BUSHELL ON THE BOX
April 30. Frank Rothwell is TV's answer to Fenton the Labrador. You hear his name shouted with impotent frustration on every episode of The Island with Bear Grylls. "Frank! Frank? FRANK!" they cry as he shoots off to do his own pig-headed thing. At one stage the 66-year-old Tommy Cannon lookalike was almost swept away by a rising tide... much like France's political elite. The Oldham old'un makes great telly, though. He may take cantankerous to an uncharted level (Franktankerous?), but his work ethic puts the youngsters to shame.
Bear split his islanders into two groups – over-forties and an 18-30 shower – and dumped them somewhere off Panama. It's the Generation Game meets South Pacific! While the oldies mastered fire, digs and a limpet stew on day one, the under-30s went without for three. Step forward electrician Ben, 29. To Frank, the cocky south Londoner was "that gobby bloke", while the posh kids called him "difficult" and "a poo face"... until he finally got the fire going on. Ben even caught a fish. But only the one. When the groups finally merged, it was because the youngsters couldn't cope. Most seem keener on sun-bathing than survival skills.
Frank, who'd married at 19, kicked off at "strong young men sat there with their fingers up their arses". He had a point. He tried to take Freddie, 18, under his wing but instead of drying out the fire wood the kid sloped off to go swimming. Consequently, the water wasn't properly boiled, most of them went down with the trots and Freddie quit. Same story with the women, the 23-year-olds look better in bikinis but they're as much use on that island as a Samson 6-in1 juicer. "Unemployed graduate" Jordan is treating the show as a holiday. "I'm used to being eaten," she said. "I'm used to not having any sleep at night... " It made her sound like Mel B's nanny.
Kaggy spent the first few days taking offence before finally spotting the turkey that became roast dinner. Convenient how it just came waltzing along though... in previous years, Bear's crew deliberately released tame pigs into the camp as not even C4 would screen the useless twerps starving to death. Capable, focused ex-cop Jane, 49, and serving detective Jacqui, 50, are far handier in a crisis.
HOMER Simpson once joined a secret society known as The Stonecutters. Although they claimed to "leave Atlantis off the maps" and "keep the Martians under wraps", the brethren seemed more concerned with drinking beer, shooting pool and eating ribs than running the world. Inside The Freemasons isn't crammed with power-mad plotters either. Seems modern Masons are just ordinary blokes with a thing for aprons who do a lot for charity. Maybe that's true, but as documentaries go this Sky1 series seems way too happy just to scrape the surface. We haven't even seen a goat yet. There's no mention of the villains who used Masonic contacts to "recruit corrupted officers" (2002's Operation Tiberius). Rotten apples? Possibly. Distinguished freemasons range from Kipling to Houdini, via Churchill, Buzz Aldrin, Walter Scott and Harry H. Corbett. Masonry inspired Mozart and Tolstoy, its phrases are part of the language – on the level, give him the third degree, all square etc. And a disproportionate number of brothers have been awarded the VC for gallantry. Masonic mysteries seem impenetrable to outsiders. Odds are Sky won't get past the third degree. But what happens in the 32nd? As Homer said "I saw weird stuff in that place... weird, strange, sick, twisted, eerie, godless, evil stuff. And I want in."
WAS there anyone watching Versailles who didn't look round for Del-Boy, Rodney and Granddad the minute that chandelier fell and shattered? The BBC drama may be as filthy as Car Share's back window but it teeters constantly on the edge of comedy. As well as copious porking, we get camp preening, duff dialogue, a sour-faced queen, more poison than a Peter Mandelson briefing, and Madame de Montespan with those nipples like Bedford starter buttons. It's Carry On Sun King! You half-expect to see Charles Hawtrey pop up as the Duc de Pommfrit. Comic highlight? Madame Monty giving birth to the King's bastard brat. At the crucial moment all the candles blew out, which suggests the baby wasn't the only thing leaving her body and the Palace chef serves way too many beans.
*MEMO to the Chevalier de Lorraine: Robert Plant wants his hair back.
*DID you see Philippe's poor gopher averting his eyes while his gay master cavorted with the Chev? I believe the technical name for this is Farroning.
HOT on TV: LINE Of Duty... Sinead Keenan, Little Boy Blue... Big Little Lies finale... Peri Baumeister, The Last Kingdom.
ROT on TV: HOSPITAL People – as funny as MRSA, do not resuscitate... Genius – brainless... The Boss – toss... Culinary Genius – over-done.
