BUSHELL ON THE BOX
MARCH 19. Liars, perverts, weasels... there are more bad men in Broadchurch than there are in HMP Belmarsh. At least four fellas are in the frame for the lakeside rape of Trish Waterman at her friend Cath's 50th birthday bash. Suspect number one is sleazy cabby Clive Lucas, a serial love rat and the biggest purveyor of poor quality porky pies outside of the Houses of Parliament. Lucas lied about his radio breaking down, lied about driving party-goers home and has been lying to his missus about his philandering for years. In fact he's such an obvious wrong'un, there's more chance of seeing Prince William win Strictly than of Lucas being guilty.
Suspect No.2: Trish's grumpy boss Ed. He fought with Cath's husband Jim at the do and told the cops he'd left straight afterwards. But Ed was later seen heading towards the crime scene...
Suspect No.3: Jim himself, a geezer so clearly up to no good that his own wife asked if he were the rapist.
Suspect No.4: Trish's ex. Ian reckons he'd blacked out after necking Tequila shots and woke up by the lake. So why was he frantically stuffing dirty clothes into a washing machine? All are iffy, all have something to hide. "It's not narrowing down," moaned DS Ellie Miller. "The more men we talk to, the more we rule in. It's a scarily wide net." She's right. Every bloke at Cath's party is a potential suspect – all fifty of them. Plus the band, caterers and that cocky young rope factory herbert (who Ian begged to delete something dodgy from his laptop...)
"It makes me ashamed to be a man," DI Hardy moaned. Hardy and Reverend Coates are the only ones above suspicion, and I'm not entirely sure about the vicar. Then there's Ellie's teenage son Tom and his mate, hooked on porn. Trish has something to hide too. She shagged a mystery stranger on the morning of the attack and refuses to name him. So he's probably one of the prime suspects, and almost certainly the phantom texter. Neither detective seems interested in why the party had such an odd gender imbalance. Significant? Who knows? This show has more red herrings than a Corbyn-themed fish bar. But it grips in a way SS-GB can only dream of.
*TRISH got a text saying "Shut up. Shut up or else." Was it for her? Or a wrong number message from the world to Nicola Sturgeon?
WE learned a lot about Davina McCall from The Nightly Show. We learned she likes dance music, loves vibrators, fancies Tom Hardy and wants sex more than her husband does. Can you blame him? The woman's so loud on telly imagine how she'd sound at the height of passion. The poor sod must need industrial strength ear plugs. And did I mention the vibrators? Davina did, many times. Well, it's good to have a hobby. I'm not saying she's obsessed but her TRIC award came with 15 settings and a revolving tip. Until last week I'd assumed the biggest wankers involved with TNS were the people who commissioned it. In fairness Davina brought energy and enthusiasm to the table, if not viewers. She's a far better interviewer than David Walliams. But the gags are still weaker than a dying vicar's handshake. When it came to decent topical jokes, Davina's eight-strong writing team managed precisely zero. Trump has become the new "Fatcher" for TV types. But lazy digs don't constitute bold satire. They should give Jerry Sadowitz a shot. Once. Properly live (Davina's first show wasn't). It'd stay on air for about three minutes before ITV pulled the plugs but at least it'd go out in a blaze of glory.
*DAVINA's a big fan of 50 Shades but I think she'll find Spurs gave Millwall a better thrashing.
SOMEONE has died after a playground spat on Big Little Lies, we just don't know who yet. Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman are yummy mummies in Monterey, California, where the school-run is a minefield of jealousy, gossip and grudges... So, pretty much like anywhere else, but with way better scenery. Meddling busybody Madeline befriends newby single mum Jane. And when Jane's son Ziggy is accused of strangling Renata's daughter Amabella, it sets the whole plot in toxic motion. Various witnesses testify to the cops, building up the back story. So far, the show is as gripping as Ziggy's fingers... allegedly. We can only hope that the abusive husband with the hair-trigger temper is the one who ends up on the slab.
*MOANING about her ex-husband's younger, sexier new wife, Madeline said: "She probably gives mint-flavoured organic blowjobs." Sounds fair trade to me... and very likely locally sourced.
