You’ll all be pleased to know we have the internet back now. There, hasn’t that made your day a little bit brighter? Of course, like anything you wait five weeks for (except Starbucks red cups), the broadband hook-up has been something of an anticlimax. While it’s lovely to be connected to the virtual world again, all it’s really done is remind me that a) nobody facebooks me anymore anyway, b) eBay has everything in the world I have ever wanted or needed, but I can’t afford to buy any of them, and c) my laptop trying to load up three tabs at once sounds like an 87-year-old trying to get out of an armchair.
It hasn’t all been a letdown, however. With our net package, we have also acquired Virgin TV. Which is AWESOME. Having spent three years with only terrestrial, it feels like Dorothy stepping out of the house into Oz and seeing colour for the first time.
No longer is every bit of viewing prefixed by the 10 minute Dance of the Aerial, where we take it in turns to stand with one arm out of the window while everyone shouts “yes… no… left a bit… you’ve nearly got it… ooh, I can see Dermot’s face…no wait, that’s a manatee...” until the idea is abandoned in favour of acting it out ourselves. No more will I be forced to invent ailments as excuses for not going out on a Saturday – I can have a social life, and watch Strictly on iPlayer, and still retain my reputation as a Supercool Person. I think that’s what the retro feminists really meant by ‘having it all’.
Without our new quality TV experience, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed Thursday’s Children in Need concert as much as I did. Which is: very, very much indeed. This was surprising – firstly because the very act of watching it could be interpreted as encouraging the perpetuation of Fearne Cotton’s career, and secondly because, um, I don’t like Children in Need.
What?? Sacrilege! Burn the witch! Did Bravo just say she wants all sick and underprivileged children to die? Did she? Should we alert the Daily Express?
No. Calm down. I don’t dislike children who are in need, as a concept, or the charity itself – I definitely approve of disadvantaged children getting treatment and houses and food and care. I’m all for it. Of course. Charity = great.
But the programme = bad. It is five hours of watching newsreaders pretend to know about pop culture, Eastenders stars pretend to know about comedy, and the aforementioned Cotton pretend to know about anything. And beware ye, viewer – the moment you start watching, you give up your entire evening. For the curse of Children in Need is that it knows when you are thinking of turning over. As soon as you reach for the remote, what will happen, eh? That’s right, a video about a kid with cystic fibrosis will automatically begin. And if you switch channels during it, you are a terrible person. They’ll know. Wogan is watching you.
But Thursday’s Albert Hall shebang was different. It was, aside from the noble cause, just excellent, excellent television. It had Leona Lewis being epic, in a dress I’m fairly sure was made by a year 10 DT Textiles class. It had Cheryl Cole, Queen of the nation’s hearts, making a song she’s only performed twice sound like an anthem for our times (though I would like to state now that I by no means believe “if it’s worth having it’s worth having it’s worth fighting for” should be applied to international oil-based conflicts). It had be-suited slots from Chris Moyles, Peter Kay and James Corden, leading me to realise that they are, in fact, all just shades of the same person. And it had Paul McCartney singing us out with Hey Jude, the textbook way to make any audience feel instantly uplifted, united, and like everything will be ok forever.
But the top three moments were, by far, the following:
*Dame Shirley Bassey and Dizzee Rascal – a union so blooming perfect it seems like madness that we haven’t seen it before. He’s in a tux! She’s doing some urban arm dancing! Now we can all imagine them doing auntie/nephew-style bonding activities together, like shopping in John Lewis and going to pilates (until the inevitable happens, and they make it into a Vodafone ad).
*Lily Allen and Take That – for weeks and weeks, Allen’s latest single has been coming on the radio, and Hannah and I have been saying, “She’s nicked that tune from Take That.” Then, in possibly the most satisfying piece of fourth-wall-removing, self-deprecating TV I’ve ever seen, we had her singing her song, when halfway through Take That charged on singing THEIRS. Ha! Hahahahaha! If The Chiffons had done it to George Harrison, everything probably would have been resolved.
*Take That and Robbie Williams – not since the release of the Doner Kebab Pot Noodle has there been such a cultural milestone. We’ve all known it was coming for ages, but that didn’t make it any less moving. As he and Gary Barlow grinned at each other like excited schoolboys during the finale, I actually cried. I cried for friendship, for pop music, for nostalgia.
Then they ran the disadvantaged children clip and I cried for them too. Well done Beeb, you may have converted me.
If the BBC were the kings of musical brilliance this week, then ITV were the inevitable court jesters. Does anybody quite now what they’re meant to be thinking about X-Factor anymore? (Don’t answer, “you’re not meant to be thinking anything, you’re meant to watch David Attenborough’s ‘Life’ and stop being shallow.” Just don’t.) I mean, to like Jedward is to be the kind of person who voted for Boris because his hair is lolz. But to hate Jedward is to validate the sincerity of the programme, which of course we’re not meant to do because it’s a fraudulent, capitalist imposter in the noble landscape of proper music. And to have no opinion on Jedward at all is to be inhuman. It’s all so complicated.