SHIRLEY flogged the Queen Vic freehold to pay for the dog's medical treatment on EastEnders. With business sense like that, she could be Shadow Chancellor. Shirl added forgery to fraud, assault, battery, infidelity and abandoning her kids. And we're supposed to like her!
*THEY had male strippers in the Vic. We can look forward to the soap's female strippers any time never.
*NOT much science on Einstein, but a fair bit of rumpo as the physicist got physical with Betty, his secretary. Talk about a beautiful grind. E = mc 2 still stands, but here the MC means Mucho Coupling, Many Conquests and/or More Crumpet. It's the general theory of willie-tivity.
*I'M on Vasilia's side regarding The Durrells. She wants them off her island, I want them off my telly. Keeley Hawes aside, who are we supposed to like? The grumpy daughter? The arrogant grown-up sons? Gertcha. Stick 'em on Bear Grylls' Island and we'll talk.
*27% of people would forgive their partner for burglary, according to Don't Ask Me, Ask Britain. Who's voting, Strangeways D Wing? "We're live on telly and our houses are empty," gulped Frank Skinner.
*RUTHLESS Roz Huntley has evaded AC-12 on Line Of Duty, but after that amputation she's pretty stumped... although not quite 'armless. She and husband Nick have a lot in common. They've both been stitched up.
SMALL Joys of TV: "Donald Trump" being swallowed whole by a giant shark on Bigheads. Gladiators re-runs (Challenge). The Supervet. Daliso Chaponda (BGT). Al Porter. Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Animals. Sign on a white van in Wigan on Car Share: No pies are left in this vehicle over night.
RANDOM irritations: Later's booking policy. EastEnders giving St George's Day a token, begrudged mention. The exposition-heavy script on Genius. People on The Chase who buzz in to pass or guess without checking if their team mates know the answer.
SEPARATED at birth: Patrick Stewart in drag and Vanessa Gold? One blonde but bloody scary, the other sparkled as Captain Picard.
APRIL 23. Horror. Disgust. Disbelief... Ellie Miller’s face spoke volumes as Leo Humphries confessed on Broadchurch. The serial rapist was proud of his sick crimes. He’d encouraged reluctant Michael Lucas, the teen he’d groomed with vodka and porn, to rape Trish Winterman after crowning her with a cricket bat. “It’s just sex,” he shrugged. We can only hope those same words are whispered sweetly in Leo’s ear by an 18stone psychopath on his first night in chokey.
If Olivia Colman was exceptional as Miller, David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy turned crabbiness into an art form. His face was frequently as clenched as a Corbynista’s fist. It’s just a shame plod missed all the clues. Pedro the dog found the sock used to gag Trish, venue owner Arthur Tamworth discovered the bat. Writer Chris Chibnall kept us guessing until the end – the main suspects were guilty only of being creepy. The weakest twist was Trish forgiving Ian, her weird cyber-stalking ex. As if!
TV is packed with pukka drama, from Peter Quinn’s heroic sacrifice on Homeland to Nicole Kidman’s sizzling sex scenes on Big Little Lies. Note to producers: none of them involve mumbling. By far the best is Line Of Duty. Thandie Newton is stunning as ruthless Roz Huntley. Cold, manipulative DCI Huntley killed Tim Ifield, framed Hana, and is running rings around the Met’s finest. In a nail-biting tour de force, the conniving cop out-foxed AC-12 Superintendent Ted Hastings, turning the tables on him spectacularly by using inside info supplied by her horny boss ACC Hilton. She led Hilton on, and then swerved his advances. Truncheon-teasing Roz also smacked her husband about, reducing the poor sap to tears.
As I predicted she used institutional sexism to cloak her crimes. But Roz’s mangled left wrist is her Achilles heel. Surely one of these highly trained sleuths will spot it? We still don’t know who Balaclava Man is (Jimmy Lakewell?), what happened to his baseball bat or what fresh shocks are in store – Maneet leaking to Hilton! Who saw that coming? ITV were banking on Broadchurch winning all kinds of awards, but like Spurs last weekend, the underdog could still outshine the favourites.
*WHAT could happen in a fourth Broadchurch series? How about: Hours after finally getting off with Miller, DI Hardy gets shoved off the cliff in mid-rant by... one of the poor sods whose ears he roasted this series... but who? Suspects narrowed down to half the town.
