Garry Bushell
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APRIL 29. Another balls-up on The Apprentice, or to put it more accurately, a meatballs-up. The task was to flog gourmet street food from “mobile catering units”, or vans as lay people might call them, in Edinburgh; the Scots being noted for their refined culinary taste - deep-fried haggis, pizza, Mars bars etc. Team Sterling, led by Jenna, went for high-quality casseroles. Team Phoenix, under Adam’s command, decided to knock out meatballs and pasta outside Heart of Midlothian’s stadium at £5.99 a pop, because no-one appreciates fine dining like a football fan on his thirteenth can of McEwans. And besides, pasta is traditionally the easiest food to eat on the streets.

It was a disaster. “£5.99 for meatballs at a Hearts match,” Sugar scoffed later. “They don’t pay that much for a striker...” (Although in fairness it could buy you Rangers at the minute.)

Katie got the blame. The self-styled “blonde assassin” shot herself (misprint) in the boardroom, and was finally fired. Luckily for Adam she’d been useless all series, because he was the berk who thought ‘gourmet’ was another way of saying cheap old cack. His balls were small (bless), he skimped on ingredients... it’s a wonder he didn’t suggest sun-dried sporrans as a cut-price meat substitute. Even branding them “Utterly Delicious” didn’t stop them being Utterly Unsellable. Tsk. If only they’d been battered...

Unable to flog ’em at £5.99, Katie and Stephen suggested raising the price to £7.99. Britain’s finest business brains indeed. Adam cut it to two for a fiver instead and lost by just a score.

This hasn’t been a classic Apprentice run. There are no standout characters, no Tre, no Lucinda, no Baggs The Brand. But even in a relatively dull week, the show generates multiple small joys. Like Jenna asking “what if people come to the stand and speak Scottish?” (If Jenna’s voice were food it’d be stone cold tripe). And a chef advising her that the best meat has “got to be well-hung.” Which for some reason made me think of Ricky Martin in his kilt. While Ricky was living la vida tartan, Katie was out harassing tourists dressed as a pizza. Apt, I’d say. Because you might fancy a slice but the woman definitely wants topping.

*THE losing team always meet in the cafe of failure before facing Sugar. Last week, if you looked closely, you could spot Osborne, Clegg and Cameron on the next table down...

MAYBE Leveson would have got more straight answers if he’d watched Game Of Thrones for interrogation tips. It’s hard not to blab when there’s a terrified rat being roasted alive in a bucket pinned to your chest. Especially when its only way out is through you... But even that horror was topped by what evil Joffrey, the Kim Jong-un of his day, did to the two whores Tyrion had sent to pleasure him. “Can you hit her?” he asked, as he handed one a studded belt... and then his whopping great antler sceptre. Strewth. What a loss Joff is to Britain’s care homes... Even Dennis Waterman blanched. Elsewhere Melisandre gave birth to a shadow demon baby, possibly the very first of the Mandelson dynasty.

BRITAIN’S Got Talent has lost more than viewers – it’s lost its mojo too. Few of the acts have been much cop, and even fewer of the good ones are British. We’ve had basket-balling Hungarians (fresh from Red Or Black), French acrobats, Colombia’s “Chica Latina” (Margarita Crack-a-pan reinvented)... What is this, Britain’s got talent but it’s just passing through? Simon Cowell’s selective amnesia when it comes to talent shows makes Rupert Murdoch at Leveson look like a poster boy for Total Recall. Cowell remembers the dancing dogs but not Les Dawson, Victoria Wood, Lenny Henry, Marti Caine, Pasquale, Barrymore, Longthorne, Paul Daniels and Les Dennis who were discovered by New Faces and Op Knocks. (Mind you in fairness, I’d also forgotten Les Dennis.)

Irrationally hostile to comedians, BGT is top-heavy with dancers and singers – none of whom has impressed like Jaz Ellington or Becky Hill. Britain has got talent, and most of it’s on The Voice. We expect more from talent shows than naff turns, dancing dogs and clueless puffed-up judges. Yes Walliams winding up Cowell is fun, but if he thinks the Loveable Rogues are “like the Kinks” he needs his ears syringed. Although, in an era when ITV think Keith Lemon is Mr. Saturday Night and Rodney Marsh singing ‘Parklife’ while dogs jump over him is quality entertainment, then perhaps variety really is dead. Coming next? An Audience with that dozy git who sings ‘Girl On The Platform’ in the match ad. Probably.

