Tim Macavoy’s “Brit Bits”: “The Gemma Factor” Flunks, “Plan B” Gets an A and more!

Hello and welcome to my new biweekly column Tim Mcavoy’s Brit Bits! You may remember me from such video blogs as Gay in the UK where myself and co-host Ryan vlogged about all things from the United Kingdom.

What? You missed Gay in the UK? Well, in that case allow me to introduce myself. I’m Tim Macavoy, a gay culture junkie from London, Ingerlaaaand. It will be my job to tell you what’s gay on our telly, who’s been queering up the news and relating other hijinks I generally find myself in. Coming up this week, new Who, an orange man, and are you a friend of Dorothy’s?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about my choice of picture, that’s me trying to finish a book I was reviewing for another website, whilst simultaneously rehearsing for a Shakespeare tour I was acting in – which should give you some indication of the variety I like in my life.

This week I found myself quaffing ale (that’s English for drinking) on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament. Now I have to be careful about what I say, because I was there just as me, and not as a journo (politicians don’t take kindly to dictaphones and cameras in their private bars) but I caught this lovely evening shot looking over the river.

I was invited by openly gay Member of Parliament Adam Price (who I hope doesn’t get in trouble for asking half of SoHo along to his final night in office.) We successfully turned the House of Commons into a gay bar for the night. Chris Bryant, Member of European Parliament, also joined us. Chris was in the news recently for his civil partnership which took place inside the Parliament building – the first of its kind after the laws were changed allowing such an event. This also means that anyone can now be married in this beautiful setting, and places will be accorded with a lottery system.

Doctor Who returned to our screens this week – a little less gay. Welsh gay Emperor Russell T Davies has passed the Tardis (and role of executive producer) on to Steven Moffat. The ever flirtatious David Tennant has regenerated into Matt Smith and, as far as we know, Captain Jack will not be returning to DW.

Still, a new series is always a momentous occasion for geeky gay fanboys (what me?) and the first episode looks promising for the rest of the series.

The Eleventh Doctor takes some time to settle into his skin, exploring his taste buds with some British classics before settling on fish fingers and custard (and if you really believe that’s what we eat, shame on you).

Matt Smith

His first maiden in distress, and subsequent companion, is little Amy Pond. When the Doctor first meets her she is a little orphaned girl from Scotland, living with her aunt in an English village. Naturally, there is something troubling living in Amy’s house. The Doctor promises to help her, after giving the new Tardis a test drive, but accidentally returns twelve years later. Amy has grown up into a flame haired “kissogram”, but is still ready to believe in the Doctor when he comes back to fight off those pesky aliens.

In fact Amy Pond is so ready that she has agreed to go travelling with him in the Tardis, as long as he gets her back in time for tomorrow – her wedding day!

Moving on, I hear that the U.S. is getting its own version of Skins. Well Series Four has just finished over here, and I wasn’t mightily impressed. Most of the series bounced along with its usual mix of sex, drugs, violence and comedy. But the running storylines became gradually more and more nonsensical.

Effy, the younger sister of Tony from Series One and Two, was the focus of the most of the series, as she battled with psychotic depression. But rather than stick to the issue and use it to relate to the changing attitudes of the other young characters, they brought in Hugo Speer to play a psychiatrist, so obsessed with Effy that he murdered the only cute guy, Freddie, and may have got away with it.

Kaya Scodelario  as Effy and Hugo Speer as Dr. John Foster

It ended so abruptly, that you would expect a fifth series to explain it all. Except it won’t because they’re already auditioning for the new cast.

At least the Naomi and Emily, the show’s two lesbians, had a realistic character arc which saw their relationship in jeopardy for most of the series, but had a nice happy ending with them leaving to bike through Mexico. If you remember, it was Maxxie, the gay character from the first two series, who also came across with the most realism.

Naiomily (as they are known) have also been voted the most popular by viewers — and not just in gay mags. I think this is because the writers try so hard not to turn them into a cliché that they are able to explore characters that have greater depth than most of their straight counterparts.

