Only Lily Allen and her friends at the BBC could command such an exclamation from Cuba Gooding Jr. Her tasteless attempt at a new chat show can be best described as Heat magazine crossbred with a little Graham Norton-esque audience participation. It was actually painful to sit through Allen’s new vehicle, paper-cut painful.
The interaction with her audience seemed to be nothing more than a passing sentiment. A number of awkward exchanges with the Romford-fashion crowd ensued. Those lucky enough to have been picked out were rewarded with a place at the TFI Friday-style bar to be seldom seen again. The purpose of the bar escapes us, though it probably escapes the producers beyond its function as a holding pen for the banal.
Lily’s first guest was David Mitchell, who was forced to sit in a half tea cup/half bed hybrid. The questions posed were on the most part inane, with Mitchell’s witty and deadpan responses only serving to illustrate the gargantuan gap between their respective levels of talent.
Like Parkinson, Wogan, and other great interviewers before her, Allen has her own distinct style. Where the former two opted for well-researched, probing questions, Allen instead decided on ‘Newsround press-pack reporter’ style. Allen’s attempt at endearing herself to the viewer by giggling intermittently throughout the guests’ replies like a 10-year-old on TV for the first time failed to be anything more than irritating.
Lily Allen & Friends is one of a number of desperate bids from TV makers to win back the teenager from the internet, mobile phones, and gaming. It establishes a TV 2.0 designed to get the viewer involved in the content of the programme, much like Web 2.0 did for internet sites. In this respect it could well be a trendsetter, though it draws heavily from the bleak and almost forgotten world of public access television.
One of the few saving graces of such a format was the independence and anti-establishment rhetoric which made it a bit radical. However Lily Allen & Friends feels too forced, and with an idea which was inspired by MySpace (News International), implemented by the BBC and a production company responsible for gems such as The Wright Stuff and Date My Mom, it is anything but anarchic.
With more gimmicks and novelties than content, we need no more proof that Allen should stick to her music career, and TV execs should stop whoring themselves to regain a lost market.
[story by Keith Emmerson]