Blog Marley and the Wailers

I have said it before – and I am about to say it again – I love crappy TV.

I think this is, in part, due to the fact my job tends to be quite serious and stressful at times, and raising two children isn’t always a barrel of laughs, either (particularly when one of those children happens to be Isaac), but I also think my love of terrible TV is helped by the joy I get from laughing at stupid people.

Now, in the interests of keeping the peace, I should stress that I don’t like to make fun of the clinically dense in real life (unless they really bring it on themselves), because it would not be fair to mock anyone whose elevator perhaps doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, but as soon as said thicko chooses to appear on television, particularly where their inadequacies in the brain department are likely to be exposed, it’s open season as far as I am concerned. Joey Essex, I’m looking at you (not that he would be able to read this, even in the unlikely event he stumbled across my blog).

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As a result, there are certain television programmes I particularly enjoy winding down with after a busy day/week (although I should stress, having just mentioned Joey Essex, I have never seen a single episode of TOWIE), sometimes with a glass of wine or two, in order that I can sit and feel smug about having all of my batteries included. The fact I am knitting with both needles. That all the lights are still twinkling on my Christmas tree. Ok, you get the idea.

Consequently, I’ll freely admit that I like The X Factor (but only in the early stages, when they have the dreadful singers who genuinely think they are the next big recording artist), and, in March 2016 – [gulp] was it really that long ago? – I wrote an entire blog entry about one of the finest programmes to come from these shores in recent years, Take Me Out (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/03/11/let-the-blog-see-the-rabbit/), so you get an idea of my level when it comes to watching TV. Essentially, my standards in choosing something to watch of a weekend, are on a par with the United States standards in electing a president.

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You might think, therefore, that the latest crappy singing competition to grace our screens for 2020, The Masked Singer, would be right up my street, and in some respects you would be right (as I’ve watched three shows now, and I will have to finish the series to find out who everyone is), but I cannot deny even I am struggling to tolerate it, and there are certain aspects which are now getting on my usually-very-tolerant nerves (oh, shut up, I’m a fucking delight and you know it).

If you have mercifully dodged The Masked Singer thus far (and, if that is the case, please don’t start watching it now on my account, as I don’t want to be responsible for any of my followers slipping into a catatonic state, or, worse, doing something stupid with a machete in a shopping centre), let me explain the concept: Twelve celebrities (and, I should immediately stress here, only three singers have been revealed so far as I write this week’s entry, and the word ‘celebrity’ has never been more abused), dress up in overly-comical costumes to sing for a panel of four judges, who then have to try and work out who the singer is from their voice and the clues supplied to them.

Honestly, it’s like the bastard love-child of Stars in Their Eyes and Through the Keyhole.

To give you an idea of the costumes the viewing public are treated to, the twelve ‘contestants’ are: Butterfly, Chameleon, Daisy, Duck, Fox, Hedgehog, Monster, Octopus, Pharaoh, Queen Bee, Tree and Unicorn. And here they are:

Of course, when selecting twelve overly-elaborate outfits for someone famous to disguise their identity and sing for the viewing nation, a tree is a natural (excuse the pun) choice, isn’t it? Oh, how I would dearly love to have been at that production meeting:

“Ok, so we’ve got a butterfly, a unicorn and a hedgehog. Any other ideas?”

“Tree?”

“Excuse me?”

“A tree…. oooh, and a Pharaoh.”

“Fuck off, Dave.”

It would be fair to say ITV have pulled out all the stops with the judging panel, too (yes, this is sarcasm), as they comprise the following ‘A-listers’: Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Rita Ora, and ‘head judge’ Kim Jeong (who, if you aren’t familiar with the name, played Leslie Chow in the Hangover trilogy). A strange choice, perhaps, but if it helps to explain his particular involvement, he has already appeared on the US version of The Masked Singer, and it is our cousins from across the pond that we have to ‘thank’ for the format reaching our screens.

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Now, the judging panel should give you some idea of the calibre of celebrity behind the masks, but just in case you had an inkling the budget was perhaps spent on persuading movie stars to get dressed up incognito and belt out a show tune or two, there have been three ‘celebrities’ unmasked so far, and they were, in order of fame:

The Chameleon….

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Justin Hawkins from ‘The Darkness’ (yes, this IS in order of fame)

the Butterfly….

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Patsy Palmer (who, for the unitiated, played Bianca in Eastenders)

And the Pharaoh….

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Alan Johnson (Former Home Secretary). Yes, honestly.

I mean, fuck me.

What makes the first three reveals even more incredible, is that the panel genuinely offered guesses including Tom Cruise and Lady Gaga, only to be thoroughly disappointed when Alan fucking Johnson, a man who might not be recognised by his own children, was paraded around like the Dalai Lama.

Now, perhaps it is pure coincidence that the first three singers to be revealed (i.e. those deemed to have the worst voices), are simultaneously the three least famous among the characters, and we can only dream that the remaining nine participants are the real budget-stretchers, but I fear not. After all, would Tom Cruise really have a better voice than the fella from The Darkness?

