BUSHELL ON THE BOX
AUG 19. CELEBRITY Big Brother is back! Hurrah! Shouts of joy echoed across the land. “Who’s that?” we cried. “Why her?” “The state of him!” And “Where the heck is Stormy Daniels?” The US porn star who claims to have had “textbook sex” with Trump pulled out at the last minute. Unlike Donald (allegedly). What a big teaser! No Stormy left CBB with a light shower, and a pointless White House themed garden. The best booking is Kirstie Alley, once the sultry star of classic sitcom Cheers and now the number one reason to buy a widescreen TV. There’s also likeable Ryan “Jason Grimshaw” Thomas and slightly loopy ex-Emmerdale star Roxanne Pallet. “What’s she like to live with?” host Emma Willis asked Roxy’s fiancé Lee. How would he know? They only met last month.
Some of these housemates would be zero scores in Pointless. Barking Brazilian Rodrigo, AKA the human Ken doll, has disfigured himself with endless plastic surgery. He looks like he got that face second-hand from a wax museum. Chloe Ayling was entirely unknown until she was kidnapped in Milan and obscurity is already beckoning her back. She has a voice that could grate cheese. Natalie Nunn? Me neither. She’s the token combustible Yank but her Bad Girls Club reality TV show passed Britain by. The rest are either damaged or disgraced: Jermaine Pennant (jailed for drunk-driving), Nick Leeson (banged up for rogue trading), former Towie love-rat Dan Osborne (incarceration yet to come).
Hardeep Singh Kohli, alleged comedian, was suspended from The One Show for “inappropriate behaviour”. Finally there’s self-proclaimed “psychic” Sally Morgan who insisted she was no fraud... because mediums are all 100 per cent genuine. Just like Big Foot and the Tooth Fairy. Fact: most of the celebs Sally bamboozled on ITV could have been outsmarted by a pickle jar. The success of CBB is down to the casting, recruiting personalities who either clash most deliciously or cop off most shamelessly. We’ve seen Vanessa Feltz in full-blown melt-down, Jack Dee break out of the house, and Jim Davidson take on Linda Nolan and triumph. Will any of this lot row like Kim Woodburn or score like Lewis Bloor? I’m not sure I care enough to find out.
DRAGONS’ Den has been on telly for 13 years. How can people not know how it works? We still get nitwits coming on valuing non-existent businesses at £1million. The cast-iron format has survived losing giant characters like Duncan, Theo and Hilary. It’s also survived their dull replacements... Tej couldn’t be any more laidback if he were laid out in a morgue. Or so I thought until he picked up a guitar and knocked out an Oasis song. Peter Jones’s eyes lit up. It was like Hamfatter all over again. Jones is the dream dragon, even if his new stubbly look is frankly un-investable. What, he’s worth half a billion and can’t afford a razor blade? Oddest pitch: Sam Piri whose synthetic corpses were stuffed with real pig organs. This life-size version of kids’ game Operation would obviously work as a training tool. But Sam’s business was dinner and dissection themed evenings. Think Saturday Night Cleaver, Little Chop Of Horrors, Murder She Roast, How I Minced Your Mother... Best rescue: Rupesh and Alex. The likable pair were struggling thanks to Sainsbury’s paying them 3p per unit less than their iced milk tea costs them to produce. Ouch.
LIV and Louis boasted of bonking “everyday” on True Love Or True Lies, while Carrie claimed she and Mike managed it “five times a week”. Cam and Shereece seemed more real. “Do you want sex more often?” she asked him. “You know I do”, he plaintively replied. It reminded me of the scene in Annie Hall where Woody Allen’s therapist asks how often they make love. “Hardly ever,” he sighs. “Maybe three times a week.” In parallel, girlfriend Diane Keaton tells her therapist: “Constantly, maybe three times a week... ” But shock horror, “Camreece” were frauds. She was secretly gay. Liv and Louis went on to win – and they were fake too! Mike and “five times a week” Carrie were the genuine ones. Enjoy it while you can mate.
HOT on TV: Issa Rae, Insecure (SkyAt)... Judge Rinder’s Who Do You Think You Are... Xosha Roquemore, I’m Dying Up Here (SkyAt).