HOT on TV: Barcelona v. Chelsea – drama of the week... Kim Bodnia (The Bridge)... Charles Dance (Game Of Thrones)... True Blood finale.

ROT on TV: Louis Walsh ‘gangsta rapping’ (Matt Lucas Awards)... Lip Service – no balls... bland Carmen Elektra on BGT – Cowell should drop her like hot a coal, or a lukewarm Joe McElderry.

IMAGINE Mary Whitehouse watching today’s TV: Vibrator classes on This Morning, “angry vaginas” on Embarrassing Bodies (and Jeremy Kyle)... it makes the stuff she campaigned against in The 70s look classy.

RANDOM irritations: Mark Lawson’s bleating voice – baa-baa-blah. Red Or Black coming back – it’s Runaround for the lobotimised. Stephen Fry being described as “the great” – no-one grates more. Clive Anderson singing – he brought new meaning to extraordinary rendition.

SMALL joys of TV: Roger’s acid trip (Mad Men). John Le Mesurier clips. Mary Beard. Pollyanna dressed Manga-style (Gadget Show). Sir Humphrey Wakefield (The Guest Wing) – a national treasure... in the sense that Time Team probably dug him up.

BBC2 antiques expert Catherine Southon is speaking fluent ‘goofs’ these days. On Wednesday, a trader asked her, “How long are we gonna schmooze?” Catherine replied: “As long as it takes to go down.” Well the show is called Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

CLIVE James liked to be called ‘wolf’ during his affair with ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ Leanne Edelsten. When she asked, “What’s the time, Mr Wolf?” The answer was always bedtime. It’s a fairytale romance - except Riding Hood always got eaten...

*CLIVE found fame as a TV critic. How comes he gets the girls? All I’ve got out of this job is a condition known in our circles as TV Critic’s Arse. Sadly in Nina Myskow’s case it developed above the shoulders.

*BREAKING news: towns Dull and Boring now officially twinned with ITV’s Vera.

*WHO else was disappointed by the Punch & Judy scene on EastEnders? The old Roxy would have gone straight for the sausage. And while we’re asking soap questions, why is bucket-gob Bianca so hard-up? She works, her lodgers work, she qualifies for child tax credits...

*CELEB Maths: Charles Manson + Catweasel = Russell Brand.

April 21. CLAIMING Jason King as the face of The 70s is as crazy as saying that every red-blooded bloke these days aspires to be Gok Wan. When everyone knows it’s Dale Winton... Novelist turned sleuth Jason was played on TV by the flamboyant Peter Wyngarde. He was so much of a style guru that the show was axed after one series.

Historian Dominic Sandbrook seems on safer ground when he says Marc Bolan represented “the biggest single change in masculine identity in a generation.” Except long hair on men was a sixties thing... Glam stars Bolan and Bowie may have flirted with bi-sexuality, but neither of them out-sold Slade (or Boney M for that matter.) The real male role models of The 70s were surely Bruce Lee, Dirty Harry, Rocky Balboa, Jack Regan, Lee Marvin, the Fonz, Muhammad Ali and George Best. It was the geezer decade!

Unlike Dominic, I was actually alive in 1970 and bought T. Rex’s first hit Ride A White Swan at the time. But Noddy Holder, Ozzy, Rod and Desmond Dekker had a much bigger impact on my teenage mates. If you’d asked us then who are gurus were, Lennon, Robert Plant and Jimmy Cliff would have been mentioned long before Bolan.

Everything about the series is skewered. Striking miners fighting for a living wage are bizarrely portrayed as pioneers of social aspiration. Eh? Britain being conned into joining “the Common Market” is inevitably presented as desirable and beneficial (the bog-standard BBC view). Sandbrook reckons the 70s “shattered the cosy post-war consensus.” When was that then? Not the 50s (Suez, Teddy Boys, CND) or the 60s (Grosvenor Square, satire, skinheads.) In reality, the decade saw the socially liberal upper classes imposing their views and values on the majority.

