Mel and Sue's LIGHT LUNCH is a tasty alternative to stale daytime telly and loads of quality-starved viewers are tucking in. Words Thom Dibdin
Ten minutes to showtime and the bar has suddenly gone rather quiet. liyen the bus load of lads down from Manchester haye shut tip. Secretly. we're all wondering whether we'll get to sit by the aisle and haye Mel or Sue ask: ‘What‘yc you brought for your lunch. then'." Yes. we are the audience for Lie/II Lune/i. And yes. we‘re scared.
Daytime TV. It's hardly cutting edge. But. despite its archetypal mix of cookery. chat. guests. music. audience participation and showhi/ gossip. Lie/II [.unc'li has tripled ('hannel 4's lunchtime yiewing ﬁgures and cornered that all-important. adyertising-friendly 15’ to 35 age group. What makes the show a success is its presenters. Mel (iieclroyc and Sue Perkins. and the fact —— which is the cause of our neryes -« that they do it liye. \ot eyen ’I‘I’l I’ricluy does that any more.
Filing into the studio. we clutch our cdihlc offerings: mar/ipan l'igures. a Millennium Dome ('ake. a family-size hacon huttie. and banana 'n' jaf‘l'acake kchahs. Little do we realise that young Dermot. the warm-up man who has spent the last half hour making its ice] at home. has already chosen the honoured ones. Not just l‘or their lunch-boxes. but for their on—screcn personas.
Behind the scenes. today's hig personalities are heing pampered with a
manicure and massage. lt‘s -. I; 5131;";
part oi the programme's policy ol intense schnioo/ing to get guests on. And it seems _ to haye worked. ()yer the last tsp; -.
year. hesidcs the Usual round
of celebs with something to sell. Lie/ii l.iiiii'/i reached
the top and reunited the seminal Blue Peter line-up of
Pete l’uryis. Val Singleton and John .\'oakes.
The studio itscll‘ seems tiny. cramped hy huge cameras and hordes of helpers. In hounce Mel and Sue. spreading their honhomie wide. The next hour Hashes past in a whirl ol' had puns. a tight-as-skin house hand. quick-lire houncing patter. a red- trousered sushi chef and as much sexual innuendo as can he sguee/ed onto daytime.
When it is all oyer. Mel and Sue relax and sit down to remch their makeup. But while. tip close.
On the dinner money: Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkin's Light Lunch
the TV slap seems thick and false. their personalities are anything hut. ()1‘1‘screen. the comedy duo — they hate the successful lidinhurgh Fringe appearances under their belts — are the same cheerful. sell- deprecating and totally hugahle pals they are on. They constantly talk oyer each other and take the piss.
‘Some ol the people we fail to get on are just terrified of doing it liyef they say. ‘.\'ot a lot of people do liye teleyision. There‘s no edit point. no way of making them look better than they are at I/Icll moment. Whereas for us. we can‘t imagine not doing liyc telcyision now. It's disposable. When you make a mistake you haye to liye with it. because it‘s finished. It‘s oyet'.‘
Mel and Sue's top tip for anyone wanting to do Iiyc 'l'V is to ‘he yourself. hayc a laugh and do it with a mate‘. But getting the production company (whose idea the programme was) to let them he natural was a hattlc. One which paid off. With irony glands pumped to the max. Mel and Sue are the antidote daytime telly needs to stop it disappearng tip its own hehind.
Light Lunch is on Channel 4, Mon—Fri, 12.30pm.
Goodness Gracious Me BBCZ, Mon 12 Jan, 10pm.
Did you hear the one about the confused Sikh, Muslim and Hindu teenagers7 Don't worry, this ain’t no Bernard Manning revwal and there’s no bad-taste punchline Rather, this premise informs one of several intelligent skits in Goodness GraCious Me, Britain's first all-Asian teleVisiOn sketch show
Taking its name from Peter Sellers' blacked-up performance in 605 movre The Millionairess, the show flips the bird at British and Asian culture, turns racial stereotypes on their head and generally extracts the urine from every sacred cow going If it moves they'll poke fun at it With a big stick marked 'ridicule'
'We could jUSt have had a pop at white people, but then you're lecturing The Asian audience woold go "Yeah!" and the white audience would either turn off immediately or the gtiilty white liberals would go "Yes, that's probably true, I feel terrible“,’ says producer Anil Gupta. 'But we want to be as incluswe as possible; there are no holds barred.’
If you want proof, JUSt check out the none-more-English Kapoors, pronounced 'Cooper', the Chigwell- dwelling family who compete With friends to see who can be the most anglicised When a brick comes through the Window With a note saying ’Pakis go home', they can only agree Or then there’s the twentysomething Bombayites who round off an evening on the piss by going for an ‘English', where they prove their manhood by ordering the blandest thing on the menu.
Starring Bha/i On The Beach writer Meera Syal, alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia and Kulvmder Ghir, Goodness Gracious Me started life on Radio 4, Winning the 1997 Sony Gold Award for comedy
’People have asked why a show like this is orin happening now and not in the past,’ says Gupta 'Our generation have come of age and now have the confidence to laugh at things about ourselves in public" and not JUSI Within the community' (Peter Ross)
Asian gag foundation: the Goodness Gracious Me team
9—22 Jan 1998 THEUST 99