mon 22/04/2024

TFI Friday, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

TFI Friday, Channel 4

TFI Friday, Channel 4

The Nineties return for one night only. Aaaaaaand… cue spontaneous fun!

Here's one we made earlier… 19 years earlier

When TFI Friday first assaulted our screens (nearly) 20 years ago, things were very different. An untucked checked shirt passed for sartorial elegance, magazines sold in big numbers and, within their pages, women were routinely objectified, but ironically and in front of a paper-thin façade of equality.

This incongruous disconnect with society's current state – belt tightened, media fragmented and feminism back on the agenda - didn't bode well for the return, which, in order to succeed, would have to rely heavily on writer Danny Baker's unrivalled facility for inventive absurdism and ability to put the audience at the centre of the story, plus Chris Evans's everyman likeability.

Despite Evans’s claim, both before and during the show, that this was the final goodbye they had been denied, it had the feel of a pilot. This was amplified tenfold after the presenter announced that if the show were to progress, it would be in the hands of Radio One’s Nick Grimshaw. While the news left Twitter creaking under the weight of sheer outrage from white, middle-aged men with no one left to speak for them apart from… let's see… oh yeah, EVERYONE ELSE ON THE WHOLE OF TELLY, the demographic this show was originally intended for – and whom Grimshaw would probably serve well – were presumably out having lives and fun. In fact, the post-watershed timeslot seemed less about a concession to swearing and more about making sure the audience had time put the kids to bed and crack open a bottle of Shiraz.

The present-day show seemed only to serve as a future echo

Before this, everything had pretty much gone to the bright and breezy plan – even down to Blur, who, with their "Coffee and TV" refrain, "Let's start over again", seemed to capture something perfectly without it ever being clear exactly what that was. This, really, is the perfect embodiment of 1990s dasein as you’re ever likely to get – both nebulous and impenetrable. Speaking of impenetrable… if you ever find yourself planning a well-rehearsed spontaneous live show, don’t book Lewis Hamilton as your main guest. Not only is he pathologically dull, but you may find yourself, as Chris Evans did, asking him about the nuances of his management agreement. At this point you’d normally smash the glass and bring out the emergency Shaun Ryder to add an element of peril to the live broadcast. Sadly, as well as having his teeth done, our Shaun seems to have had his wings clipped and his mouth washed out with soap. Move along now, nothing to see – or hear – here.

This was anarchy of the carefully scripted kind – brimming with the possibility of friction and edge, but never veering close. Blur and Liam Gallagher didn't meet on screen, so no fireworks there, and the latter’s typically whining duet with Roger Daltrey on “My Generation” heaped layer upon layer of irony. At least it would have done if it could have been arsed. Meanwhile, the much talked about Clarkson "interview" was a pre-recorded taster of Top Gear to come and was exactly as edgy as you’d expect an on-screen job application to be.

By the time we got to the end via an unfathomably staged ruse suggesting that the benevolent controllers of telly time had given Evans and co carte blanche to go on for as long as they wanted, the show already felt overlong. That’s not to say there weren’t genuine laughs throughout: Evans is a talented, genial presenter and Baker a man capable of putting a good-natured shine on almost anything. There remains, though, the question of who the show was for and whether it was really needed. As we were hand-held through past TFI highlights at every opportunity, the present-day show seemed only to serve as a future echo – full of nostalgia for a decade that, if we’re honest, celebrated the superficial and the lowbrow, a decade in which money talked and bullshit… well, that talked too.

This was anarchy of the carefully scripted kind – brimming with the possibility of friction and edge, but never veering close

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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