Am I the last person to realise that You’ve Been Framed is hilarious? Last time I tuned in (admittedly some years ago) it was hosted by Lisa Riley, whose delivery, I seem to recall, was even more painful than falling head first off a trampoline. Because of this it became one of those programmes I would poke out my eyeballs to avoid, not realising that somewhere along the line it had transformed from the Jive Bunny of TV to comedy gold. Not the clips, you understand (I still don’t see anything funny about a bride tripping into her wedding cake) but host Harry Hill, whose quirky commentary is absolute genius.
A similar thing is happening on new Channel 4 series When Women Rule The World. Well, okay, T4’s Steve Jones is far from a genius, but his voiceover does add something extra to this initially awful looking programme.
From the title it’s clear that Channel 4 have decided that, when it comes to female rule, it’s not a case of if, but when. And judging by the ladies picked out to dominate the men on this Caribbean island, we can all look forward to a world governed by pouting nut jobs in leopard print kaftans.
“This is the ultimate gender experiment,” claims Steve, as he reveals to the unsuspecting men the rules of the show. Now, I’m no anthropologist but I’m pretty sure that the ultimate gender experiment wouldn’t involve getting an ex porn queen and a gobby club promoter to order a Gangster rapper, a Bollywood actor and a scouse scamp with a boob fixation to sweep sand all day long. Unless academia has really gone down the pan since I was last involved.
The idea of the show is thus: eight women have total rule over ten men, their mission to create a harmonious society, as only women can. Or at least I think that’s the idea. Actually, there doesn’t seem to be any real aim at all, except that the women get to scream like harridans at the men and the last man to try to bludgeon himself to death with a coconut gets 30 grand. Or something.
In the first episode the women inexplicably voted Gemma, a club bouncer from Leeds, as their queen. Her first attempt at creating a female-led utopia was calling one of the men over by saying, “Here, bitch.” Perhaps utopia is an S&M club back home.
The men, of course, have been chosen for their sensitivity to the female cause. “If a woman ever says anything interesting then she’s just repeating something a man has said,” said beefcake Dan, having possibly beamed in from the 1950s. Then there’s G-Range, a (terrible) gangster rapper who keeps shouting “I’m an Alpha male!” as his masculinity is slowly eroded. Then we have Russell Brand-a-like writer Richard whose tactics for rebellion involve trying to talk the women to death. And then Mikey, the aforementioned scouse scamp whose contribution to the show thus far has been to gawp at the womens’ breasts, ponder how he is going to have a wank in the boys shared dorm, and fill condoms with conditioner to simulate sperm. He’s a deep one, is Mikey.
So, all hideous examples of human beings to a one, and so far the stereotypes are flying thick and fast, with the women coming over as highly strung, argumentative bitches and the men as knuckle dragging misogynists. It’s really doing very little for the feminist cause though an awful lot of sand is getting swept, which can only be a good thing.
And it is actually funny. Admittedly, you’d probably head butt the TV if you had to watch When Women Rule The World without a commentary but Steve Jones has been involved with writing and producing the show, and his amusing observations on the bonkers behaviour of the participants raise it from sub-Shipwrecked schlock to a rather amusing piece of telly.
Interestingly – and this is where is does get a tiny bit scientific – there seems to be absolutely no spark between the men and the women on the island so far, despite their skimpy outfits and idyllic setting and a night of plentiful booze. One hypothesis could be that the reversed roles are emasculating the men and de-feminising the women leading to sexual confusion and an absence of attraction. Or might it just be because they are all utterly hideous examples of human beings? Answers on a coconut leaf to the usual address.
When Women Rule The World, Channel 4, Thursdays, 10.30pm