Dara and Ed's Great Big Adventure
Given Top Gear’s recent HR issues (you may have read about them), could Dara O’Briain and Ed Byrne be next in the driving seat? Probably not, if this rather tepid pass at a blokey celebrity road trip is anything to go by.
The show finds the Irishmen following in the tyre tracks of three Detroiters who, in the 1940s, became the first people to drive the Pan American Highway all the way to Panama.
This was quite a task in age when the Pan American Highway didn’t actually… you know, exist – hence the plentiful archive footage of the trio’s Plymouth sedan being winched up mountains and hauled across rivers by mules.
Today, the route is a well-maintained expressway cleaving through the Americas – which is great for local trade, less great for comedy TV travelogues. So the nearest thing to an actual incident we got here was Dara having an attack of the heebie-jeebies because Ed stopped the truck on a bridge – a moment of high drama not dissimilar to queueing for the tolls at the Dartford Crossing.
Instead, our heroes had to fall back on the laziest kind of cultural tourism which, this first episode being set in Mexico, involved drinking tequila, getting pinned to the floor by a lucha libre wrestler and being serenaded by a Mariachi band – who Ed, naturally, declared to be ‘flatter than a tortilla’. I half expected a cameo from Speedy Gonzales.
At one point, it all went a bit I’m A Celebrity when Dara was forced to eat an iguana’s head for breakfast. His verdict? ‘It tastes like chicken.’ Seriously, does every exotic meat taste like chicken? I can’t help thinking if you asked Hannibal Lecter to describe eating a prison guard, he’d do that funny thing with his teeth and then say: ‘It tastes like chicken.’
With Dara and Ed making for pleasant but not especially hilarious company, it was bit like being forced to endure a neighbour’s holiday snaps. At least Clarkson and co would have tried the mule method, or blown something up for no good reason. Probably while wearing a sombrero and being offensive to the locals. Actually, yeah – maybe Ed and Dara aren’t such a bad choice after all.
Kendra on Top
This slice of howling guff for people who find Keeping Up With The Kardashians too intellectually challenging may be the ultimate product of its time. Certainly it’s hard to imagine a more 2015 scenario than a Playboy plaything-turned-reality TV star kicking her husband out after an alleged tryst with a transsexual YouTube model. Then, when a drone-mounted camera starts buzzing her house like an ITVBe version of Black Hawk Down, the I’m A Celeb star has the gall to whine about her loss of privacy. Hell, meet handcart.
What’s life like for modern British teenagers? To find out, there’s no need for expensive psychoanalysis – their thoughts and fears are there for all to see in the relentless crossfire of social media. In this excellent, eye-opening documentary, texts, tweets and WhatsApp messages scrolled across the screen like a particularly hormonal episode of Sherlock. ‘Twitter beefs are the most entertaining thing in today’s society,’ declared 16-year-old wind-up merchant Harry. But as his friend Jess fell victim to vicious cyber-bullying, the joke didn’t seem so funny any more. A cautionary tale, compellingly told.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, March 26, 2015
(c) Waitrose Weekend