Gogglebox is back! The most surprising TV hit of recent years returns to our screens for a fourth series allowing us into the homes of various families around the UK to cuddle up on a virtual sofa and review the previous weeks TV. If you haven't watched Gogglebox before….where have you been? Nothing much has changed this time round apart from the fact that the Gilbeys from Essex have gone. Son George forfeited their place on the show when he was lured into the Big Brother house for a tidy sum of money. They will be missed, especially as their replacements, the Malones from Manchester, don't look as though they will be worthy replacements.
This week they watched the results of the Scottish referendum with Andrew in Brighton likening Gordon Brown to "Flash Gordon saving the earth", and Steph opining "how would they manage their lives if they cant manage an outside broadcast?" after Nicholas Witchell bungled a live news link.
The X Factor had young Louis incandescent with rage when Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was rude to a contestant, "she is SO unprofessional" he squealed while his mother carried on doing her cross stitch. Leon in Liverpool was more forgiving of Cheryl, "she’s not to be crossed" he tells wife June while also telling her that the Girls Aloud singer was his favourite Spice Girl.
Downton Abbey returned in dramatic fashion with a fire in the big house which Reverend Kate said was "like Windsor castle all over again", while also saying she was glad it was back on as it gave her something to talk to her mother about, although her mother wasn't keen on the fact that it’s on ITV as she ‘thinks it’s a bit common’. The Malones, meanwhile, pondered on what the snobs in Downton did as a job and came to the conclusion that they must be ‘rich for no reason’.
They also all took in a screening of Mrs Doubtfire, a family favourite despite its incredibly creepy premise, which had Jonathan Tapper saying "he loves his kids…he’s like Peter Andre".
Best line of the week, however, went to Mrs Michael who was informed by her kids that she was the odd one out in the family, as their father was Greek Cypriot, they were half Greek Cypriot and she was English. Quick as a flash she replied "oh yes I am aren't I…..I have had some Greek in me though!" It’s an old joke, but a good one
I love Gogglebox. So why do I have a niggling thought in the back of my mind that I shouldn't like it as much as I do? That niggling thought is all about the artificiality that is becoming more apparent with every episode. How many families actually sit around watching TV together these days? Especially programmes they don't like. The Tapper children seemed to sit through Downton Abbey hating every minute of it, where in a normal household they would be in their rooms watching something else, on their iPad or Xbox. Even stranger is the fact that they seem to watch the news as a family. When they all watched the news at 6 and were surprised at the Scottish referendum vote, its hard to believe they hadn't heard the result during the day, seen it online, on TV or from a newspaper. Silent Jay has become famous for not speaking, but surely this is a just conceit dreamt up by the producers and judicious editors? While the Moffats seem to watch TV in a room it is impossible to get in or out of as their sofa is pushed up against the door (making room for a camera crew maybe?)
In this first episode something happened that tipped the show over from fun entertainment to sly product placement. Ralf Woerdenweber was seen reading a book, holding it up so that we could all see the title in a very artificial way. The book he was reading? The World According To Gogglebox, which just happened to have gone on sale the previous day.
That's not to say the show is any less fun. It’s a highlight of the TV week, just don't fall into the trap of thinking you are watching people watching TV the way they do when the cameras aren't there.