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The Million Pound Necklace – Inside Boodles – Review

Luxury jeweller ‘Boodles’ is a family run affair with a pleasing company name. You can just imagine rich and fabulous ladies of leisure returning home to their husbands with a sweeping, ‘oh darling, I have just spent simply oodles at Boodles!’ and their husbands oddly replying, ‘darling, that’s totally fine’.

At ‘Boodles’, the customer service is impeccable. Read ‘nauseatingly sycophantic’. Rich housewives can spend the afternoon being fawned over, sipping champagne and trying on diamond bracelets, uttering clatteringly obvious things like, ‘oh this is just gorrrrrgeous’ while turning over their bony, tanned wrists over in the air.

The ‘Boodles’ customer, we’re told, is ‘someone who enjoys wearing jewellery’. They also seem to have expensive looking highlights, yachts docked in Monaco and I detected a Scandinavian look to a lot of them, but I don’t know if that’s important. Especially loyal customers are even allowed to borrow pieces from time to time, to wear on outings. Excuse me ‘Boodles’, but I enjoy wearing jewellery. Can I borrow something for tomorrow? I’m going to Sainsburys.

The programme focussed on Jody Wainright, son of ‘Boodles’ Chairman, and with the ridiculous job title, ‘Head of Stone Sourcing’, he looked like a cross between Bud Fox (Wall Street) and Ken (Mr Barbie). He announced proudly that he ‘love[d] emeralds’ (well who doesn’t?) and more than once during the hour long programme he likened the appearance of a huge diamond to a Fox’s Glacier Mint.

Jody started out by purloining a whacking load of huge emeralds and then the ‘Boodles’ team had a meeting to decide what to make them into. I would have suggested a City, for the Wizard of Oz to reside (naturally), but instead they went for a ‘suite’ of jewellery, with a ‘foliage motif’.

That done and dusted, another meeting was then called to discuss what could be next and Jody said he’d like to acquire a massive diamond. A really big one. Like a 14 carat. This went down very well with the ‘Boodles’ management team. ‘Good idea!’ *back slaps* I’m sorry, but I think I could easily get a job at ‘Boodles’ based on my observations of these meetings. ‘Let’s get a gigantic diamond! One HUNDRED carats!’. ‘Yes! I like the cut of your jib!’ Piece of cake.

Jody’s Diamond Dealer was Saul Goldberg, who had diamonds to sell. Why? I’m not too sure. On career day at school I must have missed the talk about becoming a Diamond Dealer, instead hearing only the option to do an apprenticeship in hairdressing. Goldberg’s back office looked like a scene from ‘The Merchant of Venice’. With the diamond cutter humming away in the background, Jody haggled for a handful of diamonds. ‘But what will ‘Boodles’ do with them?’ you ask. Hmm, I feel another management meeting coming on.

At the end of the programme, the emerald necklace was finished and hawk-eyed Jody inspected it closely, no doubt to see how much it looked like a Fox’s Glacier Mint. It passed the test, and for £2.8 million it can be yours. Available to buy from Harrods. I would, but I’ve already got a bag of Glacier Mints in my car.

Catch up on The Million Pound Necklace: Inside Boodles on 4seven tonight at 7pm

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Louis Theroux’s LA Stories ‘City of Dogs’

Hooray for a new series from the documentary maker who first pointed out to us that Savile was a bit creepy. ‘I called my mother ‘The Duchess’. Here’s her wardrobe of clothes, just as she left them’. Shudder. Sorry, let’s not think about it. This three part series is about life in Los Angeles and this week it was ‘a journey through canine companionship’.

Now first, a warning. The programme contained upsetting scenes of dogs: bad, delinquent, street dogs, ‘weaponised’ dogs and dogs with ‘broken hearts’.

We met Cornelius Austen or ‘Dog Man’ who was a self confessed ‘pit-bull enthusiast’. Not the Hispanic rapper/singer-kind (wooo-eeee!), but the snarling, drooling, barking kind. Like a dog-themed Pied Piper, he cared for the abandoned dogs of LA, cruising round in his car and telling us, ‘there is no dog, I can’t get’. I bet he couldn’t get one of the Queen’s corgies. Or Lassie. When happening upon a particularly troubled dog, choking back tears, he translates for us the violent barking as, ‘I’m in pain. I have fleas. My heart is broken’. Dog Man himself was a friendly ex-gang member, who seemed the forlorn keeper of a broken heart. He’d lost his mother and father early on, and his relationship had recently broken down, seemingly in a dog-related dispute. She said, ‘all you do is help people with their dogs, and I’m tired of it’. We could sort of see her point. But Dog Man was undeterred – ‘I’m a dog man, and I’m going to be a dog man ‘til I die’. Girl, there’s just no reasoning with a man like that *Finger snaps in a ‘Z’*.