Nevertheless, in the interest (and I have never used the term more loosely), of maintaining some, erm…. interest in the rest of the series, I have decided to come up with my own wild predictions of who might be behind the nine remaining masks. However, unlike the majority of those still watching this utter pish, and the British press for that matter, I am not going to take my guesses too seriously (as should become immediately apparent).

So, in alphabetical order, I have now determined (based on the pointless clues provided thus far), the remaining nine masked singers are as follows:

Daisy = Pope Francis

Argument For: His Holiness probably likes flowers

Argument Against: Daisy is clearly female

 

Duck = Bob Marley

Argument For: It justifies my use of this week’s blog title

Argument Against: He’s slightly dead

 

Fox = George Clooney

Argument For: George once played the lead in ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’

Argument Against: Would probably demand a higher appearance fee than, say, Former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson

 

Hedgehog = Pep Guardiola

Argument For: As the manager of Manchester City, he is used to being surrounded by pricks (I thank you)

Argument Against: Notoriously allergic to striped trousers

 

Monster = Vladimir Putin

Argument For: Requires little acting, as he is already a monster

Argument Against: Ol’ Vlad isn’t exactly known for embracing campness, is he? Well, not deliberately

 

Octopus = Prince Andrew

Argument For: Known to be ‘handsy’; diary is currently empty

Argument Against: Claims he cannot sweat, so would undoubtedly struggle in a heavy costume under studio lighting

 

Queen Bee = Beyonce

Argument For: Well, it’s her nickname, isn’t it? Plus, the bee can actually sing

Argument Against: Obsessed with Jonathan Ross, and not allowed within fifty feet of him

 

Tree = Tom Hanks

Argument For: Plays ‘Woody’ in the Toy Story films (woody = tree, geddit?)

Argument Against: Famous for his sense of humour, but even he has limits.

 

Unicorn = John Barrowman

Argument For: It’s clearly John Barrowman

Argument Against: None. Did you not here me? It’s clearly John Barrowman

 

Disclaimer: The Middle-Raged Dad accepts no legal liability whatsoever, should someone reading this week’s entry choose to place a bet on any or all of the above predictions. If, however, aforementioned bet pays out at ridiculous odds, said reader is obliged to provide Middle-Raged Dad a ‘prediction fee’ of 35% of the sum paid, within 14 days of being placed in receipt of funds. Cash, or the equivalent value in Jaffa Cakes, are the only acceptable methods of payment. This does not affect your statutory rights. 

Thanks for reading, folks x

 

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BlogDay Cards

As I mentioned a couple of times on my Facebook page recently, my wife turned 40 at the end of November (although, in my humble opinion, she still doesn’t look a day over 39) and, aside from the gifts I bought for myself and the boys to give her (for which they – unfairly – took far too much credit), I decided to try and organise some rather special birthday cards for her.

Essentially, I thought it might be nice if she got a few cards from some of her favourite celebrities, and, having enlisted help from her siblings, a few months ago I compiled a list of famous people I intended to write to (via their PA or agency). I then set about purchasing as many different ‘40’ cards as I could lay my grubby little mitts on and began posting them out to the celebs on my list, with a covering letter explaining my plan and asking for their help. I also included a stamped addressed envelope, so that there was no expense involved to said celebrity (even though, I suspect, they were all in a far better financial position that myself to be paying for a stamp), in order to bolster my chances of persuading them to help me out.

In truth, from the list of ten famous people I created, I never expected more than a couple would even respond, let alone oblige (and – spoiler alert – they didn’t), but of the few I did receive back, they were most definitely the ones I had hoped for. From the remainder, most failed to get back to me at all, but that was still preferable to the two whose representatives did respond, but very firmly told me to go fuck myself*

*ok, they didn’t use those exact words, but was how it came across.

As a result, I have decided to publicly thank the famous people who took time out of their busy schedules to do something nice for a complete stranger’s 40th birthday, but also ‘name and shame’ those celebrities who were less than approachable.

In true ‘Middle-Raged Dad’ fashion, let’s start from the top and work our way down to the dregs, shall we?

Dan Snow

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Now, my wife doesn’t openly profess to having a celebrity crush like I do (Holly Willoughby, if you happen to read this, call me), but if she did, it would be Dan Snow.

Not only will I admit he a good-looking chap (although, as you will see further down my list, good looks count for shit if you don’t have the personality to match), he is – like my wife – a keen historian. And, if there is one thing my wife will surely find attractive in a man (other than his ability to produce a comedic weekly blog, and make repeated innuendo about his genitals), it is a man who loves a good castle as much as her.

Ok, this may be viewed by some as nerdy, but is it really any different to every heterosexual middle-aged man fantasising about Princess Leia in that gold bikini, Lois Griffin from Family Guy, or – dare I say it – Cheetara from Thundercats?*

(*shut up. Cheetahs are my favourite animal anyway, and she was a sexy one who didn’t wear much).