*THE biggest red herring was Mackerel Man. Where did he go? Back into the sea?
HOW did the cash-strapped Carters afford Sylvie’s funeral on EastEnders? Even if Billy Mitchell did it at mates’ rates, they won’t have seen any change out of £2grand. And these clots can’t even afford to fix the roof. It’s a wonder they didn’t see Sylv off in a cardboard box doused with half a can of lighter fuel. I liked Sylvie. She died as she lived, naked and on her back. Tragically, Sylv was electrocuted in the bath. At least they remembered to take Smoke On The Water off the jukebox for her wake. That was an odd affair. Just four old girls turned up. Even Mick and Linda swerved it. You’d have thought some of Sylvie’s gentlemen friends would’ve been queuing up for a farewell fondle... and I cleaned that up. *THE Carters are clearly jinxed as well as stupid. Only in Walford could rain wreck a ceiling in the driest week of the year. No-one has thought of temporary roof cover. A pair of Heather Trott’s old bloomers would surely suffice.
*SCORES more turned out for Fat Pat’s funeral. See, give the people what they want and they will come.
*SOME questions: how did Shirley the Terrahawk get out of clink so soon after battering her cellmate? How can Linda afford Woody? Why doesn’t Lady Di’s insurance cover her? And what would that vet charge to put them all down?
GETTING variety right is harder than juggling flaming clubs while riding a bike along a circus tightrope. It’s certainly beyond ITV. Variety is not umpteen singers plus a tap-dancer, or in the case of their Palladium show four musical acts, two pointless audience participation games and a magician. What happened to gag-telling comedians, impressionists, jugglers, ventriloquists, sword swallowers, acrobats and the rest? ITV filmed the incredible Chinese State Circus and dropped them for an a capella group... D’oh! They’re should have axed those lousy puppets instead. Bradley Walsh is terrific but why not let him open with jokes? Tara from the audience got the laugh of the night with her risqué “one finger or two” Twix aside. Brad’s dancers have the legs of the year.
*REPORTED Missing: Brian Conley, Billy Davro, Joe Longthorne and many more variety greats. Presumed unknown to 12-year-old ITV bookers.
ANOTHER week, another Bradley Walsh TV show. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to go home. I was half-expected to see him pop up in a Versailles orgy. There’s usually room for one more on top.
HOT on TV: ADRIAN Dunbar, Line of Duty... Sian Gibson, Car Share... Vikings... The Last Kingdom... Born To Kill... Broadchurch finale.
ROT on TV: THE Tonight At The London Palladium puppets – not so much Waldorf and Statler as Travelodge and Ibis... Micky Flanagan Thinking Aloud – think again... Debatable – isn’t it just?
WILL Peter Kay’s John ever make a move on Car Share’s Kayleigh? Even Elsie the transsexual Smurf could see the chemistry between them – and she was as trollied as a Benidorm hen party. “Ride him like you stole him”, Elsie advised Kayleigh. But they haven’t even kissed yet. Come on, son. It comes to something when an 85-year-old Chuckle Brother can pull and you’re still on the starting block.
*BBC1 took the Easter message seriously. On Bank Holiday Monday, they resurrected their normal daytime dross... But at least Easter got a mention, unlike St George.
*CYNICS quipped that Cannon & Ball found their original act on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. That’s ridiculous, they’re still using it.
*I LIKE the idea of living Mortgage Free with Sarah Beeny but I don’t suppose the missus would be too pleased.
*VEEP’s Selina on her South Bronx digs: “The worst place they’ve ever stuffed a President, and I’m including JFK’s coffin.”
SMALL Joys of TV: The camp lunacy of Versailles. Roz Huntley’s interview counter-attack on Line Of Duty. Billy Connolly clips – the funniest man alive. Murder In Successville. Pluto Shervington’s Dat bringing a brief snatch of sunshine to the EastEnders glum-fest. Emma on First Dates. Car Share pub, The Dog With Two Cocks.
RANDOM irritations: dull, insipid bands on Later. The glaring lack of St George’s Day shows. Our chronic inability to produce scathing TV satire. Bex’s bullies not being forced to endure a Game Of Thrones style naked walk of shame on EastEnders while getting pelted with rotting veg.
SEPARATED at birth: Royce Pierreson and Prince William? They look like brothers from another father.
FATHER & secret son: Phil Mitchell and Boss Baby?
