I have quite a low cringe threshold when it comes to TV. For instance, I find it physically painful to watch Richard and Judy. Not when Richard is dressed as Ali G, just when Richard is being Richard. It’s like the screen is no longer there, and I am stuck in an awkward soiree with locked doors and no alcohol.
Church shrieks, SHUT UP! FUCK OFF! and BASTARD! at every available opportunity, until it’s less like a chat show, more like Saturday night out with the girls in Didsbury Village
By its very nature, the chat show is rife with potentially cringeable moments, which is why the successful ones make you feel you are in safe hands. Parkinson had gravitas. Jonathan Ross is funny and impossible to fluster. You’d think that TV executives would focus on these sort of qualities when looking for a new host. Or, you know, not.
It’s definitely a case of “not” with The Charlotte Church Show, back for a second series. Last episode Church’s guests were Jonathan Ross, impressionist Kevin Bishop and Sharleen Spiteri, formerly of guitar group Texas.
The programme opens with a song incorporating news events into its lyrics and accompanied by a bouncing ball so the audience can sing along. Not only is this a bizarre idea, but it was the worst song I’ve ever heard in my life. And I’m including Texas’ oeuvre in that.
Charlotte Church's Welsh Finishing School for would-be slags
Then Church does a load of anti-Welsh jokes, which is okay, right, because she’s a proper Cardiff bird. Charlotte has got pretty good comedic timing but the jokes are very poor. This was followed by a segment called Lady to Ladette in which Church teaches several society girls how to down a pint of cider, to prove they can be a proper Cardiff chick. Though a rather thin idea, this has potential, and made me think that Church could carry off the Chris Evans vibe, lots of daftness, bit chaotic, no real substance.
Sadly, she does attempt to interview. Jonathan Ross is on first, and is not so much guest as ghost-presenter, which was a relief, but also a waste. There are benefits to interviewing someone who’s used to being on the other side of the desk and a decent host would have got a fascinating interview out of Ross, lingering, perhaps, on the candid conversation about how his wife feels about him flirting with Hollywood stars. Church, though, preferred to mine more important topics, like how many pets he has.
It’s a scientifically proven fact that people talking about their pets is utterly tedious. Even Jonathan Ross can’t do much to change that fact. Nonetheless, she manages to span this out for a good ten minutes, and then, after telling a story about a dog shitting on her dad’s head, Church launches into more meaty topics: “So, are there any films that have caught your fancy?” she asks Film 2008’s Ross. YAWN. And: “Your chat show is finished, what do you do in your spare time?” Can’t…keep…eyes…open…
As if to make up for the lack of scintillating conversation, Church shrieks, SHUT UP! FUCK OFF! and BASTARD! at every available opportunity, until it’s less like a chat show, more like Saturday night out with the girls in Didsbury Village.
Then there’s the ridiculous self promotion. Look, Jonathan, here’s me singing on your show. Look here’s me in a little nonsensical acting segment opposite Jason Statham, I’m rather good aren’t I? Hey, did I mention I’ve always wanted my own radio show?
The interview with Kevin Bishop was so dull I actually can’t remember it.I don’t think I could have borne watching Church try to interview Spiteri, but thankfully she only sang with her. (Hey, remember I sing, too?)
Ross explained to Church about his TV programme that, “When I’m on the show, I’m not really me.” This is the problem with Charlotte Church, and with Lily Allen and Davina, too. Someone convinced them that being themselves was their job. It’s not. Themselves are awkward and boring and self-indulgent. They need to be someone else. Someone more witty and professional and, in Church’s case, someone who sounds a bit less like Roger Melly from Viz.
Maybe this is why, out of all the female-fronted chat shows, Mrs Merton is one of the best we’ve had. But is it too much to ask that we can find a decent, funny, charismatic female TV chat show host we can respect? Like…um…Lauren Laverne? Or…hmmm... Judi Dench?
Hey, what’s Amy Winehouse up to at the moment?
The Charlotte Church Show, Thursdays 10pm, Channel 4