Idiot Boxing

Getting square eyes has never been so much fun!
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Another week, another column, and another farm-fresh batch of telly shows for you to get your eyes and ears round. This week, they're all organic and homegrown - thanks to the marvellous British Broadcasting Corporation.


First up this week is Losing It: Griff Rhys Jones On Anger (BBC1). Jones, it turns out, is a quite startlingly angry man. Friends and family alike recounted tales of him losing his rag over the smallest of things, of receiving furious and bile-filled emails, and of hissy fits of epically childish proportions. The public image he has fostered as a lovable, squidgy-faced comic is clearly a consequence of the quite cartoonish levels of frustration he subjects himself to in his real-life. The programme is therefore as much about Jones remedying a genuine problem in his own life, as it is a general look into the causes and effects of anger. Worryingly for Jones, the most plausible solution offered (and undoubtedly the swiftest) was castration. As Jones is labelled ''a burden' by his ex-agent and an impossibly affecting look of hurt spreads across his face, it seems an option he is considering. If you have any sense at all, you'll tune in this week to see whether Griff pursues such a drastic method to curb his temper. If this were Channel 5, chances are it'd be in his contract to do so; as it's the Beeb, he'll probably just have a nice cup of tea and a bit of a sit down.

...the most plausible solution offered (and undoubtedly the swiftest) was castration

Show two this week is Amazon with Bruce Parry (BBC2). You know what to expect from programmes such as these - at some stage the presenter is going to be forced to drink an ancient, hallucinogenic potion by a remote tribe, and then deliver a slightly frenzied and semi-coherent piece to camera with the obligatory night-vision turned on. However, whilst similar exotic travel shows can descend into smug and cloying patronisation and frustrating cliches, Amazon is fresh, stimulating and incredibly involving. The subject matter obviously helps, but in very few similar documentaries do you see the presenter involved in an impromptu football match, dressed in a pink and black cocktail dress, being tackled by a man wearing just a suit jacket and some pants. It's the sort of thing that you might find in rather more - ahem - specialist titles, but on BBC2? Not so much.

Last this week, is an honourable mention for Merlin (BBC1). A fine example of 'three-generation' telly it most certainly is, but whose bright idea was it to give Will Mellor a guest spot this week? Thank your lucky stars it was just a fleeting appearance and tune in this week for what is a really well constructed and satisfyingly ambitious show.

Temper Tantrums with Jessica Simpson

The message this week then, is to cherish the BBC. It's not perfect, but it's not FOX either. If it was, Griff Rhys Jones On Anger would be called "Temper Tantrums with Jessica Simpson". For small mercies, we should be thankful. That said, the Yanks don't get Will Mellor cropping up on their shows. You can't win them all.

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