Thursday 20 March 2014

Parody or parody of parody

I must say I wasn’t as impressed by the much lauded W1A last night as I’d hoped to be. It wasn’t that the acting was any less sharp or the characters any less truly parodic. But there was one weakness that spoiled the whole thing and made me think of mirrors of infinity

What if the writers of W1A were in fact the creation of another set of writers, sitting round the table at a script meeting and having a creative brainstorming whilst creating writers sitting round the table having a creative brainstorming about the script of W1A. 

Let’s imagine the writers discussing their idea for the writers of the first episode of W1A, and let’s have them think up something or other for the writers of W1A to spoof. A parody of something that actually might happen, but easy to ridicule.  
Let’s find an easy target and have the writers feature it in the first episode, but let’s make it unconvincing and foolish so as the more astute members of the audience suspect that what they’re watching is not actually a parody of what goes on at the BBC, but a parody of some scriptwriters trying to create a parody of the BBC, and not quite succeeding. That can be the ultimate hilarity, when the reveal comes at the very end of the series.

This week’s brilliant idea is to think of some idiotic cause, which parodies a real idiotic cause, like, say, diversity and equality, and introduce it into the first episode. But let’s make the writers too stupid to realise that they have chosen a target that misses the mark because it’s badly executed and looks more like bullying than clever parody.

 It’s like a painting of a room in which there is a painting on the wall. The painting is of the room with the painting, which is of the room with the painting. That’s the idea I had from watching W1A. 
Okay, you might have guessed what I’m talking about. No, you probably haven’t. Well, if you’ve ever been to Cornwall, and I’m sure the writers of all layers of my parody within a parody have - possibly to Rock or an upmarket resort that the posh people go, or maybe not, you might get the impression that the  Mebyon Kernow people are a bit weird, but they are not so dumb as to never have heard of Helen Glover from Jelbert’s ice cream shop in Newlyn or Sir Ben Ainslie who once went to Truro School. 
Helen Glover

Sir Ben Ainslie

And if they have ever been to Cornwall and met any real Cornish, they’d know that the locals don’t talk generic westcountry, but they talk in a variety of proper Cornish accents which differ from region to region, but are all unmistakably Cornish, and not joke Bristolian, Somersetish, or Devonian. So there. 

By the way, I always like Jessica Hynes and the others in the cast -  particularly the ladies -  but I have to say the cameos within the programme looked decidedly forced. The visual equivalent of name dropping, which jarred. I haven’t looked at other reviews yet. But I have to say that so far it’s more affectionate, mildly self-deprecating than hard-hitting parody. But we always knew it would be, didn’t we.   


  1. It’s beyond parody: the BBC carpet revitalising committee['The Times (£)]

    "It is a prime example of life imitating art. As the first episode was broadcast last night of a BBC “mockumentary” deriding bureaucracy, management-speak and an obsession with blue-sky thinking, the corporation was busy defending claims of absurdity in real life.
    TV executives at the BBC have started tearing up carpets and replacing decor that is less than two years old on two floors of its £1 billion London headquarters because “they did not feel like creative spaces”, it has emerged.
    The sixth and seventh floors are being revamped to introduce new “TV branding, images and props” to give them a more “vibrant” feel. Danny Cohen, the BBC’s powerful head of TV, assembled a committee of employees to bounce around ideas for giving their floors a “unique sense of identity” after complaints that they lacked character.
    The committee recommended giving the sixth floor a “Welcome to Television” theme, while the seventh will be modelled on an “outside streetscape”, staff have been told."

    1. "ITV News social affairs editor Penny Marshall has been hired by the BBC to the new post of education editor, while BBC chief economics correspondent Hugh Pym is moving to the newly-created role of health editor.
      The two appointments will, according to the BBC, "be charged with increasing the number of stories broken in the fields of health and education as well as bringing a greater depth of understanding and analysis to these crucial areas".
      The corporation also said the appointment of editors in health and education "underlines the commitment of BBC News to bringing unrivaled expertise to bear on policies which affect millions of viewers, listeners and readers".
      Marshall said: "I think the creation of this post rightly puts the issue of education at the heart of the domestic news agenda at a critical time of change."
      That's not parody though. It's real.

  2. "Rob Simmons, who is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Mebyon Kernow for West Cornwall in real life, said: “Didn't think it was funny any of it, big fan of mockumentaries but thought it was really wooden and dull.”

    "Dick Cole, the leader of the party, told the BBC this morning: “As somebody who has been involved with Mebyon Kernow his entire life I didn’t think it particularly funny.

    "“It was just poor and I think maybe we need to send a few Cornish guys like Kernow King and Jonny Cowling to teach them a bit about comedy.”"

    Read more:

  3. It didn't produce a single laugh, I thought I could have been watching a serious documentary on the workings of the BBC except for the familiar faces of the actors.

    Christopjer Scopes

  4. I didn't enjoy this prog at all, in fact, I found it quite creepy and reminiscent of a couple of companies I worked for on a contract basis. They had their own "culture", their own ridiculous language ("pushing the envelope", "blue-sky thinking " kind of stuff) and their own inter-personal laws that were supposed to eliminate "coffee machine chatter" but which I found rigid and robotic.There was even a correct way to sit at your desk. In fact, the whole system reminded me of the Stepford Wives - with the '50's housewife persona replaced by "hey,yah - look at us hip, cool and trendy types!".

    If this prog was a facsimile of the BBC then the organisation needs to get a grip.

  5. I thought it was pretty good by way of BBC output.
    Not as good as 2012, and a little self-referential and arch in its studied targets-will want to see how they cover "Womans Hour" next week.
    I myself missed the "Director of Sustainabilty" woman from 2012, who stole the show back then, but it was a decent enough programme.
    As for the real-life madnesses at the BBC...they`ve lost the will to live there-so resemble HBOS/Bank of Scotland as Fred the Shred was changing the livery and logos there before the axe fell and the shit hit the fan.
    The end of the license fee and unravelling entrails over Savile and its payments and omnishambles etc...£145.50 should cover the cost of a good seat and some sustainably/appropriately-sourced popcorn!


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