The semi-retirement of Jeremy Paxman leaves a vacancy, of course, but it has already been filled, to some extent, by Gogglebox, the Channel 4 series which offers a Friday night commentary on current events and entertainments, edited down from a week’s worth of comments on tv by a panel of regular viewers – recorded by cameras which are permanently focused on their settees.
Some people regard it as just cheap telly, which it is. But I love it for The People’s ruthlessness.
On Britain’s Got Talent, the panelists were all blown away by a 14-year-old mummy’s boy who sang a song about being betrayed by his best friend and told them the heartbreak had “made me what I am today”. On the Gogglebox sofas, he was received with a well-deserved and more or less unanimous chorus of retching noises.
They all have their moments but the Siddiqui family, in Derby, are especially sharp and funny. Last week, we saw the dad, Sid, watch a BNP broadcast and say drily to his boys, Umar and Baasit: “Well, I’m sold.”
Majority favourites are “The Posh Couple”, b-and-b owners Stephanie and Dominic, who are generally both clutching a glass of something the size of a vase and showing signs of having had one or two already.
Then there are West Indian Londoners Sandy and Sandra, best friends in Brixton, usually sharing a monster carry-out; the Rev. Kate Bottley, her husband Graham and the lower half of their dog, which is always sleeping upside down beside them; gay hairdressers Chris and Stephen, in Brighton; the felicitously named Scarlett Moffatt and family, in County Durham; retired teachers Leon and June, in Liverpool … and more you can learn to love if you don’t already.
The Gogglebox Book of Wisdom will surely be out soon. If I was a features editor, I’d be getting in first.