75. Happiness

Tapehead no 75

This week’s TV gives you the impression that making programmes about the pursuit of happiness has left the nation’s premier programme makers feeling a little bit down. Just depressed.

Cutting Edge’s The Trouble With Money looks at playing the lottery, with vox-pop quotes from would-be winners and extensive access to cocky, crooked car dealer/£6.5m winner, Lee Ryan.

Everyone admits they dream of winning the lottery. Lee Ryan’s dreams of course have all come true. We see Lee screaming along in his Ferrari, cruising around in his Bentley (for “long distance touring”), learning to fly his helicopter (as you do).

As lottery winners go, let’s face it Lee is a natural. Sadly he was also a natural born criminal, so pretty soon, we see Lee going down for handling stolen cars, complaining that he never got a fair trail because of the publicity he’s had. (This, during a Channel 4 documentary about his good self.)

Theoretically, Lee should be a dream for Cutting Edge, a gift to the team that made The Club. But the only scene with any dramatic nuance or sharp social comment is a glimpse of Lee exchanging quips with a few blokes hanging around his old council estate as he swishes by in his Ferrari.

Dazzled by Lee’s luck, charmed by his charm, it’s as if (for once) Cutting Edge has lost its edge, as if they just haven’t got the heart to hoist him on his (very sizable) petard.

Lee (a disciple of the Eubank Temple of Self-Worship) even gets away with preposterous posing and posturing, not to mention his incomprehensive Eubank-style philosophies: 

“What I did was what I did. I’m answerable to that person who decides what it was I did, and what it was I didn’t do.”

It’s actually Lee’s wife Karen who conveys anything about what it’s really like to win the lottery, describing “holding on to the ticket while you try to sleep.”

The only poignant moment comes when Karen shows her old neighbour from the estate around her new mini-mansion.

“In there, that’s a study.”

“Another study !”

When she gets home, her friend says, her own home feels “like a shed.”

Carol Cartman’s £50,000 scratch-card win had its problems but the celebrations were well under way by the item she and her mate took off for a booze-included package holiday. 

“You got up to go to the toilet,” her mate remembers nostalgically. “You fell, head-butted this woman, and knocked her out.”

Happy days.

Five-piece, all-blonde girl band Treacle dream of fame, fortune, and a gig at Stringfellows, we learnt in Tribe Time: Band Called Treacle.

We duly witness their first, suitably weedy, attempt at trashing a hotel – pouring a miniature carton of UHT out the window.

Again, though, the filmmakers just haven’t got the heart to stitch Treacle up, which doesn’t leave much else. Only the two sisters’ mum enters into the spirit of it, gleefully rubbishing her daughters’ boyfriends.

A few carping comments aside, even Angus Deayton has gone soft on the dreamers and loonies in his new Talkback series, In Search Of Happiness.

He jets off to check out self-help happiness guru/space cadet, Tony Robbins, and a boilerman from Bolton who wandered the world looking for happiness only to find it back in Bolton.

Deayton also has his name analysed by expert/nutter Laurence Y David G Adams who advises him that adding the initials G or N to his name will make him much more positive.

Sadly, Deayton only comes over as horribly superior when he talks to these people and is evidently not prepared to make a fool of himself to get a laugh.

Unsure of whether to be Clive James, Michael Palin, or just himself, Deatyon forgets to be anyone, especially someone interesting or amusing, making the whole thing rather pointless.

In the end, he seems happy just catching some rays.

“It’s easy to be cynical about someone like Tony Robbins,” he says, “but just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”

How true.


Tribe Time: A Band Called Treacle: Sat, 12.40am, C4

In Search of Happiness: Sun, 10.10pm, BBC1

Cutting Edge: Mon, 9pm, C4