TV questions: If you dated the waitresses on First Dates would you get a staff discount? How much quicker would you get served if they didn’t spend so much time gossiping?
April 16. Britain's Got Talent, of course we have... but either it's gone into hiding or ITV haven't got a clue where to look for it. Last night's highlight was a pooch piddling on a yoga mat. Cue Mahny, a barking mad Yank, doing "Doga" – dog yoga – with Robbie, a bichon frise who was definitely a bit shiatsu. "Your dog is the sailor and you are the vessel," Mahny intoned as her act went down like the Mary Rose. Naturally the judges just happened to have their pets with them to join in. No prizes for guessing who most suited the "loose dog" position...
Ant's Labrador peed on Mahny's mat, and then wet Walliams's shoe. If he'd crapped on his head we'd have been in Golden Buzzer territory. Elsewhere two ridiculous gyrating artists sketched an upside down Simon Cowell, decorator Jim ponced about in various paper mache facemasks, and a dance troupe performed in dog masks. Human Pups – the Musical can only be months away. In the big climax everyone gets a bone.
We also suffered a naff Dutch magician who the Village People would've found a bit too camp, a cavorting cop, and Ned, 8, cracking gags about the panel. In ten years Cowell hasn't found a single decent grown-up comedian. Clearly he hasn't wanted to. Singers, dogs, dancers and weirdos are Si's thing. Missing People Choir and Sarah, 15, look certs for the final. The choir is made up of people whose children have vanished. Their pictures flashed up as they sang. It was sad of course, and you felt their pain, but it felt awkward in the middle of the wackiness and also a bit one-note. What will they sing next time, another song with Missing in the title? Surely they'd have made more sense on Long Lost Family?
Sarah has a big soul voice and much potential, but was she as good as the judges claimed? Cowell said she sounded "possessed" halfway through And I'm Telling You. Yeah, possibly by Vic Reeves' club singer. She wandered off-key more than once. Maybe it would've been kinder to suggest vocal coaching and a come-back on next year's X Factor. I liked Jess, the singing mimic. But the biggest impression the show left was that the gig is up. The barrel has been scrapped dry.
PRISON Break is the story of desperate men trapped in a nightmare they can't ever escape from. Not the prison, the TV format. This show was killed off in 2009 along with lead character Michael Scofield. But the hunger for ratings trumps all that. And in an Easter miracle Scofield has been resurrected. He wasn't electrocuted to death at all. The body in his grave was just a suit with a head made of paper (much like Sean Spicer). Michael and his brand new tats are banged up in a Yemen jail that makes Fox River State Pen look like Champneys. This time around he's posing as an Isis terrorist, giving the show Prison Break an extra Poundland Homeland dimension. The gang are back too – brother Lincoln, sexy Sara, C-Note, Sucre and T-Bag, now with a robotic hand. A leaked jail picture sets Lincoln on a mission to save him, swerving assassination attempts at home and abroad. The dialogue stinks. "Greetings from the US prison system, bitches!" jokes C-Notes after he and Linc batter a terrorist mob. The plot's more far-fetched than Galaxy Quest. Other than T-Bag and his new iron fist, nostalgia for the first series is the only reason to watch.
GUERRILLA is so painfully right-on it's a wonder Kendall Jenner didn't rock up with a can of Pepsi. It's more a slice of self-loathing propaganda than historical drama. Britain in 1971 wasn't the US Deep South. No black civil-rights leaders were killed by London cops. There weren't violent street clashes with the National Front at that time; confrontation came later in the decade. NF members weren't skinheads then, either, and if some were they certainly wouldn't have shaved their heads or sported face tattoos. The time-line is as wonky as the politics, which paints all cops as racist sinners and the black activists as saints driven to armed struggle by the fascist police state that Ted Heath's Britain wasn't. In reality Britain's biggest Black Power advocate was Michael de Freitas who worked as an enforcer for slum landlord Rachman. Michael X, as he called himself, was hanged in Port of Spain for murdering barber Joseph Skerritt. He was also charged with the vicious slaughter of socialite Gale Benson. The MP's daughter was attacked with a cutlass on his orders, and buried alive. Not quite so righteous. Or glamorous.
HOT on TV: Line of Duty... Robert Knepper, Prison Break (Fox)... Peri Baumeister, The Last Kingdom... Homeland.
