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.



OCT 13. LORD Sugar needs smarter contestants like The Wall needs a wrecking ball. Gawd they’re dim. His Apprentice wallies couldn’t even produce a decent ice-lolly. “A big lump of rosemary was in my mouth. It was like eating a garden,” gasped Karren Brady, who was talking about an unnecessary ingredient in the girls’ offering and not one of the contestants.



The boys decided against adding “activated charcoal” to their blueberry lolly and went with stem ginger, lavender, beetroot and edible glitter instead. Yum, said absolutely no one. Their pink deluxe creation looked, according to Sugar, “as if Ann Summers has gone into the ice-cream business”. Or in Ryan-Mark’s words “like a penis”. No wonder the buyer refused to suck one on camera. She did offer to buy them at a pound a pop though. But sub-team leader Dean, who couldn’t negotiate a handshake at a Masonic ball, turned her down and walked away with nothing.



By some miracle Sugar spared him and sacked team leader Kenna Ngoma instead. Kenna was “in the industry” and had “an understanding from an ice cream and lolly perspective”... but not enough of one to make the product tasty. (Go on mate, prove Shugs wrong, pitch your sex-lollies on Dragons’ Den.) The girls’ team couldn’t even manage simple maths, yet once again they were saved because the blokes were far worse. The exception is Charley Boorman lookalike Thomas Skinner. He’s a natural salesman and so Cockney he makes Danny Dyer seem posh. So expect PC transgressions down the line. This stage of the show is more about the big egos and nitwits. So we have Ryan-Mark, the Michael McIntyre clone, who explodes in orgies of self-love like a young John Bercow. And loose cannon Lottie. The winner is almost certainly still under the radar.



TANYA Moody’s Meg burst into Motherland with all the dignified restraint of Boris Johnson at an I.T. training session. Supermum Meg juggled parenting with a top job and saw straight through queen bitch Amanda and her coven. How could someone be a high-flyer and have “more kids than a frog”? asked ever-weary Julia. “Where’s the secret sadness?” We found out when Meg dragged her out on a drunken bender. She snogged strangers, flashed a bus driver, threw up fell down stairs and got cautioned for piddling in the street. It was an extraordinary spectacle, worthy of 1990s City boys. And the next day she was as right as nine pence. I can’t be alone in hoping the kids take after their fathers... unless the Dad in question is Kev. The show’s only regular male is wetter than Norfolk during the storms. He’s so gormless he could have come straight from a Noughties TV ad.



SHAME we can’t use “Correction” technology to give The Capture a better ending. The paranoid BBC drama about dodgy spooks faking film footage to fit up terrorists had been gripping. Right-on campaigners used Correction tech to frame Shaun – a squaddie cleared of murdering a Taliban soldier – with the pretend killing of his barrister. They planned to upload the real footage to expose secret service shenanigans. So the CIA topped her for real, and then snatched Shaun’s daughter to make him cough to the killing. He was jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. The campaigners kept schtum, the real footage was magically corrupted, and despite knowing how dodgy they are, plucky heroine cop Rachel joined the spooks... Utter cobblers! Unless of course she’s going in as a mole...



HOT on TV: Tom Allen, The Apprentice: You’re Fired... Swamp Thing (AmPrime)... A Confession finale... Spiral (BBC4)... new The Walking Dead.



ROT on TV: Zion Lights – rebel without a clue... Brendan Cole, The X Factor: Celebrity – cheesier than a stuffed crust pizza... Googlebox pushing C4’s political agenda.



THEY missed a trick on The X Factor: Celebrity. They could have had Coleen Rooney & Rebekah Vardy on belting through Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting. Instead Jenny “The Vixen” Ryan from The Chase was the stand-out star. This seemed like an exciting new spin on Simon Cowell’s ailing talent show... to those who’d forgotten X Factor: Battle Of The Stars from 2006.



*LOVED Boris’s pole-dancing “tech advisor” Jennifer Acuri on GMB. Jen admitted she and BoJo had bonded over Shakespeare. Possibly As You Like I.T. Get her in the jungle, ITV.



*EASTENDERS star Steve McFadden tried his hand at being a clown once but terrified the kids. Now the clowns are writing the scripts.



*STRICTLY: It Takes Two? No. Strictly: It Takes Too Long.



*GEMMA Collins wants to “hug aliens”. That’s Predator 5 just waiting to happen. She also reckons she’s telepathic so let’s send her a mental message. All together, two words...



SMALL joys of TV: Lesley Manville, World On Fire. Old Columbos, 5USA. The fake postcode on Motherland: NE1 4ABJ. England vs Australia, rugby. Cleopatra (coming atcha), Celeb Coach Trip.



RANDOM irritations: Loaded eco-luvvies. Nish Kumar claiming his critics are motivated by “racism” rather than the fact that he’s not funny. Strictly: It Takes Two. Yank women with “lickle girl” voices.



