My email to Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode on the occasion of their last ‘Wittertainment’ film review show on BBC 5Live…
Dear “Goodnight From Me” and “Goodnight From Him”,
I like to think of myself as a LTL (approx. 13 years) but, this being a church, I’m aware that there will always be those, ‘holier-than-thou’ sorts in the front pews who would claim that such a figure makes me, at best, an MTL johnny-come-lately. Irrespective of that, I’d like to thank you for well over a decade of film-based entertainment and belonging that I’ve rarely experienced in all my years as a consumer of content elsewhere.
I must admit that, as a film-review-curious listener in the late noughties, I’d once decided I couldn’t listen to the analysis of a Contributor who was prone to outrageously self-aggrandising phrases like “there are other opinions – but they’re all wrong”. Someone who, it was suggested, looked like both Mark Lamarr and Jesse Birdsall but who seemed to have even less of Lamarr’s accessible warmth or, indeed, Birdsall’s easy charm. Even though the show’s Presenter was that vanilla guy from Radio 1 and ToTP, this show felt like it could only add disharmony and discontent to an already perfectly lovely Friday afternoon.
I’m not sure what was the cause of my Damascene conversion but when it came, I quickly found myself utterly hooked. Perhaps it was the regular in-jokes, combined with a healthy irreverence towards corporate mainstream cinema – ‘Matthew Mahogany’ and ‘Orloomdo Bland’ were notable examples of the genre. Undoubtedly, the reaction and involvement of the audience (complete with their impressive qualifications) established this as a club worth joining. Increasingly, I began to download and save podcasts for long drives – much to the regular consternation of The Good Lady National Accounts Manager ‘Er Indoors.
Over many subsequent years, this addiction has allowed me to discover that the appeal of a good movie show was not simply about citing obscure, nerdy trivia or making fatuous comparisons, beguiling as all that can be. I learned about the importance of the ‘Five Laugh Rule’ – which became adjusted for inflation to the ‘Six Laugh Rule’ – and I learned to listen to films as much as watch them, to find their references and metaphors in all the places beyond merely the dialogue.
I’d like to thank you for giving me the notion of analysing “the heart” of a film, for explaining how science fiction is designed to be a lens through which to examine the most fundamental aspects of humanity and for instilling the appreciation that an ambitious idea that falters is far better than a safe one that succeeds. In all instances, these lessons apply not just to stories played out on film, but to life itself.
Along the way, I’ve become unable to watch most Harry Potter films without interjecting a “Hello!” (code-compliantly) whenever Mr. Isaacs appears on screen, I’ve become much more sensitive to the avoidance of spoilers (even ghosts and sledges) and I believe I’ve learned more about ‘The Exorcist’ than I will ever need to know.
I’d also like to thank you, belatedly, for the most enjoyable lawn-mowing session of all time – as fate decreed that mowing the lawn was what I would be doing when I pressed ‘Play’ on that most hallowed Kermodian rant: the review of ‘Transformers 2’ in June 2013. Like the assassination of JFK, all who experienced it will forever remember where they were when it happened.
And so, as this particular story comes to the end of its Second (or possibly First) Act, the time has come for me to have to refer to my fruit-based device to see how and where I may find the next port of call of the cruise liner that is the Good Ship Wittertainment. I’m sorry that it will not be on Five Live. Even if it was an Itch that occasionally needed scratching, It seems that Crossing The Streams was indeed as “bad” as we were warned it would be, by another Good Doctor, all those years ago.
The last 13 years of being a Wittertainee have flown by but, at risk of achieving total protonic reversal, I must say that, thanks to you both (and all the supply teachers and producers) I have enjoyed myself – and I see that it is, indeed, later than I think.
BSc. (Hons), [Marketing], orange belt [karate]
PS I was always with Mark on the ‘WTF’ feature.