Shiny Shelf

Double Take

By Jim Smith on 26 April 2003

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

‘Double Take’ is a series I decided to give a few weeks grace to after its entirely under whelming opening instalment. I did this partially because I thought it might grow on me and partially because Alison Jackson, on whose work the series is based – and who receives ostentatious ‘created by’ credit because of this – is someone I have sneaking respect for.

Unfortunately, the series hasn’t developed in the recent weeks, and suggestions of Alison Jackson deep involvement in this dreadful dog’s dinner of a series have taken a few nicks out of my respect for her.

Alison Jackson in case your unaware, did some inspired photo collages in the mid 90s. These portrayed, in much more domestic terms than usual, the media’s perceived battle between the Prince and then Princess of Wales over the raising of their children.

‘Double Take’ is an uninspired, watered down and, crucially, deeply unfunny version of those photographs. It sees look-a-likes and sound-a-likes ‘captured’ on deliberately grainy, washed-out video in the process of doing ridiculous and out of character things.

The problem is that while the original photographs were intended to provoke thought and indeed anger, this series is meant to make you laugh. And it doesn’t. And the reason that it doesn’t is really, very simple. The cult of celebrity in our times does, and has for many years, depended on mockery, jealousy and a ‘build-em-up, knock-em-down’ element to provide the natural, nay desirable, counterweight to ‘Hello!’ and ‘Heat’ culture. We hate our celebrities as much as we love them and we expect them to belittle themselves. We anticipate them doing stupid things and violating whatever faith we pretend to have in them. That’s what we do. It’s what *they* do.

Thus, there’s no comedy value in seeing someone pretending to be Queen being blas? about her dog worrying someone, or someone pretending to be David Beckham being a bit of a fool. We expect the Queen to be remote and a little uninterested. We expect David Beckham to be a bit dumb. There’s no humour here. There’s no semiotic gap between the observer’s perceptions of what they should be observing and what they are observing. It’s almost pitifully unsuccessful, this programme, so muddled-headed and half-arsed is it in the way it fails to achieve the entirely pointless thing which it sets out to do.

A total, total waste of time, money and effort; that’s assuming that there’s any effort went into it, which judging by the end product, is rather unlikely. Rubbish.

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