Then there was Malcolm, who kept a ‘weaponised dog’ for protection, under a sign that said ‘Beware of the Dog’. Somehow, the sign didn’t really emphasise the situation strongly enough. ‘Run for your life’ might have been more appropriate.

Retired fire-fighter Greg had a scary looking Doberman called Lexi whom he lovingly told, ‘I will never leave you’. He went on to tell us that he’d been abandoned as a child by his father. ‘Ohhhhh, ok’, we nodded solemnly, as a nation.

Max and Nancy were flaky, arty types who were the wholly unlikely owners of a little black and white nightmare called Casper. In the seemingly heart-warming story of how they came to own this dog they told us, ‘he was staring at us through the bars and (we) just fell in love with him’. On their very first family walk, they realised Casper had ‘some problems’. Seems like what they thought was the look of love was actually the look of, ‘I want to bite you to death’. As they cowered in the corner of their sitting room, it was clear that little Casper had completely ruined their lives. Louis pointed out that if a human behaved this way, they’d ‘be acting like a dick’ and to be fair, Casper was acting like a bit of a dick. Sadly, after attacking Nancy’s ankle, we learned that Casper had been put down and that they now had a much more suitable pet called Belvedere whowas much calmer and more like a cushion than a dog.

The South LA dog pound was a wretched place where dogs rarely came back out. Reminiscent of Death Row in Louis’s previous docu-series, ‘Miami Mega Jail’, dogs snarled and growled and one by one were selected for the long walk. It was sad to see these hopeless creatures, so mistreated that they were now too aggressive to coexist with humans. Kennel Manager Leslie said that all her staff take Xanax to cope with the sadness. Seemingly, whether you’re a dog or human being, a broken heart is a broken heart. Tune in next week for another likely sob-fest when Louis looks at how Americans handle death.

Louis Theroux’s LA Stories airs Sundays on BBC2 from 9pm

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David Attenborough’s First Life – Review

While everyone else was having fun watching ‘The Voice’ Saturday night, I was learning about fossils. Well someone had to. They don’t make these programmes for fun you know.

Fortunately for me, this was the start of a two-part series which, if you didn’t catch it the first time round, is being shown again on BBC4. Ah, David Attenborough. Is there anything in this universe more wonderful than a series courtesy of this lovely old thing? He should have his own channel where his work is endlessly repeated like ‘Friends’. We love his reassuring voice, his witty narration and the way he shows us things we didn’t know existed. I think I’d like David Attenborough’s voice to be the last thing I ever hear, ‘Come towards the light, everything will be OK’. I certainly hope that while the BBC are sending him on these expeditions, they are simultaneously working out how to ensure he never dies. I noticed last night that he was walking with a bit of a limp. Gulp.

In ‘First Life’ David told us that he had travelled ‘around the world and back in time’ to make the programme. Nice work if you can get it. The standard camera shot when he says something is either of him crouching (which he’s a bit old for now) but increasingly it’s of him standing on a cliff, filmed from a helicopter. ‘Dave, we’re flying round again OK? Just keep standing there’.

‘First Life’ is a bit less exciting than the usual Attenborough documentary, mainly as all the creatures he describes have been dead for 3 billion years. And actually, they weren’t that great even when they were alive,. A slug, with one tubular leg. A piece of leaf. But nevertheless, it was an evolutionary start. Sort of like ‘Pop Idol’ ten years ago, as compared to ‘The Voice’. We’ve definitely improved.

With help of loads of paleontologists (I absolutely challenge you not to think about ‘Friends’), we saw how single cell organisms, without much going for them, became multi-cellular ‘Charnia’. A plant-like proto-animal, immobile, surviving mostly in the dark and on just bits of dissolved carbon. This made me feel nostalgic for my student days.