ROT on TV: Most Haunted – 15 years without a ghost... Guerrilla – a great cast, including fabulous Frieda Pinto, let down by a duff agitprop script... Amazing Hotels – un-amusing presenters.
HOW can Bafta's top TV drama contenders not include Line Of Duty, The Night Manager or Stranger Things? How can Adam Hills's lame right-on smug-fest or Claudia Winkleman squinting qualify as entertainment? Where's Luke Cage? Where's Thandie Newton for Westworld? And why does anyone take the Bafta fuddy-duddies seriously?
*LINE Of Duty left Steve Arnott for dead at the end of last week's episode. Someone at Nick Huntley's office battered our AC-12 hero with a baseball bat and tossed him down a stairwell. But was it Nick or the mysterious criminal lawyer Jimmy Lakewell? By the time we find out, there'll be a whole new set of mysteries to baffle us.
*THE Super Orgasm divided viewers. Women tended to last the whole hour, but most blokes were satisfied after a few minutes... It was followed in the C4 schedules by 24 Hours In A & E. Hmm. Best go easy with the rabbit, girls.
*MAD Jean and Sonia back in Walford? Strewth. Dear Donald Trump, any chance you could spare us a mega-bomb?
*WHO raped poor Trish on Broadchurch? Ian looks favourite, but I've got a cockle on Roy Cropper.
*TV Maths. Plug from the Beano + Lieutenant Sulu's hair = Trish, Broadchurch.
SMALL Joys of TV: kitchen sex on Big Little Lies – really cooking. Peter Kay's Car Share. Sian Gibson. Richard Wiseman's Nightly Show magic. Jason Manford. Warship. Baskets. Crashing. The Knowledge. Gregg Wallace telling a female MasterChef contender: "I really like the flavour of the inside of your pie."
RANDOM irritations: human cartoon Gregg Wallace, when he yells "Go, go, go" I wish he would. Billy Bragg with that voice like a ruptured bison taking a dump. ITV running news bang in the middle of films. Jonathan Harvey using Corrie scripts to argue against freedom of speech.
BBC4 called their science strand The Big Think. Bosses rejected the other suggested title, Patronising You Plebs, on the grounds that that was BBC3's mission statement.
SEPARATED at birth: Jay Lusted and Jon Richardson? One is a quirky dwarf who was surprised to find love... the other was a guest on This Morning.
*ITV had An Evening with Take That. How long is it since we've had a weekend without them?
April 9. Line Of Duty has more twists than the Grand Tour test track. Like the Trump presidency or ITV's Nightly Show, we genuinely don't know what shock is coming next. Jed Mercurio's breathtakingly brilliant script keeps us guessing like Joey Essex on Mastermind. The only thing certain is that nothing is certain.
DCI Roz Huntley – Thandie Newton on sparkling form – looked like a goner in episode one. But after escaping death by electric saw with the ease of Harry Houdini, she's running rings around our heroes in police anti-corruption unit AC-12. It's the greatest come-back since Lazarus. Huntley was running Operation Trapdoor, an investigation to catch a double murderer known as Balaclava Man. She seemed a top cop, bravely risking her own life to save a third abducted woman. Then, under pressure from her boss, Huntley collared Michael Farmer, a vulnerable simpleton on the sex offenders' register.
Tim Ifield, her forensics guy, was so convinced she'd deliberately swerved crucial evidence suggesting Farmer was innocent that he alerted AC-12. Roz stormed round to his home, they rowed and she fell hitting her head. Assuming she was brown-bread, Ifield was about to go full Dexter on her when her eyes blinked open. We now know that he died in the ensuing struggle. She then tampered with evidence to frame him for murder... Yet it seems possible that Ifield actually was Balaclava Man (although we can't rule out Huntley's shifty husband.)
AC-12, led by the incorruptible Superintendent Ted Hastings, are on to her but they have weaknesses too. Hastings has Gene Hunt's view of women, referring to the dodgy DCI as "a wee girl" and "darling". "I'd thank you to use gender neutral language," she told him coldly. Ted refused to go for a private drink with colleague Kate Fleming in case others misinterpreted his motives. "I might as well be running around with one of Pan's People," he said. Kate, now working undercover in Huntley's department, got passed over. Steve Arnott got promoted to Inspector. That'll help AC-12 gel.
In a further complication, Ian Buckles, the cop who replaced Huntley in Trapdoor, knows Kate is u/c. Will Buckles buckle under pressure? Will playing "institutional sexism" as a defence keep Roz safe? Could professional jealousy de-stabilise AC-12? And how significant will Huntley's number mix-up when she switched blood samples prove? Buckle up, it's going to be a hell of a ride.
