BUSHELL ON THE BOX
April 26. Dark days on Poldark as Ross got through an entire episode without once taking off his shirt.
A nation mourns. Well at least the female half does.
Funny how it’s okay for women to drool over a hot bloke but shocking sexism the other way round... Presumably that’s why BBC1 cast flat-chested actresses as the leading ladies.
The only cuddly wench was Keren, a wanton strumpet who’d flattened more hay than Seabiscuit.
The shameless hussy inspired Dr Dwight to skip the examination and go straight to the malpractice. (Dwight’s the good doc; his quack rival Dr Choake couldn’t cure ham).
“You have made me whole again,” she told him coquettishly. Well with a woman like that just the once would have been a waste.
Keren’s husband Mark was so gutted he accidentally broke her neck. So Ross helped him leg it before Dwight was struck off, or more likely struck often.
In truth I’m more gutted about Jud. The world’s worst servant got the tintack just for drinking himself bandy on his master’s brandy and dissing him to Demelza.
We may never hear his colourful Cornish cobblers again, which I think you’d agree t’int right, t’int fair, t’int fit, t’int proper...
Poldark has accelerated from soapy drama to must-see old tosh over the weeks.
Even though we knew that Ross’s idiot cousin Francis would always muck up, horsey Elizabeth would constantly regret being married to the pillock and “ignorant troll” Demelza would blossom...
It was all going so well too, until she helped Verity elope with Captain Blamey.
Francis got so het up he told slippery banker George Warleggan the names of all Ross’s investors. (That’s the same George who wants to get his Warleggan over with Elizabeth).
The Warleggans aren’t so much the bank that likes to say yes as the bank that likes to say “squirm you stinking peasants”. Much like today.
Now Poldark’s copper mine faces ruin. Can he ever forgive Demelza? Should he? It’s Cornwall’s blackest hour since the Camelot eclipse.
Ross has already lost his first love, and poor fever-ridden Jim. Will he lose his marriage and his business as well?
Put it this way, there were seven books...
BALLOT Monkeys prides itself on being topical satire written right up to the wire. Yet somehow they managed to miss out headlines-hogging Nicola Sturgeon altogether.
This political sitcom is set on election battle buses staffed by inept nitwits, snobs, numpties and cynical spin doctors.
Labour party workers wondered if they’re allowed to mention Miliband and added risotto to the list of food he’s not allowed to eat in public.
The Lib-Dims were portrayed as doomed losers, useless and aloof (although Lord Rennard was pretty touchy-feely by all accounts).
And the Tories made sure none of their candidates stood underneath Exit signs. No Greens yet, presumably they’ll campaign on push-bikes.
The show lacks the sharpness and rage of The Thick Of It. The funniest moment was Hugh Dennis’s Boris Johnson rant, although I’m not sure why a Tory would run down his party’s best asset.
Real politicians are unintentionally funnier and infinitely more shifty.
EYE, eye... gruesome scenes on Gotham as sexy villainess Fish Mooney gorged out her own left eyeball with a spoon.
I didn’t see that coming, and from now on neither will she.
Only Alfred the butler could tell us if this was the correct spoon to use for self-mutilation...
Fish is being held in mad scientist Dr Dulmacher’s basement, where she’d orchestrated a prisoners’ revolt. The manager gave her a choice: let us harvest your eyes or we’ll kill you.
Fish made a choice of her own – and then stomped her eye flat.
Cynics accuse Gotham of cranking up the horror to cover flimsy plots. But there are so many joys in this pre-Batman saga, it doesn’t need to.
As well as Sean Pertwee as Alfred, it’s tough not to love hard-bitten detective Harvey Bullock who helped himself to a bottle of pop from a fridge that also housed a villain’s corpse.
Partner James Gordon shot him a disapproving look. “What?” Bullock shrugged. “If I don’t drink it, forensics will.”
HOT on TV: Sabrina Bartlett (Poldark)... Peter Kay’s Car Share (BBC iPlayer)... Inside Number 9... Person Of Interest (C5).
ROT on TV: The Delivery Man – laboured... Autopsy, The Last Hours Of Robin Williams – revolting voyeuristic tat... Olympus (Spike) – blood & bore... Safe House – slow and sloppy, more like sh*te house... Tatau – ta-ta.