The facts may not fit Dom’s theories but that doesn’t make them any less true. On TV, the biggest hits of the day were Benny Hill, The Sweeney, Miss World, Mike Yarwood and To The Manor Born – none of which have yet featured. Python was brilliant but millions more loved Steptoe & Son. It’s easy to lap up the rush of easy nostalgia that this series triggers, but the thinking behind it is seriously questionable.

*70s Joys Sandbrook is likely to miss: Dave & Ansil Collins, Debbie Does Dallas, Budgie, Sabbath, The Comedians, Smokey Robinson, 3-2-1, Ian Dury, Kojak, Charlie’s Angels, white dog muck, the Banana Splits...

TOWIE is back, as loveable as Abu Qatada and about as believable as tabloid reports of Simon Cowell’s conquests. Gormless Charlie wanted to sketch Gemma wearing just a towel “to cover your modesty.” Who knew she had any? She certainly isn’t shy about their lack of lust. “If we don’t consume this relationship, then I better start consuming with someone else,” she said. Gem, no stranger to consumption, had spent the night with the wet berk. She’d felt something poking her in the back (a harpoon?). But nothing sexual had occurred. “You’ve got to start poking me in the front,” she moaned, before complaining that he hadn’t told her: “I wanna touch your noon.” But Charlie is “spiritual” - possibly Essex slang for “closeted” - and was much happier dancing with Gok-Wan-nabe Bobby. He’s certainly no artist. His portrait/scribble alone would have broken up most relationships. Maybe Gem’s orange glow temporarily blinded him. But hey, chins up, love, there’s always Little Chris. It’d be a high “noon” for him. He’d probably fall in. (And find the missing twins). Elsewhere, Arg has lost weight, Joey is still thick, and the show’s nowhere near as watchable without Mark and Amy.

MAD Men woke up last week as buttoned-up Englishman Lane fell out spectacularly with cocky Pete. Calling him a “grimy pimp”, he squared up to the little squirt in the boardroom. “Do you wanna take your teeth out or do you want me to knock them out?” Pete retorted. Lane put him on his back in round one. I’m not advocating violence, but boardroom clashes like this wouldn’t half liven up The Apprentice.

*PETE had taken Edwin, Lane’s client, to an up-market brothel. Ed’s wife later discovered the chewing gum the hooker had left under an intimate body-part. Let’s just say bubble gum would have made more sense – you have to blow that too.

HOT on TV: Smash (Sky Atlantic)... 2 Broke Girls (E4)... Gwendoline Christie (Game Of Thrones)... The Bridge (BBC4).

ROT on TV: Grandma’s House – laughter’s hearse... Titanic – it finally sank under the weight of heavy-handed dramatic irony... Matt Lucas Awards – proud winner of this week’s gong for biggest waste of air-time.

SEMI-reliable TV facts: 1) there isn’t a panel show on telly that wouldn’t be vastly improved by the permanent addition of Danny Baker. 2) Terry Alderton is the lost star of TV comedy. It’s about time a network found him. 3) Divine Women would double its viewers with the simple addition of contemporary goddesses: Tamsin Egerton, Kelli Giddish, Ola Jordan, Margot Robbie...

*DESPITE C4’s claims, the kangaroo is not one of nature’s giants. Interestingly though, the doe has three vaginas. No wonder Skippy looked knackered. He must have been at it left, right and centre.

*ON True Blood cop Andy was way-laid and seduced by a fairy in the woods – just like Hampstead Heath but with a girl. Before they made love, her finger lit up, but not as much as his eyes.

*RIP Corrie’s Betty. Betty Driver actually died seven months ago. Only Abu Qatada has had a longer goodbye.

*IAN gave Mandy the caff on EastEnders. Good choice. She’s perfect at making sandwiches. It’s the way she spreads ’em...

*MANDY’s menu. The Ian Beale – old goat’s cheese with an out-of-date cracker. The Heather Trott - a stone-cold dumpling with dead sheep’s eyes. The Carol Jackson – a game old bird with a bitter after-taste. Shirley Carter Toast – cold & hard. And Mandy’s very own come-to-bed pies...

RANDOM irritations: Titanic over-kill. Breivik getting air-time instead of electric chair time. Johnny P (Lotto). The 70s illustrating Ziggy Stardust with Bowie in a dress from The Man Who Sold The World. Talentless twerps getting through on BGT just for being camp.

