Thanks to the televisual smorgasbord that is Catch-Up TV, Karen and I happened to watch Lily Allen & Friends yesterday. We had a spare half hour to fill and just thought what the hell (we live right on the edge, we do).
I was pleasantly surprised which was a shock given that my first point of reference for this type of programme was the God-awful Charlotte Church Show. But whereas the latter was genuinely sloppy, haphazard and anarchic in a totally uncool and crap way, LA & Friends was contrived to be anarchic and shoddy in a very polished, carefully timed and sharply edited way... the result was a show that was far tighter than Charlotte Church’s g-string could ever hope to be.
Now there’s a turn up for the books. The Beeb down and cool with the kids while Channel 4 dances in the background like an embarrassing, piss stained uncle at a family wedding.
But this is by the by. LA & Friends works only because Lily Allen is engaging, socially adept, un-phased by fame and happy to just be herself. I always got the impression that the Charlotte Church “perceived persona” was constantly in the way of the real Charlotte Church to the point where it rugby tackled her to the ground every time she got a clear shot at a touchdown. Charlotte was awkward, slow to respond to cues from her guests and seemed unable to engage with anyone. The result was a flat, uncomfortable show with a huge identity crisis. Charlotte just didn’t know what she wanted to be and her show only amplified her confusion – Singer? Interviewer? Comedienne? Porn star? Welsh stereotype? She didn’t know and neither did we.
Lily Allen on the other hand is refreshingly just Lily Allen. And her show does exactly what it says on the tin.
My boy, Ben, fancies Lily something chronic and Karen and I both approve. As Karen says, Lily is nice... but not too nice; she’s a bit naughty too. Ideal girlfriend material... though thankfully her admission that she was caught giving head to a boy at school when she was 14 seemed to completely pass our 6 year old by as he busily played with his Lego Bionicles on the floor...
The only thing I didn’t like was the premise behind the “& Friends”. This wasn’t a Bruce Forsythe-esque reference to Lily’s showbiz pals but to the audience members themselves. They were all people who’d signed up to Lily’s web page on the BBC site and become her “friend” in the same way that everyone under 15 these days has 547 friends they’ve never actually met / shared an exchange with on their Facebook account. Really the show should be called Lily Allen & Stalkers.
Basically these Lily fans earned their place in the show’s audience pit by submitting embarrassing (probably apocryphal) anecdotes about themselves. You know the type of thing: “please tell us something really zany / rude about yourself for a chance to appear on the show...”
Hence Lily was able to spotlight one lady who’d given her BF a BJ to settle a £500 debt and a man who’d broken his thumb in a rushed masturbatory session that was interrupted by his GF coming home from work too early.
Hardly people you’d like to have as friends – let along want to shake hands with... I mean, can you imagine? Urgh.
There is something ineffably unhealthy about people who are so desperate to get on TV that they’ll happily admit to things on camera that would normally get them lampooned out of their local boozer back home in Nowhereville.
I wouldn’t want them anywhere near my Facebook page... (or my face for that matter).
My advice to Lily is simple: drop the “friends” – you don’t need them.
It’s better to be Lily No-Mates than Lily Nob-Mates.