First Of The Summer Skins, Plus A Lottery Prediction Prediction

  • 9/09/2009 12:58:00 am
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones
  • 4 Comments

In precisely the kind of channel-hopping stunt that we absolutely love, Darren “No, I Think You’ll Find It’s Derren” Brown is going to appear simultaneously on Channel Four, Film4, E4, More4, 4Music and 4-Tel (one of those is a lie) at 10.30pm on Wednesday (or, by the time you read this, tonight). But wait, that’s not the remarkable thing (even though it is kind of remarkable). When he’s live on air he has vowed to predict the numbers of the Midweek Lottery draw, broadcast live on BBC One five minutes later. So, guessing (sorry, predicting) which six numbers will be drawn, before they’re drawn. 

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Of course, his predictions will be made after the tickets stop going on sale, no doubt to the annoyance of thousands of viewers hovering over the National Lottery website at 10.33pm that night. Anyway, it’s all going to be some kind of clever jape involving the words “I’ve written down the six numbers, and put them in this sealed envelope - tune in after the Lotto draw to see me open it”, and 13,999,999 spare envelopes hidden in crafty places around the set. Or he’ll hypnotise the nation at 10.40pm into thinking he’d got it right. Or maybe, Derren Brown will use a method such as this: at 10.30pm, flash up the following image for a split second:

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Then show the image again at about 10.40pm, only this time with all of the wrong digits subtly dimmed by 20%, giving the impression the winning numbers were clearly visible all along. That’d fool us into assuming it was just our cold, closed minds that had prevented us from ‘getting’ it.

Anyway, whatever happens, we’ll be watching it. Much as we will be and have been watching Land Girls on BBC One (also on BBC HD). The trailer managed to confuse us on Sunday night, with what seemed to be a relatively expensive WWII period drama being shown at the surely-it-must-be-a-Bank-Holiday time of 5.15pm, but no, that’s the timeslot for it. And in our defence, we’d spent around 80% of Sunday in bed drowning in a sea of the most devilishly feverish visions – the concept of cricket or toast would probably have had us similarly floundered by the time we finally made it to the sofa. It’s on every weekday this, er, week at that time, suggesting it’s geared towards elder children.

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Not a bit of it. Episode two alone featured 1940s teenage pregnancy and subsequent attempted abortion, a nine-year-old boy selling bootleg whiskey, arguments aplenty, a bar brawl, thwarted equestricide, and three cast members from the magnificent Early Doors to boot. All in the traditional Blue Peter slot.

Despite us just making it sound like First Of The Summer Skins, or BBC Three’s Fuck Off I’m A Civilian Landworker, it’s all handled as sensibly as if it had been filtered through the typewriter ribbons of Michael O’Neill and Jeremy Seabrook. All the characters you’d expect to find in a classic BBC children’s drama are there:

The plucky teenage girl who’d lied about her age in order to help with the war effort, spunky and idealistic, and who’d think nothing of marching into the American soldiers’ mess to demand they improve the lot of their black compatriots.

Her steadying influence of an older sister (Christine Bottomley, below left), ready to pluckily corner any American GIs who’d try to take advantage of her young sis, and prod their chests so hard their medals will leave indentations in their ribcage.

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A plucky pre-teen scallywag happy to aid the scam-hungry farmer (Mark Benton) with some wizard carrot-related wheezes.

A nosey parker Sergeant willing to spend as much time peeking into the business of his own men as carrying out his duties. If this were being made in 1983, he’d be played by Stephen Lewis.

The Lord Of The Manor – a well-meaning war hero who is always on hand with a word of cheery encouragement or some first-aid tips gleaned from his time in the Somme

The deceitful Lady Of The Manor, on hand to pass on the valuable lesson to children that at least 50% of posh people throughout history were evil (legal note: may not be true).

The perpetually cheery (and plucky) midlands girl who refuses to dwell on the hand life has dealt her, lest it cause her to waver from her land-tending duties.

The superficially plucky land girl who is probably Up To No Good, We’ll Wager.

And at least half a dozen more characters more interesting and well-rounded that you’d find in a great deal of post-watershed dramas. We’re happy to make that judgement call after seeing just one-and-a-half episodes, and recommend everyone visit the Land Girls iPlayer page to dip into it. Go on, do it now.

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