Lamenting Richard E

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When it was flagged to feature on the Seven Network’s programming roster, for the first time, a few weeks ago and granted a prime time slot, The Age’s august home media supplement, ‘The Green Guide’, hailed the new series as high on the list for the week’s best viewing. Coming in on the coattails of another exciting and recommended Brit offering, ‘Mr Selfridge’, I was doubly enthused. The only problem would be that it was on one of the commercial channels. I rarely watch anything ‘live’ on one of these, apart from the footy. Rather than sit through interminable, mind numbing ads, my DLP (Darling Loving Partner) and I adroitly made use of our hard drive so we could fast forward through the mind-numbingly endless interruptions. Later, down the track, we once – and once only – tried to watch an episode of the eponymous show on the founder of one of London’s retail icons without recording – but never again. It was like the death of a thousand cuts. I swear the ad breaks were longer than the sliver of programming between them.

My DLP this year has been a devotee of such programmes as ‘Big Bang Theory’, ‘Merlin’, ‘The Mentalist’ and ‘The Bible’ amongst others and has long lamented the disdain for their viewers by the big three, particularly with the first show listed. Not only does she take issue with the constant repeats, there is a frequent of shifting of programmes to other time slots so relentlessly that it is impossible to keep track. Then there is the issue of never adhering to any pretence of starting a show at the advertised time – as if determined to drive away those of us who record as much as the poor beings who have the fortitude to watch direct.

As far as repeats are concerned – take today’s (Friday August 30th) prime time viewing. The Nine Network, from 7.30pm right through till midnight, is made up entirely of shows that have been previously aired. Over on Ten it was a repeat at 8.30 and according to my guide, they were yet to decide what should follow that. I suppose why bother when you are up against the Hawks v the Swans in a Friday night classic, as well as the excellent ‘Broadchurch’/’The Town’ on the ABC!

Those two offerings from Auntie are enthralling and have even dragged me away from the footy. I was on tenterhooks to discover who the culprit was in the former – I was right, as it turned out. ‘Broadchurch’, helmed by my daughter’s favourite ex-Dr Who, will surely be near the top of the wazzer when it comes to reviewing the year’s best television. At the moment there is much to cherish on the ABC. ‘The Time of Our Lives’ has engaged on Sundays following yet more Kevin – McCloud, not Rudd. ‘Australian Story’ continues to offer up gems and Tony has ably shepherded us through another season of ‘Q and A’ in an election year. The gorgeous Annabel is about to present our two prospective PMs – what a choice – through special episodes of the always illuminating ‘Kitchen Cabinet’. Aunty has also given us back the marvellous ‘Agony Aunts and Uncles’ and we are getting ample doses of Adam Hills and Stephen Fry. Artscape and Compass regularly turn up trumps, with Wednesday night feeling like Wednesday night now ‘The Gruen’ is back. ‘It’s a Date’ is quickly becoming a favourite, highlighted by the sublime Poh coming out of the kitchen. ‘Would I Lie to You’ cracks me up so much it can give me nosebleeds due to the fact I am chortling and snorting so much. The highlight of Thursday nights at the moment, though, has to be the for some reason completely unheralded ‘Derek’, in my view possibly the best thing Ricky Gervais has ever done – and I adored ‘The Office’.

SBS seems to be keeping pace with its big sister with some most viewable presentations at the moment – although nothing to match the fantastic ‘Lilyhammer’ and ‘Borgen’ of previous months.
‘The Observer Effect’ is always enlightening on some of the nation’s movers and shakers, and Julia, Brian and Dougal, of the hairy armpits, keep ‘RocKwiz’ ticking along. Charlie Boorman and ‘The Killing’ are making Hump Day more bearable with those raping, pillaging Vikings creating mayhem on Thursday eve.

But where oh where has Richard E disappeared to????? The Green Guide was exactly correct – his ‘Hotel Secrets’ was delicious viewing as he gambolled his way cheesily, as only Richard E can do, around hotels great and/or notorious. He gleefully tested out beds, saucily flirted with chamber maids and even tracked down the infamous Heidi Fleiss to talk on the topic of the police sting at the Beverly Hills Hilton that ended her prostitution racket.

Of course, when we attempted to watch the premier episode we discovered the network concerned considerately started the show over half an hour late. We therefore missed the end despite allowing some ample, so we thought, leeway. Then the following week, in their wisdom. Seven decided to insert an unadvertised episode of ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’, a repeat to boot, between ‘Mr Selfridge’ and Richard E. Our hard drive could cope with that, as we allowed this time a forty minute overrun. We had the same a week later for number three, but then we sat back to watch the fourth of a series of eight last Monday eve. For this our tele guide promised that Richard E was going to riff on hotels and sex, and even some nudity was indicated We observed the continuation of the upstairs/downstairs machinations of a revolutionary Edwardian retailer, then fast forwarded through the Irish cross-dresser to be delighted some more by ‘Hotel Secrets.’ Instead, though, of Mr Grant smiling lasciviously at the camera, we received – wait for it – a very smug Bruce McAvaney ready to inflict on us the latest woes of the Essendon Football Club. As much as I love footy, no-one by the name of Bruce is a match for the magnificent Richard E!!!!

So what has Network Seven done with the remaining five episodes of the show that so entertains as it examines world hostelries. Ever since I’ve pawed through the pages of tele guides to get a hint – but it seems to have disappeared into the ether as far as the powers to be at 7 are concerned. Richard E is gone, gone, gone – and no amount of searching has found him. There is no doubt that ABC or SBS would not have been so cavalier in their treatment of its fans – and we wonder why the punters are turning to other means of accessing their new shows in droves. So will I in future. Being old fashioned – I will now await the DVD!!!

 For more on ‘Richard E Grant’s Hotel Secrets‘ = http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/backstage-at-the-worlds-best-hotels-8217106.html

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