BUSHELL ON THE BOX
April 29. Over on sci-fi thriller Westworld the robot uprising is in full swing. Dishy Delores is roaming the badlands gleefully bumping off human survivors – that’s what I call a cyber attack. And marvellous Maeve has taken Lee Sizemore hostage. The theme park’s cynical head writer slyly attempted to expose her as an android. Maeve snapped: “Try that again and I will relieve you of your most precious organ and feed it to you... Not that it’d make much of a meal.”
When Lee protested “I wrote that line for you!”, Maeve replied: “A bit broad if you ask me.” So not only are the park’s hosts self-aware, they’re judging their creators.
Delores was designed as a naive rancher’s daughter doomed to die horribly. Now she’s on a killing spree of her own and humanity looks stuffed. Who can help? Not Dr Robert Ford. The brilliant boffin who created the retro-Western theme park is deader than Bill Cosby’s career. Maybe The Man In Black can. Ruthless super-rich gamer William, who persecuted Delores in her past lives, is chuffed that the ultra-violence is now real. When the young android Ford congratulated him, saying that he’d solved the park’s mysterious maze puzzle and reached a new stage of “the game”, the charmless psychopath shot straight him in the mooey.
Or maybe Bernard will save the day. The park’s head programmer recently discovered that he’s an android duplicate of WW co-founder Arnold Weber. He’s “dying” but fixes himself temporarily with fluid from another ’droid. Charlotte, a big-shot at park owners Delos Inc, took Bernard to a secret bunker where “drone” robots extract recordings of guest experiences (and their DNA) from park hosts. These guys make Cambridge Analytica look like amateurs. We also discovered that the ’bots are all linked together mentally like Star Trek’s evil Borg. Or Momentum. And that Charlotte has loaded up one host with data to smuggle back to Delos...
Trying to decipher Westworld can be tougher than describing Gemma Collins without swearing. It’s handicapped by leaping timelines and can get lost in its own cleverness.But there’s much to love about this hugely ambitious show, not least Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood. And the second season seems more assured. Westworld works best when it remembers to tell a story – and to crack a smile.
ENGLISH flags flew on St George’s Day in EastEnders. Hurrah! We didn’t see the dragon until Tuesday (hi Shirley!). The unexpected eruption of patriotism turned out be a promotion for Max’s car-lot. The Vic has celebrated St Patrick, Diwali, and even Bastille Day but the idea locals might have a proper knees-up for St Geo never occurs to the producers. The one time they did, it was an Alfie Moon scam. Why? Simple. Like most of the media class, the BBC hate England nearly as much as they despise the working class. In other news, Max married his former sister-in-law Rainie as “a business deal”. Let’s hope he kept the receipt. She’s an ex crack addict and a born liar who previously bedded both of his brothers. Imagine pitching that in the Den! It could have been worse though, he could have wed Cora Cross– that's what I call a gross turn-over! I'd have held out for Vanessa Gold. If memory serves her fixed assets were sensational.
WHEN stand-up comedian Rex Pope’s wife Sarah left him for another comic on The Split, it inspired bitter humour. “We used to enjoy doing the mannequin challenge,” he said in his act. “Or as she called it, having sex.” He went on: “My ex-wife is very sexually adventurous. Her favourite thing was to have sex in a public place – her vagina.” Ouch! Unfortunately this BBC drama is about female divorce lawyers and Rex has made the schoolboy error of being male. Even though Sarah cheated, her solicitor Hannah used their kid as a weapon against him. Either drop the jokes or lose access, she said. And she’s supposed to be the heroine! Hannah had a fling the night before her own wedding. Mum Ruth is snidey, sister Nina stole Hannah’s client... What a horrible bunch of middle class hypocrites! Who are we supposed to like? Natch, all the blokes are either wet or wooden.
*REASONS Hannah’s Dad may have walked out when she was small: 1) Ruth’s sub David Brent dancing 2) The inconvenient fact that none of his three daughters look even vaguely like they had the same father.