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Anyway, Dan was probably top of my list, as I knew how much she would love to get a card signed by him, so I was understandably delighted when his PA, Hilary, responded to say she would do her best to grab Dan when he returned to the UK from filming abroad.

And, Hilary didn’t let me down, because although it took a while to arrive, Dan not only signed a card, but took the time to write a personal message to my wife:

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Christ, get a room, you two….

All joking aside, I am very grateful to Dan for such a nice gesture, and if my wife does happen to run off with him in the future, at least she’ll have left me for a decent bloke.

Norwich City Football Club

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My wife is from Norwich, and is a big fan of the Canaries, so I decided to write to the club to see if they could perhaps get a few of the first team to sign a card for me.

Not only did they gladly oblige, with a card signed by most of the squad, they returned it to me within a few days (which was very good of them, as I did not get around to sending it until a couple of weeks before her birthday, so I was under a fair amount of time pressure by that point).

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I have no doubt that very few Premier League football clubs would have even replied to me, and certainly not so quickly, but having been to Carrow Road a number of times, this is indicative of what a friendly club they are. Well played, Norwich City.

Jason Manford

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My wife loves Jason Manford (although admittedly not in the same way she loves Dan Snow), so I was very pleased when a signed card returned from his people, particularly because he seemingly works around the clock on various television, radio and acting projects.

That said, he did only sign a card, with no additional message, so although I am grateful, it probably took a few seconds and he is therefore in third place (some way below the top two).

Still, he did better than….

Jason Donovan

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Jason Donovan and/or his team never got back me, but since he was a very late after-thought, with barely a fortnight until my wife’s birthday, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. Besides, I think he is on tour at present, which might also explain the lack of response. Jason is excused, and finishes 4th despite not actually doing anything to deserve it.

Eddie Izzard and Greg Davies

No, they have not suddenly announced themselves as a couple (although I would definitely go round for dinner if they did), but I have placed both of these gentleman in joint 5th, because although neither responded to my request, in fairness I again gave them / their representatives very little time to comply, only adding them to my list at a relatively late stage (albeit not as late as Jason Donovan). As such, they are (partially) excused for not getting back to me.

It also helps that I find both of them hilarious, and I don’t want that adoration tarnished in any way.

Graham Norton

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I have no doubt that Graham is an equally busy man, what with his own BBC1 show to prepare for and present, but I can’t believe he didn’t have time in his schedule to sign a quick card, and I gave him more than a month to get back to me, so he has dropped in my estimation now.

Ok, I highly doubt he even found out about the card, and he may very well have signed it if asked, so my gripe is probably with his team, but until I hear otherwise, I shall be holding him personally responsible.

7th place for you, Mr Norton.

Jamie Theakston

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Here we have an example of a good-looking fella (well, my wife thinks so – or certainly used to), letting himself down on account of his refusal to engage with fans. Again, it might be his publicity team who have taken the decision to block any requests for autographs, but is he really that busy/famous these days (Heart Radio’s breakfast show aside)?

Plus, he no doubt hired his publicity team in the first place, so when they responded with ‘Mr Theakston doesn’t do requests like this’, I took that to mean ‘Mr Theakston is an arrogant prick who thinks he is better than everyone else’. This may be unfair (which I will emphasise for libel reasons), but I doubt it (which I will also emphasise, because I think I am correct in my assessment).

John Barrowman

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In last place, rather surprisingly, is John Barrowman (my wife is a huge fan of musicals), who – until recently – I had a lot of time for.

Sadly, like Jamie Theakston, he is either extremely arrogant, or he has employed some particularly stand-offish people to represent him, because not only did I get a reply very firmly telling me to do one, but they went that bit further than Theakston & Co, by suggesting John would be willing to sign a book for me, if I bought tickets to one of his shows, and his book, then queued up after the show to ask him nicely.

I didn’t bother e-mailing back, as I felt ‘tell John to go fuck himself’ might have been poorly received. Last (9th) place for you, JB.

Honorary mention – Dick van Dyke

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The more astute among you will have realised that my list currently only numbers nine.

Step in (presumably with some assistance), Dick van Dyke.

Now, had I been able to secure a card signed by the owner of the single worst cockney accent in cinematic history, I think my wife may very well have lost her shit, but aside from the fact Dick is now well into his 90s, he also lives – to my knowledge – in America, and I had automatically discounted any overseas celebs (yes, Bryan Adams, that includes you), as being unachievable, not least because I couldn’t possibly cover their postage for sending the card back.

So, Dick features last in my list, but only because he is an after-thought, and not because I dislike him.

And, there you have it. If you take anything away from today’s blog entry, let it be this: Dan Snow is a thoroughly nice chap and, if my wife does run off with him, I can’t be too upset about it; while John Barrowman is a colossal bellend (or, at the very least, his representatives are).

Thank you for reading x

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