ROT on TV: Nish Kumar – I’ve had funnier nosebleeds... Hang Ups – wet therapy... The New Wife... The Handmaid’s Tale finale – a cop-out ending to a dismal second season.
JAMIE Cooks Italy was a bit déjà-vu (déjà-chew?). How many Italian food shows do we need? We’ve had Italy Unpacked, Two Greedy Italians, Nigellissima, The Italian Kitchen, Michela Chiappa, Floyd On Italy... don’t the Croatians cook? The Macedonians? It’s hard to fault Jamie Oliver’s Italian dishes... on TV. His restaurants are another matter. Maybe if his lovely old nonnas had been on hand to brighten up the grub they served, he wouldn’t have had to close so many.
*JAMIE Cooks Italy? Dull. Suggest Italy Cooks Jamie, with fava beans and a nice chianti.
*FAKE Or Fortune. Not to be confused with Stormy Daniels. Her breasts are fake and she costs a fortune.
*FAITH Behind Bars was disappointing. No Eve Myles.
*LOOPIEST soap twist? Walford nice guy Keanu suddenly becoming the Hulk. So he’s lived in East London all his life and never lost his temper before? Gertcha. Keanu has clicked with Sharon though, and you don't need Psychic Sal to know what's coming next. Not so much Driving Miss Daisy as Porking Miss Piggy.
*WHY the fuss about Jack Whitehall playing a gay man? Gay stars have pulled off straight parts for decades. (Fnarr). What next? An alien demanding a starring role on Doctor Who? How about it Rodrigo Alves?
*CAN TV please stop sending elderly celebs to distant climes to fake interest in meditation etc? No matter how much they pretend their “sacred circle” is yoga we know it’s really a ring doughnut.
*IS Dara O'Briain what you'd get if you shaved a Gruffalo?
*WE’RE not privy to Gino’s own wish-list, but my bet is that woman in the new Nestle Extreme ad would be on it.
SMALL joys of TV: Vintage footage of soul queen Aretha Franklin, R.I.P. Frasier’s faultless ski lodge episode. Leanne Battersby's novel approach to grief counselling. Jason Golfinos, University Challenge. Original House Of Cards re-runs (i-Player). Fake Or Fortune. Disenchantment (Netflix). The Rolling Stones At The BBC.
RANDOM irritations: Mumbling actors. John Bishop. Gregg Wallace attempting bonhomie. The endlessly repeated myth that Benny Hill "chased women" on his TV show. He was chased! The men in Benny's shows always lost. The BBC’s Big British Asian Summer blanking East and South East Asia.
SEPARATED at birth: Kate Hopkins and this Spitting Image puppet of the Queen? One regal, aloof and dogged by controversy, the other is HM The Queen.
AUG 12. THE TV highlight of the week was Ed Balls getting tasered by Louisiana cops. WALLOP! 100,000 volts right up the jacksie. Ed was groaning like Gemma Collins’s boyfriend when she’s on top. If BBC One ever want an alternative to Question Time tormenting politicians would guarantee viewers. Gunge Hammond! Water-board Corbyn! Stick Adonis in the stocks! Anna Soubry on a ducking stool you say? Bung it on pay-per-view and watch the dosh roll in... A regular satirical show would give our rulers a metaphorical tasering. But sadly there’s more chance of seeing Boris in a burka than of TV getting satire right. The Nightly Show’s credibility lasted about as long as the European wine lake in Jean-Claude Junker’s backyard. Matt Forde’s Unspun has all the bite of a knackered Gummy Bear. Mock The Week hasn’t landed a punch in years. And Have I Got News For You is as edgy as a pair of old slippers nowadays.
