Vicky Pattinson: Alcohol, Dad and Me
There’s a luvvies’ tale known to every old thesp, about the Shakespearean giant and inveterate boozer Robert Newton, who rolled on stage one night, inebriated as a stoat.
As the pickled ham spluttered, drooled and slurred through Richard III, a woman in the front row accused him: ‘You’re drunk!’
An indignant Newton turned on her. ‘Madam,’ he growled, ‘if you think I’m p****d, wait till you see the Duke of Buckingham!’
Reality TV star Vicky Pattinson talks movingly about her struggles with drink in the C4 series
Reality TV star and former I’m A Celebrity winner Vicky Pattison reminded me of that story, as she talked about her struggles with drink in Alcohol, Dad And Me (C4). Vicky liked a night out, she admitted. We saw her downing shots of limoncello with pals in a bar, and clips of her loud and lairy antics on Geordie Shore, the North’s version of The Only Way Is Essex.
‘I’ve got a problem with alcohol,’ she said. ‘I’ve abused it in the past and my heavy drinking has played out in public.’
After one session in Marbella she ended up in hospital. If she was drinking limoncello, then I’m not surprised. That stuff is bleach flavoured with Fairy liquid. She must have an asbestos oesophagus.
Vicky worried that, at 34, she ought to be partying less and getting ready to start a family. But most of her anxiety was focused on her 63-year-old father John — in her words, ‘a full-blown alcoholic’ with cirrhosis of the liver.
Afraid he was killing himself, she was terrified of ending up like him. But the harsh truth that emerged from this one-off documentary is that she’s fooling herself.
She clung to the belief that if she could persuade her father to dry out, she’d be all right too. That’s a two-fold delusion. John didn’t even pretend he intended to stop drinking, for her or anyone else. Alcohol has already cost him his marriage to Vicky’s mum.
And saving him is a distraction, an excuse not to do the one thing that she can do to save herself: tackle her own drinking.
Vicky filled in a questionnaire with her father but didn’t ask herself enough searching questions about how alcohol affected her health. She repeatedly talked about feelings of anger and self-loathing, yet didn’t consider whether the impact of binges on her brain was making these worse.
Instead, she recited therapy waffle about ‘feeling validated’. Making this programme took bravery, and might prove to be, literally, a sobering experience for her. But comparing herself with her father, or anyone else, won’t help. There’ll always be someone who drinks more than you — a Duke of Buckingham.
Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander can’t salvage slow, repetitive and wordy Irma Vep
Hollywood A-lister Mira Harberg (Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander) can knock back the wine, but her real addiction is her domineering ex-girlfriend Laurie, in Irma Vep (Sky Atlantic).
Laurie (Adria Arjona) used to be Mira’s personal assistant as well as her lover. Then she dumped the star and married a big-name director. Sadly, the tense, complex flirtation between these two women, as power slides from one to the other, is the only interesting aspect of this pretentious drama.
It’s a remake by French director Olivier Assayas of his 1996 cult cinema hit, and a perfect example of what happens when movie people assume they know how to make a television series.
Slow, repetitive, wordy, split into lumpy scenes and shot with self-conscious trickery, it’s full of Hollywood in-jokes. Irma Vep veers from silent movie pastiche to romance, satire to horror, randomly paying homage to obscure films and being extremely pleased with itself.
Arthouse-cinema fans seem to put up with this sort of plot porridge, but television viewers deserve much more.