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23. Outside

Jim Shelley gets out by staying in

Tapehead no 23

TapeHead’s heard about it. He’s seen it in books and knows people who’ve seen it. Now it’s got its own series on TV, so it must be real.

Yes, The Great Outdoors, it was out there all along. Boating fishing, mountaineering…it’s good to know it’s going on (somewhere) and that someone (some other idiot) is utilizing it to the full.

The Great Outdoors this week involves everything from cloud spotting to bungee jumping, not to mention people in lycra tights pretending they’re “orienteering” (they’re actually just lost – probably looking for their trousers).

One orienteerer sums it up as “taking in the fresh air, enjoying the country, getting some good exercise” – the sort of thing that causes TapeHead to keel over gasping for breath and murmuring “the horror, the horror.”

An informative programme, if only because it confirms what Tapehead suspected all alone. The Great Outdoors: it’s unbelievably uninteresting.

In fact, beautifully useless programmes for Tapehead’s beautifully useless life about this week.

The king of them is clearly For One Night Only…Errol Flynn, a quite astonishingly bad theatrical performance by Nathaniel Parker pleading Errol Flynn’s case to be let out of heaven.

“Heaven: no booze, no fags, no loose women – it’s hell up there”. Ho bloody ho. Parker’s utterly useless approximation of the great Errol is matched only by Sean’s Pertwee’s catastrophic performance-com-moustache as Errol’s pal, David Niven. More choke than chortle.

Unforgettable is about how to remember things (how useful) and, for some reason, presented by the eminently forgettable and uninteresting Greg Proops.

Several policemen, a cartoonist, and a “memory trainer” called Vanda North show us how to remember people’s names and faces and which programmes you want to video that night.

Apparently, one way of remembering the name, er, Greg Proops is to think of a droopy propeller (you don’t seriously expect Tapehead to remember why, do you?). His identity experiment confirms that when you get mugged, you won’t remember what the perpetrator looks like. Unless he looks like…Greg Proops.

Worth watching for the Mastermind contestant whose introduction by Magnus magnesium went as follows:
“And your occupation?”
“Er, er, erm…oh shit.”

TapeHead salutes him, whatever his name was.

Is there any outdoors greater or more useless than the artistic wasteland that is the heavy rock scene in Siberia ? In their first episode Extreme Asia covered the ancient art of “throat singing”
(a dying art from, and rightly so).

This week, hairy heavy rock gods Mission Anti-Cyclone, from the Far Eastern town of Magadan.

“People find it strange that such a bleak town can be so cheerful and joyous,” drones the lead singer dourly, in a voice that makes Ian Curtis sound like Mr Blobby.

Mission Anti-Cyclone have to travel 4,000 km to play a gig, and no wonder – they’re terrible. Mind you, the word-play on their linguistic pop classic Morning With God knocks spots off Elvis Costello any day.

As a series, Eastern Asia is genuinely strange – and there’s no higher compliment Tapehead can pay.

Just put your feet up, rewind, and replay. Ahh, The Great Indoors.

Collector’s Tape 27

Without Walls: Errol Flynn, Tue, 9.30pm-10pm, C4
Extreme Asia: Wed, 11.40pm-12.15pm, C4
The Great Outdoors: Thu, 8.30pm-9pm, C4
The Unforgettable Show: Fri, 8.45pm-9pm, BBC1