91. Perverts

Tapehead no 91

A neurotic TV writer, famous for interfering in TV adaptations of his scripts, writes a part in his series, Karaoke, in which an actor plays a famous neurotic TV writer, always interfering in TV adaptations of his script, Karaoke.

How ingenious can you get? There’s nothing more banal or obvious than a writer writing a script in which a writer reads form a script. 

Only Dennis Potter would be lauded for it.

“Isn’t that what my script’s about ? Karaoke as a metaphor,” asks the writer (Albert Finney) – several times.

Er, yes. Dennis, we got that point, We actually got it about 35 minutes ago. After the 44th hint. 

By the end, poor Albert is staggering around, drunkenly bumbling, “I’ve got to have her. I must write a happy ending.”
Potter made a mistake here.

“I must think of something else to say. Got to have a new idea” would have been more appropriate. 

The first episode (pointlessly repeated on Channel 4) is devoted to two ideas: a writer convincing himself people are saying lines (as if !) and er, Roy Hudd speaking in unfunny spoonerisms (“What do you think I’m ducking fooing,” he says – several times).

As AA Gill recently said of Potter, you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. But on the other hand, what are they going to do about it ?

The really boring thing about Dennis Potter was, as a self-promoted pervert, his taste in women never developed.

For a decent bunch of real perverts, C4 is repeating the Equinox special, Beyond Love – though perhaps Beyond Help might have been more appropriate.

Channel 4 merrily exploits three latent paraphiliacs: a man who, at 17, used to strangle himself in the mirror before masturbating (“then it got worse”); a woman whose perfect man is the corpse of a 16-25 year old; and a man so obsessed with mutilation that he eventually chopped his won leg off. (Satisfaction guaranteed).

A programme about us all, in other words – much more so than any of Potter’s ever were.

One of the psychologists ingeniously explains how paraphiliacs’ fetishes (leather, stockings, the usual Dennis Potter stuff) symbolize female genitals.

“They tend to be pink, red, black, furry, wet, shiny,” he says delicately, later elucidating his analogy by turning to a man whose interest was (can you guess ?) plucked chickens.

“Actually, if you think about it,” he says breathlessly, “this is very close to the innate releasing mechanism I described earlier: a pair of pink, fleshy hemispheres and a mysterious cleavage down the middle.”

Lots more spurious scientific evidence is lobbed up on the screen to suggest we actually start masturbating at 18 months old (a good trick if you can do it).

There are actually people whose job it is to check ultra-scans and see which bonny baby foetuses are having a wank (a bonny baby wank).

An Inspector Calls concerns London Underground’s Revenue Control Inspectors, who go around catching ticketless foreigners and what they call “people of the older persuasion”, implying the ticket-dodging coffin-dodgers are just forgetful, when in fact, as we all know, half the OSAS on the underground are trying it on.

One inspector, Ian Wyburn, a particularly irritating streak of piss, is like John Major doing Eric Idle.

“I’m sorry if I detained you,” he whines chirpily to one penniless fare-dodger. “It maybe would have been better if you had waited to buy a ticket in the first place… Don’t forget,” he shouts, “you can appeal.”

It’s funny how people like Ian always have voices like Ian’s.

Or indeed like Dennis’s…


Karaoke: Sun, 9.30pm-10.20pm, BBC1 

An Inspector Calls: Mon, 9.30pm-10pm, C4

Beyond Love: Mon, 11.05pm-12.05pm, C4