Right, we can’t believe we’ve not mentioned we’re members of the Church of Wittertainment yet! “What is it all about, you guys?!” – it’s the outright berserk cult formulated by the BBC’s highly acclaimed Radio 5 Live film review show, headed by Dr. Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo.
It’s garnered an unbelievably loyal following, primarily due to the two hosts getting on like a shed on fire and dragging the listeners along with them. Oh, and Mark Kermode is arguably the UK’s most astute and knowledgeable film critic (which is useful). Onwards, then, to find out more about this gloriousness and to learn how to join the Church!
Wassup with the Church of Wittertainment?
Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review Show is the BBC’s flagship film review show (duh!). It’s been up and running for years now (at least more than five and probably even 15, but less than 50) and is a huge hit thanks to its informal merriness, in-jokes, Kermodian rants, and insightful film stuff.
The show and its colossal following are merged together with a heady mix of social media and email reading for a truly interactive, modern, contemporary, belligerent, and hoo-hah experience. It is as if one is part of the show, which is why one becomes part of the Church of Wittertainment. Indeed. We’ve been members since 2009. So let us convert you right here, right now, today!
Let’s get the thing rolling with a look at your two presenters. Plus the BBC crew who help them run the show… but we never see any of them (except occasionally on the live stream). We think one of them goes by the name of Robin. But those subordinate scumbags don’t deserve our time anyway, eh?
Well, whatever, the presenters are something of a quintessential odd couple. Kermode is the obsessive, pedantic film fan with manic levels of enthusiasm and knowledge, and Mayo is the relaxed dude who loves his films but also has other stuff to be doing besides worshipping them in obsessive detail (such as playing hit pop songs on other radio channels – although, as of October 2018, he’s no longer on Radio 2! WTF!?).
But as they’re rather different in personalities, this means the two have a habit of bickering rather adorably at times, which is all part of the fun. So, let’s take a closer look at the hosts. Because, you know, it’s rude not to. Isn’t it?
Dr. Mark Kermode
A film critic and also qualified brain surgeon (why else do you think he’s a doctor?!), Dr. Mark Kermode is the UK’s leading film critic. We know it, you know it, the principality of Monaco knows it, and surely even TOM CRUISE himself knows about it. Even though Cruise has never been on the show… for some reason.
Anyway, Dr. Kermode is a radio presenter, film critic, author (hey, check our Dr. Mark Kermode’s books back on that link!), and a musician. A musician! He went to university in Manchester, too, where we live. He hated Blue Velvet when he saw it, but now loves it. But he thrives off opinionated passion and, by heck, he’s one half of this show.
Mr. Simon Mayo
As we all know, Simon Mayo is lovely. So lovely, in fact, it makes us angry. But our total disregard for logic and emotional intelligence aside, let us not forget that Mr. Mayo is an accomplished radio presenter and author. Yes. You can present on the radio and write at the same time. It seems like cheating but, whatever, when you work for the BBC anything is possible.
He went to Warwick University in 1980. It’s no longer 1980, but Warwick is still there (thanks entirely to Simon Mayo). Perhaps finding himself as the presenter of the BBC’s leading film review show is a bit out of sorts. But he stands as the casual cinemagoer, the polar opposite of Dr. Kermode’s psychotic infatuation with film. Which is nice.
Stuff to Listen Out For
Right, what next? Oh yes, there’s a show to get to! And, oh my, where does one begin? The show is a multilayered tapestry of stuff, things, and flappy hands. Approach from a distance, cautiously at first. If you’re easily frightened by loud squawking noises and youth slang then fear not, this is merely Dr. Kermode and Mr. Mayo waxing lyrical. What else should you know before taking the plunge?
Arguably one of the big Wittertainment highlights throughout any given year is when Dr. Kermode heads off on one of his legendary rants. What’s this all about? Well, we have an Oxford dictionary definition for you right below:
Kermodian rant - [probably a noun]: A film so devastatingly poor, Dr. Mark Kermode is forced into a verbose diatribe in order to slake his hatred for the, respective, media text.
There are plenty of these and you can find many of them over on YouTube, but the above Sex and the City 2 verbal rampage is one of the most famous of the lot. However, more recently Entourage got an utter thrashing so severe it made the news across various news sources (except, probably, the Daily Mail).
Despite their fame, and notoriety, the rants are reasonably scarce. Thankfully, most modern films aren’t that terrible. But! How does one tell when a rant has occurred? Usually as the film review stretches out to around 10 minutes, with Dr. Kermode oblivious he’s on the radio as he pours disgust and vitriol on a particularly offensive media text. Truly, it is a marvel to behold.
Importantly, listeners must remember not to be scared of the Kermodian rant. It is for the greater good. Embrace it like you would a tub of enormous popcorn slathered in obesity inducing butter. Yum, yum, yum.
There are many, many in-jokes you’ll pick up on pretty quickly (especially if you hit the Kermode and Mayo podcasts with a vengeance), or slowly – it depends on how stupid you are. The in-jokes range from youth slang to greeting a certain actor on-air arbitrarily, but there’s also lots of other stuff you kind of forget about until it rears its head again.
These in-jokes are merely another fantastic way to brainwash listeners into joining the church. You can also drop them into polite conversation on or offline to see whom amongst you is a fellow Wittertainee. As of yet (January 2019), we’ve not met a single follower in over a decade of listening to this show. What the heck gives?
The Code of Conduct
Most important, this thing. It’s the established Code of Conduct for when you’re in a cinema theatre venue majigger. The code can effectively be summarised as follows: behave yourself. Pedantically, it involves avoiding such behaviours as:
- Talking during a film.
