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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 14:56 GMT
Bedsitcom
Bedsitcom
The reality show that is also an attempted situation comedy.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

TOM PAULIN:
Well, I mean, it hasn't got the kind of Shakespearean energy of, what was that other one we reviewed? - Big Brother. It's a revolting trivial, demeaning, manipulative, sleazy... The nastiness of the practical joke, I think and the manipulativeness of that and the seediness of it, in which you might be complicit if you watched it with any intention. It's a disgraceful piece of television. It's demeaning.

MARLOW:
Is it unethical, Jeanette? People have signed up to do it but they don't know that three of them are actors.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
I don't care whether it's ethical. I just care that it's boring. It's incredibly dull. This is just ordinary life thrown back in our faces. It's not funny, it's not clever, it's not interesting. It's because we are now so dull that we want to watch something that makes us feel even a little bit live. It's pathetic.

PAULIN:
They are so young and empty, aren't they?

WINTERSON:
Are we getting old, Tom?

MARLOW:
One of the justifications is that it takes the idea of a sitcom which is a scenario and then lets it go, and so you see the thing unravelling. The question is, is the writing, or are the scenarios themselves good enough?

DEBORAH BULL:
Well, I thought there were some quite funny lines in the last episode, once the show had been rumbled. In about the fourth episode, they realised they had blown it and the non-actors have cottoned on. You have to ask, what did they think the non-actors think the show was about? They couldn't have believed it was about six guys living in a London flat. We have done that. They must have thought it was something else. For me, the only subtlety was in the distinction between how the actors and non-actors dealt with the camera. The actor studiously avoided the camera. They really were doing a kind of Mike Leigh film, whereas the non-actors were always looking at the camera for human acknowledgment. Isn't there something odd going on here?

PAULIN:
You really watched it?

BULL:
Of course. We are being paid for this Tom. We have to do it seriously! There were some funny lines. I do think Rufus's line, "Tell me, you are a dancer and a part-time bowling alley assistant. You must understand about scrotal support".

MARLOW:
But the time is interesting because it's eight half hours, which may be too long for some, but Big Brother was an epic, repeated as such. This can only be a one-off series because the conceit is blown.

PAULIN:
No, it's disgraceful, a trivial piece of television. I did watch it but not with intention, because they were so boring, so smug in the way they were always lolling about.

BULL:
That's youth, Tom!

WINTERSON:
That's what they do.

BULL:
I do think, you are right, it was a terrible programme but human people are interesting. They always are interesting.

WINTERSON:
But they are not, you know. Sometimes they are just deadly boring and dull.


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