ANY vestige of credibility C5’s Greatest Stand-Up Comedians might have had fell apart when you realised who they left out – Max Miller, Chris Rock, Jim Davidson, George Carlin, Mike Reid... I could go on.
Jo Brand was at 9 – ludicrously higher than Robin Williams, Les Dawson, Frankie Howerd and Bill Hicks. I suppose we should be grateful Sue Perkins and Stephen K. Amos weren’t 1 and 2.
*ISN’T WIA basically the BBC saying “We’re crap and we know we are”? Not so funny when we’re footing the bill.
Of course it misses the smug arrogance of senior bosses, and their utter contempt for the English working class.
*THINGS I’d like to hear on Masterchef: 3) Cooking doesn’t get more tedious than this. 2) Winning this show would make no difference to my life whatsoever. 1) I don’t fancy cooking tonight, let’s get a take-away.
*BRITAIN’S bingo halls are said to be awash with cocaine. Tsk. David Platt gets everywhere. Platt’s latest scheme was to plant drugs on a drug dealer. Smart.
Corrie plot-lines continue to underwhelm. Poor Les Dennis is surrounded by people lying and deceiving him. It must be like being married to Amanda.
*ROSIE Mac will body double for Emilia ‘Mother of Dragons’ Clarke on Game Of Thrones. Not sure about Duncan Bannatyne but I’m in.
SMALL Joys of TV: Tales From The Tour Bus (BBC4). Fail Army (Spike). Louis van Gaal’s post-match interview with Guy Mowbray. Monty Don “pricking out” on Gardeners World, you can think that involved seedlings if you like.
RANDOM irritations: Action scenes shot entirely in the dark. The UK’s chronic Eurovision entry. The traditional absence of proper St George’s Day programmes. EastEnders turning Grandad Jim’s funeral into yet another misery marathon.
SEPARATED at birth: Amanda Holden and Cersai Lannister... one a far-fetched self-centred tyrant who deserves to be brutally toppled, the other a character on Game Of Thrones.
*WARWICK Davis: “I’ve never really fitted in at Tupperware parties. I’ve come close, but never managed to get the lid closed”.
*RANDOM unpleasantness: that dog who crashed a tractor on the M74, was it Khloe Kardashian?
KATHERINE Southon was examining vintage flying gear on Bargain Hunt when she sighed:
“I like the helmet. Ooh, it feels lovely.” You’ve gotta love a good goof.
April 19. Some nice moments on ITV’s new satirical puppet show Newzoids, particularly the SNP version of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles, with Sturgeon and Salmond bawling “Sod the English!”
Though that’s probably too close to the truth to qualify as comedy.
The sharpest line came from Obama: “I’ve made history too, I’m the only black man in America to have successfully run twice... without being shot in the back by a cop”.
Like Spitting Image, the show mainly targets politicians, celebs and the long-suffering Royals. The Queen was re-imagined as Mrs. Brown in Mrs. Crown’s Boys, being visited by “the fecking Kents”.
“There’s no need for that sort of language,” said Philip. “I mean the Duke and Duchess of Kent,” Her Maj replied.
The political gags were lazy, first thought stuff. Cameron was portrayed as a clueless toff, Miliband as an incompetent buffoon (I’m A Catastrophe... Get Me Out Of Here) and Clegg as an abused spouse.
In reality, Clegg and Harman are as posh as Cameron, while Miliband’s love-life revelations are far more interesting (and topical) than last year’s bacon butty PR disaster. Just how many journalists are senior politicians shagging? Talk about embedded reporters! The Gary Barlow tax avoidance story was just as antiquated; and they didn’t even attempt to make the song sound like Take That.
Weakest elements were Kim Jong-Un (just wrong puns), the alleged Dec puppet and Andy Murray as a wedding night bedroom flop, which seemed as groundless as it was laugh-free. I suspect in real life the tennis ace served the missus right. He may even have left her seeded.
The best characters were angry Clarkson, big-head Jeremy Kyle and the Olivia Colman doll that wept like Chloe Sims in an onion-peeling contest.
I liked baby Prince George, infected with “commoner genes”, who demanded “an au pair with a big pair”.
