ITV’S new police drama Wild Bill is based on an idea that’s probably as ancient and well worn as dear old Carol Vorderman herself.
A brash American cop arrives in Britain, for no convincing reason, and in fairly equal parts is charmed, baffled and horrified by the locals.
None of the opening five episodes of ITV’s Wild Bill have worked so far[/caption]
But hey, you know what, eventually they learn to rub along together just fine.
What sets this version apart from others, like Dempsey And Makepeace, is the brash American in question is Rob Lowe. Yeah. THE Actual Rob Lowe, of St Elmo’s Fire and The West Wing, whose very first words of the series were: “This is going to be so great.”
And I think, at that precise moment, we all instinctively knew it wasn’t.
We were right as well.
A shame, as I like Rob Lowe. Apart from being one of the brighter and more charming members of his profession he can also act. Just not in this thing.
Wild? He certainly isn’t. He’s the slightly narked Bill Hixon, who has very randomly become the Chief Constable of East Lincolnshire and is a man obsessed by algorithms, believing you can solve all crime by numbers.
There’s an easier way of doing it on TV these days, of course. You simply rule out all the noble, hard-working East European migrants as murder suspects, and anyone else who ticks a box, and arrest the middle-class guy.
Even the laws of political correctness don’t quite work with Wild Bill’s convoluted plots, though, which tend to have an agricultural theme, involving broccoli, cabbages and lots of turnips.
My first suspicion was that Wild Bill’s simply what happens to American actors when they ask Aaron Sorkin for a pay rise on The West Wing
None of the opening five episodes have worked, but the oddest of the lot was definitely the first, which combined a bloke who was stealing satellite dishes when no one was watching TV (wait for it) with the headless corpse of a woman who’d been decapitated throwing herself off a wind turbine.
Not even Rob Lowe and his algorithms can clear up that sort of mess alone, obviously, so he’s helped by a crap pack of regulars, who include lots of clueless plod, a pushy local reporter (Angela Griffin) and a foxy local magistrate, played by Rachael Stirling, who had sex with Bill, episode two, thereby ruling out any will-they, won’t-they fun.
The tragic/comic figure at the centre of it all, however, is Rob Lowe, the country’s most over-worked Chief Constable, who turns up at every door knock, house raid and road block in the county and is a picture of absolute misery at all of them.
So miserable, in fact, the script often sounds like a genuine cry for help: “You’ll have to excuse me, Muriel, my life has reached such a nadir of awfulness that I cannot tell you who or where I am.”
About once an episode, he’ll also ask: “What am I doing here?” And it’s a fair question. My first suspicion was that Wild Bill’s simply what happens to American actors when they ask Aaron Sorkin for a pay rise on The West Wing. ITV’s star-struck drama department, though, is starting to show a bit of form here, having also recently cast Kate Beckinsale in The Widow, which was even worse than Wild Bill.
If it does now believe a third-rate script can be saved by an A-list star it’s a habit it needs to snap out of quickly, as it can’t.
In the meantime, the happiest people in the world, as Wild Bill reaches its conclusion, will be Rob Lowe and all those satellite dish thieves, who can go about their business, on Wednesday between 9pm-10pm, safe in the knowledge it’ll probably be September before anyone notices.
Sycophant of the month
This Morning’s Mark Wright to James Brolin: “Can I just say, how cool is James Brolin? You direct, you act, you’re a pilot, you race cars, you design houses. How can you be this talented? Is there any more you’re hiding from us?”
Just a bout of nausea.
Pyg sick of lippy host Liv
CHANNEL 4 has travelled all the way to the Congo Basin to make a documentary series about a short-a***d warrior tribe who seem to spend all day talking and all night drinking, fighting and singing.
A film that, from personal experience, I reckon they could just as easily have made in Govanhill on Glasgow’s south side.
Channel 4 has clearly decided the real star of this show is Livia Simoka[/caption]
But it probably wouldn’t have been quite as exotic and entertain- ing as Extreme Tribe: The Last Pygmies.