SMALL joys of TV: Boardroom boxing (Mad Men). Yoren’s last stand (Game Of Thrones). Terry Duckworth’s return (Corrie). Reggae Britannia (BBC4). Bobby Ball in Not Going Out. Toots Hibbert (Ronnie Wood Show). A League Of Their Own. Eric ripping Roy’s heart clean out of his chest on True Blood... and drinking from it. Cheers!

SEPARATED at birth: Dominic Sandbrook and Stratford ‘Charlie Barlow’ Johns, one with an intimate knowledge of the 1970s, the other some Oxbridge smart-arse. Runners-up: Chelsee Healy (Celebrity Juice) and Star Trek’s Lt Worf.

*NO wonder Jessie J likes the swivel chairs on The Voice, they swing both ways too.

*HEARD on Four In A Bed: “Jules may prefer a chipolata, but in the kitchen, Blossom is struggling to get her bangers out.”

April 15. BBC2 broadcast Simon Amstell’s comedy DVD Do Nothing Live last week. It certainly did nothing for me. Neurotic and self-obsessed; this angst-ridden, hour-long out-pouring was more suited to a psychiatrist’s couch than the stage. Maybe it’s a new form of entertainment – stand-up therapy. But it was about as funny as seeing your Mum displaying intimate sores on Embarrassing Bodies.

Comedy is in Simon’s blood, unfortunately so is anaemia. He was sharp once, shooting out wicked put-downs on Buzzcocks. Now he just wants to share his pain. He couldn’t get more up his own arse with yoga training and a bucket of lube.

Clearly someone must care about Amstell’s inadequacies, and his frustrations and the fact that he once mooned his own Gran. But millions more don’t. And laughs are increasingly hard to come by. For every Lee Mack or Mickey Flanagan there are ten telly comics who are tediously right-on. Most are lazy, smug, stuck-up and plain unfunny. No show will ever be made celebrating the comic genius of Sue Perkins. Or Stephen K. Amos. Or Watson & Oliver (aka What’s On The Other Side?)

Comics appear on everything from travel shows to Question Time. Stephen Fry even pops up in those Holidays At Home adverts. He certainly worked his magic on me. I’ve just booked Florida.

But where is the mainstream alternative to this cosseted new establishment? Not on The One & Only Des O’Connor. Des was renowned for breaking down-to-earth comedians, like Jethro and potty Joe Pasquale. Wouldn’t ITV viewers rather have seen them than Matt Lucas plugging his latest flop show? Or shouty Rhod Gilbert who clearly didn’t want to be there and went down like Alan Davies in The Kop. At least Des’s opening monologue recalled a time when TV comedy wasn’t as posh as the Cabinet and as coarse as P12 sandpaper.

*THE bookings for The One & Only were borderline insulting. Matt Lucas, Katherine Kelly, Olly Murs... a bit of a come-down from when Mr. O’Connor shared his sofa with Prime Ministers and Hollywood royalty. The big guest was Paul O’Grady – the man ITV gave Des’s chat-show to! That must have cheered the old boy up. Badly researched and lazily assembled, this felt more like an okay edition of Des & Mel than a genuine tribute.

*MISSING from the Des show: international stars, class, Morecambe & Wise insults, Freddie Starr, Stan Boardman’s “Fokke-Wulf” gag...

*MAD Men ended with the Crystals’ ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’, one of the most romantic songs of all time, according to Dennis Waterman.

*WHAT next after Len Goodman’s Titanic? The Hindenberg with The Chuckle Brothers? Stavros Flatley on the Euro?

*BIG shocks on EastEnders as Heather’s funeral took place with absolutely no help from Cranes Direct. The wrong person getting nicked for her murder was less surprising, being twist number 47 in the soap book of clichés. Still it’s always a pleasure to see Shirley Terrahawk, a woman as sweet-tempered as a wounded grisly, on the rampage. Her rival in the scary stakes is Derek, although he has the face of a Saint... Bernard. And Shirley is better hung.

*BYE Hev, wherever you are now you’re stiffer than Ian will ever be. If Ben hadn’t done you in, the VAT on hot sausage rolls surely would have done.

*WHAM songs they should have played: ‘At Your Wake, Before You Go-Go...’