FATHER & Secret Daughter: Dr Who’s Face Of Boe and Kunda on The Chase? One has the wisdom of ages, the other sadly didn’t.



TV question: does Lord Sugar most resemble a walnut or a scrotum?




OCT 6. One episode in and The Apprentice has already given us the laugh of the year. The chumps, sorry contenders, were in South Africa where the boys’ team organised a safari. “And if you look to your left, you’ll see the elephants,” said Riyonn. “It’s a rhino,” came the factual reply. Britain’s brightest brains indeed.



The 15 remaining candidates include several weapons grade egos, one young Michael McIntyre lookalike called Ryan-Mark and a real-life Del-Boy in Thomas Skinner. Sugar sent his boastful “chancers, posers and brown-nosers” to Cape Town where they were tasked with flogging “bespoke tours” to passing victims. The blokes claimed their safari would include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalos. They bragged about the “big five” but only delivered three... which sounds like a disappointing night on Love Island. Although as the three included elephants, lions and rhinos no one asked for their dosh back.



The girls got on like a monkey house on fire, bickering and squabbling at every opportunity. They opted for a wine-tasting tour which went down like Chateau Sarsons. They lost tourists, couldn’t find the cellar, charged some customers four times as much as the others and had to refund £249.03p to disappointed punters. And they only made a meagre profit of £525.93p. So it was a real shock when they won... First out was chartered engineer Shahin Hassan who claimed people call him “The Falcon”. Sadly Sugar didn’t tell him: “Falcon, falc-orff”. It was surprising Sugar didn’t bin bad-tempered team leader Lewis as well. The biggest character is a loopy librarian wonderfully called Lottie Lion, who has already sunk her metaphorical claws into rival Lubna Farhan. Squeaky Iasha is easily the most irritating.



*LOTTIE had a fling with Lewis during filming, begging the question: do librarians do it by the book?



NO stallions were pleasured in the making of Catherine The Great – a wasted opportunity given TV’s usual contempt for historical facts. What’s a little horsing around between friends? Especially when Helen Mirren is playing a woman half her age and Potemkin, left, was battered and thrown 30ft to his death without breaking a bone. The Russian empress had her husband murdered, robbed the clergy, annexed Crimea, beheaded enemies and wiped Poland off the map. Tsk, and they said Maggie was hard.



*HELEN reckons nobody’s all male or female. I saw her in Caligula, she could’ve fooled me.



OVER on World On Fire Sean Bean has morphed into Reg Varney from On The Buses and Helen Hunt seems to be turning into one of Doctor Who’s Ood. It’s another World War II saga. Hurrah! We haven’t had one for weeks. Why not dramatise Blenheim or Agincourt? Possibly because telly twerps can’t spin them to make some laboured point about Brexit. The strong cast are undermined by the “woke” subplots and the usual historical howlers: A German soldier in a baseball cap, Mosley in a black shirt three years after they were banned, Bean’s Manc pacifist wearing a London bus conductor’s badge... English journalist Claire Hollingworth witnessed the Germans massing on the Polish border, not Hunt’s fictional Yank. Nazism was evil, but it’d be equally timely to remind us of Communism’s blood-soaked crimes too.



HOT on TV: Katarina Johnson-Thompson... new Goliath (AmPrime)... Julia Brown, World On Fire... The Good Place (Netflix).



ROT on TV: State Of The Union – bickering berks... Gennady, BGT: The Champions... Snackmasters recreating KitKat – less “take a break”, more give us one.



ON Plebs, Stylax has been replaced by Jason, a dumb hunk who could’ve wandered in from Love Island. Marcus is still deluded, house-slave Grumio remains gormless and it’s still not that funny – not to a generation raised on The Life Of Brian anyway. Plebs is daft, basic and awash with toilet humour but at least it doesn’t tell us what to think.



*NEW film Joker is the story of a comedian who turned to crime. Not to be confused with John Bishop, a comedian who gets away with murder.



*IF Countryfile can do politics, let’s have farmers on Question Time... if only to clear up the bullsh*t...



*WORLD War Weird claimed Russian boffins tried to create a human ape hybrid. Tried? What else could explain Grant Mitchell?



GIVEN TV's new love of “short-form” TV, why not produce commuter friendly mini versions of popular shows? Thanks to the miracle of Sky+ I can get through an episode of Pointless in 15 minutes without missing a thing. Ditto MasterChef, Bake Off and Grand Design which can all easily be watched in half their run time too.



*ALL these food shows on the Beeb. They should give us a £10 rebate on the licence fee to cover the cost of widening our strides.



SMALL joys of TV: The Great Model Railway Challenge. Australia v Wales, rugby world cup. The Plebs soundtrack. Ellie Taylor. Colombia: Wild Magic. Mahrez’s freekick against Everton.



RANDOM irritations: Catherine The So-So. TV twerps asking actors for their fatuous political opinions on the basis that they’ve played famous people. Cack-handed direction on Supermarket Sweep.



TV Maths. Eddie Large + curly brown wig = Vicki Barbolak




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