Nigel Farage was portrayed as a beer swigging comedian. Hmm. If Nige did do stand-up, could it be any less funny than Jack Dee’s pointless Election Helpdesk?
At least he’d aim some zingers at areas trendy TV ‘satirists’ swerve, like EU corruption, climate change cobblers and carpet-chewing Islamists.
The closest Newzoids came was with their ISIL edition of Sun, Sea & Suspicious Parents: “Yusef is off to Syria...”
Elsewhere it was Christian-bashing as usual.
IT was a slow start on Game Of Thrones, only two deaths. But there was a lot to catch up on. This isn’t a show you can multi-task through.
Its plots and conspiracies make Lynton Crosby look like a clueless amateur, and they’ve got more incest, gore and whoring than Hollyoaks.
No-one is safe; no-one entirely “good”, but I’ve always rooted for the Starks, and brave Jon Snow showed his decency again by shooting Mance dead to spare him the agony of being burnt alive.
Other splendid characters include Tyrion, the bright, plucky heavy-drinking dwarf (a short with a taste for shorts), courageous tomboy Arya, and of course dishy Daenerys, the mother of dragons.
Once she seemed unstoppable but now, when she isn’t playing games of moans with her lover, Daenerys frets about losing control of her fiery WMDs (weapons of mythological destruction).
The show’s future is literally unwritten, as George RR Martin hasn’t finished the books yet, but let’s hope it ends painfully badly for cruel crackpot Cersei... And that we get to see a lot more of Missandei.
*OH dear, Daenerys is missing a dragon. Try looking on Loose Women, they tend to congregate there.
*UPDATE: Game of Thrones = appointment TV. Olympus = disappointment TV.
HOW was the BBC Leaders’ Debate representative of British political opinion? It was four shades of left versus Nigel Farage, with the women all singing off the same spin-sheet.
Why include Plaid Cymru, backed by one in ten Welsh voters, but not the Democratic Unionists? These debates should be run like the FA Cup, one-to-one matches with losers eliminated by phone vote en route to the final. At least that’d liven things up. Right now you can almost taste the public indifference in the air.
HOT on TV: Daredevil (Netflix)... Game Of Thrones (Sky At)... Mackenzie Crook, Ordinary Lies... The Jinx (Sky At)... Breaking Bad re-runs (Spike).
ROT on TV: The Delivery Man – comedy’s midwife crisis... Skint – poor show... Olympus (Spike) – gods help us... Lip Sync Battle (Spike) – hey, LL Cool J, guess which two words I’m mouthing.
THINGS we learnt from Ninja Warrior: women are far less accomplished at the log grip, men are natural curtain sliders and you need strong legs for a jump hang...
Expect Keith Lemon’s take on all that in due course.
The show is part Wipe-Out, part Gladiators’ Eliminator. The Yanks take it more seriously than we do and have extra challenges including swing jumps and a ring toss... and there we are back with Lemon.
MORE whinging and sulking on The Island; it’s like the worst spring break ever. On the blokes’ isle, Barney caught and barbecued an iguana. On the women’s one the two teams finally and tearfully reunited. Yawn. How much better would this series be if there were also people hunting them? (And maybe that big smoke monster from Lost)
*COOKING an iguana upset twitter twerps. How many of these moaners eat burgers and KFC? Hypocrites!
*CAN Don Draper still be described as going through a midlife crisis on Mad Men? Isn’t it more accurately a whole-life crisis?
MYSTERIES: at the Oliviers, how did Angela ‘Jessica Fletcher’ Lansbury stop herself from investigating Nicole Scherzinger’s cold-blooded murder of the song Memory from Cats? Why did Lenny Henry describe the Carole King stage musical Beautiful as a “bio-pic”, has the Aldwych been converted to a multiplex?
*WAYS to improve First Dates: 1) A Desmond Morris-style zoological voice-over. 2) Only book pathological liars. 3) Send in Red Ed...
*WAS Chief Inspector Baker really played by David Threlfall on Code Of A Killer? He looked and sounded like Jasper Carrott to me...