WOW. The Last Kingdom hit Game Of Thrones levels of brutality as Ragnar the Viking viciously killed Kjartan, the bastard who'd topped his father and turned his sister Thyra into a deranged whore. Ragnar's righteous bloodlust spilt over into insanity. Granted the siege of Dunholm was like Thrones on a History Channel budget, but Thyra's dogs turning One-eyed Sven into No-face Sven was worthy of HBO's greatest current show (and indeed, reminiscent of it). Anyone else think the Leeds of the era looked more liveable than parts of Gipton now?
WELL done Bradley Walsh for bringing showbiz zest to the struggling Nightly Show. His band were terrific, energy levels were high and Brad was easily the most polished and likeable host to date. The "but" is the production team... For weeks they've had unfunny duds awkwardly telling jokes. As soon as they hired someone with actual comic timing, the nitwits dropped the opening monologue. As the Yanks say, go figure. They gave dull guests way too much time – Michael Bolton looked like he'd just woken up from a ten year coma – and absolutely wasted Joe Pasquale. Who thought Squeaky getting a nipple clamp would be entertaining? The late great variety producer David Bell must have been spinning in his tin. To make this work, ITV should put it on after the pubs shut. Give it an hour. Pick the host on the basis of ability not age. Insist on topical jokes. And find a producer who realises late night US talk-shows are powered by laughter and big name guests, not zzz-list scrapings.
HOT on TV: Andrew Buchan, Broadchurch... Line of Duty... The Walking Dead season finale... Carrie Fisher, Catastrophe – R.I.P.
ROT on TV: Abi Austen's Trump doc – as one-sided as any 80s Tyson bout... Henry IX – send this shower to the Tower.
NOTHING is funnier on TV right now than Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule. Where else would you see Des O'Connor wearing a tissue box visor trying to tell sausages from chipolatas? Highlights this series include Harry mistaking a mosque for a bouncy castle because of all the shoes left outside, and H claiming he'd mistakenly taken his Nan to Dignitas rather than Disneyland. "Still," he said. "Shame to waste a trip."
*REMEMBER Des? Ask your Nan. His chatshow had mega-guests, top comics and millions of viewers. Then in 2003 ITV bosses decided he was too old and axed it. Muppets. Clearly Des is way too doddery now, but it's worth noting that none of the younger, more fashionable replacements they tried out got anywhere near Des's audience.
*SCARLETT Johansson says Gordon Ramsay is her celebrity crush. Cue a million men yelling "I can cook, I can swear!" If grumpy chefs who aren't very funny turn her on, does that mean Ian Beale's in with a shot?
*CAN'T abide New-Michelle on EastEnders. Even her clothes look depressed.
*HOW much can Ken Barlow be worth? More than you think: three wives, no alimony... very few holidays... And look how he is in t'Rovers. Ken always buys himself half a bitter. If anyone else is in the chair, he has a whole pint. Tight git.
*STEVE Coogan calls The Trip "Last Of The Summer Wine for Guardian readers". Some might accuse Coogan of hypocrisy for dissing Rupert Murdoch and then appearing on Sky Atlantic. But he and Rob Brydon's not-funny-enough Trip To Spain was worth watching for the Mick Jagger impersonations alone.
*RE that perky brunette on the SCS sofa ad urging viewers to "Give me five": I'd try, but at my age giving her more than one might prove a challenge.
*BAKE Off: Creme De La Creme had more mangled accents than 'Allo 'Allo! Benoit Blin pronounced puff pastry as "perv pastry". It sounds like something Keith Lemon would serve up for that taxi driver on Broadchurch.
*THE Last Samuri, Blaklion, Definitly Red... were the Grand National horses named and spelt by Slade?
SMALL Joys of TV: Riggs and Murtaugh, Lethal Weapon. Ezekiel's tiger, The Walking Dead. Spike Milligan: Assorted Q – still utterly brilliant. Mo's inevitable victory on The Voice. Artie Lange, Crashing. Tommy Tiernan. Exposed: Magicians, Psychics & Frauds.
RANDOM irritations: the BBC's inescapable bias. The ridiculously po-faced media reaction to David Moyes's slap joke. Self-styled satirist Matt Forde giving Tony Blair the easiest ride this side of Geordie Shore. Cosy? It's a wonder he didn't give him a back massage. (See also Miliband on the equally gutless The Last Leg).
