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48. Ricki

Tapehead no 48

The 14th day of 1995 and Tapehead remains resolved. He will cut down. He will not spend every waking minute fixed firmly in front of the screen. He will go outside. He will wean himself away from the sweet, habit-forming temptations that have made his life great, but hell: Revelations, Melrose Place, NYPD Blue, Brookside. He will stop writing about Ricki Lake.

This week’s Ricki Lake is the awesome ‘I Can’t Believe You Left Me For That !’ And the unmissable ‘I’m About To Meet My Personal Ad On TV.’

“Looking for love ?” asks Ricki coyly. “Where do you find it in the Nineties ?”

Tapehead doesn’t know, but Ricki does. On television. On the Ricki Lake Show of course.

Stacey’s persona ad describes her as a “Jamie Lee Curtis lookalike”, but Stacey looks about as much like Jamie Lee Curtis as Tapehead’s dog. Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis after a bad accident.

Do not miss the guy who wants to go out with the girl who says she looks like Barbie (a real classy number). He’s the one with the scary rug, serial-killer eyes and Neanderthal smile. What a guy.

What Tapehead loves about Ricki Lake is not the weirdos that turn up on it (although he loves those too). It’s Ricki.

Tapehead is mesmerised by the way Ricki oozes confidence, but also looks so awestruck by what’s going on in front of her. Watch the way she can say “and she does look like Barbie doesn’t she ?” without any irony whatsoever.

Or the way she giggles when Jamie Lee Curtis says she’s picking number three because she “likes a man to go down for me.”

Ricki Lake is having the time of her life, and so is Tapehead.

The Private Life Of Plants should be a future episode on the Ricki Lake show: How I Pollinated With 200 Million Partners, Why I’m Addicted To Osmosis, How I Became A Cannabis Plant, How I Cut My Buds Back.

Instead, as the sexiest man on TV describes the race (against incredible odds, against so much competition) to grow, the highlight of this programme comes as the camera pans up huge tropical cheeseplant trees, and 50 feet up, and suddenly there he is: Attenborough, dangling precociously, intrepidly, in a sort of wobbly harness, in order to get a closer look and explain things.
Crazy name: crazy guy.

A French Affair could also be a Ricki Lake title but in fact this valuable repeat of Brits’ travails in rural France is almost as good, pinpointing forever the Brits’ scandalous stupidity and pompous belief that almost anything will work out for them purely because they are British.

“We decided to change our lives,” one of them explains, “and we’ve always liked France.”

So the three couples turn up in the Dordogne, buy a house, a farm, and a vineyard, and instantly cripple themselves financially or, in the case of one of them, literally.

“Patricia’s husband’s illness,” explains the narrator dramatically, “means Patricia has had to learn French.”

Cue cries of “Good God, how catastrophic. How inconvenient when you’re living in France. How do they manage ?”

“At times it’s been very hard,” she braves. “Listening to doctors about James’s illness and not understanding what they were saying to me.”
Hard and not really that worthwhile.

Particularly laughable are Mark and Amanda, a couple of insipid yuppies from the music business (“the Eighties were just really false”) who go out there to milk goats in much the same way they milked the bands on their roster.

Mark’s total inability to change a light bulb or do any farm work whatsoever without having to get the book out or fly his dad over from Blighty to help him, suggest their attempt to live Le Good Life might end in failure. Well hopefully…

Gradually though, watching these good-hearted, determined Brits making it up as they go along (buying animals when they don’t have land, turning wine into vinegar) what carries them all through and leads them onward slowly, becomes clear: their faith in buying the right chunky jumper.

A French Affair: 9-10pm, Mon, C4
The Private Life Of Plants: 9.30-10.20pm, Wed, BBC1
Ricki Lake: 5–5.50pm, Thu, C4