HOT on TV: Westworld and Thandie Newton (SkyAt)... Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule... The Terror (AMC).
ROT on TV: The Queen’s Birthday Party – curled more toes than Torquemada... Genius: Picasso – stinks like the sewers on Fatberg Autopsy... The Woman In White – more man-hating tripe.
Hot NOT on TV: Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner in Tina.
MAGIC moments on Last Laugh In Vegas included: Bobby Crush as Liberace playing double-speed boogie-woogie... Every Yank who Bobby told “I’m a pianist” replying “You’re a penis?” ... And Kenny Lynch supplying the immortal punch-line: “If I was asked to do this all again I’d say... no f***ing way!” ITV challenged our old pros to cut it in Vegas, but bizarrely screened just a fraction of their actual performance. That was shunted onto ITV3 in order to get Frank Marino’s party and the MGM massacre into the main show. Bizarre. But the veterans triumphed. Even Jess Conrad was funny. “After 55 years my wife still loves me,” he quipped. “And so do I!” ITV should do this again with terrific underused stars like Brian Conley, Longthorne, Davro, Patti Boulaye and Pasquale whose prop comedy would go down a storm here. Or better still, book ’em for the Royal.
*WHAT a gruelling marathon last weekend. Not the race, the Queen’s Birthday Party. The acts were random, Zoe Ball was hugely irritating, and Tom Chambers looked as sozzled as the booker... I suppose we should just be grateful that Sting left his lute at home.
*MISERY-loving Corrie boss Kate Oates is quitting the soap, but not before filming scenes of Me-Me-Michelle getting shot on her wedding day. See, she wasn’t all bad...
*TRUMP had the rack of lamb at the Macron state dinner. It was probably the only White House rack he hadn’t grabbed.
*DAVE hit it off with sumo wrestler Sharran on First Dates. I don’t know if he entered the ring... Dave’s a bingo caller, so shouldn’t he be looking for two fat ladies?
SMALL joys of TV: Jeff Beck: Still On The Run (BBC4). Sons Of The Desert (Talking Pictures). Mick Miller’s airplane routine. Annabel Scholey as saucy minx Nina on The Split. Barry (SkyAt). Sammy Davis Jnr: The Kid In The Middle (BBC4).
RANDOM irritations: Have I Got News For You being a third as funny as it used to be. Civilisations, muddle-headed to the end. The rank hypocrisy of Britain’s Fat Fight going out on a channel that bombards us with cooking & cakes all year round.
SEPARATED at birth: First Dates Fred and this geezer from the hotels.com advert? One a bearded wally trying to get other people into hotel beds... the other’s in a TV ad.
TV Maths: Emily Bishop + Endora from Bewitched = Ruth on The Split.
APRIL 22. Sir Cliff Richard reckons the BBC ruined his life. Join the club, pal. Attenborough aside, it’s been a mighty long time since the arrogant Corporation felt like a national treasure. With its lifeless light entertainment, dull dramas, inescapable bias and insane casting “Auntie” is a shadow of its former self. They need to: Mend Mainstream Comedy. Encourage writers from working class backgrounds. Oxbridge toffs didn’t and couldn’t create sitcom immortals like the Trotters, Steptoes, Rigsby and Fletcher. Move over Tarquin, you've had your time. We need to find the new Fools & Horses.
Scrap “Celebrity”. Enough reality TV nitwits, random relatives, chums of Kim Kardashian and dimboes from obscure outposts of BBC Radio. New rule: you’re not famous unless you turn heads at a bus stop.
Bin The Bias. The Beeb hates Brexit, although it’s hard to tell... unless you watch their news coverage, soaps, toothless “satire” or two-bob comics. EastEnders is particularly nuts. Mick Carter must be the only Cockney landlord who ever worried a nativity scene might “offend” regulars. The Vic has celebrated Diwali and launched an EU supper club, but St George’s never gets a look in. Will tomorrow be any different? Unlikely, it’s too hot for hell to have frozen over.
