It’s a New Year and BBC2 are trying to create a new you.  Returning series Trust Me I’m a Doctor and new offering What to Buy and Why both want us to have better lives for less money.  Trust Me I’m a Doctor unsurprisingly focused on our health (I would be worried if doctors began offering advice on mobile phone cases).  They road tested new scientific discoveries “so that you don’t have to”  including the health benefits of protein shakes and isotonic drinks; when is it best to exercise and whether antioxidant drinks actually provide any benefit.

During the course of the hour we saw the inside of more University facilities than a prospective student on an open day.  Every item was expertly commented on by a scientist wearing tracksuit bottoms and a polo shirt (whatever happened to the good old fashioned white coat?).  We saw people exercising in gyms; presenters having needles the size of a HB pencil inserted into their leg; more gym shots; students lying under gold fish bowls doing what they do best, sleeping; more shots of people exercising in the gym and Michael Mosley lunging with a vacuum cleaner (I bet that doesn’t make it into a Dyson ad).  The results were genuinely interesting, it’s just a shame that that they took so long to get to them.  The show concluded with a one-minute summary of their findings.  protein and isotonic drinks aren’t worth the money; men should exercise before eating and women after; antioxidant drinks are a bit of a con as once the body has absorbed all the antioxidants it can, it shuts down (a bit like my brain with science experiments).

A couple of night later BBC 2 continued its mission to make us better people with What to Buy and Why.  This news series presented by Cherry Healey appears to be Channel 5’s Gadget Show, but with a budget. (Although the budget musn’t have been that great as the majority of the show was obviously filmed in one day at the Olympic Park.)   The main gadgets they were checking out “so we didn’t have to” were health trackers.  Instead of seeing shots of people in the gym we mainly saw slow-mo shots of people exercising outside the Olympic stadium. (I bet the producers didn’t tell the contributors that they were going to do that.  I would not allow anyone to show my wobbly bits bouncing about like a jelly trying to escape from a lycra prison.) 

There were more experts on hand (in tracksuit bottoms and polo shirts) to analyse results and Olympic triathlete Lucy Hall gave us the opinion of an elite athlete.  Unlike Trust Me I’m a Doctor the results were slightly more obvious; if you are an elite athlete spend more money on your tracker, if not, a free app on your phone will do.  Cherry Healey is engaging as a presenter and has brilliant facial expressions. The “noddy”  (a shot of the presenter nodding) is a technique filmmakers use to hide edits in an interview.  Cherry does more than just nod.  Her eyes go into overdrive.  If she opened them any wider she could become an act on Britain’s Got Talent.  Still, it makes a change from the staid serious nod you normally get from presenters.
The other test that was done was on durable phone cases.   The first three tests basically involved exposing them to day-to-day wear, dropping them, leaving them on top of your car etc. This left us with two phone cases and in true gadget show style, they decided to stick them on a weather balloon and drop them from space.  Now this test had two problems 1) this experiment is only really relevant for Commander Tim Peake and 2) the payload came back with a parachute so the phones actually hit the ground with the same velocity as if they had been thrown out of a tree with a parachute.  But hey, never let the facts get in the way of a sexy consumer stunt.  The results showed that a cheap foam case and the more expensive aluminium one offered roughly the same protection.  Honestly you would think that if polystyrene foam offered that sort of protection then they would use it for the payload when they drop things from space.  What’s that?  Oh, they did. Next.

Cherry could have a staring role in the new series of Mr Seldfridge as the majority of the acting appeared to be done by the eyes (see video below).  I have often tuned into Mr Seldridge to see if the oak panelling in the Chief’s office could out act the cast, but this season the eyes have it.  Mr Selfridge has often been viewed as a poor man’s Downton, but dramas based on historical facts always have a disadvantage.  We know what happened.  In series one, episode one the big drama was “Will Harry find the money to build the store?”  Errr, yes, as it’s still there on Oxford Street.  Episode two, “Will Harry’s plans to move the perfumes to the front of the shop be a success?  Errr, yes, and every other department store has followed suit.  The thing is you can’t mess with the facts with an historical drama.  Or can you?

I was so intrigued with the Selfridge story that I read the book on which it is based  “Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge”by Lindy Woodhead.  The problem is now I am spotting how the TV series differs from the book.  The main difference is Harry’s age.  It takes nearly half of the book to get to him opening the store on Oxford Street in 1909 when he was 51.  Jeremy Piven who plays him has just turned 50 but looks sickeningly good for a man born half a century a go.  I would like to look that good when I get to 50.  Actually I’d like to look that good now!  By the time we get to this last series Harry was 70.  In attempt to age him, they have popped a bit of talc into Mr Piven’s hair which unfortunately has the effect of just making him look a bit Clooney-esque.
Other demonstrations of artistic Licence include; Ma Seldridge died in 1924, so she looks good for a corpse; he didn’t fall off the balcony in 1928, he fell in 1935 examining the work on the new Food Court; he never had a beard, but his moustaches would make Movember proud.  Saying that, I will still watch the series to the end to see how it all plays out. If you don’t want to commit to the series, then I have read the book “so that you don’t have to”.  Spoiler alert: Harry dies, but the shop continued.  I bet you never saw that coming did you?
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