Shiny Shelf

Look Around You

By Eddie Robson on 01 November 2002

The main purpose of this review is to let people know that Look Around You exists at all because it’s the sort of show that you could very easily fail to notice.

With a lot of BBC programmes running to fifty minutes, there’s often a call for these little ten-minute things to fill out the gaps in the schedule. I often think to myself, Eddie old son, you should try and think of an idea for one of those. They’re a great way to try out strange little ideas that wouldn’t make a full programme. I’ve never come up with one yet, and Look Around You is exactly the kind of thing that I wish I’d thought of.

It reminds me most of Victor Lewis-Smith’s Ads Infinitum, which edited together ridiculous, tasteless and outmoded TV and cinema adverts whilst Lewis-Smith added a quickfire commentary. However, whilst Look Around You has a similar sensibility, rooting itself in cheap, na?ve television from another age, it’s a spoof rather than an archive rummage.

Put together by Peter Serafinowicz (who played Charlotte Coleman’s psychotic brother in the underrated How Do You Want Me? and was also the voice of Darth Maul) and Robert Popper, Look Around You is designed to look like one of those educational programmes from the late 1970s/early 1980s. They’ve got the aesthetic down perfectly, complete with primitive computer graphics, burbling synth music and grainy picture quality.

However, it’s not just mockery of something that’s out of date: it does have jokes. Not all of them work, but most of them hit the mark, usually the ones that are plain nonsense delivered in the authoritative manner of a schools programme. Favourites in this first episode, ‘Maths’, were the declaration that the highest known number is 45,000,000,000 – ‘Although mathematicians have suggested that there may be yet higher numbers’ – and the explanation of what ‘MATHS’ stands for.

So make a note in your workbooks: Look Around You is on at 9:50 on a Thursday evening, BBC2. Oh, and go to the website! It’s ace!

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By Eddie Robson

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