Last week, The Daily Mail built an article* around an interview that Charlotte Church did with The 405 (or “405”, as they re-branded us) in which she described Katie Price as “a robot or maybe an alien” and “a really, really deeply odd person”. She also said, “I fucking hate the Daily Mail”, but they didn’t report that bit, obviously. As with all their headlines, the irony was all too much. Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about Celebrity Deathmatch and what the hell happened to it.
Airing on MTV in 1998, Celebrity Deathmatch was a claymation series that depicted celebrities going at one another in a wrestling ring until one of them suffered an inexplicably gruesome death. It was disgusting and my mother hated it. It was a true staple of late-night late-90s television. And it needs to come back.
I can already hear the groans of people mounting their high horses to complain about how mindlessly violent it was and how nobody needs that back in their lives, but y’all can plant your feet back on the ground right now because GTA V was the best selling game of 2013 and a large portion of that is spent abusing hookers and running over children. I see you. This is exactly the kind of thing you thrive on, you detached monsters. But, there is more to this than witnessing the likes of Mariah Carey using extreme falsetto to make Jim Carey’s head explode in a shower of plasticine flesh and blood. “Anyway,” as the opening statement went, “IT’S JUST CLAY!”
Firstly, claymation is a lost art. If you need any proof of how good it actually is, cast your minds back to Morph and Pingu and Trap Door and feel the waves of sentiment inevitably crash upon you. Claymation takes a lot of time and effort, and pretty much the sole reason it doesn’t really exist anymore is because time plus effort equals money. Don’t give into that. Down with CGI television! Bring back clay. Bring back Robot Wars. Bring back gunge. Make a step towards this by demanding Celebrity Deathmatch, because claymation really needs to be more of a thing again in its own right, not just something that’s shoved incoherently into episodes of Community.
Secondly, Celebrity Deathmatch was the perfect antithesis to the never-ending festival of arse-kissing that is celebrity culture. We’re just about clear of awards season now, which is essentially three months of rich famous people sitting in rooms clapping and congratulating each other on how rich and famous they are and that is only acceptable if there is something to balance it out. Celebrity Deathmatch, with its total lack of regard for Hollywood glamour, was that perfect “something”. It was the Bret Easton Ellis novel of late-night television.
I actually think the whole thing would lend itself very well to an exclusively UK-based series. Historically, British people will do anything in their power to avoid conflict. We don’t make a scene by barging in with tanks and guns, we sneak up when nobody is looking, plant a flag and say, “Oh, was this your country? We didn’t realise. A thousand pardons” and then return to our newspapers (…and than apologise properly hundreds of years later with our tails between our legs, handing back countries like packets of stolen sweets). In terms of the everyday, it’s the same mentality that makes people endure entire tube journey’s with somebody’s heel piercing their foot, biting their own tongue as their shoe fills up with blood, because a temporary maiming is a small price to pay for not having to interact with another human being.
We are the undisputed kings and queens of dancing around conflict, and I’m pretty sure this is also the reason we’re internationally recognised for being sexually awkward. Let’s just blow all our inhibitions away and get our conflicts out in the open the healthy way, via animated, fantasy death sequences.
To get the ball rolling, here are some very British Celebrity Deathmatch suggestions that I’m sure everybody wants to see happen:
Katie Price vs. Charlotte Church
The cards have been laid down. The shit has been said. The gloves have been flung. All they need is an arena to battle it out that lies outside the judgement of tabloid headlines. Round one may simply be a heated argument over who has the dumbest ex-boyfriend.
Hugh Grant vs. Rupert Murdoch
This is literally begging to happen. Everybody wants to see Murdoch torn apart, and which version of events would you prefer to watch: the family-friendly inquiry where Murdoch sucks on his own face while Hugh Grant tells him what “isn’t bloody on”, or the fantasy battle where Hugh Grant takes his “hacked off” campaign very literally and beheads Rupert Murdoch with a sharp container of beans?
Alex Turner vs. Ricky Wilson
The former has become the proverbial purveyor of rock ‘n’ roll spirit while the latter spins around in a chair every week trying to replace it with a manufactured pop star. Their ethical differences couldn’t be wider, but they’ll battle over who has more “pub” appeal, beating each other senseless with designer jackets. The one with the strongest force field made of hair products wins.
Robert Pattinson vs. Daniel Radcliffe
Who was the better fantasy cry-baby, Edward Cullen or Harry Potter? The real answer is obviously Frodo Baggins, but in this case, only a Celebrity Deathmatch will tell! Each round will reach a new level of unspeakable horror as both parties slowly realise that their fictional powers to not translate to reality. Eventually, Daniel Radcliffe uses the car antennae he has been told is a wand to spear Robert Pattinson, who is crippled from the multiple hernia’s he gave himself by trying too hard to sparkle.
Russell Brand vs. Noel Fielding
They begin squabbling over a pair of skinny jeans and hug each other until one of them squeezes a bit too tight and the other explodes. The winner crywanks. The end.
*Do really think we’d link to the Daily Mail’s website?
Originally published on The 405 here.