*I MISSED Dog With An IQ of 142. It can't have been about Michelle Fowler, she ain't that bright.
TEETH twins: Dr Rory Cormac, Spying On The Royals, and Rob Beckett. As kids they must have been visited by the tusk fairy.
TV maths. Ron Perlman + Joan Rivers = Christine Baranski (The Good Fight).
TV questions: Why hasn't Jack Dee's Helpdesk got a desk? Has Giles on Googlebox broken his iron? Could BBC2 please film a replacement ending for The Replacement?
CAROL Vorderman was talking about Paul Hollywood on 8 Out Of Ten Cats when she revealed: "He came on Loose Women and I nibbled on his brioche." A beautiful image, redolent of Keith Lemon at his most poetic.
April 7. Ken Barlow's Will had a starring role on last night's Corrie after his adopted daughter Tracy found it in an unsealed envelope in his living room drawer. Toxic Tracy was understandably shocked by the content because Ken had has cut her out of it completely. Instead he is leaving the lion's share of his estate – his life-savings and his iconic home, Number One Coronation Street – to his two sons, Peter and Daniel, and his dodgy drug-dealing grandson Adam. (We'll leave aside the small point that the writers seem to have forgotten Barlow's eldest son Lawrence). In the soap, Ken is currently recovering from a vicious attempt on his life, and this latest Will over-turned an earlier one which had been co-written, witnessed and signed by Adam.
Clearly it's for Weatherfield plod to establish whether this change of heart had anything to do with the attack. However we can say for sure that if Ken had been sensible he would have written a Letter Of Intent to go with his Will, explaining his reasons for disinheriting Tracy (small points perhaps like she's a murderer, a blackmailer, and generally a twisted vixen with a hazy connection to the truth). And he would certainly have entrusted copies of both documents to his Will provider to store rather than leaving them laying about in his drawer for anyone to stumble across. Proper planning prevents problems like this arising. Even in the alternative reality of Soapland.
April 2. They're at it everywhere on Harlots – in bedrooms, down side-streets, up back alleys... It's like Apple Tree Yard with a price-tag. One in five women was up for a knee-trembler in the London of 1763. All you had to do was pay for it. How things change. Nowadays on Geordie Shore they give it away.
Samantha Morton's charms are over-flowing as bosomy brothel madam Margaret Wells. Her alcoholic mum flogged her virginity when she was 12 for "the price of a pair of shoes". I'm guessing brothel creepers. Marg put her own daughters on the game too. Charlotte became one of the hottest courtesans in town. In fact, in any Whores Of The Year show she'd be a finalist. While young Lucy held on to her cherry for longer than any soap teenager before Margaret auctioned it off.
Her big rival is la-di-dah Lydia who thinks her bawdy house/knocking shop is a cut above. When she tries for a transfer there, Emily is described as looking for a position. "I'm never short of a position," she replies coquettishly. To up the ante, Lydia sets the law on Margaret. These strumpets won't come quietly, though. Well, not unless you pay 'em extra.
Made almost entirely by women, this show is inspired by Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, a genuine 18th century directory which rated their bedroom skills and listed their prices. One review described fat Fanny as "a fine bouncing comely wench, not amiss in summer barring perspiration". It's part Yellow Pages of Lust, part Bushell on the Boxes.
Mercifully, Harlots isn't the grim hoes-with-woes feminist track it would've been had the Beeb made it. The happy hookers seem to enjoy their work. "I've ridden hard to be with you," says one lusty toff. "Then I must ride harder," grins Charlotte. Like Peaky Blinders and Versailles, Harlots uses jarring modern music on the soundtrack. It also seems absurdly clean. Where are the piss-pots being emptied out the window? London didn't have sewers for another 100 years. The place must've stunk like Cameron's Uber links.
*EMILY describes herself pleasantly as "the Duchess of Quim". Let's hope she finds her Duke of Pork someday.
*DOWNTON's Lady Sybil star Jessica Brown Findlay plays Charlotte. Shocking. If it had been Lady Mary no-one would've batted an eye.