Reboot Drama. McNaffia, Collateral, Troy... damp squib after damp squib. Where is our Sopranos? Our Game Of Thrones? We need bolder commissioners and fresh writers; less soap more vision. Why not dramatise our own folk heroes before the Yanks do? And resurrect The Wednesday Play for gritty realism. It’s a long wait until Line Of Duty returns.
Let TV Rock. We need a modern Whistle Test. Not only for hot new bands who don’t fit Later’s narrow agenda, but also for our world-conquering rockers who the snobby Beeb are so sniffy about. Top Of The Pops could work too, using charts that discount streaming.
Kick Out Quotas. Let’s book people on the basis of their ability again rather than their gender or ethnicity. It’s how good they are that counts. Also stop blowing fortunes on managers and auto-cue readers. Finally Let Entertainers Entertain. Too many great old pros are confined to reality TV and afternoon quiz shows. Let’s create proper Saturday night variety formats. Use old talent, build new talent. It’s got to be better than another karaoke car-crash.
HIGH excitement on Last Laugh In Vegas as Bernie Clifton finally got Anita Harris’s knickers down. You wait a long time to read a sentence like that. Anita was coping with terrible wind you see, and her scanty panties had been blown up a tree. (Scatty Su Pollard almost certainly wears massive Victorian comedy bloomers that could double as a parachute.) With the big show looming, Mick Miller tried out his stand-up in the Hard Hat Lounge. Clocking the low ceiling, Mick quipped: “I’m glad I’m not doing an act with a trampoline... You’re looking at me thinking Hulk Hogan’s let himself go.” He went down like Stormy Daniels. I’m not so sure why the producers pad it out with goat yoga, horse-riding and Ferris wheel rides though. This is the showbiz capital of the world. They should be visiting the mega-shows on the Strip. Vegas entertainment is far classier than they’re making it look. Elsewhere Bobby Crush revealed that Dermot O’Leary is his type. Blimey. Most people found Dermot’s Morning Glory a complete let-down.
THE fall of Negan on The Walking Dead raises the exciting possibility that one day this century we might also be shot of Pat Phelan. The two monsters have a lot in common. Negan has a lethal bat (Lucille), Pat had an old bat (Eileen). Negan mixed with the living dead, Pat knows Ken and Audrey. And like Negan, Phelan is a brilliant villain who has outstayed his welcome. Maybe Corrie should call in Rick Grimes. How much more Walking Dead can we bear though? Yes, season eight ended well, but there’s bound to be a new super-villain along soon, more in-fighting, more rival survivors, more long, dull drawn-out chatting scenes... watched by ever-dwindling audiences. US cable bosses should can it rather than let this once great show lumber on gormlessly like, well, a brainless decaying zombie.
*HOW should Pat Phelan die? Flattened by a giant falling ACME concrete mixer. Splat! Absurd, maybe, but still less cartoony than Corrie's Moira.
HOT on TV: Molly Parker, Lost In Space (Netflix)... Helen Housby & the Roses... Rachel Keller, Legion.
ROT on TV: The Alienist – more tedious than the Games closing ceremony... The Button – press and eject... My Year With The Tribe – phony baloney... Urban Myths – largely a miss.
Hot NOT on TV: comedian Mo Gilligan.
WHAT old characters would brighten up the soaps? Dawn Swann for EastEnders, obviously, although there’s something to be said for letting Lucas finish what he started too. Bruce Jones is as popular as Aunt Babe in a kissing booth with Corrie bosses so I can’t see Les Battersby coming back. But how about Emmerdale’s Kathy Glover, pictured here with her ideal catch?
NETFLIX, AmPrime, vudu, Crackle, raspberry PI... there are so many ways to watch TV now it’d be relatively easy to convince people of the brilliance of a show that doesn’t exist: “Hey, have you seen Fungus Shanahan on Loki? Best comedy since Chewing Gum... got that guy from adultswim in it! So funny!” Fake some footage for YouTube, add a Wiki page, tweet the links and watch the legend spread.
*LET-down of the week: Rich Kids Go Skint. Not a sniff of Rusty Egan.
