TV review: Superstar, Wallander, The Angelos Epithemiou Show
Superstar, ITV1, Saturday, July 7, 7.25pm and Sunday, July 8, 8pm
Wallander, BBC1, Sunday, July 8, 9pm
The Angelos Epithemiou Show, Channel 4, Friday, July 13, 10.35pm
"Andrew Lloyd Webber wants you to cast the leading man in his groundbreaking rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar", announces Superstar narrator Amanda Holden in the most portentous voice she can muster., But does he really? I'm inclined to believe Lloyd Webber is prepared to let viewers endorse whatever final decision he makes, but little more. One doesn't invest millions in an arena tour only to relinquish control and end up with your Jesus played by Pudsey the performing dog. Actually, that's not such a bad idea. I for one would pay to see it.
- Anyway, welcome to yet another TV talent trawl/free primetime publicity for the next Lloyd Webber production. That one lord should be searching for another is an irony not lost on Holden's scriptwriters, who warm to their theme with a whole host of biblical analogies taken from the life of Christ. So, the boot camp becomes "sandal camp", the wannabes are served a "last supper" before the competition begins in earnest, and their drive across a sandbank to Superstar island - the name given to the training venue for the final 40 contestants - inevitably draws an allusion to walking on water.
- I eagerly anticipate the later stages of the competition, when applicants are crucified for their auditions but given another chance three days later.
- Sitting in judgement with Lloyd Webber are ex-Spice Girl Mel C, Jason Donovan and the promise of Dawn French at a later date. Why French's participation is being delayed is a mystery that passeth all understanding - sorry, but once you get into this biblical mode it's hard to stop - as the show is crying out for her irreverence, wit and spontaneity.
- Mel C is amiable enough, though she can't even invest excitement into the ludicrously elongated winner and loser announcements. Donovan is little better, but at least displays an engaging line in empathy, best expressed when he mirrors the mid-tune gurning of the performers. Lloyd Webber remains po-faced and parsimonious throughout the audition process, bringing to mind another biblical analogy - the last one, I promise - about casting pearls before swine.
- From a lord to a mere knight, Kenneth Branagh returned for a third series as Swedish detective Kurt Wallander, in a cheery little mystery involving the serial killing of young Polish prostitutes.
- "I'm actually quite jolly", protested Wallander at one point, despite all the evidence of gloom, guilt, emotional isolation and despondency to the contrary.
- Who else but Wallander would have their fresh start in a country idyll disrupted by the discovery of a corpse beneath the blackberry bushes? From there on in it was grey, grey all the way, and I loved every minute of it. Beautifully shot, exquisitely paced and performed to perfection, Wallander also offers the imaginary opportunity of spending time in a country that has weather even more depressing than our own.
- When Angelos Epithemiou stumbled on to Shooting Stars clutching his trademark carrier bag, he effortlessly stole the show from under the noses of Vic and Bob.
- Now Channel 4 has given him his own comedy chat show, but the character just doesn't have enough depth to sustain half an hour. It has its moments, but this is a show best suited to an inebriated, undiscriminating, impressionable audience. You know - students.
Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.