Arena’s Whatever Happened To Spitting Image reminded us how fearless political comedy used to be. The ITV show rained latex hell on politicians of all parties, changing the way we saw them. Maggie was a cross-dressing tyrant, Kinnock a slippery windbag and David Steel a pathetic pipsqueak in David Owen’s pocket. Think how they’d treat Grey May, a woman who makes Mavis Wilton look like Boudica; or Labour’s shameful anti-Semitism. May has turned Brexit into such a long-running farce Brian Rix would be green with envy. While the Boris row underlines how staggeringly out of touch the political class are. So where is the satire? The Yanks deliver strong topical gags every night, why can’t we? Possibly because our TV bosses only commission shows that reflect their prejudices. Frankie Boyle’s New World Order was like the provisional wing of the Guardian. Yet well as exposing our rulers’ shortcomings, satire safeguards the right to offend. In our babyish, po-faced culture where people can lose their jobs for jokes there is a real need to barbeque sacred cows.
*GETTING tasered is known in the States as “joining the five second club”... which according to graffiti in the Queen Vic ladies loo is also the nickname for women who sleep with Robbie Jackson.
*RE Boris, Stephen Fry cracked an identical burka gag with no come-back whatsoever. While any wet nitwit wishing to be 'offended' should just google Emily Thornberry's thoughts on burka-wearers as expressed on Question Time.
TV is full of mysteries. What does Claudia Winkleman actually do to merit £380K-a-year? Why does Walford’s E20 nightclub open in the afternoon? And most baffling of all, how did Age Before Beauty get commissioned? The cast burst into a fantasy song and dance sequence last week, and that wasn’t even the most far-fetched moment. The BBC One “drama” makes Sense8 seem like gritty reality. Bel’s beauty salon is stuffed with unlikeable grotesques like her deranged sister Leanne and old slapper mum. Seriously, if you were her you’d be begging Trump’s border patrol to separate you from your family. Encouraged by brother-in-law Ted, Bel’s husband Wes is over the side with hot young personal trainer Lorelei, a woman who brings new meaning to the phrase 'must-have fitbit'. Talk about Age Over Booty (and frequently under it... ). Instead of booting him out, Bel booked a fitness session with her in disguise. But surely Lorelei would’ve checked Wes’s Facebook page? She’d know what Bel looks like. If Ted wed Loopy Leanne just to stay close to Bel, why would he wait so long to break up her marriage? And why go to such extreme lengths to hook up with a nice but dull woman? This drama’s not cutting it...
THE problem with Dave Fishwick’s How To Get Rich Quick is no-one does. It’s more how to make a living from selling samosas on a market stall, or in the case of Marika and her family importing continental furniture and flogging it on with a modest mark-up to loaded Yanks. Nothing to excite a dragon, but Marika’s haggling skills were impressive. She’d have more chance of making serious dough by winning The Apprentice.
*HOW to get rich quick: 1) Start a Ponzi scheme 2) Wed a Kardashian 3) Rob a bank 4) Own a bank and rob everybody...
*HOW about a celeb version? Katie Price could do with it.
HOT on TV: Dina Asher-Smith – dazzling... Brad Garrett, I’m Dying Up Here (SkyAt)... Kevin McNally, Unforgiven... Better Call Saul (Netflix).
ROT: Digby Edgley, Made In Chelsea – so dull he makes Teresa May seem charismatic... Hang Ups – let-down... Age Before Beauty – as authentic as the tans in its salon.
PETER Dean’s search for new love on The Real Marigold Hotel reminded me of his love-life on EastEnders. Dean had trouble with his Rs so when the writers took against him they gave his character, Pete Beale, a Kiwi girlfriend – Rose from Rotoroa. Or in Pete-speak: “Wose fwom Wotowoa” – a phrase he was made to say wepeatedly. Then a hit-man left him bwown bwead.
MORE recent subtitle howlers: BBC News reported that the boys in that Thai cave had been “rescued by diapers”. Not divers. Sky Sports suggested Kevin Costner was leading the Open at Carnoustie – a blow for Kevin Kisner. And Love Island’s Megan described Wes as “an ageing dancer”. She actually said amazing but it comes to all of us.
*THE week’s soap shocks in full: Kat Moon wore a top that wasn’t leopard print! Roy Cropper was flogging “curry & rice” for £3.75 (get in!) And Zak Dingle was sporting a trilby (presumably a courtesy hat while his old cheese-cutter is in for its 5,000 episode service.)
*SPOILER alert: Alfie Moon will be back in Walford soon and in touching scenes he and Kat will renew their rows...
