Alive: Back To The Andes
There’s a scene in I’m Alan Partridge where, after being turned down for a second season, he pitches a series of increasingly desperate show ideas to the BBC commissioning editor he is wining and dining. "Inner City Sumo?" he offers; then "Monkey Tennis?". It’s very funny.
It’s become an oft-quoted classic observation of fish out of water desperation and can’t bear-to-watch pathos. The shows just keep coming from Partridge, each more preposterous than the last. The comedy comes because we, the audience, know perfectly well that nobody is ever going to commission something as ridiculous as Monkey Tennis. Thus, we enjoy dominant specularity over Partridge who becomes our fool.
"As premises go Alive: Back To The Andes is about as gruesome and tasteless as they come."
But we reckoned without Channel 5’s eye for the bizarre. As premises go Alive: Back To The Andes is about as gruesome and tasteless as they come. Four shitbag celebrities retrace the steps of the Uruguayan rugby players who crashed in the Andes in 1972 and survived for 74 days by eating their chums.
TV has eaten itself. Those crazy bastards have finally done it.
Brainless Coronation Street beefcake, gay icon and prospective Tory MP Adam Rickitt joins lifestyle guru Carole Caplin, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Lord Freddie Windsor recreating the 10-day mountain trek made by students Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa in search of help
“If this is a valid exercise why not throw the stars of Hollyoaks into the moshpit of an Anal Cunt concert to recreate Hillsborough?”
Instead of the dead flesh of their friends they eat raw meat. Because they really want to see how it was. Which begs the question: why would you ever want to know that?
And if this is a valid exercise why not throw the stars of Hollyoaks into the moshpit of an Anal Cunt concert to recreate Hillsborough or have Paul Danan reliving the horrors of the My Lai massacre by dressing as a Chinaman and being poked with sticks by US Marines?
That Tory shitbag Rickitt claims to be taking part to honour the dead. Most people find a floral tribute suffices but not Adam.
The real reason soon becomes clear. He wants to moan about the press. "We like to put people in boxes. With me it was: pretty boy, blonde boy, and it’s "fuck it, let’s make him gay" So nothing to do with your pop career being remorselessly marketed towards the gay community or you playing all those gay clubs and your Hi-NRG homoerotic videos? No, of course not. What was I thinking?
"Ethan Hawke and chums making it look like quite a jolly jape with lots of snowboarding with the occasional piece of cannibalism mixed in. ."
There are interviews with with Parrado and Canessa whose stories are genuinely gripping and poignant. The 1992 dramatisation of their ordeal Alive was shown after the first episode – Ethan Hawke and chums making it look like quite a jolly jape with lots of snowboarding interspersed with the occasional piece of cannibalism. And it looks like the ones who died were the most annoying people. So not so bad really.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make judgments and I’m not downplaying what they went through but we all know perfectly well that this is how it really went:
Roberto: Well, it’s been a couple of hours now lads. They’re obviously not coming for us. We’d better start tucking into these corpses.
Nando: But there’s lots of food in the cabin. Enough for a couple of weeks I should think.
Roberto: It’s no good Nando. We’re going to have to eat the dead.
Nando: But there’s stackful of ready meals here.
Maxine: I’ve heard human flesh tastes like chicken.
Roberto: (gnawing into prop forward’s arm) Tastes more like roast beef to me.
Nando: Ah fuck it. Save me some ribs…
“The likes of Rickitt and Caplin have once again inhaled career anthrax and are one step closer to being off our screens for good.”
And so on.
I have no idea why this programme was made. I have no clue how it got past the first meeting. How it even appeared in somebody’s head and lit a neon sign saying Hey Guys, This Could Work is something I’d sit from here to Judgement Day and never fathom.
But it isn’t offensive, outrageous or funny. It’s just tawdry and dull. I suppose if you take something positive from this programme it’s that the likes of Rickitt and Caplin have once again inhaled career anthrax and are one step closer to being off our screens for good.
"It’s in the cannibalistic nature of TV that nothing is sacred, nothing is free from scrutiny and no event cannot be stripped to the bone, thrown into the mincing machine and reconstituted."
It’s in the cannibalistic nature of TV that nothing is sacred, nothing is free from scrutiny and no event cannot be stripped to the bone, thrown into the mincing machine and reconstituted.
As Farm Foods economy burgers are we to the gods. They stick us in the freezer then forget we were ever there. A bit like that Uruguayan Rugby team then.
The best thing about it: Adam Rickitt being forced to eat raw pork.
The worst thing about it: The depressing conceit of the whole concept.
The verdict on Alive: Back To The Andese : Call me back when they start eating real corpses.
Marks out of 10: 5