HOT on TV: Jordana Brewster, Lethal Weapon... Big Little Lies (SkyAt)... Marvel's Iron Fist (Netflix)... Midnight Sun (SkyAt).
ROT on TV: Clare Balding at Crufts – barking... Chris, Mutiny – even more slappable than Stephen Bear... Meet The Lords – a televised suicide note.
NOEL Fielding presenting Bake Off? Better double-check the ingredients of those cakes. In fairness I hear he does a mighty Buche de Noel.
*CELEBRITY Homes promised to show us all the places Craig Charles had lived: Camden, Vauxhall, Southampton, Cheshire...why no mention of Wandsworth Prison?
*TO those who thought The Replacement finale was baffling and barmy, try watching Legion. That only makes sense on Mezcal and mushrooms.
*QUICK reminder: Comic Relief is next Friday. So you've got five whole days to buy yourself a decent box-set.
*FRANKIE Boyle on celebrity atheists: "I don't need Ricky Gervais to tell me God doesn't exist. I watched Derek get re-commissioned twice." (Room 101).
SMALL Joys of TV: the way the walls wobble when they slam doors in soaps. Frankie Boyle describing Richard Branson as "a sort of sundried BeeGee". Forged In Fire. Deep Purple Night (SkyArts). F-Troop re-runs (Forces TV) with Melody Patterson, my boyhood crush.
RANDOM irritations: The Last Kingdom being sabotaged by poor dialogue and wandering accents. The Replacement finale going so far beyond barking it ended up in Leigh-on-Sea. SS-GB becoming ZZ-ZZzzz. Badly cast, it lacks pace, menace and authenticity.
CORRIE update: Maria has an electronic tag, Michelle's boobs came with a price tag, Sally is a rotten nag, David could be on for a shag, Gail still needs a paper bag...
*BETHANY's sex ring storyline is said to echo the Rochdale scandal and be "as realistic as possible" – except of course for the folk doing the grooming.
TV Maths: Perkin + Posy from The Flumps = Nicola Sturgeon.
TV question: if Davina had performed with the Vibrators would she have sung Wet Wet Wet?
MORE SS-GB TV: March Of The Day. That Swastika Week That Was – topical satire. They Think It's All Hanover – comedy sport quiz. The Reich Stuff – daily drivel. Strictly NO Dancing, by order of ze Gestapo.
A STARTLING revelation from Lady Colin Campbell talking about the Queen Mum's society come-back: "She came out with a bang and kept on banging all her life until she died." So perhaps William is just carrying on the tradition.
*ROYAL reporters defended Prince William on TV saying "He was only letting his hair down". What hair?
March 12. Well, I predicted The Nightly Show would improve with John Bishop. And it did – they toned down the brightness and stopped the camera zipping about like an Olympic squash ball. But the rest... strewth, it was like recovering from dysentery only to be stricken with the trots. Bishop's monologues did for topical comedy what Hammond's budget tried to do to the self-employed. Monday's papers were packed with news stories ripe for ribbing – Louis Tomlinson's airport brawl, Stavros Flatley's dope factory, Martin Clunes' mystery cosmetic surgery... But John swerved all of that to serve up incisive satirical insights like Donald Trump tweets while "having a dump". Be still my aching sides.
The Chester-born professional Scouser promised us a "unique musical performance from Madonna" before dragging up to spoof her Vogue video. Two days later he was Kylie. What is it with ITV and men in frocks? And why did they replace a character comic doing stand-up with a stand-up comic sitting down? Bishop's big innovation was the "Tit-O-Meter". "Is Trump a tit or not?" he asked gleefully. It was like throwing stones in a glass house. It fell so flat that by Tuesday he ditched topical jokes (and his Tit-O-Meter) completely and fell back on a weak routine about dogs... on a day when the headlines were dominated by Paul Burrell coming out! Granted this was sun-rises-in-east level surprising, but it was still a big talking point. (Burrell said Princess Di was the only woman he'd ever told; telling his wife might have been kinder.)