*MISERY-junkie Kate Oates will be new EastEnders boss. That’s like an arsonist running the fire brigade. I guess Stephen King wasn’t available.
*“ROMESH doesn’t mean penis,” the comedian insisted on Judge Romesh. Despite all evidence to the contrary.
SMALL joys of TV: Elvis: The Rebirth Of The King (BBC4). Band Of Brothers repeats (SkyAt). Tom Davis. Classic EastEnders (Drama). Horizon’s Jupiter Revealed. Lolly Adefope. Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix). Itzik Cohen, Fauda (Netflix).
RANDOM irritations: Dale on Cuckoo making the title a perfect anagram for o-u-cock. Under-lit dramas – they’re supposed to look moody, but actually look like they’re set in a coal mine. The BBC’s pretence that any Real Marigold celebs might actually retire to India.
SEPARATED at birth: Lisa Riley and Droopy Dog? One a loveable sad-faced creature lumbered with implausible storylines, the other’s a cartoon.
TV Maths. Big Mo Harris + moustache = Paul Teutul Snr, American Choppers.
HOT not on TV: Mighty Iron Maiden who ended their Legacy of the Beast tour on ferocious form last night. Churchill’s “we shall fight them on the beaches” speech opened a triumphant 100minute set which saw the East London band confirm their place at the pinnacle of heavy metal’s Premier League. Louder than World War II and tourniquet tight, Maiden powered through classics from their 43year career, from Aces High (with a model Spitfire suspended over the O2 arena stage) to the show-closing encore of Run To The Hills. The 20,000 crowd were treated to ever-changing backdrops, high-velocity performances and singer Bruce Dickinson’s theatrics – he got through more costume changes than Katie Perry. Highlights included The Trooper, The Clansman, The Number Of The Beast and Two Minutes To Midnight.
AUG 5. Janette Krankie wept at the sight of a donkey laden down with bricks on The Real Marigold Hotel. Manic traffic in the northern Indian city of Udaipur freaked her out too. Husband Ian explained: “Janette went from crying to laughing to being terrified”... which sounds a lot like the reaction of Krankies’ fans when they read about the comedy duo’s colourful sex lives. For your own sake don’t Google that.
An unusual stench hung over the show, but for once Miriam Margolyes wasn’t to blame. The flatulent actress and her fellow travellers have been replaced by a new team of old faces. And the strange smells came from steaming cowpats in the streets mingling with exotic spices. Retired jockey Bob Champion had ever eaten curry before and looked as happy about the experience as a man who’d just seen his own todger on World’s Tiniest Masterpieces. He and lovable Syd Little enjoyed Indian grub so much that the next day they cooked themselves a traditional English roast dinner instead. An obliging butcher in the local market supplied the chickens, beheading them fresh before their eyes. Cue predictable snowflake outrage, as if people believe the meat on their plate is somehow unrelated to living animals.
The Krankies were the most fun, joking and play-squabbling. They gentled teased Stanley Johnson for over-spending in an offie. “You can’t get a bottle of wine for £8 in England now,” Bojo’s dad claimed. “You can always go to Lidl or Aldi,” Janette replied. Likeable Stan looked puzzled, as if she were talking about Tuscany villages he'd never heard of. Talk about fan-dabi-dozy. They’re all too nice for reality TV. The only one with attitude was former Dynasty star Stephanie Beacham who called Udaipur “a bit grubby” and a bag of crisps “truly disgusting”. But even snooty Steph didn’t fall out with anyone. It’s good they’re still alive but why would anyone want to watch four weeks of this? Surely it’d be better to see comics perform, actors act, Selina Scott interview and the Krankies on a special edition of Celebrity Sex Box (the horror!)? Peter Dean should be back in EastEnders. If the soap can resurrect Kathy (and Dirty Den) from the dead why not Pete “Tweacle” Beale?
*MEMO to TV Tristrams: I’ve done my share of telly; I’m getting on a bit. If anyone wants to jet me somewhere exotic with Heather Locklear and Cleo Rocos, I’m probably available...
