Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach

13 01 2008

Last week I stood up in the office and announced my plans for the evening, and was laughed at by most of my colleagues. My plan was to go home and watch an hour of ITV1. Thats right, a solid hour of the nations favourite network. One of my co-workers told me how he had tried to watch a comedy the previous Friday starring Mark Addy, and was frustrated because he would no longer have that particular hour available to him again throughout his entire lifespan.

But I ploughed on regardless, getting home on Thursday….and promptly falling asleep. Luckily I had Sky+’ed both of the shows I was meaning to watch and just got round to watching them this afternoon. I can go into work tomorrow and tell everyone that the joke is on them, because the combo of Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach makes for marvelous tellybox watching.

The premise can be described as follows. The first half hour is a laugh-track free comedy, about the behind the scenes going on at a production company that are commissioned by ITV to make a new soap. The Second half hour is the actual soap, complete with Martine McCutcheon and Jason Donovan.

There have been many shows in the past about the backstage happenings of a show, but I don’t think an actual show about the show-within-a-show has ever been attempted, and I would never have expected ITV to be the network that experiments with this format. I tuned in half expecting to cringe my way through 58 minutes but I cannot stress to you how well it all worked. Throwaway jokes about plot development, props or even facial hair in the writers room become reality in the actual soap, and provide light relief in what would otherwise be a bland Aussie-like drama.

In fact ITV have succeeded in making me watch the sort of programme that I wouldn’t touch with someone else’s snooker cue by showing me how it all makes it onto the screen in quite funny circumstances. For example in Moving Wallpaper a mistake by an assistant exposes everybody’s salary to… well everybody. What this means for Echo Beach is that they have to lose a cameo by Ross Kemp, which is a shame because I wouldn’t mind seeing him send himself up, as he did in Extras.
Another running joke is Susie Amy (Chardonnay of Footballers Wives fame) hanging around the production company offices, hoping for a line in Echo Beach, and maybe a character name. As she joins the world of the casting couch, we see her role expand in the Cornwall based soap, even leading to a confused look from Martine McCutcheon’s character after a scene with the Producers new bit of fun.

And that is the beauty of these two shows, as two wholes they are far greater than the sum of their parts. You could get away with watching just one, but you would be left with an average show that isn’t really worth sticking around 12 episodes for.

My only gripe, and it’s one that could decide this experiments future, is the scheduling. Why were the second episodes of both shows aired the next day, a Friday of all days, when cool people like me are pretending to be out living it up, enjoying life?
If I wasn’t such a sad case eagle-eyed viewer, I would have missed the Friday editions. Just to let you know, and so you don’t make the same mistakes I nearly did, both the comedy and the soap will be airing on Friday next week, who knows if it will stay that way? Only the same scheduling department that loves to schedule drama premieres that start on Sunday and conclude on the Monday.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a clip from Moving Wallpaper, but because ITV don’t have any tech savvy viewers watching their channel, there is nothing on any online video sharing site to embed in this post. Instead I’ll leave you with a clip of Echo Beach which is significant because it’s the only one I can find. Without a clip of Moving Wallpaper to go with it, you really are only getting half the story.

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7 responses

14 01 2008
Calhoon

I can only agree with your review, throughly enjoyed both shows, Ben Miller particularly makes Moving Wallpaper worth watching.

Echo Beach strikes me as an ITV1 show that was pitched seriously “it’s like Hollyoaks, but in Cornwall” but someone in the production office came up with the very brave idea to make it a double header with Moving Wallpaper and take the piss out of themselves.

It’s the first hour of ITV1 i’ve watched (let alone enjoyed) in decades.

14 01 2008
ebarnieh

What made you watch in the first place though? I can’t quite put my finger on it…

15 01 2008
Calhoon

Hmmm, good question, I probably wanted it to fail miserably and the only reason i tuned is was the same reason people slow down at motorway accidents.

Either that or I have a man crush on Jason Donovan !!

I think i’ll go with the first answer.

22 02 2008
Michael Lock

It would be good if Echo Beach would become a more regular soap, as I have noticed that it is a series of 12 episodes. This program has potential and has an atmosphere about it. I always think that if it has these qualities it could go on long running. Maybe this is a pilot series to see if it catches on. If it was on as regular as say, Coronation Street I reckon the script writers would find it quite hard work. Perhaps a “fixed” weekly spot would be easier to write, and it would be unique in having a long running soap that is shown weekly.

23 03 2008
Michael Lock

Well, there we have it, Echo Beach has come to and end, or has it? The storyline cannot end like that, in a cliff hanger surely! What could happen is:- After Dan & Mark wrestle themselves overboard, susan does manage to drive the boat. (at first giving the impressaion that she could’nt due to panic) Does she get back to shore or steer the boat back to rescue Dan? or if she does, will she find that in the last minute Dan just about saves Mark at the last moment putting and end to his bad reputation with the Penwarden family in Polnarren? Well scriptwriters, there is a suggestion if you are going to do another series, or better still set it as a long running soap.

6 04 2008
Christian Hookway

I liked Echo Beach, pity it came to an end. I hope there will be more episodes sometime in the near future. Was this an experiment to see how well it goes down with the viewers? The name Polnarren is very convincing as a Cornish place, though I know it was filmed at Watergate Bay, I have been there a couple of times about 4 years ago. Well, all I can say is, I wish the makers of this programme good luck in any further series they plan to do. I would like to see it as a regular set soap.

21 11 2008
Dean Albarne

It seems to me that there will be no more of the short running soap ‘Echo Beach’. I remember the original song by Martha & the Muffins back in 1980. The real Echo Beach I believe, is in Devon beyond Shaldon Ness. It is a rather lonely hidden beach with a sad atmosphere about it. I have only been there once, and the fictitious soap would be impossible to film there, as there are no facilities like toilets or a cafe etc. Filming equipment would be extremely difficult to take there, as this beach can only be accessed via a fairly long tunnel, the likes of which is unique in Britain, if not the world.

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