On Wednesday the gags returned but were so dire you wished they hadn't. "That was a joke about w*nking," Bishop chortled. He asked the great Roger Daltrey about the 60s. Presumably, the Who star's outspoken views on immigration were taboo for fearless ITV. Yet Pamela Anderson was encouraged to witter on about Julian Assange. The long, stilted interviews deaden the show's pace. It lacks energy and punch. I only hope it survives long enough for Bradley Walsh to have a crack.
*MEL & Sue pulled out of hosting The Nightly Show after realising they'd be going from Bake Off to Switch Off. ITV have booked Dermot instead. Why? When was he funny? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring in Paul O'Grady, Jim Davidson, Jimmy Carr, Brian Conley, Micky Flanagan, Kevin Bridges, Alexei Sayle or Joe Pasquale (you'd be surprised)?
SHIRLEY Carter got banged up just days after Crimewatch put out an appeal to find hard-faced transgender offender Lisa Hauxwell. Coincidence? Or mistaken identity? It wouldn't be any crazier than current soap storylines, what with Ken Barlow torching thousands of pounds of "tainted money". It's just money, mate. Give it to charity or invest it for Amy's Uni fees (or, more realistically, her future bail requirements.) At least it gave Bill Roache something to do. I'd started to suspect Ken had died months ago and ITV had forgotten to tell him. On Emmerdale, Aaron's prison ordeal was like a rejected out-take from Midnight Express. And the whole Carter saga on EastEnders is pony. Magistrates couldn't jail Shirl, and Mick would've been able to pay that fine in instalments. The only thing he should do time for is reckless geezerism.
*SNOBBY Ken branded Sinead "intellectually inferior". Eh? He married Deirdre!
THE Replacement will put working women off having kids quicker than any soap brat. When newly-promoted architect Ellen needs maternity cover, Paula is brought in to fill her shoes. Everyone thinks she's perfect... except Ellen who finds her creepy and scheming. Is she paranoid, or is her stand-in really a manipulative bitch out to take over her life? Despite a few stretch-marks on the plot, and the complete absence of likeable characters, this tense psycho-drama gets under the skin like a leech. It's All About Eve + murder – boss Kay plummeted mysteriously to her death. There's an unexplained link between Paula and Ellen's shrink husband. David seems iffy too. Who knew maternity cover could be so scary? Or architecture so eventful...
HOT on TV: Tamzin Outhwaite as conniving Connie, Inside Number 9... Lethal Weapon... Tristin Mays, MacGyver (Sky1).
ROT on TV: Joel Dommett, Drunk History – cirrhosis of the funny-bone... Chris Harris, Top Gear – the grand bore... John Bishop – lamer than Hop-along Cassidy with two broken ankles.
ITV's Benidorm is like a McGill seaside postcard without the charm. If you're bladdered enough to belt out Sweet Caroline in the Neptune karaoke bar you'll love it, but in truth the show's been going downhill since series four. It's all fart gags, incontinence, tiresome camp clichés... and now Nana Chase as a randy OAP lusting after tiddly toy-boys. (Superannuated cougars = good, randy old goats = morally repugnant – it's the new sexism, folks). On the plus side, Sheron is still spilling out of her cossie. Best gags: Lesley's "feminine mystique" being misheard as feminine mistake. And Nana, asked "How's yer head?" after a night clubbing, replying "I don't remember getting any complaints."
*WHERE was Lady Garden of Frognal on Meet The Lords? The show would surely be improved by footage of Lady Garden in passionate action.
*THE air-bag was back on The Jump last weekend. And tomorrow she'll be hosting The Nightly Show.
*I LOVE the way The Voice coaches all bring something unique to the show. Tom has the wealth of experience, Jennifer charisma and enthusiasm, Will brings quirky humour, and Gavin... he's there too.
*THE X Factor boss complains that The Voice recycles their contenders. A bit rich when their first winner was a Big Big Talent Show finalist.
*TOP Gear is very different without the Ferrari FXX K, or to give him his full name Chris Evans. It's not so irritating now. Just a dull clone of Clarkson's winning formula.
*LET'S hope those ISIS nutters never see Very British Muslims. Heads will roll.
SMALL Joys of TV: Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule – all the thrills of TV Burp for a fifth of the work (eh, H?). Ron Perlman, Hand of God. Sara Cox. Haye vs Bellew – the undisputed drama of the week. Rise of the Warrior Apes on Discovery (very similar to the Mitchell brothers' story).
RANDOM irritations: Mutiny. It's an epic challenge but why turn Bligh's incredible voyage into yet another poxy reality show? Missed opportunities for innuendos on 5 Gold Rings. Reggie Yates, Special Forces Ultimate Hell Week (unless he was booked to add to the hell).
SEPARATED at birth: Lord Palmer and Edward Tattsyrup? One an eccentric throw-back suspicious of the outside world and everyone in it, the other's a League Of Gentlemen character.
MORE SS-GB TV shows. Top game-show: 3, 2, Hun. Top comedy: Not Göring Out. Top sci-fi: Third Reich From The Sun. Top news investigation: Panzerama.
March 5. Good luck John Bishop. If it's any consolation you can't make ITV's The Nightly Show any worse. Booking David Walliams as host was as smart as hiring Dot Cotton to drive the guest limos... and Crippen to serve the drinks. The show was infantile, awkward, witless, and as funny as crime statistics – a master-class in how not to do a comedy talk-show. Yet this format has run successfully on US TV for decades. All it needs is a host capable of 1) delivering one-liners, 2) reading the autocue without fluffing and 3) feigning interest in the guests. Strike one, two, three... No wonder Walliams lost viewers quicker than a Dianne Abbott strip-show.
Late night topical comedy shows need sharp writers to provide fresh gags; Walliams had six but the jokes were lame first-thought stuff, like tourists going to the moon? Let's send Piers Morgan/Katie Hopkins. Old gags were gleefully recycled: "I've never gone home with an Oscar, although a couple of times I have gone home with a Filipe... " The monologue improved on Wednesday after veteran joke-smith Rob Colley joined the team, but that was it. Perhaps he dropped off.
Naturally Walliams made himself the centre of far too many gags, often wearing women's clothes. He is by far the ugliest man in a frock since Les Dawson who was at least had the distinction of being a comedy genius. In fairness, David did show a flicker of edge when he interrupted Kim Cattrall banging on about all things Scouse to ask: "Do you still live in Liverpool?" (She was 3months old when she left). But on Friday he didn't ask Gavin Rossdale a single question. Gav must have bored him as much as he bores me...
How could ITV have watched the woeful Walliams & Friends and thought yeah this is the guy we need to serve up cutting edge humour for £50K a night? All he brings to Britain's Got Talent is a vastly inflated ego and the tedious pretence of having a crush on Cowell... dragged out for four ruddy years – and regurgitated as the opening gag last Monday. And let's not start on his horrible, woman-hating Little Britain characters. At least guests Rob Brydon and Nina Conti were funny.
Talk about a wasted opportunity. So many comedians could have made a go of this. Not least Paul O'Grady or the brilliantly inventive Craig Ferguson whose Late Late Show was a constant US TV joy. Sadly ITV's future bookings include Mel & Sue, Davina and Gordon Bloody Ramsay, suggesting they know as much about talk-shows as Roland Duchatelet knows about football. Why not give scheming Paula from The Replacement a try? At least then there's a chance some useless over-paid TV executives might fall on their swords. Literally.
*LENO and Letterman once ruled US late night TV. Now Brits set the pace there – James Cordon and his glorious Carpool Karaoke, John Oliver with his indignant rants... And we're lumbered with Aussie dullard Adam Hills.
POOR Trish. Battered and raped, the middle-aged shop-worker is latest victim of the curse of Broadchurch, AKA Crimewatch-on-Sea. An unknown assailant attacked Trish Winterman at workmate Cath's 50th birthday do. She was bludgeoned, bound, used, bruised and abused; a discarded condom wrapper was left near the scene. It's a confident return to form after the show's dismal second series. Julie Hesmondhalgh is stunning as the traumatised victim. And there are enough mysteries to get Columbo sucking extra hard on his stinky old stogie. Cath's shady husband Jim organised the plush manor house bash. But 50 of the seventy guests were blokes. So was it a sex party? Twine was involved so it looked callously premeditated but could it have been a sex-game that went wrong? Why does Jim keep condoms in his glove-box? Why did Cath tell him "I feel like it's our fault"? Why did Jim fight Trish's boss Ed at the party? Why was Ed so narked when DI Hardy and DS Miller turned up his shop? (The cops bicker like an old married couple. Alec asked Ellie if she knew Trish. "It's not Trumpton!" she snapped. "I don't know everybody!" Tsk, guys, get a cell.) Other queries: Mark and Beth are back too – will Joe be? How significant will Trish's ex, Ian, prove? How creepy was Clive the cabbie? And has anyone else noticed that Ellie's Dad is the great Roy Hudd?
THE House Of Lords has been called "the best day care centre for the elderly in London". With its subsidised grub and fine wine, it's certainly the cosiest. Where else would the Walking Dead get paid £300 a day just for turning up? One peer left a taxi running outside while he nipped in to claim his bunce... Another moaned that the £300 wasn't enough. In fairness, it probably costs that much to polish the silver staircase in his 110-room mansion. Former tearaway and life-long rebel Lord Bird was ticked off for mild swearing in his maiden speech, but at least he's keen. Lady Falkender has been there 42 years and has yet to make hers. The Lords have an important function, checking and reviewing laws. But do we need so many of them? The gaff is bloated with cronies and phonies. Isn't it time to make the second chamber directly elected and fully accountable?
*ONE Lord announced: "The noble Baroness has not succeeded I'm afraid in satisfying me". How ungallant. Haven't they got toilet cubicle walls for this kind of filth?
HOT on TV: Catastrophe... Julie Hesmondhalgh, Broadchurch... Inside No 9 – fiendishly funny... Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule.
ROT on TV: David Walliams, The Nightly Show – sh*te new low... Let's Sing & Dance For Comic Relief – let's not... Russell Grant – more ham than a hog-farm.
PRIME Suspect 1973 was arresting despite the casting. Stefanie Martini makes a fair cop, guv, but didn't look or act like Helen Mirren's Jane Tennison, or even as if she were in the right era. The music set the scene perfectly – Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd. Bob Marley less so, his first UK hit was 75, but I guess they're never going to use Gary Glitter.
*HOW SS-GB's Nazi victory would've changed British TV continued: top sitcom – Eva Braun's Boys. Property: Homes Under The Himmler. Food: Fuhrer Back In Time For Dinner. Travel: Absolutely No Escape To The Country!
*JORGIE Porter described her vagina as "Skippy" on Celebs Go Dating, a technical term suggesting she has a bush kangaroo. Gulp. No wonder no bloke can tie her down, sport. I guess when Jorgie clicks with you, she really clicks...
*TV Quiz. Where was the command "Pitch your cocks!" used? Was it a) At the cockerel fight on Roots or b) At the speed-dating night on Celebs Go Dating?
*THEY had a pancake-tossing race on EastEnders. But who is the soap's biggest ever tosser? You decide! Send your votes to Ian Beale Contest c/o the usual address...
SMALL Joys of TV: Lethal Weapon. The "burger apocalypse" (2,000,000 Calorie Buffet). Julie Graham in her swimsuit, Benidorm. Seinfeld on Mastermind – at last a subject I had a chance with. Quinn, Homeland. Kate Bosworth on SS-GB, a tragic victim of wartime boob rationing.
RANDOM irritations: The Last Leg's unbearable smugness. Armand Leroi using flawed science to diss the Beatles (and punk). Corrie expecting us to be on Michelle's side as she assaults Eva and smashes up t'Rovers.
SEPARATED at birth: Lord Taylor and Stanley Unwin? One renowned for spouting unintelligible garbage, the other's a much-loved English comedian who worked with the Small Faces. Deep joy.