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19 November ‘12

TV Critics: Stephen Fry: Gadget Man; I Want to Change My Body; The Golden Age of English Food; Four Born Every Second

“It’s the Gadget Show with extra alliterative wit and words.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

“Stephen Fry: Gadget Man is an odd exploitation of its presenter’s fabled passion for gizmos and doohickeys… There’s very little in the way of a buying guide to what follows, which is a larky meander round new technology products, roughly themed (this week) on commuting. Useful mostly as a reminder of how good Jonathan Ross can be when he just talks off the cuff, rather than fluffing celebrities on his chat show. But the opening montage suggests that Jeremy Clarkson also gets an invitation to appear as a guest. And for that there can be no excuse.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“It’s the Gadget Show, basically, with extra alliterative wit and words and (possibly even wisdom?), because Stephen’s doing it. He loves gadgets. They make the world a much, much better – and dare he say it, a happier – place… There is a Top Gear element to this, too. A team of boffins who can actually do stuff take a London taxi into their workshop and turn it into an amphibious London taxi… Hang on, I’m not totally convinced an amphibious taxi really is a gadget. Isn’t it too big? Oh well, it’s keeping Stephen amused. Happy too, of course, and I think that’s what this is really about.”
Sam Wollaston ,The Guardian

“Just as those Gold Blend ads were lifestyle porn, so is this show, on two levels. First there’s the lifestyle porn of the gadgets he was testing. And then the lifestyle porn of the celebrity club that he was inviting us into along the way – Jonathon Ross being his little helper in this first episode. It was all a lovely bit of fluff… But I’m not sure it was a good idea to kick off the show with ‘commuting’. I no more believed that Fry and Ross properly knew the indignities of the daily commute than I believe a magic carpet will be waiting to take me home tonight.”
Alex Hardy, The Times

“A bunch of young people, unhappy about the way they look, talk with remarkable frankness about wanting to be smaller in places, bigger in other places, more curvy here, less curvy here, hairier etc. Then they do something about it, sometimes involving very expensive cosmetic surgery… Well done kids, good job. And a nice positive message for other young people watching: don’t stay ugly, fix yourself up, get happy.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

“It told us something about changing attitudes. When he first went out on the streets of his home town, with bandaged face and blackened eyes, Tom wanted everyone to know he’d had plastic surgery and was appalled when people suggested he’d been in a fight. A syptom of a vanity-obsessed world? If today’s young men are more interested in looking good than looking macho, it might be a calmer, safer one.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

“This was a lively account, well worth having a dig around in.”
Alex Hardy, The Times

“I refuse to use the phrase ‘curate’s egg’ when talking about a cookery programme. This one was more like a good diner party in which one ingredient was barely there. On the history, [Stefan] Gates was top hole but every time he had a go at some old dishes, something went awry… I wasn’t expecting Delia-style recipe sheets or top tips for a calf’s tongue jelly but I wouldn’t have minded a morsel more explanation.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

“Brian Hill’s contribution to Why Poverty?, a series of documentaries on the subject, began with a question: “Is it worse to be born poor or die poor?” It rather depends on what happens in between, I found myself thinking, before realising that the question wasn’t really intended to be answered. And unfortunately, the vagueness of that moment turned out to be typical of a film that was full of good intentions but distinctly thin on the ground when it came to logical coherence.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

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