It’s a common trope – “Oh, they couldn’t make [INSERT SHOW NAME HERE] today!” and a lot of the time it’s simply hyperbole.
But then there’s Eurotrash, and it’s really not much of a stretch to say you couldn’t make a show like that today. No TV executive would green-light something like this in the post #MeToo era, to say nothing of the fact that, well, a lot of what they spotlighted is easy to find online these days. You want to find weird people into weird and kinky things? There are more websites and social media sites out there spotlighting them than you could shake a very large stick at.
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Eurotrash exists as this strange little media time capsule of the pre-internet times. A snapshot of alternative and fetish culture that was almost unheard of back then. It is, frankly, one of the most Nineties things to have ever existed. But what IS it? To put it more simply, it’s a 30-minute magazine-format programme covering all manner of alternative and surreal topics. It was presented by Antoine de Caunes and Jean-Paul Gaultier (yes, that one!) and was shown in the UK and Republic of Ireland on Channel 4 from 1993 all the way through to 2004.
It’s edgy, it’s trashy, it’s surreal. It’s the TV version of a top-shelf softcore porn mag. There was simply nothing else on TV like it at the time. Over 16 seasons and 150+ episodes, it introduced viewers to all manner of strange and bizarre European bands, artists, celebrities and sub-cultures that were most definitely not anything you’d find on the BBC! Each segment was voiced by Kate Robbins and Johnny Daukes who provided their own unique form of narration with heavily stereotypical regional British accents.
And now Network gives a whole new generation a chance to admire the suave Antoine, the child-like Jean-Paul, the frequently PVC-clad Melinda Messenger and the late, great Lolo Ferrari with her… huge tracts of land. It is, therefore, a shame that this release is so utterly bare bones and smacks of a lack of genuine care and effort. Released only on DVD – no high-def release here – the picture quality is fair to middling. It’s not quite recorded-off-the-telly quality, but it’s not going to set the world alight either.
Not only is the video quality nothing to write home about, there are serious problems with the subtitles on these discs. Not only is the font they’ve chosen to use on screen jaggy and low-resolution, like something you’d expect to see on the screen of a Commodore 64, but spelling mistakes and wild mistranslations abound. “I borrowed the wife’s false nose ’cause I blocked my own” becomes “I borrowed the wise false style cause I blocked my world”. “Ménage a trois” becomes “Ménage that was” – and it goes on and on.
Every episode I looked at had mistakes in the translations and when I say “translations”, I mean the subtitles for Antoine de Caunes amazingly over-the-top heavily French-accented English, not even an actual foreign language. It’s honestly like the subtitling was done by a bot, the kind of quality you might expect from Youtube live captions. It’s kind of shocking to see this sort of thing on a retail release from a well-known company.
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The cherry on top of this rather disappointing cake is the complete lack of special features. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not a sausage. Not a trailer, not an interview, not even a picture gallery. Nothing but the shows. When Network are capable of giving us lovingly crafted releases like The Strange World of Gurney Slade, Stingray and Space 1999, it’s just a real disappointment to see this being pushed out the door with what appears to be the bare minimum of effort.
All in all, it’s been great to see Eurotrash again, and to remember just what a strange little show it was. Trashy it might be, but it deserves a better release than this, especially with a retail price of £70.
Eurotrash is out on DVD on 26th September from Network.