BARE Knuckle Fight Club shone a torch onto the murky world of boxing without gloves. The kings of these rings are colourful characters like James "Gypsy Boy" McCrory with his moveable cheekbone and Seth "the Bangor Hammer" Jones. Christian "Fat Boy" Evans reckons fighting is "better than sex", which suggests he's probably doing it wrong. His mates back in the valleys call him Empty Head. "All that head and f***-all in it," he laughed. Scouse ex-con Shaun Smith dreams of making the brutal sport legit and promotes mega-bouts. 1,000 spectators including Frank Bruno watched McCrory take down America's Corey "Whiz Kid" Williams. Is it wrong? Outside of Evans joking "I'll be punch-drunk by the time I'm 31", C4 didn't scrutinise the medical risks. Consider this though. In a century of bare-knuckle bouts in the USA, there were no ring fatalities. Yet more than 500 have died since in the ring since gloves were brought in. Fat Boy works in a scrap-yard in a decrepit former mining village. Why shouldn't he be allowed his shot at glory?
*UNLICENSED boxing made legends of hard men like Lenny McLean, Roy "Pretty Boy" Shaw, Cliff Field and Johnny "Big Bad" Waldron. When Lenny appeared on my old ITV show, rival Roy demanded right of reply. I could've said no but I quite like my teeth.
ON Broadchurch Trish shocked Cath by confessing that she'd bonked her husband Jim on the morning of the day she was raped. "He'd come round to look at the boiler," she explained. "Well he certainly did that, didn't he?" sniped Cath, failing to ask if he'd also probed her mud-hole and serviced her flue. "Christ, his standards have slipped", Cath said, harshly but fairly, adding: "Of all the women at that party, why would somebody rape you?" Ouch. What is Jim's big secret though? What made Cath tell him: "You're stupid but you think you're smart... I could set fire to your world whenever I choose." And why did Lenny Henry's Ed batter him? It can't be because he doesn't laugh at his jokes, or Len would never leave home without a fight.
HOT on TV: Line Of Duty & Thandie Newton... Broadchurch... Zoe Kravitz, Big Little Lies (SkyAt)... The Last Kingdom.
ROT on TV: vain, condescending arse Giles Coren – a haemorrhoid in human form... Gordon Ramsay's charmless Nightly Show – as laughable as Ronaldo's statue.
UHTRED'S slave ship ordeal nearly broke him on a moving episode of The Last Kingdom. Weak and sullen, the Saxon hero was moments from death at the hands of Sven the one-eyed Viking when Ragnar rode to the rescue. We got pain, tragedy (Hallig's death), tenderness (Hild), politics and sweet revenge – not only on that sadistic slave-trader but also scheming Abbot Eadred, the "holy weasel". Top line? Ragnar: "Uhtred, I'm bored of this, kill them all." The battle for English liberty still smells sweet. We fight on, arselings.
*DID you see those snowflakes on EastEnders? Snow! On the hottest day of the year! Finally, hell was freezing over.
*R.I.P. poor Sylvie, electrocuted in the bath. Beale's Place might have been kaput but the Vic was still "frying tonight"...
*THIS is nice. I hear that Cheryl's new baby has inherited her talent. His screams are auto-tuned.
*CARTERS Get Rich? If they ever get funny be sure to let me know.
*THE Nightly Show was off air for a full three minutes on Monday. What more proof do you need that prayer works?
*CAN Bradley Walsh rescue the format? If multi-talented Brad packs it with gags and brings in the brilliant showbiz pros TV pseuds neglect the audience would come.
*WHO KO'd Ken on Corrie? Slippery Adam seems favourite, but don't rule out Eccles. Ken has only walked that poor mutt once this year.
*WHAT makes an Amazing Hotel? The complete absence of Giles Coren helps...
SMALL Joys of TV: Heaving bosoms on Harlots. Colleen Wing's cage fight, Marvel's Iron Fist. Linares Vs Crolla. Inside No 9 – dark comic genius. Galapagos. Dave Chappelle (Netflix). The Sopranos re-runs (SkyAt). Defoe's England come-back. Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule.
RANDOM irritations: EastEnders springing yet another crash on us – you'd be safer driving in Jaipur. Christian Jessen – one Christian who makes you want to cheer on the lions. BBC numbskulls believing Dr Who needs PC twists rather than better writers. Gordon Ramsay trying to deliver gags! Leave it out. His finger-jabbing style was awkward and embarrassing. His haircut is the only funny thing about him.
SEPARATED at birth: Paul Hollywood and bare-knuckle fight promoter Shaun Smith? One makes Battenbergs, the other could batter you...