Podcast thoughts: Wittertainment

Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Review podcast AKA Wittertainment is the BBC’s flagship film programme and is one of the most popular Radio Five Live Shows/Podcasts. The premise is this, Kermode reviews films every week and Mayo interviews stars, reads e-mails and keeps the good doctor firmly on the ground.

Every episode has a similar format:

  1. Pre-radio chat: Very funny patter between the Wittertainers, often featuring a discussion of topics such as: their clothes, their profits from the iwittr app, showbiz anecdotes, old music, dead amaze and totes emosh, things that have happened to them during the week, old stories not directly film related, etc.
  2. The top 10: A run-down of the top 10 films in the UK box office this week with a quick comment from Mark and some listener reviews (when I heard my review on the show it was one of the greatest moments of my life)
  3. Interview: Most weeks a top film-contributer is interviewed by Mayo, classically referenced interviews include: Charlie ‘a series of still images put together to create the illusion of movement’ Kaufman; Kenneth ‘Chuckles’ Branagh; Tom ‘ask for the and’ Wilkinson and any interview featuring Jason ‘Hello to Jason Isaacs’ Isaacs.
  4. Kermode’s film reviews: These takes up the majority of the show and feature the good doctor reviewing the films out that week and Mayo occasionally commenting on what Mark says, reading out e-mails and guessing which one will be film of the week.
  5. TV movie of the week: The Doctor chooses his pick for the best movie on terrestrial TV that week
  6. Film of the week: Kermode chooses his favourite film out in cinemas that week, it’s normally the one he spent ages talking about and said was visceral
  7. Post-radio chat: The broadcasters listen to a song while talking over it, do some more general patter, clear up any other business and bring on the music that we look forward to between each show, the DVD of the week tune

All of this together is just so good. It really is totes emosh and dead amaze. What I think makes the show what it is, is obviously partially to do with the film reviews from someone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to film and clearly actually cares about film and partially to do with Mayo and Kermode’s interaction, where Simon knows at exactly what point to stop Mark and say ‘what are you going on about’. These interjections from Simon often tend to be the funniest moments of the show and are exactly what the listener is thinking but can’t express as well as he can.

Something the show does tend to be known for is a Kermodian rant. Now these are few and far between in reality but when they do come, wow are they memorable. Classics include: Sex and the City 2, Entourage, Dirty Grandpa and Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End of which the good doctor said, “If you go and see Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s your own fault and you are bringing down the collapse of Western Civilisation”. What is far more frequent though is a film that Mark loves, in fact most weeks there is a film that Mark really loves and listening to someone as passionate about films as he is being so enthused about something he deeply cares about is one of the nicest things you can hear. My favourite review Mark has ever done is one of a film he liked while admitting it is terrible and that is the classic that is Mamma Mia:

 

The thing that does make the podcast really special for me though, is the sense of community you feel with people you’ll never meet, who live a thousand miles away from you, who you don’t even know the full name of, but you still share the same jokes with. Almost every week Simon reads out an e-mail from a listener who’s had a bad time of it recently and almost every week Mark says ‘It’s all going to be ok’ and if I’m honest sometimes that’s the highlight of my week as much as the person who wrote the e-mails’. At that moment you want the best for that stranger and you actually believe, along with Mark, that everything will be alright. What I like about the show I think, more than anything else, is that when you’re listening to it everyone laughs at the same inside jokes together and everyone wants to see the same films together and everyone cares about the lives of people they don’t know together. That’s what I think makes the podcast special.

 

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