In Australia’s barrier reef, we learnt that sponges are alive. Did you know that? Wow, I think I’ve got some major apologising to do in the bathroom. To reduce a sponge to its individual cells, the paleontologists forced it through a sieve using a syringe, which apparently ‘seems brutal but is of no consequence the sponge’. OK, I’ve never done anything that bad.

Nothing gives you perspective like a documentary about fossils. Feeling a bit anxious? Think you might have screwed up at work? Concerned that you’ve piled on a few pounds over Christmas? Well this rock is 3 billion years old and this slug mashed into it, survived in the dark, at the bottom of the sea, by hoovering up bits of dust, so get a bloody grip. Life is sweet.

Creatures that look like bits of old chewing gum were never going to send your Saturday night into orbit, but it was still Attenborough. The teaser for episode two was, ‘there were about to be some animals’… OK Dave, I’ll give you one more chance.

Catch the second part of David Attenborough’s First Life on Saturday at 7pm on BBC4 – or if your Saturday is otherwise occupied, repeats are shown Wednesdays at 10pm on BBC4

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Davina – Beyond Breaking Point – Review

Well, I’m utterly traumatised. This programme was a gruelling 60 minutes of Davina McCall trying to raise money for a worthy cause in Kenya. The cause in brief was explained to us through two people, the first a young woman, a drowsy baby slung on her back, who breaks stone all day in a scorching quarry for just a few pounds. The second a little girl, who spends long, hot days smashing rocks with a hammer to earn money, but who has a collection of tattered textbooks, from which she’s trying to learn on her own, hoping to become a doctor. Eeesh. OK Davina, say no more, go for it.

The darling of TV’s plan was to batter herself, both physically and emotionally, from Edinburgh to London, through rain, snow, up mountains, across lakes, cycling up 45 degree hills, and then we could donate to the Kenyan project. Oh it was awful. Why must charity be so cruel? Davina’s like our mum. Our big sister. Our best mate. So this was essentially the equivalent of watching David Attenborough (our much-loved national Grandad) being shoved into a bin by some bullies.

Davina’s husband Matthew, is even lovelier than Davina. All starry, blue eyes and a warm, soft beard, saying how proud he is of his wife. Oh, SOB. And she hadn’t even left yet. We prepared for tears and boy oh boy did Davina deliver them.

It was pretty much constant crying from the very beginning. Extra hormonal, it would seem, as the night before the challenge kicked off she told us that she’d just got her period. Slightly awkward for all the dads who were only watching for a bit of cycling. Shuffle. Go and make a cup of tea.

Day 1 was Edinburgh to Keswick and off she pedalled. I felt tired straight away. Hours of brutal pedalling into the wind, with ‘celebrity trainer’, Greg, pedalling furiously next to her on his skinny racing bike. We were told that his presence beside her was to ‘protect Davina from the wind’ but with that, Greg promptly fell off his bike and onto the wet road. Davina’s face crumpled for the 47th time that day. Poor Greg.

On Day 3 came the dreaded crossing of Lake Windermere. It seemed a misty and freezing prospect as surveyed from the jetty. ‘Fear has taken over,’ Greg warned us, as he climbed into his wetsuit. ‘I’m going to be ok,’ sobbed Davina. Greg gave her a firm clutch on the shoulders. ‘You’re going to be fine.’ 60 in metres into the swim, Greg swimming by her side like a faithful hound, Davina was in a right state. A few hours later, her near- lifeless body bobbed limply to the jetty and she was dragged out and treated for apparently terrifying-looking death symptoms. Shivering on her bed she croaked, ‘Is Greg alright? He said he was cold.’ Well I’m glad someone finally thought to remember poor Greg. Yes, thank you for asking, Greg’s fine.

By day 6, Davina was a bit less whiny. The sun was out and the massive-fringed Claudia Winkleman was there to cheer her on. Just the sight of that ridiculous fringe is enough to make anyone smile.

Finally, a shattered looking Davina ran across the Millennium Bridge and into the reassuring beard of her lovely husband. ‘I’ve got to stop crying!’ she shouted into the microphone. Yes. Yes you do. And can somebody please get Greg a glass of water?

Text the words FIVE or TEN to 70510 and donate that number of pounds to the women of Kenya. Go on Davina my girl. Well done.

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