Sunday, 12 March 2017


This article was originally published in The Dundee Courier on 11 March 2017.

MUTINY: Monday, Channel 4

HOW’D YOU GET SO RICH?: Monday, Channel 4

If Top Gear has taught us anything – and I hope for all our sakes it hasn’t - it’s that a certain type of man enjoys nothing more than indulging in utterly pointless masculine endeavours. MUTINY, a seasick documentary series in which nine ordinary blokes follow in the oar-strokes of Captain Bligh, is further proof of that.

The mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789 is one of the most notorious incidents in British maritime history. Together with a small band of loyal sailors, Bligh was abandoned in a tiny boat in the middle of the Pacific, but miraculously managed to survive a treacherous 4,000 mile voyage to safety.

238 years later, because Channel 4 have some airtime to fill, a group of strangers climbed aboard a purpose-built replica of Bligh’s escape vessel to mimic his epic ordeal.

Their combined skills include carpentry, medicine and dire banter. I’m no historian, but I daresay that when Bligh’s starving crew defecated over the side of his boat, their indignity wasn’t accompanied by hoots of laughter.

Should you wish to join in with this adventure at home, then drink a cup of salt water every time the words “mate”, “lads” and “boys” are uttered. You’ll be dangerously dehydrated and delirious within minutes.

Their leader is bearded Action Man/sober Captain Haddock Ant Middleton, a burly ex-soldier who could eat Bear Grylls for breakfast. Ant never feels more alive than when he’s scaling a volcano for six hours in search of coconuts, while urgently documenting his alpha-maleness down a camera lens.

Programmes such as this would be nothing without conflict, hence the involvement of crewmember Chris, a rebellious Liverpudlian who doesn’t take kindly to orders. He spent the first few days behaving like a petulant, foolhardy child, then complained when his captain and teammates treated him accordingly.

His ultimate ambition is to sail the world solo. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mutiny ends with him stealing the boat and doing just that. 

Chris would be a nightmare to deal with while filming an ostensibly dramatic documentary about the indomitable spirit of human endurance. That’s why I have grudging respect for him. He makes a mockery of the whole thing, which, for all his immaturity, seems entirely reasonable.

I really don’t give two hoots about this futile exercise in false peril and macho camaraderie. Shiver me timbers, it’s dull.

In HOW’D YOU GET SO RICH?, comedian Katherine Ryan gently poked the underbelly of four disparate millionaires.

The nice couple who founded Poundland were disappointingly normal and content – the notion that money actually does buy you happiness is the last thing most of us want to hear – but Ryan’s surface of detached irony couldn’t disguise her conflicted sympathy for one Danny Lambo, a self-described playboy leading a sad, lonely, aimless existence.

The next time you gaze despondently at your bank balance, spare a thought for Lambo – short for Lamborghini - who derives scant pleasure from judging vanity-funded beauty contests and filming inept music videos. When he inevitably makes a film about his life, he’ll probably cast himself. Matt Berry would be a better fit.

Ryan’s Hollywood encounter with a cosmetically-preserved septuagenarian plastic surgeon seemed to suggest that money can buy eternal youth. So why does Donald Trump look like a heaving colostomy bag?

Just one of many questions Ryan failed to address in this glib, if tacitly judgemental, holiday in other people’s immense wealth.

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