TV antiques shows are good for two things: seeing the faces of greedy snobs drop when they’re told their heirlooms are worth sod-all, and the goofs. Like Clive Stewart-Lockhart studying a portrait of an angelic beauty and declaring “The only problem is she has definitely been touched up.” And David Batty describing a bowl’s pineapple-shaped lid as “the most magical, wonderful knob I have ever seen.” On Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, Craig Revel Horrid, no stranger to wonderful knobs, did manage “I’ve fallen in love with your delicious box.” But the series doesn’t really deliver celebs (Ann Widdecombe? Kirsty Wark?), or antiques (mostly tat) or genuine disappointment. Kirsty losing £18 on Edwardian pressed flowers is not riveting telly. Especially as Widdy is the one with the dried arrangement.

*THE show started badly. One vintage car broke down. And the first time Widdecombe walked into an antiques shop, they tried to keep her as stock.

HOT on TV: Patrick Malahide (Game Of Thrones)... Claire Danes (Homeland)... Long Lost Family – moving, gripping, surprise-surprising.

ROT on TV: Titanic - messier than Gunther von Hagens’s dustbin.. .Matt Lucas Awards – Room 1-O-dumb... made In Chelsea – posh tosh... Celeb Antiques Road Trip – it’s two bob and I’d want change from that.

MY ears! When Laura Hogg described her second-hand shop as “shabby chic” on The Apprentice, I heard it as shag-a-sheep, an option more suited to remote rural regions of North Wales. Jane McEvoy got the boot. She was pushier than a rugby scrum-half, but only raised a tenner, which wouldn’t even get you a leg-over of lamb in Llandudno.

*IMAGINE Frankie Boyle presenting Long Lost Family: “Your mum gave you away thirty years ago. You know why? She couldn’t stand you, you boring little git.” *ALAN Davies said sorry for upsetting Liverpool fans. Still no apology for The Brief or Teenage Revolution...

*THE main thing Britain’s Got Talent is short of isn’t kindness, it’s talent.

*WAS Graeme Garden bored on The Matt Lucas Awards, or just ashamed to be in such a lightweight rip-off Room 101?

*YOU know what I’d put in Room 101? Room 101.

*UP in Salford, BBC Breakfast is rapidly working through local heroes: Shaun Ryder, Rowetta, the Inspiral Carpets. Singing them out tomorrow? Hilda Ogden’s headscarf.

RANDOM irritations: Trenton Oldfield. John Sergeant joylessly trampling over Spike Milligan’s magic. This Is Lionel Richie – virtually identical to 2006’s An Audience With Lionel Richie. Poncy grub on Olympics-themed Great British Menu – would hungry Olympians really fancy tucking in to beetroot meringue?

TV questions: why no mention of Goons co-writer Larry Stephens in Perspectives? Didn’t anyone at BGT notice that fresh new talent the Zimmers had a Top 30 hit five years ago? Are Ian Beale’s chips as limp and soggy as he is?

*HERE’S how bad Derek was: halfway through I switched it off and put on a DVD of Life’s Too Short. Fans say, “Well, It was only a pilot.” Yeah, but so was Baron von Richthofen.

SMALL joys of TV: The Guest Wing. Chabris, a contestant on Perfection – her chest certainly was. Lee Nelson. Scott Quinnell’s hard-hitting guide to rugby tackles on School Of Hard Knocks – “Quinnell,” was very nearly my reaction too.

*MEMO to Will.I.Am: 2002 called, they want their clothes back.

*MEMO to ITV: An Audience with Engelbert. No-brainer.

Separated at birth: Corrie fireman Paul Kershaw and Deaf Havana singer James Veck-Gilodi? One deft with his hosepipe, the other a saddo soap character...

April 8. THE biggest creep on TV right now is Joffrey Lannister, the twisted boy-king in Game Of Thrones. Imagine an evil Aled Jones, or a young David Platt with the power of life and death over everyone around him. He’s like Ben Mitchell with a personality. Series two of this spell-binding saga opened with Joff the Toff smirking as one knight throttled another for his amusement. He then had his men try to bump off a fat bloke by pouring a barrel of wine down his gullet. “You can’t,” said his unhappy wife-to-be - although I may have misheard that.

