YOU know those annoying warnings on television before a programme starts? Here is a blog version: elderly mothers of my acquaintance may wish to skip what follows (at least the bit about Peep Show).
So two media farewells today, followed by the return of a thunderous and brooding friend.
After nine series Peep Show bowed out on Channel 4 last night. Short and far from sweet, the six episodes of Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong’s farewell have been a sour delight. Robert Webb and David Mitchell might not have written the characters of Jez and Mark, but they inhabited every inch of their grubby, squabbling souls.
Peep Show was on one level a flat-share sitcom. But that’s like saying The Sopranos was “about gangsters”. Nothing in Peep Show stuck to the familiar format. Instead this comedy made its own rules from the start, notably employing a neat trick in which Jez and Mark were given gloriously bad-tempered interior monologues. You heard what they were thinking and it wasn’t pretty.
Outrageous and socially gruesome, Peep Show was also at heart oddly touching, in that you glimpsed the desperation behind the swearing and the scheming. Sometimes because of this it was sad and almost moving.
But it was also scabrous and hilarious. Last night Mark – nasty, wheedling Mark, poor desperate Mark – seemed about to grasp a happy future with the lovely but unhinged April, only for everything to fall apart thanks to Jez and Super Hans executing a well-meant but sadly botched kidnap.
Meanwhile the boundlessly immature Jez faced up to being 40.
The final episode contained a sour fizzing cocktail of insults. Here was my favourite. The intermittently gay Jez is knackered from having sex with his younger boyfriend. Incidentally Jez has also been having sex with his boyfriend’s on-off girlfriend (Jez being a having sex with sort of a guy).
Mark is heading to work for a fateful meeting.
Jez: “I’m going to pull myself off and sleep for a hundred years.”
Mark: “Goodbye Rip Van Wankle.”
All that and the best f****** swearing ever in a TV comedy.
I also enjoyed devious Mark’s inner desperation as he attempted to woo April with an expensive cappuccino in a coffee shop with trendy dangling lights. “God knows how they charge so much. They’re not spending it on lampshades. Hello, Dad, are you inside me now?”
Another farewell yesterday as James Naughtie left the BBC Today programme after 21 years. I missed his touching goodbye speech as it went out, but spotted it later on Facebook. The filmed footage of his graceful exit is well worth seeking out. His voice breaks with emotion and he rubs away a tear as he tells listeners “it’s been a privilege”.
Naughtie hasn’t gone for good but he is giving up the 3am starts for the Today programme. Man On Ledge has enjoyed his company down the years,
The other comeback was Luther’s welcome return to BBC1. Neil Cross does know how to write a lurid and perfectly bonkers crime show, doesn’t he? I was going to write that you just have to swallow what’s on offer – but swallowing is perhaps not advisable in these graphically distasteful surroundings.
Only two parts to savour this time, presumably because Idris Elba is too busy to do more nowadays. It’s as tempestuously mad as always, but Elba has such stormy, physical presence, and his man-out-of-control is quite a performance.
No spoiler alert required (hopefully): but the opening moments do contain one of those teases where the viewer isn’t sure who is about to become the victim. I guessed right, but only at the last vicious moment.
Talking of comebacks, we’re off to see Stars Wars tonight, tickets bought months ago, 3D glasses ready and waiting…