(White Jaguar TV) Rutland Weekend Television: Series 2 Episode 2 and a Message for Readers in Russia
A little break from the orphaned episodes because I've found out about several other appearances of the white Jaguar footage (Credit) and it's in a show I only discovered this week.
In fact despite my frequent worries that I will reach the point where there is no more old TV to be discovered, this week I have managed to discover three shows I didn't know existed: this one, The Innes Book of Records and The One Game. Of these only the last has been released commercially but I haven't actually watched any of it yet.
This one touches on the project that I have had at the back of my head for literally years but never faced, which is to have a go at getting my head round the UK regional TV franchises, whose logos appear at the beginning of so many of the shows which appear here. I am now not going to attempt this project, because this page has all the information I could have wanted and frankly it is so complicated. Even as a child it made no sense to me that I was sitting in the Midlands watching TV that had London Weekend Television written all over it. That's even without the different contracts for weekdays and weekends being granted to different companies.
Anyway, Rutland Weekend Television is a TV series set in a fictional version of one of these regional TV franchises (actually made by the BBC). The joke is that Rutland is the smallest of England's ancient counties, its greatest length and breadth is 17 or 18 miles respectively and it has a current population of 40,000. Until 2020 it was the last county in England without a McDonald's. Truly miniscule when an undated population of the Midlands, the second largest ITV region, was 8,220,000 (Source) and much of the show is about the correspondingly tiny budget, studio and facilities.
A Rutland TV station would be pretty small (representing roughly 30,000 people in an area less than 150 square miles), so a Rutland Weekend Television would have to be ridiculously tiny. The joke was doubly meaningful as Idle had accidentally been granted a presentation budget instead of the more lavish budgets associated with light entertainment – so the weekly patter about their inability to buy props and sets reflected reality. Indeed, the last show of the first series featured Idle and Innes, stripped and shivering in blankets under a bare bulb, singing about how the power's about to be shut off. Idle speaks bitterly about these conditions now but his attempts to overcome them formed the basis of a lot of the show's jokes. Source
I'm not convinced that this is entirely true and suspect that this central narrative of the show was maintained and expanded as a way to enable its key trope.
Much of the rest of the show is a Pythonesque account of the nature of television itself. If you like Monty Python you will like this show and the two actors Eric Idle and Neil Innes (of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) show this shows pedigree from Do Not Adjust Your Set and clearly place this show in the stable of What the Pythons Did Next. The show has not been commercially released but all of the episodes are available on YouTube in fairly good quality.
As I said the show is largely about TV and before the segment featuring the white Jaguar footage we have the following sketches (I'll go into more detail than usual because there isn't that much about this show online):
A barber shop quartet sing an introduction to the Interesting People Show, which features a man from Sussex who worries sheep. He worries a sheep on the show, but gives up after revealing that the sheep had already been on the David Frost programme, which worried her terribly. The man then gives an account of worrying various other animals including worrying one by kicking it in the goolies. The next guest on the show is Mr Wilfred Cribbage from Frome, who collects Madam Butterflies (at great personal difficulty, it must be said). He gets them from Covent Garden and describes the difficulty of dragging a 13 stone operatic heroine off the stage. We see some of his Madam Butterflies mounted on the wall. The barber shop quartet introduces a song by Neil Innes. Then the barbershop quartet (who it turns out are called The Razorblade Four) sing an introduction to another edition of a show (of course you understand that these shows are sketches really, just done as if we are watching an evening's broadcasting on Rutland Weekend Television) called Exposé. This is about a threat to the basis of marriage. A man named Kevin Pratt is interviewed. It is commented that he would like to remain anonymous but the show won't let him be - the joke about television exposure is of course familiar from Monty Python, and it turns out the TV station have threatened him with the police if he refused to appear on the show. He is told to tell the audience what happened in his own words (which are on the autocue). In an absolutely shocking revelation of terrible depravity Mr Pratt describes what happened at a party after they swapped car keys but I'm not going to tell you because I will not have it on this blog. Disgusting. They then interview Mrs Wrigley from Monotony in Surrey and she speaks very movingly about the effect of this party on her life. Unfortunately the interview has to be cut short because she keeps crying and film is expensive. The full effects are described in great detail. The presenter, Mortimer Baboom, ends by announcing that next week they'll be looking at sex in the theatre and wondering whether the audience shouldn't wait until they get home. Then we go straight into another song by Innes dressed as a good parody of Elton John. During his performance (with wine glasses stuck on his spectacles a counter onscreen counts up in pounds - presumably how much he is costing the studio. Then we have the barbershop quartet again announcing the part of the show we are waiting for.
The white Jaguar footage is part of the titles of Rutland Five-O. I don't need to tell anyone reading this blog the inspiration for this parody of 1970s American detective series! It is evident that the introduction to the show has been begged, bought or stolen from another TV show and it is periodically interrupted by another voice introducing the word Rutland to make it Rutland-specific. The Jaguar footage of course adds to the cheap nature of Rutland Weekend Television and enables Rutland Five-O to be also understood as a parody of ITC.
The show ends with what is on next week.
The similarity to the humour of Monty Python will be apparent but this show is definitely a step onwards. The TV show framework is used to great effect. My only criticism would be that if you weren't familiar with 1970s TV this could just pass you by completely, but of course that doesn't apply to anyone likely to be reading this blog. The show does actually show up some seventies TV as being pointless or ridiculous, and the fact an intelligent, fast-moving show could be made reveals how slow and cheapskate some TV of the time was.
Of course nowadays we would call this metatextual, but the Pythons were already there nearly fifty years ago.
This is stonking good television and very highly recommended.
I am also delighted to have found raw footage of the Jaguar's crash from several angles via The Kino Library's YouTube channel. My only sorrow is that it cuts off when it does at the end and wonder whether the camera stopped working:
And finally, although the general tone of this blog is liberal I don't usually explicitly stray into politics but am going to make a rare exception. Up until the invasion of Ukraine and my heroes the legendary Anonymous group of hackers took out so much Russian IT infrastructure the biggest visitor outside of the UK and the USA to this blog was Russia. Huge number of visits. Now that has just stopped and there have only been five hits this week from Russia. If you're on Twitter you will notice the number of tweets from US 'patriots' saying Biden is terrible has also plummeted. It's almost as if they were made by Russian bots wanting Trump back because he would support their unjust regime. Just in case anyone reads this in Russia here is a message.
If you are reading this in Russia, please note that the state media is lying to you. The rest of Europe do not blame you personally (it's Putin) and there was no reason to invade Ukraine. There was no aggression. Your country has had to be isolated as the aggressor in an unjust war - if you leave Ukraine there will be no war at all. Your state media is lying to you.
Translation by Google:
Если вы читаете это в России, учтите, что государственные СМИ вам лгут. Остальная Европа не винит вас лично (это Путин) и не было причин вторгаться в Украину. Агрессии не было. Ваша страна должна быть изолирована как агрессор в несправедливой войне - если вы уйдете из Украины, войны не будет вообще. Ваши государственные СМИ лгут вам.
If you are reading this anywhere else in the world you can help the accompanying humanitarian crisis by donating to the Red Cross and other relief agencies.
Most people won't actually help by going to Ukraine but we can all be creative as this is a war like no other. If you are a woman and on tinder you can help by setting your location to Ukraine or Russia, matching with soldiers and telling them the truth.
If you would like to support me and this blog you can buy me a coffee (or a box set) here.