine has disappeared down the side of the sofa. But I was getting suspicious as time went on that Dick hadn’t even read the books, let alone been in them. The gaff was blown in the judging, when celebrities Pete Waterman, Jilly Cooper and Ian Duncan Smith were joined by Enid Blyton herself, played as you might imagine, by June Whitfield. Yes like all reality TV, it’s faked. I still couldn’t resist spending 60p to text my vote for Julian to get extra lashings of lemonade next hols. Golly!

Reality Check: there is no such programme as Jolly Hols, and no such producer as Joe Hope. They are figments of my imagination. Cat Deeley, Pete Waterman, Jilly Cooper and Ian Duncan Smith are real people but they are not associated with this programme, because it doesn't exist. June Whitfield is a real person, though she is in so many programmes that I suspect there may be more than one of her. The Famous Five are the figments of Enid Blyton's imagination. If you have never heard of her or them, how come you have read this piece to the end?


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