Gay Times Reviews V

Carnal Knowledge   Granada
God's Gift  

Ah, love. What a heady, sweet euphoric temperament it presents. What a delightful, ticklish feeling to endure. What a pity the television companies have to completely debase such a wondrous emotion - and so frequently. Actually, that's rubbish. The channels seem pre-occupied with sex - when they're not stuffing the schedules chock-a-block with police shows, that is. To wit, we are treated to Carnal Knowledge (Granada), a "rollicking romp" through people's "intimate sexy secrets" with Maria McErlane and her "ethical lollipop lady" Graham Norton.

Usually, Carnal Knowledge is a homage to the vile perverted dalliances of heterosexuals, but recently the producers threw caution to the wind and screened two programmes with lesbian and gay couples. The first featured Fist devotees Eve and Max, resplendent in feather boas, leather and rubber trousers and full slap. These "happy hippy chicks" had been lovers for twelve months, seemingly aided by Max's record-breaking tongue. Their opponents were Helen and Ben, two retro-head students who believe that fucking on a snooker table is kinky.

It was like Mr & Mrs with a hormone rush, but this instalment could just as easily have been called Banal Forage, partially because Eve and Max were astoundingly vapid and unctuous but also because Helen and Ben were truly aberrant and particularly unappealing (Ben's idea of romantic talk was to tell his girl "Lie on your back and take your knickers off, you dirty whore.")

The questions relied heavily on each person's cum-savvy of their partner, but blush they did not. They sniffed socks and boxer shorts to identify their partner's special sebum, they revealed their masturbation fantasies (which were stupendously humdrum), and detailed the most peculiar sexual experience (the dykes divulged they "had a threesome when we were watching Wimbledon, wearing military outfits. We filmed it!").

Multiple choice questions ("We have to choose one thing?" Max queried. "I think that would be best," replied Graham) were followed by a 60-second quiz ("What's monogamy?" asked Maria. "Erm dunno," Ben answered), and all for the magnificent prize of a trip to Brussels and an alarm clock. And the scores? "Oooh, limp." The straights managed 101 points; the dykes, a stonking 114. Hurrah.

The second Carnal Knowledge ("Nature's way of telling you there's always the Open University") was far more festive and featured Danny and Paul, happily yoked for 7 years, versus Dee and Nick, a pair of 80's rejects who'd been hitched for 22 years.

They were all prevailed upon to describe routine foreplay (Danny claimed Paul "kisses the back of my neck, nibbles my nipples, strokes the bit between my bum and my bollocks, then gets down to it really") and asked about the most romantic thing said to them during sex? "Oh, it was 'Harder, harder, harder!'" Danny replied, instantly losing five points for an incorrect response.

After spilling a bibful about the sacrosanct nature of their nocturnal proclivities, it was bare bums. A line-up of the two male contestants and two poor saps from the audience were openly fondled in an effort to ascertain whether the lovers knew whose behind was whose. A blindfolded Danny chose Paul's buttocks, but so did Dee Once again, the gays won, 103 points to a tittersome 69, but this time, the fabulous trip to Brussels was awarded with a complimentary jar of Mogadon.

So there are the details. What have we learned? Probably that the ITC will be flooded with complaints and the NVLA are suffering conniption fits, that gays score more, that Maria McErlane is truly Queen of the Tacky Quiz, and that Graham Norton (contributor to Radio 4's Loose Ends and bit-part player in C4's Father Ted) is a new gay comic god. He fair sparkled: his bitching had bite not bitterness, his wit was pointed, his shirt was glorious, his timing masterly, and his whole being just sublime.

Of course, there has been a rapid sprouting of these cheap, cheesey lonely heart shows. BBC2 has Singled Out, a buy-in from MTV, Carlton has Chris Tarrant, 10 hunks and 200 baying women in the truly deplorable Man O Man, and there's God's Gift (Granada).

They too played the queer card, with four gay-orientated shows. The opening titles, which show a chap who's skin is painted yellow, wearing vine-leaf briefs and being eyed up by numerous diaphonous leather-clad women, remained the same. Hosted by "the miraculous, mouthwatering" Davina McCall and with "the voice of God" (the legendary Stuart Hall), the show sets out six tests of manliness for five contestants.

The lucky punters were Gary, a black aerobics instructor with a 45" chest who was "shitting himself"; Jonathan from Salford (a recruitment consultant who claimed a 35" inside leg "with a built in extension"); Londoner James, a blue-eyed beauty, Cruisaid volunteer and descendant of Richard Lionheart; drag queen Dusty 'O' (a 25 year-old "specimen of voluptuousity"); and Nick, "equerry to the royalty of Blackpool". The audience were an extremely rumbustious group, lapping up the six rounds devised to weed out the geeks from the Greek gods. "Anything could happen on this most abnormal of nights," Mr Hall pronounced.

