January 2011 has seen us catapulted in to a brave new world of television. For the first time in ages, Channel 4 didn’t have a Big Brother spinoff to start a year of original and innovative broadcasting.
In order to stop further damage to the country’s economy by a torrent of talentless celebrities being left to wander job centres, the channel commissioned the week-long series “Famous and Fearless” as a form of public service.
It’s a simple concept where famous people take on dangerous and impressive stunts fearlessly and the trailer – featuring Chris Evans crashing on a motorbike jump – made it all seem quite exciting. Maybe that was more the Chris Evans crashing moment.
The show was inevitably a letdown – filled with enough padding to keep the oldest house warm but the most energetic it got was when… uh… someone twisted their ankle? That was pretty wild. It turns out the only accurate word of the title was “and”. That is, unless you find watching the spawn of the sperm of Richard Branson in a buggy particularly thrilling.
The inspiring range of events included karting (as you know people who try go-karting are commonly in high danger), street luge (lie down on a skateboard and go down a road) and my favourite – Mini Moto, which just looked like the stars were going round the track on kids bikes bought from Toys R Us.
To further remove any impression that there was anything at stake, each event (generally about three in a two hour show) was introduced with a little video explain the history of the sport. They weren’t stunts, it was just people who probably aren’t bothered by doing sport you don’t really care about in the ultimate combination of things you don’t tend to watch willingly.
Many of the events didn’t even take place in the arena – the audience went to the Echo Arena in Liverpool to see an exciting event but instead got to see Claire Balding tell people what times they got on something they did a few weeks ago. Thrilling.
Each episode culminated in a final stunt with the day’s winner, but again any sense of amazement from it was removed. There’s something quite cool about a car roll in a film, but a lot of that is due to how it’s incorporated in to the scene, not that it’s been set up and you’re just seeing someone drive a bit off a ramp and then turn a car on its roof.
Not that there was any cause for concern as we were explained in depth all the safety measures that would keep the person inside safe – meaning the most damage likely was that someone could get a nose bleed.
They even replaced the windows with bulletproof plastic, we were told. I know it’s Liverpool, but that’s a bit harsh.
After a particularly “eventful” event, the arena went in to CODE AMBER – as paramedics checked the celebrity was all right. No harm there, it’s probably wise to – but the constant pressing of “IT’S CODE AMBER, CAN WE SEE THEM YET…” didn’t really build up any tension, because Code Amber sounds like you’ve just been to the loo and are warning people not to go in for a few minutes as it’s a bit whiffy.
It just about sums it up when half way through the first show the end credits appeared on screen for a split second, as it appears someone on the production team also just wanted it to end now.
Sadly the show continued until Friday night when it hit its epic climax. I was asked how it ended – and completely forgot. I could tell you now, but that pretty much sums up the impact it had better. DIY SOS was more memorable this week.