SMALL Joys of TV: Drake’s reaction to Madonna’s kiss. Virgin Money’s skanking pigeon. Piers Morgan making Caroline Lucas go green around the gills on Good Morning Britain. C4 telling us jockey A.P. McCoy was “having his girth checked” at the Grand National.
RANDOM irritations: Jack Dee’s Election Helpdesk, bad guests, trivial questions, a rotten premise – Jack’s the one who needs help. Natalie Bennett, she makes Alfie Moon sound financially astute. The Secret Life Of The Pub – watered down and as doctored as TOWIE.
SEPARATED at birth: Newzoids Prince George and Rob Beckett? One a noisy oik who horrifies snobs... and so’s the other one.
PAUL Martin was discussing glass-blowing on Flog It when he gasped:
“It’s getting bigger and bigger, it’s getting harder to get out of that glory hole!” Your minds disgust me.
April 12. What drives a bloke to endure the supreme survival challenge of The Island with Bear Grylls? Building site manager Paul gave us a clue. "I've got a new-born baby at home", he said, adding: "I want to get away from day-to-day bullsh*t". Hmm. Maybe try a different milk formula...
This year a team of men are pitted against a team of women on two rival Pacific islands. Whining, bitching, and period pains were immediate factors – and that was just the fellas. God, they were useless. They took a day to start a fire, and three to nearly construct a shelter, despite having two builders on the firm. Well, you can't expect 'em to function properly without access to TalkSport and a kettle.
The builders fell out quickly. Moaning loner Andy, 51 going on 97, sulked when his bad ideas were over-ruled. Paul was sensible, organised and quite funny – describing old shoes washed up on the beach as "a bit last season" – but threw a strop when he overheard Andy running him down.
The resulting "handbags" squabble was embarrassing; kind of I see your negativity and raise you a pouty flourish.
Joe, 22, bottled out almost at once, whinging about his girlfriend (so why come?) and craving Margherita pizza. Good luck getting Dolminos to deliver there, mate.
It looked like Grylls was setting it up for the women to win. But no, if anything the female islanders were worse. They spent their first hour gassing on the beach, went hiking without water and got spectacularly lost. Hairdresser Jayde, 25, lived up to stereotypes and has already bailed out. But I like can-do Abby and won't be surprised if the women eventually triumph. This is Channel 4 after all.
How about having Shoreditch hipsters on the next series, debating whether limpets are gluten-free? How long would the vegans survive?
*C4 missed a trick with their casting. Seeing chubster Paul hacking away with his shirt off doesn't quite re-create the Poldark effect.
THE "big fat yes" is the Britain's Got Talent catchphrase this series. By coincidence, it's also Arg's nickname for Gemma on TOWIE. Ah, BGT. It's got chutzpah, egos and chest-beating self-belief. It's just the talent that's a problem... Unless flabby mixed-age women dancing in their smalls floats your boat; all very life-affirming I'm sure, like a charity calendar shoot with music, but I suspect the Ruby Red rabble's charm will wear off quicker than Cowell's breakfast botox. Once they've stripped off once, what more can they do? ITV also rolled out a deluded nitwit playing a comb. Wendy the talking dog (who obviously comes with a ventriloquist). An under-performing chicken... Yeah, don't call us. Singer Callum Scott, 26, got Cowell's golden buzzer pass to the semi-finals... but why isn't he on The X Factor? There are enough openings for vocalists on TV. How about finding some down-to-earth comedians, comic songwriters, or even semi-pro sword swallowers? (Not you, Amanda.) I liked the double-jointed contortionist who bent over backwards to entertain, and it's hard to fault this year's Welsh choir. They're 162 strong (even bigger than 2012's Only Boys Aloud) so the cost of touring alone means canny Cowell won't let them win.
FEW who witnessed Who'd Be A Billionaire on Sky Living will have failed to be moved by the plight of the super-rich. What a tear-jerker. The poor souls never stay in one place long enough to make any friends, apparently; and fret a lot about who's got the prettiest kids and the tastiest trophy wife. It's hell. But what to do? We can't have a whip-round for them; that'd only make things worse. Maybe we could take some unwanted gems off their hands. My sock drawer is probably safer than Hatton Garden these days anyway.
*TOP 3 billionaire complaints: 1) Russian oligarchs hurling enemies out your window at parties. 2) Bailed-out bankers spilling non-vintage champagne on your lizard leather Richelieu shoes.