Sansa is not so much his fiancée as his prisoner. Last season, Joffrey had her Dad, Ned Stark, executed, which was doubly gutting as he was played by the great Sean Bean. Now Ned’s son Robb, the new King of the North, is riding south for vengeance. In Game Of Thrones, however, nothing is quite that simple. There are seven squabbling dynasties in this mesmerising mediaeval fantasy. It’s the dramatic equivalent of grand master level chess. Think Merlin with the blood and brains of the Sopranos, and enough shagging to make a Hobbit faint. Episode one had a whore being taught how to fake an orgasm, which I believe is how Ian Beale’s Mandy got started.

Great characters abound, particularly Tyrion the dwarf, a brothel-loving booze-hound who is sly, funny and cleverer than everyone around him. Then there’s his sister Cersei, Joff’s Mum. Sansa’s younger sister Arya, who is on the run dressed as a boy. And exiled princess Daenerys currently stranded with her tribe and her baby dragons in the cruel, soul-destroying desert (the Westeros equivalent of Jaywick Sands.)

Thrones is based on the books of George R.R. Martin. It’s not easy viewing. There’s more to take in than Diversity’s washing in a thunder storm. But the key fact is sadistic brat-king Joffrey shouldn’t be sitting on the Iron Throne because his father wasn’t King Robert at all but his Mum’s brother, Jaime. The kid’s a weasel-eyed inbred. The King had bastards of his own – many of them massacred last week King Herod style. His own brother Stannis is one of the many out to off Joff. He’s allied with Melisandre, a mighty priestess with a hands-on relationship with her god. Unlike Titanic, how it will end is anyone’s guess. But this show grips like Barlotelli’s mitts on a passing hooker.

*CAN you die from drinking a barrel of wine? To Carla Connor that’s a pre-pub livener.

TO EastEnders where there’s more chance of Heather Trott rising again than Ian Beale. When he turned down Mandy’s herbal Viagra, she furiously told him to “Get a grip” – although I’m not sure how that’d help her... It’s not the first time the chip shop boss’s sausage has failed to satisfy. Does he really need Viagra, though? One glimpse of Kim’s wobbling cleavage would be enough for most blokes.

*MANDY wants excitement yet lives with Ian. That’s like craving laughter and working in BBC1’s comedy department.

*NEXT week: Heather’s funeral – the other million pound drop.

*GOOD to see little Gita Kapoor on Silent Witness. She never actually left Walford; she just slipped down the back of the sofa.

IN Once Upon A Time, a jealous witch put a curse on Snow White and Prince Charming, doing away with all of their happy endings. Experts call this the EastEnders curse. She banished the fairy tale characters to “somewhere absolutely horrible” – modern day USA. They now live in Storybrooke, Maine, with no knowledge of who they really are. Only Snow White’s daughter can lift the curse. Fast forward to Emma (Jennifer Morrison), one puss I’d like to see in boots, who has grown up in the real world. Blonde Em is suitably cynical when Henry, the son she gave away, arrives to reveal her destiny. His adoptive Mum turns out to be a) Storybrooke’s mayor and b) the evil old witch. Uh-oh. Robert Carlyle sparkles as Mr. Gold aka Rumpelstiltskin. And if they need a frog to kiss, Gordon Watson from Four Rooms is available.

*WHEN they find out what’s happened to them, I bet the seven dwarves will all be Grumpy.

HOT on TV: Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic)... Once Upon A Time (C5)... Spartacus finale.

ROT on TV: the Easter schedules... Morgan Spurlock’s New Britannia – Spurlock’s old burlocks, more like... Titanic – although in fairness to ITV, Upstairs Downstairs sunk much faster.

ON The Voice, the judges sit with their backs to people making snap decisions based on limited information. A lot like taxi drivers, except most cabbies have got better taste. And you’d have to leave the meter running for months to rack up the wages these clods are on. Last week they turned down Shansel Huseyin because they couldn’t see her. So come on Jessie, tell us again how “It’s not what you look like.”

*WHY aren’t more people watching Mad Men? This may be a heretical thought, but maybe if a bit more happened...

WHEN Our Food’s Alys Fowler described marsh samphire as “a mouthful of soft, warm salty flesh” why did I think of Tulisa’s sex tape? Other TV questions: can we watch The Apprentice’s condiments challenge on BBC ketch-up? On Titanic, will John Batley drag himself up on deck, or stick with the suit and tie?

