Thought, experience and memory from a brain in a jar, one that sometimes has control over a thirty-two-year-old Londonite.

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Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom

07 January, 2005

Jerry Springer: The Opera - screening BBC 2, 10pm 08/01/05

Some Daily Mail for you...

BBC's Springer musical and its 8,000 obscenities
by TARA CONLAN, Daily Mail

The BBC is to screen the most expletive-strewn programme in TV history. More than 8,000 obscenities will be broadcast when BBC2 shows a screen version of the musical Jerry Springer The Opera in January. The figure dwarfs the previous swearing record of 246 when Channel 4 aired the film Reservoir Dogs last year. Even foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay pales in comparison - with 111 swear words in a single episode of his Channel 4 show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Jerry Springer The Opera also risks offending religious groups because it contains blasphemous scenes. The show has caused controversy since it opened in 2001. It contains 3,168 mentions of the f-word and 297 of the c-word - recognised by television watchdogs as the most offensive word to viewers. At BBC2's launch of its winter schedule, the station's controller Roly Keating said the show would "push back the boundaries of taste and decency". He said it will be shown after the 9pm watershed. "It will be filmed as it is on stage," he added. "There will be warnings but we don't intend to cut it. Our audience will expect it to be broadcast uncut."
Cleaning up its act? But John Beyer, of TV lobby group Mediawatch said: "The BBC is supposed to be cleaning up its act as it prepare for its Royal Charter to be renewed in 2006. "Does this programme represent that? Research shows such bad language does alienate viewers." There is also bound to be controversy over the nature of some of the scenes, which include tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan members and a slanging match between Jesus and Satan. Song titles also include Pregnant by a Transsexual, Talk To The Ass and Here Come the Hookers. The West End show stars former Starsky and Hutch actor David Soul in the lead role of U.S. talk show host Springer and he will appear in the TV version. The musical - which is based on Springer's confessional TV chat show - began life at South London's Battersea Arts in 2001 but moved on to open at the National Theatre in 2003. It opened in the West End later that year and the producers hope to take it to Broadway next year. Award-winning show Despite its controversial content it has won four best musical awards, including an Olivier award. When it opened in the West End it had advance box office sales of £2million. It has also had productions in 60 cities and is watched by an average of 12,000 theatregoers a night. Springer himself has no connection with the musical. It was dreamed up by comedian Stewart Lee and his co-writer Richard Thomas. Springer's programme, which has ceased production, was itself mired in controversy and was often reprimanded by watchdogs for its sordid content and fights. The programme's host is now hoping to pursue a political career. BBC2's other highlights next year include a fly-on-the-wall documentary following Tory leader Michael Howard and his former rival Ann Widdecombe turns agony aunt for a trouble-shooting series called The Ann Widdecombe Project. The Office star Martin Freeman returns in a new sitcom, The Robinsons, playing the black sheep of a London family while Pakistani Nights is a series of documentaries about what it means to be Pakistani in modern Britain.

Just a few points:
  • 8,000 obscenities is impossible.
  • Despite reports, no religious figure is depicted as a self-obssessed sexual deviants.
  • It's more Richard Thomas' baby than Stewart Lee's, so describing Thomas as the "co-creator" is a bit demeaning, and almost smacks of an attempt to split them.
  • The Daily Mail reported that the show was playing to half empty houses, prompting a libel case.
  • The Sunday Mail loved the show.
  • The story is moralistic, the narrative serving to absolute Springer of the Bacchanalian vortex he has created for himself.
  • Jerry Springer has never complained about the show, seems to have no real problem with it, and it has been rumoured that he wanted to play himself in the American run.
  • God can take a joke.

Here's what Stewart Lee had to say about the book, c/o
"I am going to be in Germany when Jerry Springer The Opera is on BBC2 and I am glad, as is the show's composer, and creator Richard Thomas. These Daily Mail type stories have no relation to the content of the show so I am pleased I won't be around to have to go on Radio 5 to talk about it to people who haven't seen it but are nonetheless furious about it. Apparently it includes 3,168 F words? Who has had the time to count this? Have you any idea how long it would take to sing 3,168 f-words? There obviously aren't 3,168 f-words in it, there couldn’t be that many in 2 hours even if that was the only word which was sung. That said, maybe it would be good if the show was just that. It would have a kind of Morton Feldman/John Cage quality. I also read that there are 297 uses of the word cunt. There are in fact only 7, 3 as a noun, and 4 as an adjective. Neither Mary, God, not Jesus are represented as “self-centred sexual deviants”, unless being 'a bit gay', which Jesus says he is, counts a sexual deviance, which we hardly feel it does. Both God and Mary are represented with the utmost respect, as is their holy due. No-one involved in the creative team of the stage production has ever said "that it is a deliberate attack on good taste". We think the show is in very good taste and has a positive agenda. If the
BBC have said, as reported, that the intended broadcast "pushes back
the boundaries of taste and decency" then they did so without our knowledge and have obviously misunderstood the show, and backed themselves into a very difficult, ill-considered position when it comes to defending their decision to broadcast it. Ah well. This is why you should never work in television. We've spent years trying to defend the show against charges of sensationalism and now it has fallen into the hands of people who obviously see that as a selling point. Of course, the 21st century irony is that you can't be certain this hasn't been made up by pr types. I think Peter Orton did a brilliant job of filming the show and the edit looked great. I hope it can just be enjoyed for what it is."

I wonder what the take many of the Xian critics have over the release of The Passion Of The Christ, considering its anti-semitic content...

05 January, 2005

Embarrassing Myself In Public #001

So on the last day of my break from work I go for a shop and a drink with Jonny Sloman at the Montague Pike. Sitting at the Leicester Square end of the pub, I become aware, out of the corner of my eye, of a small oriental person staring at me. I glance to my right and see that I must have been mistaken. Some way off is a round serving hatch which I must have taken to be the face of said visitor. This I don't find too unsettling as I am used to misinterpreting things on the edges of my vision. I explain all this to Jonathan, who is sitting opposite me. He finds it frightfully amusing. I turn again and see an all-too-real small oriental person taking stuff from the serving hatch.