Jarvis Cocker and Bez’s ‘Bargain Hunt’ Special Was Perfectly Banal

Make two bands compete on a daytime British TV show about auctioning second-hand tat? It was as good as you'd expect, honestly.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
September 28, 2018, 2:50pm
All screenshots via BBC

Off work, then? Had yourself one too many “Thursday is the new Friday, lads” pints? I see you, worm, but ultimately, I sympathise. You've got yourself all snug on the sofa – XL fleece, housemate’s lovely wool blanket quietly swiped from their room, bag of Kettle Chips (you’re worth it) bigger than your head. You deserve it. The hangover – worsening, isn’t it, as the day goes on? – has compelled you.

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Why don’t you flip on the telly? Only on low, obviously. BBC1. Yes, success! Lovely, safe Bargain Hunt. Bargain Hunt – more than This Morning, more than Loose Women – is the quintessential British daytime television show. This is primarily because it is absolutely shit. Its concept is fundamentally boring: go to a car boot, buy a load of shite, try to sell it for a profit at auction. But somehow, in some unspoken way, the overall vibe is mildly hysterical, making it the best possible thing you could be watching at 12:15PM on a Friday when everyone's out and you're sat in your horrible dressing gown just breathing, your head feeling like it's about to fall off in every sense. The show is utterly incredible.

It airs every day, but this Friday, to honour BBC Music Day, it became particularly relevant to our interests, because the teams were made up of members of Happy Mondays (Rowetta, Bez) and Pulp (Candida, Jarv). There's something particularly satisfying about seeing Jarvis Cocker, a man who has made a career off the eccentricity of ordinary British life, in the lion's den of it, buying a load of plates and drinking a milky tea out of a polystyrene cup at a jumble sale. He fit right in, and paired with Bez (and the fact that Bez reportedly cheated!), he starred in a Bargain Hunt for the ages, precisely because it was so aggressively ordinary. Please enjoy its most exemplary moments:

Bez Discussing His New Life as a Man of the Land

In time-honoured Bargain Hunt style the teams were introduced and the Red Team (Happy Mondays) were interviewed first. Bez chatted about his new life in the countryside: Bez: "More importantly we're making our own booze."
Bargain Hunt host Tim Wonnacott: "Also, you've got bees!"
Bez: "Yeah, buzzin." It would've been good anyway but I'd just like to invite you for a second to have a look at Bez's hat, and then read that little exchange back.

Jarvis Ramping Up Your Regularly Scheduled Midday Existential Crisis

If this phenomenal still is not enough to sate you, I'd like to regale you with the best bit of Jarvis and Candida's opening interview: Bargain Hunt host Tim Wonnacott: "Now Pulp wasn't easy to start with."
Jarvis Cocker: "Nothing ever is". Cue you, spiralling, on the sofa, thinking about your ongoing human struggle while Rowetta plays an accordion at a car boot.

This Painting that I Hate

At the jumble sale I think Jarvis kind of… forgot the aim of the competition, became entirely enamoured with this absolutely horrible painting because he wanted it, and didn't think about the fact that someone else would also have to like it for him to win. And that, I'm sure you'll agree, is So Jarvis. "It's like it's some kind of semi-nudist camp somewhere," he says, in love. "I don't speak Russian."

Bez Assessing a Second-Hand Maraca

Bez looks at the maraca how other men look at cuts of meat. Bez turns it around in its hand, feelings its weight, hearing how its little beads move. Bez delivers his verdict: Bez: "It's a fairly nice maraca, that."
Rowetta: "We're not having maracas."

The State of the Colour of this Tea Honestly

The pinnacle of this episode: Jarvis in sunglasses drinking piss-weak tea in a field (refusing, of course, to wear the Bargain Hunt polo shirt), talking about the antiques he has bought. It is completely incongruous and at the same time, entirely appropriate, exactly where he should be in the universe. Transcendence, I have finally seen your face, and you are Bargain Hunt.

Objectively Good Shit™

Quick moment for Tim going "That twisted my melon, man."

Jarvis Cocker's Losing Face AKA The Scream by Edvard Munch

At auction, funnily enough the painting – dubbed "a visual feast" by the auctioneer – ruined Jarvis and Candida's chances, and unfortunately they made a total loss of £95. Asked if he'd ever been to an auction before, Jarvis answered: "Yes it scarred me for life. I attempted to be in the antiques trade for about a fortnight." Course he did.

This Guy Who Shows Up, Looks Like He's Kind of in Twin Peaks and Never Appears Again

A haunted boy modelled Bez and Rowetta's biscuit tin.

Victory for Bez

The Red Team made an overall profit of £8, leading them to victory, before it was revealed in a shocking twist that Bez had cheated by sending his girlfriend to bid on the auction items. He was later made to pay the £8 back, in the interests of posterity.

Retribution; Resolution

…Leading to this really bad and awkward confrontation, where the participants were re-assembled and Bez made to confess to his crimes, then everyone did half a can-can. Jarvis could not be there due to scheduling conflicts.

Essentially, almost nothing noteworthy happened in this 45 minutes of television. In other words, it was hangover, daytime TV bliss.

You can find Lauren on Twitter.