3) Nimby neighbours kicking up a stink when you park your Trident missiles in the drive...
*HOW To Be A Young Billionaire? Dream up the next Candy Crush or a unique app. C4 followed Robyn Exton's successful launch of lesbian love app Dattch (not to be confused with Snattch, for shop-lifters, or Thattch, for syrups). GrowlR, for dating uglies, is only days away. I'm the poster-boy.
HOT on TV: Denise van Outen... Petra Mede... 1992 (Sky Arts)... Holly Earl, Ordinary Lives... Rebekah Staton, Raised By Wolves.
ROT on TV: Vera – plodding... Atlantis – sinking... Hole In The Road Inspectors – hole in the head commission... Fortitude – disappearing up its own ice-hole... The Clare Balding Show – duller than Aston Villa.
ON Vikings, nasty Norsemen raid England at will, helping themselves to whatever they fancy. Ragnar's crew fight and plunder by day and bonk and booze by night. They're basically the 9th century version of Man United.
*ADVERT: Were your ancestors raped, pillaged or slaughtered by marauding Vikings? Then you might be entitled to compensation. Contact Historical Claims 4 U. No win, no feast.
*SO Max cons Phil Mitchell out of his garage on EastEnders and in revenge Phil sends Denise van Outen to shag him... Hmm, I think I'm gonna nick his shed.
*I'M glad the soap has finally acknowledged John Barden's death. Poor grandad Jim. Only Enders could paint a man as a pervert for wanting sex with his wife on their wedding night.
A shame to lose Stan Carter, wonderfully brought to life and death by Tim West, though.
*FACT: most people in the O'Brien audience look like they're only there to establish an alibi.
*ARG'S list of sexual conquests: 1) Lydia 2) Gemma 3) Nanny Pat 4) Gemma again 5) A blow-up doll made entirely of meatballs...
SMALL Joys of TV: Oz re-runs (CBS Action). Gotham's Fish Mooney. John Oliver grilling Ed Snowden. The BBC News caption reading 'Hardon Collider restart'... which sounds like a game they play in the green room on the Graham Norton show.
RANDOM irritations: Endless documentary recaps of things we've only just seen. Over-blown backing music drowning out the dialogue whenever Banished gets dramatic – there's less racket at the Last Night of the Proms. Blair's shameless return.
*WELL they've had a chandelier from Hitler's bunker, so it's no surprise Antiques Roadshow got round to Chairman Mao memorabilia. No-one mentioned that the true price-tag was 70million dead.
THE week's top lookalike: pop star Sia and this mop – as spotted by Catherine Tate's Nan on Michael McIntyre's Easter special.
Runners-up: David Threlfall as CI Baker (Code Of A Killer) and Jasper Carrott. They even sound alike.
TV questions: why can't Vera afford another coat? What do Jihadi Brides do for Jihadi hen nights? A little light stoning perhaps?
Does anyone care about Faye's underage baby saga on Corrie? Even Sarah-Lou's all "been there, done that".
April 5. Noah was 499 years old when he started building The Ark, and 599 when he finished. BBC1's Noah had a similar uncanny ability to slow down time, and stretch it beyond all natural limits of endurance.
God, it was dull. Writer Tony Jordan turned the epic tale into a snail-paced soap. It was part Emmerdale, part laugh-free Life Of Brian with less meat than a vegan sausage.
There was more excitement when Faye's waters broke on Corrie.
Dramatically, it sank like a stone. The money shot – the flood itself – was thrown away in the final minutes, and we only saw the animals in silhouette. It was like Moby Dick without the whale, or Eden without the snake. David Threlfall played farmer Noah as a disoriented cross between Frank Gallagher and Catweazle. His kids all lived at home and bonked in the barn (very Cain Dingle).
The plot trod water until Ashley Walters turned up as an angel (!) who spaketh unto Noah about how money-lenders and war-mongers had buggered everything up. (I'm paraphrasing here)
Violence, arrogance and hate had poxed the world, all the youth cared about was partying and getting stoned... and the creator had had enough of it. Gulp. Sounds like we're due another flood...
The Old Testament God was angry and vengeful, like a heavenly Phil Mitchell. All were doomed – talk about rain stopping play – except Noah who was to be saved... Despite an unbiblical penchant for head-butting wrong'uns.
His mission was to build a 450ft long, three storey boat. Where he got the wood remains a mystery, along with how his wife had the foresight to throw in a Jaws reference: "I think I'm going to need a bigger hammer."
There was no attempt to explain why Noah's kids didn't age over the century the Ark took to build. And certainly no time to ponder where Noah found the kangaroos, how he coped with woodpeckers or why he bothered with the lemmings.
It was all harder to swallow than Jonah.
But I think I know what happened to the animal waste on Noah's floating zoo – all that poop on the poop deck. Tony Jordan has gathered it all up to keep for his next script...
*NOAH was 950 when he died. That's incredible, that's only two years younger than Brucie. His family were all Mancs. Made sense, they're naturally rain resistant.
MY review of ITV Leaders Debate can be found over at http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/ontheblog.htm
*ON EastEnders, Kat torched a mattress full of readies and Phil was throwing "monkeys" around. Money to burn, cash to splash... who writes this stuff, Ed Balls? I preferred the old Kat. When she set a mattress alight it was through friction.
*STAN'S dying, Kat tried suicide. This week, for light relief, Ebola!
JUSTIN Bieber's roast disappointed – there wasn't an open fire in sight.
True, some of the zingers stung. Actress Natasha Leggero claimed his fans were called Beliebers cos "it's politically incorrect to use the term retards." But there was little wit and no real shocks.
At Pamela Anderson's roast, when Jeff Ross asked "How is it possible that Kurt Cobain looks better than Courtney Love?", a room full of hardened comedians gasped.
While Amy Schumer once told Charlie Sheen: "You're like Bruce Willis, you were big in the 80s and now your old slot's being filled by Ashton Kutcher." Ouch. Kutcher replaced Sheen in Two & A Half Men, and Willis in Demi Moore's bed.
HOT on TV: Lennie James, The Walking Dead finale... Jessica Lucas, Gracepoint (ITV Encore)... Alyssa Sutherland, Vikings.
ROT on TV: Noah – didn't hold water... The Voice – Britain's dullest ever talent show... DCI Banks – ITV's latest gift to rhyming slang... Noel Fielding – all image, no laughs.
ITV'S O'Brien is supposed to be a serious debate show, so why book cocky reality show morons like Big Brother reject Winston Showan? Simple: the producers want to generate rows, not genuine discussion.
James O'Brien is a gobby git in a nondescript suit who resembles a rather grumpy tortoise. He has the stoop of a man twice his age, perhaps from the weight of all the tedious right-on opinions he's packing. Yes, he's sharp, and he can be funny. Just not in this format.
ON Ordinary Lies, Kathy's husband forgave her for cheating and she got away with impersonating a copper. Just as Tracy got away with drug trafficking and Marty didn't get sacked for faking his wife's death...
Moral? Lies work. Writer Danny Brocklehurst might be better employed as a political spin-doctor.
IT was Ferne vs Jake on TOWIE. And the gobby little airhead really rattled Ferne...Hard to say why the woman is single. Her last fella dumped her just for asking another bloke to shag her in the khazi. How old-fashioned! At least she isn't flashing her "perfect" bits like Gemma. That wasn't so much Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct as 16stone of baseless conceit.
*GEMMA still has a thing for Arg. She probably thinks the white powder round his hooter came from doughnuts.
*WE lost an hour on Sunday; two and a half if you watched The Ark.
SMALL Joys of TV: Demelza vs the snobs on Poldark. Liz Hurley in The Royals described as looking "like something out of Real Housewives of Cheshire" (the Siddiquis, Googlebox). Sean Pertwee as Gotham's Alfred.
RANDOM irritations: Eurovision overload. Comics who misguidedly think they're funny enough to just busk shows. Travel Man, if Richard Ayoade wants to moan about his holidays fair enough, but why are we paying for them?
TV Maths. Rita Ora + Howard the Duck = Daenerys, Game Of Thrones.
KATE Garraway was talking about feeding her cat on Good Morning Britain when she said:
"As long as he had a large portion, he was very happy."
I'm exactly the same.