We’ve had the Great British Bake Off, Sewing Bee, Allotment Challenge and Interior Design Challenge. Now we have the Big Painting Challenge (Sunday, 6pm, BBC One). Now I like all of the aforementioned, except the allotment one (I have killed two cacti. Cacti. One met a particularly undignified end after I accidentally tipped it out of its pot, basically breaking it, and it refused to recover, perhaps feeling that succumbing to the inevitable was preferable to a life with a cack-handed plant murderer. So, for the sake of our chlorophyll-filled friends I stay away from growing stuff and its affiliated programming) but was left unsure about this show. It is essentially Watercolour Challenge resurrected. While the others offer tangible ways of judging – for instance, if a cake can be used a doorstop it’s probably not good; if you can wear an item of clothing then the sewing’s worked – art is much more subjective. You can critique the technique but does worthwhile art always lie in the technique? There were talented people there, especially the soldier, whose first painting was best about halfway through the time, before he bungled it up by giving the statue a weird face. I felt very sorry for the first casualty, Melvyn. Being rejected for your creativity just seemed more of a personal insult than having your buns dissed. I also worry where this influx of hobby programming will end. It’s just about under control at the moment but I feel there may be an impending tidal wave of increasingly spurious ones. Great British Pickle Off? Great British Campanologist? Great British Ball of Twine? Great British Ship in a Bottle? The Big Whittle Off? Feel free to take any of these by the way, BBC – call me.
I don’t get The Casual Vacancy at all. I think maybe JK Rowling’s writing is best seen through the prism of fantasy as the village of Pagford and its inhabitants do not bear resemblance to any England I’ve ever known. I guess that it means to be social commentary, but if you are aiming for that, and for realism, then if the dial is even a millimetre out it may as well be miles out as the viewer’s belief is gone.