*LOSING your memory must be terrible. For instance, the Corrie writers have clearly forgotten they’ve done Alzheimer’s before, and better, with Mike Baldwin.

*SAD to read about Dannii Minogue’s ‘love split agony’. Cystitis must be an absolute nightmare.

*THEY say Cockney rhyming slang is dead. Samantha Brick proves otherwise.

*IN fairness to Sam, she scrubbed up well on The Undateables.

Random irritations: The BBC cancelling Wipe-Out and commissioning more Watson & Oliver. Corrie’s impending Rita Sullivan kidnap (give me strength). Dull bookings on You’re Fired. The sad state of January Jones on Mad Men – wo-ah Fat Betty, bam-a-lam...

SMALL joys of TV: Ashur losing his head – literally, on Spartacus. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion. Library inspector Mr Bookman (classic Seinfeld). Carrie’s unique approach to debriefing her target (Homeland).

SEPARATED at birth: Blakey and Carol McGiffin? One famous for their grumpiness and fine moustache; the other a character in On The Buses.

*BBC1 scheduled Sexism In Football against ITV’s Champions League highlights. Gee, I wonder which one footie fans watched.

*ANOTHER set-back on the sport sexism front: unfortunately Clare Balding counts as just another white male.

*ODD how many TV names sound like TOWIE cosmetic procedures: Anita Rani, Hrach Titizian... Even Brian Wankum finds them funny.

*Potty plasterer Zipparah stormed BGT with his zany ‘Where’s me keys, where’s me phone?’ song. Over on The Voice, though, the dithering coaches made me ask, where’s me remote, where’s me will to live?

BECKY on Come Dine With Me was talking about a rival’s serving style when she observed: “I think Johns more of a ‘squirt all over’ kind of man, I just like it on the side.” Chance would be a fine thing.

April 1st. WELL there’s something we didn’t know about the Titanic – before it sank, it stank. ITV’s dull new Sunday night drama is so full of creeps that viewers who haven’t already jumped ship are cheering on the ice-berg. The dialogue is clunking, the plot is so-what and the biggest mystery to date is Celia Imrie’s accent. Even the disaster has been stripped of its impact because we’ll see it happen every ruddy week. The ship goes down four times, a lot like Roxy Mitchell on a first date.

As we know the story already, we really need to care about the characters. Good luck with that. Flawed Lord Manton may be okay but he’s no Earl of Grantham. His wife Countless Louisa is an ocean-going snob and his daughter Georgiana is a rather gutless suffragette - unlike his lawyer who’s more of a suffering git, henpecked by his uppity missus Muriel. His Lordship has a “grubby little secret in Dulwich”; his wife is the mistress of the withering put-down. She disses Lady Duff Gordon as “a seamstress with an eye to the main chance”, and says of a rich man’s bit of fluff: “No-one is more morally indignant than a beauty the wrong side of forty.” Would you care if any of them drowned? No. (Although I would be on stand-by for kiss of life duties for sexy stewardess Annie.)

Written by Julian Fellowes, the show has inevitably been dubbed Drownton Abbey and Downton-On-Ice, but it lacks the trademark Fellowes charm. Even his badinage fails to sparkle. The dialogue is largely functional, telling us who people are. Or else it drowns us in dramatic irony: “There are davits for 32 lifeboats, why haven’t we used them?”, “The Germans do not want a war...” etc.

James Cameron’s movie was powered by romance; Fellowes is back on his class hobby horse. The fatal flaw being most British toffs wouldn’t have been seen dead on the Titanic, they cruised on Cunard. Here, there are bad nobs, and good nobs, and also the likelihood of a good nobbing (Harry and Georgiana); also, betrayal, cowardice and jewellery theft. But at heart the show remains a ‘who’ll-snuffit?’ It’s hard to see whose boat this is going to float.

*LINUS Roache plays Lord Manton. Did Dad William give him any tips for the role? He’s gone down on some old tug-boats in his time.

THEY had to design new household gadgets on The Apprentice. The fellas went for a midget-sized bin which pulverised left-over grub. But their other idea had more mileage – washing up gloves with a sponge on one hand and a scourer on the other. No use in the kitchen but what a boon to the S&M trade. The women came up with a bath splash screen, which Jane reckoned would shift a million units. High street chain buyers ordered slightly fewer: none. The ensuing boardroom bitch-fest was painful – largely because squawking Jenna sounds as soothing as Vera Duckworth with cystitis passing water in a field of thistles. Maria got the boot, mostly for kipping on the job, although in fairness, it’s hard to keep your eyes open with that much eye-shadow on. I’ll miss her. She was like Stacey Solomon without the lobotomy.

