At Peter’s house on Sunday I watched something I’d previously seen a couple of years ago and hated: ‘The Trip’. Starring Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden as ‘Steve Coogan’ and ‘Rob Bryden’ (there’s a lot of this about: see ‘Miranda’, for example) it’s about two blokes who go on a tour of preposterously expensive and pretentious restaurants and write reviews of them. At least, Coogan does: Bryden is just there to keep him company. Now, it’s odd how when you watch a programme in a particular sort of mood, you can find it funny: I was aware as I was laughing at this, that in a different mood I might have found it unbearable, and so it proved: when I got home and described it to Mark he told me I’d watched it a couple of years ago and found it – well, unbearable. I have no recollection of this, but then I have no recollection of anything much at the moment, so that’s not surprising. Anyway, I guess if you like Rob Bryden and Steve Coogan and if you enjoy a couple of smart-arse blokes scoring points off each other, you’ll enjoy this. Or maybe you’ll just be in the right mood, like I was…
Casualty was the usual car-crash: a mix of enjoyable preposterousness and emotional mangling, and apart from that I’ve come across very little to interest me. I always enjoy a viewing of ‘Mastermind’ and I invariably wonder whether it is easier than it used to be or whether I know more: however one thing that does seem indisputable is that the questions on ‘Celebrity’ Mastermind are a lot easier than they are on regular Mastermind. In fact the greatest difficulty I have is identifying the ‘celebrities’ in the first place. But what has definitely not dumbed down – nor could it, with Stephen Fry in charge – is QI. I’ve seen a couple of these this week, and the one I enjoyed the most had ‘Gran’ as a fifth competitor:
This prompted a discussion on ventriloquism and the question of how far the puppet is seen as a separate person. Nina Conti said that she definitely experiences ‘Gran’ as a separate person and on occasion has looked at her and thought: ‘why aren’t you speaking? It’s your line!’
Ventriloquism is rarely done well outside children’s entertainment; but Conti is a master. Gran is an engaging character, understated but undeniably present; much better than Orville (but what wouldn’t be?) and much less annoying than Emu (though that was just a non-speaking part), so I recommend you see her if you haven’t yet done so.
On watching her you both know and don’t know that Gran is a puppet: Nina Conti is extraordinarily daring in actually showing the hand up the back or moving the arm; and yet Gran seems somehow more real in spite of that: