BUSHELL ON THE BOX

*This is an edited version of my TV column. The real thing, plus contests, goofs, lookalike pictures and more, can be found each Sunday only in the Daily Star Sunday.



Dec 8. LORD Sugar’s fragrance task on The Apprentice gave Lewis Ellis a chance to truly stink. Marketing man Lewis was entirely to blame for his team’s defeat. He spelt parfum as “parfam” on the packet and independent as “indepedent”; then lumbered it with a picture of a blonde “with her shorts up her bum” staring at an ice-topped mountain. He could have called it essence of ass.



Lewis was sweating like Prince Andrew couldn’t as he struggled to dream up a slogan before finally hitting on: “Determined. Push boundaries, move mountains.” Yeah. Eat your heart out, Don Draper. “I wouldn’t buy it, it looks cheap and nasty,” said his own team leader Pamela. The citrus fragrance she and Dean hit on was way better than rival Carina’s whose “empowering” concoction was so overpowering it should have come with an antidote. The heady blend of sandalwood, jasmine, rose, lavender, cucumber and rhubarb sounded “like a Jamie Oliver meal” according to Sugar. It had “everything but the kitchen sink,” sniffed Karren, adding, “Smells like the kitchen sink though.” Sugar reckoned the bottle “looked like one of Pat Butcher’s ear-rings” – actually, more like a Dyson hair-dryer. And Carina had to ditch Lottie’s strange Dynasty style 80s power couple promo shot completely. No-one spotted that they’d spelt breathe as “breath” on the packet.



Lewis only survived because his business plan must be marginally smarter than Dean’s. On Wednesday the final five face Sugar’s interrogators. Let’s hope know-it-all Lottie gets roasted like a Christmas chestnut. What would a Thomas Skinner perfume have smelt like? Pie and mash, probably, with the brand name Bosh! He’s much missed. Thomas was the only candidate with an ounce of business flair. But this “process” is more to do with finding a management suit than an entrepreneur.



*BEST rejected fragrance: Passive Aggression by Lottie.



THE War Of The Worlds might do better in America – they pardon turkeys there. The dreary three-parter was so lousy you felt like rooting for the Martians. And even they weren’t right. How did those three-legged crab critters (shamelessly nicked from Starship Trooper) build and fly spaceships? They had limbs like metal strips. How did they operate their war machines? That wasn’t the Beeb’s concern. Sci-fi isn’t their business. All these privileged twerps want to do is lecture us about our “evil” past. Our heroes, trapped by the scrotum-like Martians, watched an invader suck the insides out of a sickly Surrey matron and wet George’s only response was to make a speech. “Don’t you think this could be our fault, Englishmen?” he asked with all the toxic self-loathing of a Guardian editorial. Then, after a Martian slaughtered his brother, he decided to “go and reason with it”. How we cheered when it topped him.



THERE was wild talk of Ian Wright facing “sixty scorpions in the helmet” on I’m A Celebrity. Ouch. And there was me thinking it’s been less sadistic this year. Mind you, the pop-themed “Ants and Decks” trial with Roman and Caitlyn getting showered with creepy-crawlies was pretty gruelling. I particularly liked Liver On A Prayer which I believe was also the name of Andie’s chicken liver pate dish on Come Dine With Me.



*WHAT will last longer, Minty’s tan or Jac Jossa’s marriage?



HOT on TV: Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel (AmPrime)... Giri/Haji finale (but maybe not the ballet)... Annabel Scholey, Britannia.



ROT on TV: The War Of The Worlds – the waste of the licence fee... lop-sided Googlebox politics... The Turner Prize – turn it in.



WE’RE getting our Xmas leftovers early this year, Romesh’s Arctic jaunt was a repeat from last December. The surly comic did uncover a shocking crime though. Did you clock the prices they charge for booze? £70 for a dozen cans of beer and two bottles of bog-standard plonk... as my grandad used to say “at least Dick Turpin wore a mask”.



*ANOTHER X Factor spin-off starts tomorrow. Why? Viewing figures for the celebrity one dropped like an express lift. Give it a rest.



*GOOD though The Irishman is, it drags on way too long. The worst scene is when “young” De Niro batters a shopkeeper. The CGI de-ages him but he still moves like a Last Of The Summer Wine conga line.



*NISH Kumar getting booed was hilarious. Finally he makes us laugh.



*SAD England cricket legend Bob Willis has gone. I suppose now they’ll be playing for the ashes.



SMALL Joys of TV: Johnny Cash clips (Country Music). Stanley Baxter’s Best Bits. The sign on ITV’s brothel: “Please use rear entrance”. Kate Garraway’s cleavage. Undercover Billionaire. Andrew Neil interviews.



RANDOM irritations: BBC drama’s half-arsed student politics. Mark Rylance’s hand-wringing apology for unspeakable Japanese war crimes. The pox of televised leader debates. Gormless EastEnders scripts.



FATHER & Secret Son: Frank Skinner and Gold Digger’s surly Patrick?



TV mysteries: Do festive baubles give Francis Sultana a raison to exist? If Tiger Woods went on MasterChef would he bake The Pie of the Tiger? When did Majorca become Mallorca? Spanish TV still calls England “Inglaterra”. And why are we forced by law to fund the BBC running Britain down?



Dec 1. WORKING in a brothel is “just like working in a chip shop,” said Kath on A Very Yorkshire Brothel. Which certainly explains the size of the staff, if not the lack of decent crackling. The cheery, chunky hookers look like they’d waddled in from a seaside postcard. Their humour was similarly down-to-earth and salty. They do business in the Fantasy Room – presumably so you can fantasise that your “masseuse” is size 14 or under. There’s a Naughty Boy’s Room too, though “boy” is pushing it. They’re sustained by a trickle of elderly customers and a steady supply of takeaways. Munching on a McDonalds here has no filthy connotations.



We met big, brassy Lily Loves-It, a fake French maid powered by real French fries. No idea what services Lil provides but odds on her “handmade Xmas” would differ significantly from Kirstie’s. For a tenner you could probably slap her rump and ride the waves. One old boy told Lily she had “a nice little bottom” which is much like praising Gisele Bundchen for her pert hooter.



If these lardies of the night seemed familiar it’s because C4’s 2015 A Very British Brothel was shot at the same Sheffield City Sauna run by Kath and daughter Jenni. ITV had two new pegs: the women are campaigning to legalise brothels. And Kath installed a sex-doll called Samantha – probably the production team’s idea. Their place is obviously safer than working the streets and more of a giggle than the German ones they visit next week – they don’t have slogans like “A blow job is better than no job” there. Legal knocking shops are also taxable. You may be a dirty old sod but you’re doing your patriotic duty.



*POSSIBLE spin-offs: Celebrity Big Brothel, The Sex Factor, SAS: Who Bares Sins...



“I’M like the Bionic Woman,” Elton John told Graham Norton, referring to the bits he’s had removed or rebuilt – including his hair, now a peculiar auburn thatch. “I don’t like being bald, I look like Shrek,” he said. This Elton wasn’t the absurd comic monster of Tantrums & Tiaras. This Elton was funny, honest and self-aware with the touchiness dialled back. Names were dropped like thongs on Love Island. He talked about swerving Andy Warhol while hoovering up cocaine with John Lennon in a New York hotel suite; and his mum telling Michael Jackson he needed “a bloody good meal”. Then there was the time Elton told Rod Stewart he looked like “Dusty Springfield in a nightmare”. Filming restrictions cramped the director’s style. The interview was shot in the star’s French mansion but the angles were so tight it might as well have been filmed in a caravan in Cromer. Yet the clips and hits reminded us that underneath the pomposity, old Reg from Pinner is a genuine national treasure.



JUDGE Nutmeg returned triumphantly on Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out. “What do we want?” “Justice!” went the chants. “What are the charges?” “Trumped up!” What a loss he is to the Supreme Court. Reeves & Mortimer are reliving their glory years on this BBC4 show. We got Milligan-esque bell-ringing, spud-driven ghost-hunting, daft songs and dafter jokes. Bob: “I went to a vasectomy clinic cos I didn’t want kids. It didn’t work... when I got home the kids were still there.” Fact: MasterChef could only be improved by Gregg swallowing a ladleful of Vic and Bob’s mashed potato cooked with nitro-glycerine balls.



HOT on TV: The Irishman (Netflix)... Milly Alcock, Upright (SkyAt)... Kelly Macdonald, Giri/Haji.



ROT on TV: How To Spend It Well At Xmas – jingle hell... The War Of The Worlds – the bore of the week.



ON The War Of The Worlds, Weybridge station has been destroyed making zero difference to Southwest train services. But at least invaders have stopped falling from the skies. Martian craft are like giant Christmas puddings that set fire to people – we’ve all been there, over-doing the brandy. H.G. Wells’ satire on colonialism has become the story of a single mum and her dim boyfriend who keep losing each other, with a heavy-handed climate change guff thrown in. Mars Attacks was scarier.



R.I.P. Clive James, a wise, warm and witty man; a fine broadcaster and the writer who turned television criticism into an art form.



*PEOPLE say Gold Digger’s work-shy Ben and bra-less Julia have nothing in common. Not so! Neither of them has any visible means of support...



*THEY had an over-priced battery-powered mug on How To Spend It Well at Xmas. But enough about Schofield.



*IT was Wife Swap week in Walford. Old hat! The Mitchell brothers pioneered that in the 90s.



*TWO Strictly bods are said to be enjoying a “shock romance”. How is it a shock? It happens every year.



SMALL Joys of TV: Iorek, His Dark Materials – the CGI polar bear out-acted the cast. ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas. 8 Days. Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out. Michael McIntyre’s Big Show. Ladhood.



RANDOM irritations: Bruno Tonioli. TV news over-relying on pointless vox pops. Liz Bonnin’s biased and laughably flawed anti-meat propaganda. The BBC’s inability to book balanced studio audiences.



*KIRSTIE’S Handmade Xmas: not to be confused with the Handmaid’s Tale Xmas. It’s way more excruciating.



THOUGHT of the week from Gregg Wallace: “All that choke’s got to come out, otherwise you’re left with a mouthful of hairy fibre.” He was talking about preparing artichokes, but take from it what you will.




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