*SHANE Richie plays Sammy Valentino on Benidorm. Over the top, borderline nuts and prone to poor decisions, that’s Shane. Sammy seemed relatively sane.
*NEW TV idea: Gran Designs – crossbow gran Anji “Granbo” Rhys knocks up burglar-proof housing.
SMALL joys of TV: Mike Judge’s Tales From The Tour Bus. Brian Conley on Loose Women. Craig Ferguson: Tickle Fight (Netflix). Lifeline. Negan’s demise, The Walking Dead (Fox). Classic Dale Winton clips. R.I.P. mate.
RANDOM irritations: Tame TV satirists failing to savage the puffed-up unelected House of Lords. Competitive chutney makers now apparently deemed prime time entertainment. Nightmare Pets SOS – not a blowfish in sight.
TV Maths. Eva Longoria + Francine Lewis = Karen on Change Your Tune.
SEPARATED at birth: Ferne McCann and Jar Jar Binks? One a well-meaning creature from an alien world struggling to prove their worth; the other was in Star Wars.
TV questions: On Corrie how do do all those people fit into Chateau Platt? Do the bedrooms use Tardis technology? Has their randy GP Ali misunderstood the meaning of Doctors Without Frontiers? How stoned do you have to be to follow Legion? It makes Twin Peaks look like Balamory.
April 15. Last night a bloke in handcuffs with a ferocious beard nearly drowned in a tank of water. Sadly it wasn’t Anjem Choudary. Escapologist Matt Johnson delivered a nail-biting, heart-stopping 130seconds of apparent peril at the end of Britain’s Got Talent. Matt looks like such a laidback hipster it’s a wonder he isn’t selling cereals in a Shoreditch pop-up. But if you played join the dots with his tattoos they’d probably spell “Too risky”. With time running out, he struggled with his cuffs. It was so tense you could almost believe Simon Cowell genuinely thought he’d had it. Yet like Darcy Oake in 2015 Matt’s a fully pro Canadian magician... Britain’s still got imported talent, then. And imported nitwits – step forward Japanese comedian Mr Uekusa, who did the old table cloth trick using his own body as the table. The covering got progressively smaller until there was just a flannel-sized barrier between his tea cup and his naked groin. Talk about one lump or two.
He was the first act Simon buzzed. I don’t know what’s got into Cowell nowadays. He made his name by being brutally honest, but on BGT he prefers to play a naive rube who thinks magic is “real” and dogs can hypnotise people. Consequently none of the judges play the required part of the informed critic who cuts through the bull. Aussie Sascha opened the show, his drab attire concealing a circus performer background. His high-rise rolla-bolla balancing act was the riskiest on the bill, scarier even than a lift home from Ant McPartlin. Ant looked haggard, Cowell looked rough. Maybe he needs a break too. The format is bigger than all of them. The first show was solid but unsurprising: two decent choirs, a cute pre-X Factor singer, a second Diversity dance group... Oh and magician Marc who built his sub-Derren Brown mentalist routine around his daughter’s illness, a stunt some might see as bad taste. Sword dancers aside, the closest they came to comedy was Robert White. Teacher Robert performed a camp keyboard version of George Formby’s When I’m Cleaning Windows with the lyrics changed to mention the judges. He sailed through. You can’t go wrong pandering to these giant egos. Now if only they could find some stars...
IMAGINE a Phil Mitchell sex-tape! All that grunting, straining and breathless wheezing... and then they’d have sex. Mercifully it never happened. Mel stopped the action as soon as he’d snogged her on camera. It was just blackmail ammo to save her idiot son’s scrawny neck. What a brat! The kid brought new meaning to a Hunter spearing his prey. You get all sorts of shagging on EastEnders though: Guilt sex (Tina & Billy), grief sex (Stacey & Martin), CCTV sex (Hunter & Louise... with a side order of “Up-Yours-Phil” sex.) We’ve seen characters at it in a shower, on Dot’s kitchen table (oh I say), in the Queen Vic khazi... In fact the only people not getting any are married couple Mick and Linda. So at least that’s true to life.