First came "Stud-U-Like", which assessed the essential ingredient of sex appeal. Gary stripped in a laundry, juddering his butt against the machine ("It's fucking gorgeous"), Jonathan writhed with a shower while James humped a bath tub and Dusty vacuumed an IKEA rug. Next came "Smarm Or Charm", which put the boys' chat-up lines under microscope, from the highly original "Do you come 'ere often?" to "Do you fancy a bit of this succulent bird?" and "Is that potted meat or jellied roll?"<

If that wasn't enough to get the phones ringing off the hooks at the Duty Office, there was "Suck It And See" which checked out the lads' sensuous streak by "caressing tummy-buttons with your tongue". After wiping their mucky faces, the "dirty rotten rats" told horrible truths in "Dish In The Dock". Most seemed to involve revenge against boyfriends who shagged around: one had scrubbed a toilet out with his lover's toothbrush, another had faxed compromising photos of his unfaithful fella to the office, and one had told his boyfriend that his Dad had died so he could pork a bloke he'd met in a club.

Just to prove how desperate these men were for a date, they ventured a 30-second party piece in "Larf Or Barf" with pelvic squats, a fertility frolic, saucy comedic talent and a puppet show. Four were booed off stage, blown away by the talents of Dusty 'O' warbling her hit song "Glamour State Of Mind" (available on Pushka Records). "It just goes to prove," she said, "Queens do have fabulous taste."

The real test of machismo was "Bare Essentials", a 15-second chance for the homo-mortals to shine by stripping down to their smalls. Gary held his beer belly in, Dusty revealed a pink gingham bikini, and the rest unveiled a bland collection of Calvin Klein-style knickers, and there were gratuitous bum shots galore. "That," Davina yelled over tumultuous cat-calls, "was the quickest undressing ever!" And how did the audience elect the Gay God's Gift? They shoved hankies into the men's pants. Nick wowed them, won a purple sash, a shoddy crown and a dinner date with a chap in the audience.

I'm swithering as to whether Carnal Knowledge and God's Gift are just affable programming or simply vacuous schedule fillers. I can't seriously believe that TV companies think they're offering a reasonable alternative to a gay viewing audience, as I'm positive lesbians and gays would demand something a little less cretinous, even in addition to programmes like these. I know I have a reputation as a crabby old critic and that maybe I should chill out - after all, it's all fun, isn't it? Okay. I'm safe. But don't come running to me in five years time when your brains have all rotted from watching this sort of show.

Maybe they already have. Surely not many can have survived being fried by the continuing run of Eurotrash (C4). Tucked away with the items on museums of animal genitalia, S&M locksmiths, erotica fairs, vibrator testers and nude cleaners, there was a cursory mention of 4Guyz, Dublin's bright new boy band who "ooze the sweet smell of success from every sweaty orifice". The five lads, who weren't even accorded a name-check, were spied preparing for their debut at the top gay club Wonderbar. Cue the shots of the coloured underpants of these "young free and legal" popsters.

Junior Larkin, their pink-haired, toothsome manager, chatted for a nanosecond about the openness and gayness being a very important part of the success of all boy bands (huh?) and the guyz (ugh) were asked to evaluate other groups. "Upside Down aren't exactly good-looking," said Mark. "And East 17 are not the most physically attractive." True, but it doesn't really provide any insight into 4Guyz. Still, you got to see them dancing in their chunky boots and embroidered jackets and singing "I'm Coming Out" in a key slightly too low for them. More strength to their elbow, but a throwaway item on a late-night show that panders to the weird world of truly noxious deviants may not help their career much.

And now, the tangled web weaved by that lot in Walford. After the Sunday Mirror outed Michael French, rumours were flying thick and fast that the character of Tony Hills (Mark Homer) was going to come out. Articles had appeared in the tabloid press, which one would - understandably - take with a pinch of salt, but then designers at Elstree had contacted Gay Times for a heap of posters to decorate a set as a gay pub. I phoned them for confirmation, and was directed towards the publicity department, who never returned my calls. Next thing I know, it's not Tone who's turning queer, it's David Wick's prodigal son Joe (Paul Nicholls), but the story's been dumped. According to the Daily Mirror ("Beeb's No To EastBender"), a plot had been developed where the boyish-faced Joe would fall for Bianca before discovering she was his half-sister. Obviously, this sends him into turmoil, and he decides he's gay. Of course, this meant a few heart-to-hearts with Papa, but the scriptwriters, producers and directors "decided it would be too much to expect Michael to stomach filming such scenes." I wonder why, as there has been no official confirmation of the sister paper's original story, but the Powers That Be had "read about Michael being gay in real life" and instantly panicked about a backlash from the viewers. It could have been a gold-plated ratings winner, but we'll have to wait a little longer. Until Hell freezes over, probably.

©Megan Radclyffe Publ. Millivres 1997

Filing Cabinet

Gay Times Reviews

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30

Sign Of The Times   Internet Reviews

Diva Books   Diva Interviews

Time Out Books   Time Out Clubs   Time Out Films

Hosted by