Week in Review:18/4/11

A slightly delayed look at all the news from last week by Chris Huw Williams


Britain’s Got Talent has hit our screens again this week, well, I say ‘hit’ what I actually mean is annoying wiggled its way back onto the schedule like a disgusting worm that somehow creeps its way into your intestines before eating you slowly from the inside out, weeks later leaving you left for dead. As per usual, and as with every talent contest that destroys the weekends TV schedule, there’s the same terrible, uninspiring judges, the even worse and even more ridiculous stories from desperate contestants who believe that this is their ‘one and only chance’ to make it big (forgetting that they had a chance to ‘make it big’ last year… and the year before that…. and the year before that….).

Last night’s show, however, gave the introduction of two new judges – David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre. Neither the comedian nor the ex-Hollywood star could fill the boots of Simon Cowell or that of Piers Morgan (it’s very difficult to fill the boots of two of the most hated people in Britain) and that was just the beginning of the problems. Jolty camera angles and quickly spliced together images of contestants and audience members made the show look as if a work experience lad had got hold of the final tapes.

As ever there were one or two acts who looked, not good but, interesting. There wasn’t a Paul Potts and there definitely wasn’t a SuBo – there was, however, an interesting dance act. Steven Hall did the usual thing of looking plain and normal before pulling out some interesting dance moves and making the judges laugh, with a standing ovation from the seemingly lobotomized audience.

But whilst in Britain I can moan about the TV schedule, other countries have had some more pressing issues to deal with this week. France, for example, led the charge of the ridiculous by banning the burkha in all public places. What appears to be a ridiculous move against freedom of speech and freedom of expression is, in fact, quite supported by the French public. The law now states that the burkha is forbidden in public places with fines and threats of imprisonment – 2 people in fact, have already being imprisoned.

It’s a difficult one to comment on, in honesty, there’s a certain logic in banning the burkha and France, in particular, has had a long history of separating the Church and the state. On the other hand though, it does bring into question the issue of human rights and of freedom of expression – freedom of religion, even.

The British response to the news has, however, been an interesting one. Home Secretary, Theresa May, has claimed that a similar ban in Britain would be “out of keeping with our nations longstanding record of tolerance”. Not only do I not agree with that, or think that people should agree with that, I think it just creates a ridiculous caricature of French society and suggests a real “Holier than thou” attitude (pun intended) from the Brits. The fact is that France has, and still is, a tolerant country – the issues is about religion and how much it should infiltrate french society. The French have had a history of tolerating religions as long as it wasn’t too overt – this is just a continuation of that.

But anyway, we’re British, enough of French laws. The only other real news this week, that’s caught my attention anyway, is that of Stan Kroenke’s takeover of Arsenal. It’s another sign that British clubs aren’t just for the Brits themselves and that money is the real language of football – not what’s going on on the pitch. I scorned and laughed as Abramovich took over Chelsea and the Glazers don’t appear to have gone down too well up in Manchester. I guess we’ll see how this American goes down in North London – but I’m not entirely hopeful.