Sunday, 18 April 2010

Barry Norman Pickled Gherkins


Barry Norman is most famous for being the host of BBC's Film programme for over 25 years before Jonathan Ross took over in 1998. Here's a good Jonathan Ross joke:

Jonathan Ross was arrested for stealing a kitchen utensil from Tesco. When questioned by police, he said that he'd felt it was a whisk worth taking.

When Wossy decided to leave the BBC recently, many wondered who would take over presenting the Film programme. Some people suggested Charlie Brooker should host (which was wrong). He said he wasn't the right person for it (which was right), and joined many others in saying that Mark Kermode should do it (which was wrong). Kermode then said that he wasn't the right person for it (which was right). Brooker is primarily a TV and video games critic, and if he hosted Film 2010, he'd have less time to do the stuff that the people who suggested him loved him for, the idiots. As for Kermode, it was not, as he cited, his having a less mainstream taste that made him unsuitable, but rather the fact that he'd hate interviewing anyone who isn't Jason Isaacs or Billy Friedkin.

So instead they went for Claudia Winkleman, and hundreds of people were left crying into their copies of Empire, Total Film and that magazine you get for free in Cineworld that tells you that every film is amazing. Those people were massively mistaken since Winkleman is not exactly filling the vacant seat - her appointment signals a format change: Winkleman will host with 'cinema experts' (read: film critics) in to discuss the latest releases. Thus Kermode will probably be on the show from time-to-time anyway. I object to Winkleman only on the grounds that her orange visage will constantly have me reaching for the remote to adjust the colour settings. Just thank the lords that they didn't go for Alex Zane.

Anyway, I digress. To be honest I was too young/not alive to offer reasonable judgement on Barry Norman's reign with the Film reins, so I shall have to look at his top 10 films from the last Sight & Sound Top Ten poll (2002):

Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
La R├Ęgle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939)
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
Singin' in the Rain (Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen, 1952)
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)


It's all a bit obviously, well, film critic-y isn't it, Barry? Four of those films were in the Critics' Top Ten. A bit more outside the box please! You may note that the poll is from 8 years ago, but given that he seems to have decided at the beginning of the '60s that no new film is going to break into his sacred top ten, I expect that if he is asked for a list for the next poll in 2012, he'll submit a note saying only "See 2002".

Anyway, Barry's company is called PickleODEON foods. Brilliant. I'll give a whole point just for that. On the lid of the jar of Barry Norman Pickled Gherkins it says...

Barry Norman never buys pickles. By a mixture of trial and error, 19th century recipes handed down from his grandmother and expert advice, he concocts for himself the ones he really likes. He's pretty sure you'll enjoy them too.

Firstly, I'm a bit disappointed that Barry is referred to in the third person. A direct quote from him would add a nice personal touch. Secondly, I infer from this that if Barry Norman doesn't buy pickles, then perhaps none of use should. If this is intended, it's not good for business, but it's nice of him to share his recipe with those of us who are too lazy to concoct their own.

Now, I'm not a big expert on pickles or gherkins, but when I get a burger from McDonald's, I'm a leave it in kind of guy. Barry's pickles are a reasonable snack, the spice gives it a nice little kick, but they're a little too vinegary to have more than one at a time.

Here's my main problem with them though. On the front Barry is holding a clapper board, which says at the bottom "Scene: Spicy!" and "Sound: Crunchy." I've no problem with the spicy part (though I'm not sure why this earns an exclamation mark), but crunchy is not the sort of sound I'd like to hear when watching a film, particularly the films Barry lists in his top 10. It's unfortunate in this regard then that Barry is a film critic, because another celebrity would not be marked down for this.

Barry Norman: 6/10
Pickled Gherkins: 6/10
Total: 12/20

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