These are the Mbendjele people, 250 stroppy but resilient souls whose existence can often seem like one long episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Channel 4, though, has clearly decided the real star of this show is the presenter, Livia Simoka, a blonde Anneka Rice-like presence whose a*** is forever being followed into the jungle by her faithful camera crew at the first sign of trouble.
She swears quite a lot as well, does Livia, and has an intrusive line of questioning that certainly doesn’t stop short of asking the Mbendjele women:
“When you kiss each other, do you kiss each other’s private parts as well?”
They absolutely don’t, in case you’re wondering.
However, we did discover desperate- for-love Mbendjele women will sometimes allow a village elder to hack away at their teeth with a chisel and knife until their mouths look like downtown Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces have returned fire.
And does that help quell their husband-fuelled rage and inner self-loathing by creating a serene outward beautiful?
No, but hell’s teeth, they’ve got a Loose Women panel and a half, down there in the Congo (Channel 4, Monday, 9pm).
Random TV irritations
All those blokes looking for a round of applause when they noisily declare: “I love women’s football.”
Good Morning Britain indulging Susanna Reid and The Porkodile with far too many holidays, for my practical purposes and liking.
The W Channel servicing Emily Atack’s all-consuming fascination with herself.
And This Morning’s Phillip Schofield asking: “Can you think of anything better than Alison Hammond turning up on your doorstep?”
Yes, Alison Hammond not turning up on my doorstep.
Next stupid question?
George in a nut shell…
LOVE Island’s commen- tary provided its first big laugh of the series last week as narrator Iain Stirling contrasted the two latest contestants to leave.
“Lucie’s been on an incredible journey. She fell for Joe, lost him and discovered hidden strengths, before realising she had deep feelings for Tommy.”
Pause . . .
“George’s favourite snack is nuts.”
It was perfectly deliv- ered as well, although I thought George’s favourite snack was actually prawn cocktail crisps.
It’s hard to tell, though, with a canvas so completely blank Lucie couldn’t even explain to Caroline Flack why she coupled up with him in the first place.
“I mean . . . (another long pause) . . . look at him!”
Yeah, I’m looking, Lucie, and unless you’ve got a Von Trapp family fetish, I can’t see it. Enigmatic George, though, has now gone for ever and Love
Island, as a meaningful contest, is also over.
Tommy and Molly-Mae have had it in the bag since Curtis took fright from Amy.
The only real entertain- ment now will be prov- ided by Maura and the thrilling possibilities offered up by Anton and Belle’s relationship, which has so far added up to: “First time with a goat and first time shaving an a***.”
Next up, the big one, Belle: Shaving a goat’s a***.
Quiz-show dough ball
Gino’s Win Your Wish List: “Which US holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November?”
Dez: “Fourth of July.”
Bradley Walsh received some very unusual answers from show contestants[/caption]
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Who was Labour Party leader during both 1974 elections?”
Elaine: “Margaret Thatcher.”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “In the UK, which of the emergency services does the word constabulary refer to?”
Gino’s Win Your Wish List: “ABTA stands for Association of British Travel what?”
(All contributions gratefully received.)
Great Sporting Insights
Jofra Archer: “All the players opened me with welcome arms.”
Shane Warne: “New Zealand were the better team today but on the day England deserved it.”
Nasser Hussain: “The ball could be thrown a thousand times and it would hit the bat once. So the chances of it happening are none.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray).
Sent in by Simon Parry, Hemel Hempstead.
Picture research: Amy Reading
MOST READ IN OPINION
Panorama hero John Ware, the man behind Is Labour Anti-Semitic? documentary.
BBC2’s thrilling 8 Days: To The Moon And Back. Hitler Was My Neighbour, on The History Channel, rather putting C5’s The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door in perspective.
Love Island’s Dirty Dancing challenge. And Celebrity Goggleboxers Bez and Shaun Ryder discussing the moon landings and reminding us they improve every television show on which they appear.
Bez: “How far away is the moon?”
“Not really far away at all, mate. The M62’s further away.”
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