- Stuffing crisps into your stupid face.
- Using your mobile like some reprobate.
- Taking your shoes off.
You’ve been warned – cut it out! Despite this there are regular, and confounding, updates from the world’s cinema-goers about Code of Conduct transgressions. The most bizarre of the lot came from late 2017, when it emerged one film buff’s friend decided it was too hot, so took his trousers off. Whoever that person is – you, sir, are demented!
Youth Slang & Pop Culture References
Everyone’s favourite laid back DJ, Simon Mayo, is down with today’s youth. It’s good to know, as we’re certainly not. This is where, as a Wittertainee, you’re treated to another element of the whole didactic Wittertainment experience. Here are but a few of the terms you’ll grow to understand:
- Totes amazeballs
- Shut it!
- Mega, mega, white thing
- Lager, lager, lager
There are others we’re not even going to pretend we understand, so it’s just as well Mr. Mayo does. Keep your ears peeled throughout the experience as this list regularly updates. Most recently, the likes of lager, lager, lager have disappeared from the list of soundbites… a bit disappointing, that one.
Erm… what, now? Oh yeah, this is also a film obsessive’s heaven this whole Church of Wittertainment stuff. Seriously, you’ll get colossal insights into the happening films of now and back in the olden days, usually supplied by Mr. Kermode and his mammoth memory.
Mr. Mayo likes films too, of course, particularly if Antonio Salieri is in them. He’s bloody good at interviews, too! So good he made Naomi Watts walk out of one in a bit of a huff. Whoopsie!
This blonde actress was brilliant in Diana. And, wouldn’t you believe it, Simon Mayo and she get on like a particularly belligerent bear with a difficult to open jar of honey. Watts took exception to Mr. Mayo’s questions about the aforementioned film and… she walked out! The pair now share a remarkable bromance on Twitter (although that’s a lie we just made up).
Dr. Kermode also has a bit of a thing about GERARD BUTLER! The Scottish actor came to prominence for his shouty role in 300. Ever since, Butler has shouted his way through a large assortment of, increasingly implausible, action romps. We quite like Law Abiding Citizen. We still laugh at London Falling. And the most recent one is above – it even has room for a shouty Gary Oldman performance.
You, the listener, play an integral part in the listening experience for the Church of Wittertainment. This is apt. If you want to express your opinion, do feel free to write in with an expletive-laden, spoiler-ridden, and perceptive rant. It may even get read out on air! Although we’re not sure of the statistics for that, but the chances are approximately 3,720 to 1. If you like those odds, feel free to send something in.
Also, we couldn’t think of an image to choose here that would represent Wittertainees. Any suggestions, anyone? If we get a good one, we’ll stick the image in above. Sorted.
Of course, why not download the Wittr app (from the excellent Chris Mangay) on your mobile phone thing? From there, you can see where your fellow Wittertainees are located on this largely green and blue Earth! It’s free, it’s not endorsed by the BBC, and it might even get a much-touted chat feature sooner or later. Whoo!
If you really want to ramp up your cultural intake, why not queue up to watch Dr. Kermode getting his haircut at a local barber? During these haircuts, he is able to depart with some of his knowledge about films and what you, the listener, make of this, that, and the other things. It’s a good way to think more about those films you may, or may not, have seen.
Take the above with the, sadly, ignored Catfight. What a great fun film that thing is. This is one of the joys of tuning in to the Church of Wittertainment, for as a Wittertainee one gets an insight into films you may have otherwise missed. It helps shake up one’s day away from the big Blockbusters and their $50 million marketing budgets. You know?
Right, so every now and then Dr. Kermode and Mr. Mayo decide to take a break. This is usually during the summer, so they can help Child #1, Child #2, and whomever else go off on holiday. Obviously, there’s a radio show still hanging in the balance. What is a radio show to do if its presenters aren’t hanging around?! Replace them!
Thusly, we get to enjoy the likes of Clarisse Loughrey and her epic voice, or Robbie Collin and his immense beard. Whilst throwing up a bit of diversity (there should be more beards on the radio, after all), we do all dearly miss the other two and their antics. But! It makes it all the sweeter when they return to us like the champions of the Universe.
The Kermode Awards
Finally, there’s an extra element of controversy at the end of every 365 day run. If you hate the Oscars as much as Joaquin Phoenix does, the antidote may well be this show. Mr. Kermode draws up a list each year to show how badly the vacuous brigade at Hollywood got it wrong. Oh my!
More recently, as of July and August 2018, Dr. Kermode has done this thing on the BBC called the Secrets of Cinema. This examines the secrets of cinema. It includes a stern looking Dr. Kermode being extra professional as he discusses many secrets. It’s been an excellent insight into secret things, what else can we say?
ZOMG! But How Does One Join?
You just join. We can’t recommend it enough! You can catch Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review Show if you have access to a radio (it may help if you’re British, but Americans and others should find access easy enough). It’s on every Friday from 2pm, depending on where you live, so check your times in order to get in line with the church’s expectations.
You can also enjoy the extensive Church of Wittertainment back catalogue, as it were, on YouTube over at kermodeandmayo. All the reviews after each show get loaded up there anyway, but you miss out on all the other lovely chat along the way (plus side – all relentless BBC news and weather reports get sliced out).
So! Do you love film, cinema buff? Do you love great film debate based entertainment? Do you want to laugh like an idiot? Do you want to join an exclusive club? Well then, join the Church! It’s totes amazeballs.
Hello to Jason Isaacs.