It's high time to see EastEnders' Pat Butcher smoking pot
PUBLISHED: 12:28 11 November 2017
We've had Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, now there's Pat Butcher on pot: there's clearly something in the water at ITV.
We’ve had Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, now there’s Pat Butcher on pot: there’s clearly something in the water at ITV.
The broadcaster is selflessly doing its damnedest to make drugs as unappealing as possible to our impressionable young with its new documentary Gone to Pot (Monday, ITV, 9pm) in which a team of veteran celebrities will be investigating marijuana.
Former EastEnder Pam St Clement, I’m a Celebrity winner Christopher Biggin, former Norwich City footballer John Fashanu, Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson and darts legend Bobby George 420 blaze it, in stoner subculture terms, in the interests of science and a desire to see if marijuana can help with their personal issues.
Ceri Jones, executive producer, said: “The legislations of marijuana is a hot topic in Britain today and I can’t think of a better bunch of people to investigate the subject for us.”
Nor can I, Ceri. It’s as if ITV has managed to tap into my dreams.
Pam hopes the drug can help her polymyalgia rheumatica and Biggins wants to see if it will have any effect on his painful hip. Linda thinks it might relieve the symptoms of menopause and John is developing arthritis in his knee. But it’s Bobby who sounds like he’s looking for the most marijuana magic: he’s broken his back, has a new hip and knee, arthritis in his right hand and copes with the pain of having had three toes amputated.
Several years ago, Channel 4 persuaded Jon Snow (news presenter, not Game of Thrones character) and Royal Correspondent Jennie Bond to smoke da herb as part of Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial which followed (slowly) on the heels of the equally unintentionally hilarious Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, one of my TV highlights of 2012, which was billed as a groundbreaking experiment into the truth about ecstasy but was actually like being the sensible one at a student party while judgementally holding a video camera.
Ofcom was only kept from the door by segments which involved John Snow and Dr Christian Jessen poking around huge glowing brains and muttering about danger, a bit like watching Hawkwind at UEA in the late 1980s. A year later, Christian and Jon swapped ecstasy for cannabis and drafted in fellow astro-traveller Jennie to huff down some well-wicked ferret. I mean skunk. Whatever – either way, it’s not going to get the tea on, is it?
In that show we learned some mind-boggling facts from cannabis smokers: “I sometimes, like, eat two whole punnets of tangerines and some blueberries,” said one. Crazy times!
And we saw Snow on skunk: “I’ve worked in war zones,” he told the camera after clutching a researcher in a bear hug, “but I’ve never been as overwhelmingly frightened as I was when I was in the MRI scanner after taking skunk. I felt as if my soul had been wrenched from my body. There was no one in my world. I felt I had lost control and had only the vaguest awareness of who I was and what on earth I was doing.
“I cascaded into a very, very dark place, the darkest mental place I have ever been.” Way to kill the buzz, man.
Jennie Bond, however, took to skunk like Bob Marley: “the fact that I was perhaps hallucinating slightly was quite nice really. It was a very floaty feeling. Do I want food? Not particularly – unless it’s grapes. I can be quite boring about grapes because I just believe in them!”
Interspersed with Jennie telling us about grapes, there was the science stuff (cannabis can make you go mad) the social stuff (“popular music and the spliff used to go hand-in-hand” said Dr Christian in what might possibly be the least cool sentence of all time), the audience participation stuff (brain-numbingly dull), the legal stuff (some people want legalisation, some don’t) and the really weird stuff (asking people to get in touch if cannabis had caused memory loss – the definition of tautology).
Gone to Pot’s commissioning editor Kate Beckman promised: “This group of well-loved personalities will each have a very personal reason for undertaking this journey. It’s sure to be a trip they will never forget.” I think they’re going to forget whole chunks of it – but I bet the local takeaways will be grateful.