And props too for the brilliant cameo from gay singer/actor Will Young (pictured right) who played the school counsellor with more surrealism than fish fingers and custard. Every time he gave advice, he would first consult a poster of Michael Jackson and think – what would MJ do? A-hee-hee, Shamone!

For the past two weeks I have been living and breathing the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. It is15 days of the finest queer cinema from around the globe shown at the British Film Institute, our most respected film establishment, on London’s Southbank. It is hugely popular, and now in its 24th year attracted 28,000 visitors to 208 films.

My personal highlights were Argentinean film Plan B, a light, romantic and deceptively clever film about two seemingly straight men who begin to question their sexuality as they become closer; and Stonewall Uprising a marvelous collection of interviews and original footage that takes a fresh look at the 1969 Stonewall riots.

LLGFF is also renowned for its parties. The surrounding bars stay open extra-late, and is jam packed full of all sorts – gays, straights, media luvvies and actors.

You can read my full coverage of the festival at Moviefone.

In case you don’t know, BBC3 is where comedy goes to die. OK, that’s a little harsh because they did bring us the brilliant Being Human. But their successes are few and far between. Now they’re trying to fob us off with a terrible new “comedy” featuring one of the campest gay characters I’ve seen on TV in a while. It’s called The Gemma Factor and I tried to watch it for you, I really did. But my friend got so angry and the awfulness of it that he threw a pot of humous at the screen.

But here is what we do know: Gemma lives in West Yorkshire (read middle of nowhere) and is determined to be a celebrity by the time she’s 21, even though she looks about 30 now. Her best mate is “supergay” Jeff, who wears so much fake tan it’s practically racist. And yet somehow, despite not living in London he hasn’t been beaten up…

There is absolutely nothing funny about this show. Not even in a “so bad it’s good” way. Kinda like watching a show all about a desperate, talentless and mentally deficient "fag hag." As we all know, they should be OUR peripheral characters.

Fortunately, the gay drama continues in British soap Eastenders. For some months they have been running a storyline about a man named Christian having a secret affair with Syed, a now married Muslim man who was forced into the marriage after his mother found out about his dalliance with Christian.

The BBC have said that the story will come to a head next month when wife Amira finds out about Syed’s sexual orientation, and that Christian will then be attacked by a Muslim character. The BBC expects lots of complaints, which is good, because they’ve already started rolling in from Muslim groups, who say that Eastenders missed the chance to portray a “normal” Muslim character. But the word on the street from us “non-norms” is all good in the way it is being sensitively handled.

Christian and Syed

John Partridge (who is gay) and who plays Christian on Eastenders, is also on the new judging panel for Over the Rainbow. This is the latest BBC show that searches for a girl to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, having previously found Maria (Sound of Music), Joseph (and his technicolour dreamcoat) and auditioned a bunch of Nancy’s for Oliver.

As if the premise wasn’t gay enough, OTR is hosted by Graham Norton. In previous series John Barrowman was the gay musical expert on the panel, but seeing as he’s over in the US strangling Horny Housewives or something, they had to call in Barrowman’s friend and possible clone, John Partridge.

And in other news:

Will Young has collaborated with Groove Armada on their new track "History." If you missed it, look online for a clip of him performing live on Jonathan Ross. Watch to the end to check out his incredible vocal range!

Elton John will headline a concert in Indiana, USA, for a teenager who died of AIDS after a blood transfusion.

The UK premiere of Angels in America, the opera, opened at London’s Barbican Hall.

A general election has been called in the UK for the 6th of May. After attempting to court the gay vote in the past couple of years, the Conservative Party have failed dismally in the past month.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron fumbled his way through an interview with Gay Times recently, even asking the interviewer to turn off the camera at one point while he collected his thoughts. And then, after a bed and breakfast hit the news for turning away a gay couple on the grounds of their sexuality, Shadow secretary Chris Grayling announced that he thought they should be allowed to! he nerve!

That’s it for this week! See you in a fortnight! Which is what we call two weeks over here.