Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Cast of Spellers

I watched an episode of Starspell. I haven't watched any other since. The contest was between pencil-thin and practically boobless lady-toff, Fiona Bruce, pulchritudinous, smarty knickers, Vanessa Feltz, overly opinionated ex footballer Mark Lawrenson, and stroppy show-off-chef Brian Wilson.

I was convinced that this would result in a straightforward head to head between the two bright ladies, with the two bone-headed blokes roasted, nutmegged, and kicked into touch pretty darn quick. Not quite so,though.

First up Fiona Bruce. Equipped herself well but the years of auto-cue cribs seemed to have blunted her ability to visualise the word configurations. One wrong.

Mark Lawrenson was next up. Ex footballer. A lot of footballers do short spells in cells during their careers, but these were going to be long spells in hell for the ex moustachioed one. 'Moustache,' was the first word up. "Ah! very fonny!" stuttered Mark still looking alarmingly bare-faced having dispatched his infamous 1970s trademark just a few years ago following years of painful mockery. Mark's percipient observation pointed up a theme that I'd missed until then. All the words used in the early part of the competition were words associated, however tenuously, with their 'celebrity fame.'

This was bad news for Vanessa who, having recently presented a programme on cosmetic surgery, was confronted with quite a few difficult scientific terms. It was however good for Brian Wilson, who eased his way to the three way play-off spelling words he must have read and written down into his recipes and menus millions of times. Vanessa, though showing surprising nerves, also somehow gasped her way to a full house. Vanessa's like Stephen Fry in these celebrity quizzes, everyone expects them to do well, and they usually do.

It didn't help Fiona, her ego became as deflated as her chest after she cocked-up on the number of 'o's in Ten O'clock News. First off. Fi could be heard muttering " And it's goodnight from me ... and please, please don't ever have spelling nightmares like mine." And all without the use of auto-cue.

Brian's up again and doing well. Hardly gets any wrong, though all those speed blurs you see from his hands and lips whilst cooking on Ready Steady Cook don't translate well into this arena - he's too slow and is losing points despite good effortful spelling.

Vanessa's up and her nerves are now into frazzled territory. Her fingers are recruited in the letter counting phase, her eyes wild and glassy. I found myself hoping there was no chalk and blackboard nearby as I'd seen that look before and the results were not pretty.

Mark's up and reverts to type and blows it. *Walks off shaking his head*

The final is between Vanessa and Brian. I find myself rooting for Vanessa, though she's looking scary by now, huge bosom, heaving like a hopeful 1930s movie star on a casting couch, head twitchy, eyes wide, frightened and scanning; Vanessa has written about spelling standards in her newspaper column and the pressure is definitely getting to her. Lots of frightened girlie looks to camera. Brian looks cock-sure. He looks less so when he realises that the cooking theme is no more and the words are now brutally random.

Vanessa sears into the lead with an eleven 'letterer' and an impressive correct spelling of haemorrhage. Brian will not play hard ball and goes for shorter and simpler, but muffs it all the same. Vanessa wins through. Strangely compelling. Note to self: 'Must watch more early evening crappy telly.'

Just watched tonight's edition. They can be bastards. Asked to spell 'reveille' the Smillie woman looked confused.

"Repeat?" she asked. "Reveille. Early wake-up call," was the answer.

She was obiously non-plussed, but had a bash. Or rather a hash of it. I can't remember how she spelt it, but it wasn't even close.

I can do it because my Nan used to get Reveille every week.
big up early evening crappy telly!

does 'ready steady cook' fall into this category?

do you know, i met someone yesterday who had never seen or heard of RSC? i almost fell off the sofa

and is it just because he no longer sits next to the stick thin fiona phillips any more or has eamonn holmes lost weight?
SP: The definition request is sometimes the most surprising. Some of the words, although tricky to spell, are pretty well known. Words like 'impoverished vocabulary' spring to mind.

UC: I suppose it does. And nice shoes.
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