*COMING soon (maybe): Celebrity Cocoon – Jimmy Cricket, John Cooper-Clarke and Pan’s People are rejuvenated by aliens in Florida. The Dirty Dozen – Jim Davidson and Chubby Brown lead a team of blue comedians onto student campuses. What could possibly go wrong? Obituary Knocks – elderly curmudgeons including Janet Stree’-Por’ah & Vince Cable moan around the clock until someone dies. No cameras required.
BOXER Freddie Mills was Britain's biggest sporting star of the post-war years, famously punching Len Harvey through the ropes to be crowned British light-heavyweight champion while on leave from the RAF in 1942. He lost to world champ Gus Lesnevich in a brutal contest in ’46, but beat the Yank in their 1948 rematch. When he retired, Freddie became an actor, TV personality and celebrity nightclub owner. He was mates with the greats – Sid James, Bob Monkhouse, Brucie. Everyone loved him... until July 1965 when he was shot dead in his car outside his club. The coroner called it suicide. Murder In Soho suggested otherwise. A doctor who examined his body testified that shooting yourself through one eye with both eyes still open was impossible. Someone else was holding the gun, but who? The documentary was packed with superb footage and unproven theories: It was a Mafia hit-man sent in because hard-up Mills was blackmailing a well-connected boxing promoter. Or a Soho heavy hired by Ronnie Kray who wanted to take over his club. Or Freddie was secretly a serial killer known as Jack the Stripper... Less luridly, Nipper Read, the cop who banged up the Krays, believed it was a simple case of mistaken identity.
ENOCH Powell said all political careers end in failure. Not anymore. Now they end in light entertainment. Cue Ed Balls in lycra in a wrestling ring. Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor met self-proclaimed rednecks on Travels In Trumpland. He came over well, but so did Trump’s supporters who were good hardworking people. Oddly the BBC made no similar show about Obama, who might have been way cooler than the Donald, but achieved very little. PS. Why wasn’t this called Balls Deep In Trumpland?
HOT on TV: Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (SkyAt)... Jason “Foxy” Fox – the new Woss Kemp... Get Shorty finale... Brian Cox, Succession (SkyAt).
ROT on TV: smug Adam Hills – the biggest boring tool this side of The Five Billion Pound Sewer... Age Before Beauty – not cutting it... Help! My House Is Haunted – no it isn’t, grow up.
CASSANDRA on First Time Call Girl charges clients £500 an hour. Steep, considering half the women on reality shows give it away for a pint of Prosecco. 500 quid an hour! Odds on Billy Mitchell would get change out of a tenner. One agency featured offer “the girlfriend experience”. So presumably you get dragged around shopping malls, told off for drinking with your mates and forced to watch Lorraine.
*HAVE those Corrie moths been chewing the writers’ brains? It’s the larvae that eat material you donuts! The homeless Sean storyline is plain barmy. Give up ITV. Few care about this badly acted, wet lettuce of a character.
*ODD that Mick Carter’s rhyming slang dries up when he talks about Psycho Stuart. Shouldn’t he at least call him a Roland (roll and butter, nutter), a bacon bounce (nonce) or a complete Jeremy Hu... (Cut! – Ed)?
SMALL joys of TV: Jack and Dani’s Love Island victory. ITV wrestling. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (AmPrime). Dad’s Army’s first series (Gold). Jack Farthing, Poldark. Antony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Annabel Giles – still gorgeous.
RANDOM irritations: BBC One imagining we need another soapy drama set in a Manchester beauty salon. Sharp Objects – nothing happens! Gino D’Acampo – comfortably the worst game-show host since Nick Knowles.
*WHY does TV constantly promote cosmetic surgery? No-one who has it ever looks right. If Mickey Rourke’s face fell it’d shatter the pavement.
SEPARATED at birth: Whitney from EastEnders and Greta the female Gremlin? One involved in a never-ending horror story... the other is a gremlin.
TV Maths. Magnum PI + Matt Berry’s Steven Toast = Sir Percival Glyde (The Woman In White).
HOST Vincenzo was talking about mincing meat for his home-made sausage on Come Dine With Me when he said: “Nice and tight... the last thing you want is your sausage to slip as you’re grinding.”