TV: Uncontrollable giggles aplenty on Gone to Pot

ITV documentary follows vintage TV stars on their cannabis-fuelled journey of discovery

Gone to Pot stars  John Fashanu, Pam St Clements, Christopher Biggins, Bobby George and Linda Robson. Photograph:  ITV

Gone to Pot stars John Fashanu, Pam St Clements, Christopher Biggins, Bobby George and Linda Robson. Photograph: ITV

 

It’s been quite the year. As each new day vomits up more fresh horror, we should be thankful, if not too surprised, that November has spawned the surrealist televisual delight of panto dame Christopher Biggins “pulling a whitey” down the back of a psychedelic bus.

Gone to Pot (ITV) is the show that’s the final page of Alan Partridge’s pitching notebook – midway between Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave and Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank. It follows vintage telly stars such as Pam St Clement, Linda Robson, darts player Bobby George, John Fashanu and the aforementioned Biggins as they travel across the west coast of America pondering over the legalisation of cannabis.

Ostensibly the show is supposed to have an educational slant like the BBC’s The Real Marigold Hotel, which saw elderly celebs like Wayne Sleep and Miriam Margoyles heading off to foreign climes to examine the country’s retirement plans, but really Gone to Pot is just an excuse to see Pat off Eastenders blaze one up with some cannabis-loving nuns.

Medicinal value

Their patient spirit guide and bus driver may carefully describe the effects of the different forms of cannabis and stress the drug’s medicinal values as the group troop into the dispensary, but the celebs aren’t listening: they’re on their jollies whipping up vials of oil and perusing the edibles. “It’s just like the tills at Sainsburys,” Pam coos at the oblivious checkout girl.

They might not even need to try anything anyway as a cackling Linda Robson describes their accommodation as “Simon Bates Motel” before she’s even had a bite of her brownie, while diamond geezer Bobby George is busy brandishing a jar containing his vodka-pickled amputated toe (one of three) to anyone who’ll look.

The only one not participating in this senior Summer of Love is ex-footballer and one-time Gladiator host John Fashanu. Fash is already anxious and paranoid. He’s worried about becoming a “junkie” but also afraid the group will think he’s a “poo-poo boy” for not participating. Bong-hitting Pam, who has now taken to this whole reefer madness like Walford’s own Whiz Khalifa, sizes him up as a narc, dismissing his claims that he’s “high on life” with a shake of her peroxide barnet.

Gone to Pot is not big or clever but sometimes these unexpected, uncontrollable giggles are needed in a year that’s gone up in smoke.

Aggressive

His reasons for not indulging are due to his concerns that partaking will make him aggressive. “What if I start using martial arts?” he frets without a hint of self-awareness. Later he screws up enough courage to try a spoonful of 94-year-old Nonna Marijuana’s pot ice-cream. “Nothing happened,” he says, beaming like a schoolboy relieved that he’s escaped with his sporting legacy still intact.

If only Hurricane Biggins had such composure. Dining out on Nonna’s extensive menu, he shovels down forkfuls of green-herb gnocchi like it’s Howard Marks’s Masterchef. Hours later, after a confusing rendition of My Way (where he forgets that he’s in the middle of singing My Way), a haunted Biggins – who is now beginning to resemble a soiled Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in a Hawaiian shirt – meekly cries for help until he’s assisted off the bus as cotton-mouthed Bobby furiously chunders into a plastic bag.

Gone to Pot is not big or clever but sometimes these unexpected, uncontrollable giggles are needed in a year that’s gone up in smoke.

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