Ten `Ordinary` UK TV Programmes

You know how there are tv programmes that generate enormous attention like Game of Thrones or Line of Duty?  Well there are far more that don’t and it is these that fill up the scheduled tv channels and lie dormant on demand somewhere. So here’s just ten of the hundreds of these programmes that most people don’t watch….
Money for Nothing

Not a Dire Straits bio-drama, this afternoon show sees the extraordinarily chirpy Sarah Moore bothering people who’ve gone to the local tip to chuck out things they don’t want. Just as they are breathing a sigh of relief that their flea ridden sofa is finally gone from their lives along she trots to take it from them. She and a seemingly limitless team of craftspeople will then transform the item into something that looks brand new. So you end up with lamps made of old pipes, a cabinet made out of chairs or a helicopter carved out of a desk.  Narrated drolly by Arthur Smith, we see the priceless expressions as Sarah arrives at the den where such craftspeople hide out with something faded, rusted or dull and tells them her plan. Amazingly these items usually sell and in the oddest part of the concept, she goes back to the person who was chucking them out to give them the profits. Thus they have money for nothing. 
Money For Nothing: In two days time this will be a car.

The BBC and ITV are always copying each other and this evening programme seems to be the latter’s attempt to replicate the unexpectedly successful Countryfile. Of course the BBC’s programme is an hour long all year round production whereas Countrywise comes in series of about 8 episodes. Neither is Countrywise particularly interested in the issues of the day- while Countryfile will often discuss weightier stuff, Countrywise prefers to offer a postcard snap view of the countryside. And it hasn’t got John Craven.

Garden Rescue
One of those shows that seems like a combo of other programmes, Garden Rescue has also rescued Charlie Dimmock from decking obscurity.  This show is not unlike the sort of thing she and Alan Titchmarsh used to do creating a new garden for people who can’t be bothered to garden but are willing to spend a considerable sum –average £3,000 – on having a whole team of people redesign and rebuild their patch. The USP of this particular version is that Charlie has to `compete` with two award winning young designers- brothers Harry and David Rich- for their pitch to be chosen. I did harbour hopes that this would be a genuine battle with both teams building half the garden each but unfortunately the choice is made from the sort of vaguely drawn blueprints that actually give no indication at all what a garden will look like to you and I. Then the side that lost has to help the other side build the garden. Except that the trio are nowhere to be seen when the real work is being done. A different set of burly builders with outrageous beards come and dig up the flags or the lawn or reconstruct the landscape and our designers only show up when that’s been done.

The results are often the sort of garden that looks like it’ll need rather too much maintenance from people who we’ve already established are either unable or unwilling to do so. There’s often a pergola- possibly the most useless thing ever invented. It’s a wooden frame… and that’s it. You grow plants over it. It offers no shade as the plants grow then when they have you can’t sit under it because you’ll be mithered by wasps. If Charlie’s design wins there’ll be a water feature too or even a pond.  I wonder if they’ll do a sequel when they go back and see what shape these gardens are in a decade from now.
Garden Rescue: "I'm sure it didn't look like this in the plan."
Antiques Road Trip
There are a plethora of antique shows about and in this particular one a couple of experts trundle haphazardly around the UK buying things as cheaply as they can and then watching them sell at auction.  What is surprising is just how many antique shops there seem to be and how vast they are with cabinets and tables filled to the rafters with all manner of items. We also get to see the art of being the auctioneer though its puzzling how they know the amount by which each bidder is outperforming another. There’s also a celebrity version which is more irreverent in that sort of gentle manner of all celeb shows. I saw one where Private Pike from Dad’s Army was pitted against cape wearing keyboard whizz Rick Wakeman except as they are today. So no brown uniform or big silver cloak. In fact those items may well be in an antique shop by now.

The Great Family Cooking Showdown
Of all the shows that are a bit like several other things this seems to be the closest the BBC could get to the Great British Bake Off which they famously lost to Channel 4. It even has a previous GBBO winner – Nadiya Hussain - as co presenter along with the ubiquitous Zoe Ball. The premise is families “who make ordinary food extraordinary” cooking together both in their own home and a studio that looks like someone else’s home. They are judged by Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager though both couch their criticism with syrupy smiles and `disappointment` rather than outright criticism. `Showdown` is a bit of a misleading title really as the programme seems to go out of its way to be even more amiable than GBBO. The times I’ve seen it the families always seem to be making curry. This show lacks the personality of GBBO yet is nowhere near as melodramatically staged as Masterchef. In cookery terms it needs more flavour.
The Great Family Cooking Showdown: Come on Zoe, you're not really cooking are you?

Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast
Chirpy Southerners Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Thingy have, the opening credits tell us, been mates forever and as if all the programmes they do separately are not enough in Channel Four’s Friday night show they combine to serve up food in a café at the end of a pier at which customers seem to stay all day. In the best part of the format they also champion things that have gone out of fashion; a strand worth its own show. The big draw is that each week a celeb joins them in the kitchen to cook something with varying degrees of success. It’s a slick enough package though is it just me but does everyone pop out for a cup of tea during the bit where Jimmy builds some sort of oven device out of wood and steel in his shed? Too much like hard work.

Lambing Live
Really the whole Something or other Live has gone too far. Where will this end? You can imagine perhaps Laying Eggs Live, Road Works Live, Buying Shoes Live.  Mind you some of the biggest YouTubers make a living from unpacking items so never underestimate how much people want to watch ordinary things. .

Tipping Point
This ITV quiz is based on that old seaside attraction Penny Falls into which you dropped coins which were repeatedly shoved forward. Any that fell over the edge you won. In its original form it was the most frustrating thing in which I’m sure the owners used to glue some pennies to the surface as however many built up the ones at the end would never fall! This show sees a giant sized version that appears more generous than what its based on- in fact you could win £10,000. Imagine how big a bag you’d need for all those pennies. Going since 2012 there have so far been over 600 episodes!
Tipping Point: The new penny design was surprisingly large.
Love It or List It
For what seems like decades Kirsty Alsopp and Phil Spencer have been helping couples with impossible demands find a home in Location, Location, Location. . Now they have launched a series more reflecting the post recession austerity laden economy. Each week a family living in a cramped or limited house has to be persuaded to either move or renovate the place. Phil tempts them with a move by showing them much larger houses while Kirsty shows them just how that tiny space in the corner could actually accommodate a three piece suite if they only drilled into the ether of the fabric of time and space or something. Each of the featured couples cannot initially agree on whether to move or stay. It’s another of those programmes that seems to have been patched together from other shows and somehow lacks the interest value of the duo’s best known show where the budgets and aspirations are higher.

Fake or Fortune?
By stealth Fiona Bruce appears to have become the BBC’s go-to presenter for antiques and this series sees her teamed up with art historian Philip Mould as they investigate the status of contentious works of art. Are they genuine or not? The programme tries every trick in the televisual armoury –including movie style music, tense reaction shots and glamorous locations - to instill some drama into what is actually a forensic academic exercise and because it lasts for an hour your attention may well wander. Plus even if the painting in question is discovered to be real, we’re not going to get a sniff of the money are we?

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