*JOYCE was cremated on Friday. At least she was dead at the time... unlike Steve Owen or that poor tramp Phil torched. Shame Ted didn't ask Surly Shirley Carter how she found the £6grand to bury Sylvie without a funeral plan a year ago.
*SHIRL and the Slaters nearly kicked off in the Vic. Well you know what they say about Kats and dogs...
DANGER Will Robinson! 60s sci-fi favourite Lost In Space has had a mega-budget Netflix reboot. And it’s awesome. The CGI-enhanced images of distant worlds and galaxies are breathtaking... You’ll love it... unless, like me, you grew up with the original. It’s the same story – Swiss Family Robinson in Space – but they’ve ditched all the humour. The modern Robinsons are dysfunctional. John and Maureen don’t even like each other. The Robot’s had an upgrade. He used to look like a dustbin with legs made from recycled accordions. Now he’s a sleek, faceless automaton with the (zero) personality of a BBC newsreader. Worst of all there’s no Zachary Smith. They’ve replaced the snivelling schemer with a sinister boiler... although in fairness Parker Posey looks likely to be the show’s brightest star.
*TV continues to feed off itself as avidly as a self-catering cannibal. It’s a wonder no-one has got around to remaking Hazell, UFO, Vendetta, Branded or The Adventures Of William Tell.
HOT on TV: Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule... Derek Martin in GF Newman’s Law & Order (BBC4)... Wild Wild Country (Netflix).
ROT on TV: The Marcella finale – more barking than Crufts... Front Row Late – frontal lobes dead... Millionaires’ Mansion – proving money can’t buy class.
WINSTON Churchill wanted the Special Operations Executive to “set Europe ablaze”. Some of the wannabes on Secret Agent Selection WW2 would struggle to light a barbecue. Operate behind enemy lines? One woman wouldn’t crawl under barbed wire in case it mucked up her hair. And if East London drag act Paul were any wetter he’d ripple. Mercifully the likes of Lizzie, Rob and Alastair had bulldog spirit by the bucket.
*STEROID abuse is the latest misery to afflict Coronation Street. Robert was “juicing” which made him grumpy and irrational. (If Gail or Eileen did it, how could you tell?). It makes you wonder what fresh hell soap boss Kate Oates has in store for Norris Cole when he returns. Happen she’ll out him as a secret masochist enjoying bondage and beatings sessions with Mary... It couldn’t be any more painful than Jude’s marine biology saga.
*HOW about a Celebrity version of Change That Tune for celebs who can’t sing – Cheryl Cole, Posh, Nick Knowles, Katie Price etc? It shouldn’t broadcast, obviously – just screened at Calais to repel bogus asylum seekers.
*MICK Miller on his own hair-style: “What Donald Trump looks like when he comes out of the shower.” (Last Laugh In Vegas).
*BACCHUS Uncovered? Way too sober.
*WHAT should you pack to visit Mars, asked Izzi on Gogglebox. Hmm, let's see. Food, water, thermals, a lifetime's supply of oxygen, Bear Grylls...
SMALL joys of TV: Craig Ferguson in Still Game. New Ninja Warrior. Revolution (SkyOne). New Gotham (E4). Billy Mumy, the original Will Robinson, playing “Dr Z. Smith” on Lost In Space. Cannon & Ball. The directors’ cut of The Vietnam War (PBS America).
RANDOM irritations: The dismal lack of decent rock and pop shows. Dim nonentities on Celebrity Mastermind. The BBC rewriting Agatha Christie. MasterChef inflicting a whole week of finals on us, including a trip to Peru at our expense – talk about “Let them watch cake”.
SEPARATED at birth: Phil Thompson and Married... With Children’s Al Bundy? One a former football star who gets by on wit and resilience, and so is the other one.
TV Maths. Gordon Ramsay + Robin Williams = Nigel Carr, The Chase.
