Category Archives: More 4

‘Jews at Ten’ – Episode 1.1

Jewish programming seems to be popular at the moment: Ronna and Beverly is doing well for Sky Atlantic, and ITV have to date produced two series of their documentary Strictly Kosher (with it being given a repeat run on ITV1 from Sunday night).

In addition to this, Channel 4 apppear to currently be running what I would descirbe as a ‘Jewish Season’, with the recommissioning of sitcom Friday Night Dinner, the premier of Jewish Mum of the Year and this – Jews at Ten, a series showing famous Jewish celebrities sharing their experiences as a result of their faith.

CONFUSE AT TEN

I’m not quite sure how to categorise this show. It couldn’t exactly be described as a chat show as it doesn’t have a host as such. Neither would I really call it a documentary. The title – as I’m sure you’ve gathered, a pun of News at Ten – would suggest that it’s a comedy, but the content, on the other hand, would not.

Don’t get me wrong: it can be funny – but a comedy? I don’t know.

I think I’ll plump for ‘a series of talking heads’…although I can’t see the term catching on.

ENLIGHTENMENT

This episode focused on Jewish celebrations and traditions, including; Bar Mitzvahs (a Jewish boy’s coming of age ceremony); the Brit Malah, also known as the Bris – or circumcision; and Hanukkah – the Festival of Light.

Despite studying GCSE Religious Studies, I must confess that I didn’t know a lot about Judaism. I’d heard of the aforementioned traditions, but I didn’t know why they happened, nor when – I just knew they were there. Therefore, I found that Jews at Ten enlightened me about the religion and its customs.

Now, I understand that by me saying it ‘enlightened me’, I may have deterred many people from watching the program as I’ve made it sound like a serious, informative look at Judaism but that is far from the truth. It’s actually a light-hearted program, with many of the participants actually opposing aspects of the religion (the Bris came under particular criticism – unsurprisingly from the men), and a lot actually confessing that they celebrate Christmas – of course, a Christian festival – as well as Hanukkah. Some owned up to actually preferring Christmas than their own festival. So, the large majority of those being interviewed were most certainly not taking themselves too seriously.

What I believe kept it from being a heavy program was the choice to include recognisable faces, many of whom – like Vanessa Feltz, Uri Geller and Tracy-Ann Oberman – I actually did not realise were Jewish. If Jews at Ten had been fronted solely by some boring presenter, pontificating about why Judaism is so great and superior to other faiths, I would have swtiched off because it wouldn’t have engaged me. However, having celebrities discussing honestly and somewhat jokingly their own personal experiences really did engage me and I wanted to hear what they wanted to say, because I was interested in their views and finding out more about them. The fact that I acquired some information which I had been oblivious too, prior to watching the program, is a complete bonus.

 

So, I think it’s safe to say that I will be watching the rest of the Jews at Ten series – whereas not overwhelmingly funny (but, then again, it doesn’t profess itself to be), it is interesting and I come away having absorbed information I didn’t realise I had taken in while watching!

 

Jews at Ten can be seen at 10pm on Tuesdays on More4, or at various times in the early hours of Friday morning on Channel 4 (this week at 1:10am)

 

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‘Britain’s Oldest Stand-Up’ – Monday 30th July, 10:00pm – More 4

This moving documentary followed ninety-year-old Chelsea Pensioner Jack Woodward as he embarked on fulfilling his dream of performing at the Hammersmith Apollo, just like the comedians he sees weekly on the BBC’s ‘Live at the Apollo’.

‘COMEDY IS IN HIS BLOOD’

We started by being told about Jack’s want to perform at the famous theatre and emulate Apollo regular Michael McIntyre. Jack was once a comedian but performed for the final time in the sixties. However, this didn’t stop him wanting to get back on the circuit, so much is his love for making people laugh, which was palpable throughout the programme. It was said many times during the documentary that comedy is ‘in his blood’ and seemed to be very, very true.

‘A SHAME’

Eager to fulfil his dream of performing comedy again, Jack took the opportunity to perform at a local luncheon club. After a lot of build-up from the compere, he took to the stage and gave ten minutes of material…and struggled beyond description. It was painful. He had no problem remembering the jokes and was clearly relishing being back on stage again but the jokes just weren’t very good and far too long, in comparison to what modern day audiences are used to. It was a shame that such a lovely man with such a passion for stand-up should receive such a frosty reception.

A STEP CLOSER

However, with the help of renowned comedy writer Les Keen (whose writing credits include ‘The Friday/Sunday Night Project’, ‘Alan Carr: Chatty Man’ and ‘Odd One In’), Jack managed to get a five minute warm-up spot for Ed Byrne’s show…at the Apollo! Although he didn’t seem worried about doing this stint, I was for him. I couldn’t help thinking that Jack’s brand of comedy wouldn’t appeal to Ed’s fans.

‘A SWEET END’

Fortunately, however, the gig went very well and I think the audience just fell in love with Jack as a person and his story. He finally achieved his dream and provided a sweet end to a sweet documentary.