Aidan Smith on TV: Why we can’t really feel sorry for David Coulthard
“Some Monte Carlo glamour there,” he says, “but she was clearly not impressed by me. I’ve been too long out of Formula 1.”
Poor Dave. But I don’t suppose he wants us to feel sorry for him. The retired speed-merchant struggles to remember how long he’s been living in the “playground of the rich” – this BBC2 documentary’s subtitle – then realises it’s a quarter of a century. I guess all those blissful, tax-free years must have blurred into one another.
Where was Alan Whicker when we needed him? The greater safari-suited telly traveller, granted an exclusive one-to-one with Prince Albert, lord of all he surveys from his castle window, would have come up with a better opening gambit than: “Your highness, this view is amazing!”
Our narrator is French and speaks with a Ferrero Roche accent. To be fair to him he doesn’t just interview the stinkingly wealthy – one in three here are millionaires – but also the fluffers and flunkeys sometimes overwhelmed by their displays of excess.
The air traffic controllers must manage the skies above the bay which can turn into locust swarms of helicopters as the chopper is Monte Carlo’s taxi. Back at dockside it’s a tight squeeze as the yachts keep getting bigger. “They are like crazy children,” says the harbour-master of their owners. “They want 80ft, 90ft, never finish.”
Prince Albert was hosting a swanky party, just 15 seconds permitted for each guest to shake his hand. The odd chancer was turned away – “I’m sorry, perhaps this isn’t your level” – but our friend Dave got in OK and the champagne flowed at €28,000 a bottle. And I know I’m about 65 years late with this, but never mind: Grace Kelly, what a stunner she was.
Docs like these can provide vicarious enjoyment though maybe not right now. The big dilemma for the Bacardi heir’s widow seemed to be which of her two Rolls-Royces to take for a spin.
From the super-rich of the Med to a Scottish new town, and a a timely transmission: Long Live Livi, a documentary on the BBC Scotland channel about girl skateboarders in Livingston, arrived just as Sky Atlantic premiered Betty, a comedy concerning girl skateboarders in New York.
Poppie, Rudi and Mac are the Snagglerats, three munchkins in helmets and kneepads fanatical about their pastime, despite Poppie having an arm in a stookie from her latest tumble and boys telling Mac she should be “indoors playing with dolls”. But their favourite skatepark has seen better days and is full of craters.
Poppie’s dad, Sprocket, remembers when the venue was world-famous and top stars like Tony Hawk whooshed round its big bowl. Mac asks Poppie how much Sprocket skates. “It used to be a lot,” comes the reply, “but now he needs to go to work since we’re down on money.”
The girls get a video-call from Hawk and Poppie bursts into tears. He tells them to keep believing and keep whipping the lads in competitions. They reckon they need £12,000 for repairs and Rudi thinks a raffle will do it. But when they stage an open day the turnout is impressive. Go, Snagglerats!
Betty, by the way, is a cool show. A TV truth: the streets of the Noo Yoik will never look dull, and here they’re shot thrillingly from knee-height.
Now, I’d like to state that no threesomes or drugs were involved in the creation of this column. I feel the need to say this because they feature a lot in I May Destroy You (BBC1), the new drama about a twentysomething writer and her wild and krayzee lifestyle.
Michaela Coel, the breakout star of Chewing Gum (like Fleabag only funnier), plays smash-hit yoof zeitgeist chronicler Arabella who has passage-quoting fangirls waylaying her in the street but is struggling with Difficult Second Book Syndrome.
A writing retreat in Italy has been unproductive and, returning to London, she tries to blast out the final chapters during an all-nighter but is easily lured away from the laptop by dissolute friends, partying hard and falling over. Penned by Coel and semi-autobiographical, this is like Ray Milland’s The Lost Weekend for randy, self-absorbed, nomophobic (can’t be without a smartphone) millennials.
The next day Arabella doesn’t remember anything. Was her drink spiked? Why is she having flashbacks about a convulsing man? Was she sexually assaulted? You quickly know not to expect the bawdy humour of Chewing Gum. The story unfolds chaotically but I guess that’s deliberate. Either that or the editor must have taken something.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.
Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.
Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.