*AZHAR likened himself to “the killer whale of the sea world”, as opposed presumably to all those land whales you see hanging around inner city street corners slurping cheap cider. Why though? “Because I’m intelligent, I’m polite and I’m quite nice.” Ah yes, the killer whale, renowned for its good manners. “But put me in a business environment and I’m aggressive...” Hmm. Would Shamu be much cop in the boardroom? They’d need an awful lot of space for his tank...still at least they’d finally have a use for those splash screens.

*AZHAR says people call him a “master puppeteer.” Well, half right, pal.

AH, Mad Men, such suits, such style, such sexism...Everyone pretends to be so PC these days, yet when someone comes along who isn’t – Gene Hunt, Don Draper, Roger Sterling – we idolise them. The show’s return was full of small joys, not least bad-man ad-man Don getting turned on by Megan cleaning in her smalls (almost as steamy as Carrie and Nicholas’s backseat car encounter on Homeland). My questions: what was more misjudged, the surprise party or Megan’s sizzling public rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou? Where’s Betty? And will Joan’s absent husband work out the kid’s not his before he goes grey at four, pours himself a Bourbon and slaps his teacher’s arse?

HOT on TV: Mad Men... One Night... Jessica Hynes... Maria Doyle Kennedy (Titanic)... new Dexter (FX)... Homeland... 30 Rock (ComCen).

ROT on TV: Titanic - sinking again... Touch – doesn’t add up... White Heat – tepid, clichéd, and like our petrol stations, running out of gas.

*KEN Barlow left Deirdre on Corrie. Makes sense. There’s no chemistry left in their relationship. Just archaeology. Mind you, if Ken is serious about making a clean break from his past, how about giving the Moody Blues back their hair?

*ODD that none of the 1,000 women Bill Roache slept with has come forward to tell their story. It’s almost as if they’re ashamed.

*NEW Cameron pasty scandal! The filling? Rebekah Brooks’s horse!

*SIMON Cowell found a crazy woman armed with a brick in his toilet. See that’s what happens when you won’t take Cheryl’s calls.

WHY pretend Just a Minute has never been on TV before when there were three shots at it in the 90s? It didn’t work then for the same reason it doesn’t work now: it’s a radio show! They haven’t added any visual elements (like an on-screen clock, or the scores...), plus the panellists are over-rated, over-familiar and smug.

*SO Walford Social Services have left baby George with Phil (ex-con, alky, recent crack addict), Shirley the Terrahawk (child deserter) and Ben (personality-free murderer). Yep, sounds about right.

*HEVVER’S corpse? That’s with C5’s Big Body Squad.

RANDOM Irritations: the inexcusable absence of January Jones from Mad Men. Kerry Katona’s laugh. Lord Sugar failing to sing: ‘Maria – I’ve just sacked a bird called Maria.’

SMALL Joys of TV: Harry Hill’s TV Burp finale. The old TV ads running during Mad Men – everything from Captain Birdseye to Tony Hancock going to work on an egg. Archive Doors footage (BBC4). Facejacker.

SEPARATED at birth: Jonathan from Britain’s Got Talent, and Hurley from Lost. One a perplexed fat man trapped in purgatory, the other a character in a US drama. Runners-up: goalie Christian Abbiati and Dobbie from Harry Potter.

*GOOF of the week involved Tulisa’s sex tape row. One of her mates told Heat magazine that she “needs time to get her head straight.” Yet from what I could see, the head was absolutely fine.

*Another good goof got an airing in a Celeb Family Fortunes repeat. Heavenly Holly Willoughby was talking about a hand-warmer she was wearing in a childhood photo when she goofed: “Do you like my little muff?”

On a personal note, it was great to see Denise Pearson on The Voice last night. I met her and her family in 1986, at the height of Five Star mania. She’s a great talent, and her Dad, Buster, who played guitar with Jimmy Cliff, Otis Redding and Desmond Dekker was, and no doubt is, a top man. I wish her well.