Sunday, October 08, 2006

Channel Bedlam



"I have a MIGRAINE and you're NOT HELPING!!!" screams Princess Nikki, her orange face crumpled up like a used tea-bag, as she balances precariously at the top of a not-very-steep hill. In a few minutes she will abseil down it quite happily, her 27th tantrum of the day completely forgotten. Nikki can switch from happy to sad to bored to furious in a way which makes the average 2 year old look as stoic and po-faced as a yoga-practising Buddhist.

There is absolutely no point to E4's Princess Nikki, no prize, no learning, no message, no nothing - except allowing viewers to laugh at someone who has either a) not been brought up very well and/or b) suffering from mental illness. Nikki also has a hygiene-related OCD and an eating disorder. A scar on her stomach is testament to where she was fed by a tube, doctors thinking that she'd starve herself to death otherwise.

Laughing at the mentally ill is something which the British have a long history of doing - a popular day-trip for eighteenth-century tourists was to visit Bedlam, a mental institution where they could pay a penny and peer into the cells. It was free the first Tuesday of the month and vistors could bring along sticks so that they could poke and enrage the inmates into doing some exciting, like attacking one another. 1814 saw 96,000 such visits. The viewing figures for Princess Nikki are at about 230,000, which, considering the population is about 3 times larger now than it was in the 1800s, suggests that the proportion of Bedlam visitors is about the same now as it was then. Lord Reith, who summarised the mission of television to inform, educate and entertain, would not be a happy man.

But maybe I'm being cruel - after all, Nikki often breaks out of her tantrums to laugh at herself. And everyone's a little bit crazy aren't they? Maybe all we can do is laugh it off. I'm fond of saying that everyone should have at least one OCD - it gives your personality a bit of an edge. In Nikki's case though - all she has are personality disorders. And although I've laughed along with the show, I can't feeling that my remote control just turned into a big stick, so that I can poke the inmates trapped in my tellybox too.

5 comments:

matty said...

Man! I wanna be able to sit and watch this Nikki person!

Lubin said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIyruG1BDT0

matty said...

"Stooop throwing poo at meeeee!"

I know she is horrible, but she could be retarded. Therefore, I must say that I LOVE her. I just watched 4 of her vid-clips and am destined to be late for my day at the Disco Desk as it is already 6:33am and I've yet to put on my shoes.

...um, is is me or is that farmer kind of hot?

I can't wait to see Nikki visit the zoo!

Has any of this stuff been put to DVD? I must know! We Americans are missing out --- yet again!

Lubin said...

It's only just come out on tv and hasn't had great ratings so not sure if it'd get a DVD release - though I'd bet it'll be selling on ebay. The zoo that Nikki visited is only 5 minutes walk from my house! If I'd had my windows open, I'm sure I could have heard her screaming.

jetpack said...

Those clips veer from outrageously funny to quite disturbing. I can't decide if she needs a psychiatrist or a kick up the arse...