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TV review: Lemon La Vida Loca
Keith Lemon in his new show. Image: ITV
This ITV2 Keith Lemon (in real life Leigh Francis) vehicle is frequently funny and well observed, but the constant sex gags might start to wear a bit thin after a while.
The mansion Keith Lemon finally 'buys' has a pool that sinks into the floor and fills with water when you walk past it. Amazing. When's the next Euromillions draw again?
It seemed a bit unfair to film sections of the programme with real people. The sight of the puzzled, elderly charity shop volunteer brandishing a donated rubber fist will haunt me for weeks...
We live in a post-Kerry Katona society so we're all too familiar with the idea of washed up minor celebs wringing the last drops of fame from their careers by inviting cameras to follow them everywhere.
Even spoofs of this format have been around for a while, though it's hard to think of any parody that could compare to the brilliance of Alan Partridge.
"Lemon La Vida Loca is witty and certainly up to date"
Leigh Francis is no Steve Coogan.
His TV presenter creation Keith Lemon is far too daft and one note to be compared to Alan Partridge, but Lemon La Vida Loca is witty and certainly up to date - a bit like a parallel universe version of Steps: On The Road Again starring an overweight H with a Leeds accent and 1970s moustache.
Having said that, a million viewers chose to watch this show according to overnight ratings.
A juicy Lemon
It's interesting that Lemon seems to be Francis's character of choice these days. After years spent experimenting with personas as varied as neck-brace wearing fanatic Avid Merrion, a rubber masked version of Mel B from the Spice Girls and a sexually precocious teddy bear, Lemon almost feels tame in comparison.
"Keith Lemon's appeal is in the detail"
However, Keith Lemon's appeal is in the detail: the effort Francis puts into asides, glances, gestures and reactions.
It's why his jokes are funny instead of being completely puerile and daft.
Don't get me wrong, they are puerile and daft - they're usually about poo, sex and/or Jodie Marsh - but they're also carefully set up, well timed and funny. And little touches like the awkward moment his girlfriend catches him and Fearne Cotton together in his Celebrity Juice dressing room add to the character.
There're not doing anything incriminating, but Fearne's body language and his rabbit-in-the-headlights panic say it all.
Most of the episode focussed on Keith Lemon's attempts to buy a house to live in with his girlfriend, Rosie. It was genuinely entertaining. Imagine an edition of Location Location Location crossed with MTV's Cribs starring a camp, Yorkshire version of Richard Branson who likes to have sex on pool tables and you're halfway there.
If the programme had been 30 minutes long it would have been great, but at 45 minutes the joke started to wear a little bit thin. The porn paraphernalia, inappropriate behaviour and sex scene covered duvets were amusing at first, but by the time we got to his unveiling of a new 'romantic' dinner plate set and specially commissioned oil painting of him penetrating his girlfriend ('look, I'm getting it right in you there') it started to feel a bit wearing.
Then he showed the camera crew his new car- the Delorean from Back to the Future - and it almost made up for that last stretch. It'll be interesting to see if the Keith Lemon character has enough angles to sustain this mockumentary format for a whole series, but as long as he hangs onto the awkward moments and classic 1980s references, it might just be OK.
- Verdict: A Marmite series if ever there was one; some will love it, others will hate it.
TV quotes of the week - Lemon La Vida Loca
"Most people bury their pets, I had mine dipped in liquid aluminium. Sometimes I think I hear him bark, but then I realise I didn't hear him bark. Because he's dead." - That's Keith Lemon for you...
Charity shop manager (about donated items): "Some of it might be a little bit risqué for here." - I'll say!
"You could buy half of Leeds for six million pounds." - Ouch. Keith won't be popular in Leeds after that...
"We'll get that hotdog putting ketchup on his head. It's the same colour as Jodie Marsh." - OK. That's funny!
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