GARETH Evans was talking about fellow weightlifter Zoe Smith when he told BBC News: “I watched her snatch before I came down here.” It’s hard to blame him.
April 8. Viva Las Wrinklies! ITV have sent eight veteran showbiz favourites – and Jess Conrad – to try and crack Las Vegas. There’s Cannon & Ball, Bernie Clifton, Su Pollard, Bobby Crush... the veritable cream of British light entertainment... circa 1979. Plus 60s stars Kenny “Kipper” Lynch and classy Anita Harris with that name like an advert for buttock enhancement. Last Laugh In Vegas also fields Mick Miller, the wonderful wise-cracking Scouse stand-up renowned for sharp one-liners like “I lost my hair at 16... What a card game that was... ”
Bizarrely ITV haven’t recruited singing impressionist Joe Longthorne or comedy magician John Archer who would have worked there perfectly. Longthorne, as I might have mentioned before, is the spirit of showbiz decanted into a suit.
They’ve given our oldies a Yank mentor – Frank Marino, a drag queen who specialises in impersonating Dolly Parton. (He was also once a Joan Rivers tribute act; she sued him for using her gags). Surgery addict Frank appears to have inherited Michael Jackson’s barnet, and looks like he’s just beamed down from Planet Plastic. Yet he had the cheek to say Mick’s trademark hair made HIM look odd! Frank suggested cutting it. “I nearly rang the ambulance for him,” said Mick.
Nothing prepared Marino for Bernie and his ostrich. “Is the chicken drunk?” he asked, adding later that Bernie’s act would be “a little over the audience’s heads”. Umm, isn’t physical comedy universal?
There were the expected “reality” twists. They get to their digs and there don’t appear to be enough beds... Bobby Crush’s bedroom is too bland... there’s no kettle. “It’s like the Third World,” complained Su unconvincingly. She’s the noisiest, Bobby Ball’s the most instantly likable. Crush complains the most. Peacock-vain Jess Conrad is surely just there to wind us up. “It’s very difficult for showbiz people to mix with ordinaries,” said the singer who released This Pullover, arguably the most ordinary, not to mention worst, single of all time. The highlight was old footage of the turns in their prime. Bernie was particularly sprightly back then. “Every new ostrich I get, I just can’t get ’em to run as quick as the previous one,” he quipped. Bobby Ball cut through the nostalgia. “You can look back at the past, but you can’t live in it,” he said wisely. Can Team GB (geriatric buggers) follow in the footsteps of Elvis, Sinatra, Sammy and Celine? Of course they can’t! But there’s bound to be some laughs along the way.
*ITV have done this before. In 1977 they put Bernard Manning on at the MGM Grand. But the Brits who do best in Sin City are always singers – Elton, Rod, Engelbert (who takes his own dartboard) and Matt Goss.
THEY say tragedy plus time equals comedy, so it’s possible we’ll laugh at Mel and Sue’s Generation Game one day. This awkward, half-hearted remake was wrong on more levels than Big Mo in an express lift. The games were recycled, the gags poor, the laughter canned, the bonhomie forced... and bizarrely, this ultimate Saturday night show went out on a Sunday. The only innovation was the pointless addition of celebrity commentators. Damningly, BBC bosses don’t have a clue why Mel and Sue were completely wrong for it. They should have watched Larry Grayson – Shut That Door. Warm, friendly, down to earth, empathetic... Larry was the polar opposite of Sue Perkins. His ratings for the show even beat Brucie’s.
*THE Beeb made four Gen Game episodes but axed two of them, wasting £400,000 of our money. They should have handed out P45s like Trump in a temper. But naturally thanks to the wonders of licence fee feather-bedding no-one was sacked at all.
TWO cities co-exist in new sci-fi drama The City & The City. There’s no dividing wall. Instead citizens of Beszel and Ul Qoma are trained from birth to “unsee” each other (a bit like modern day Bradford). Rule-breakers get collared by Breach, the sinister secret police. A Yank student’s murder brings world-weary Inspector Borlu into play. In the book Borlu had two birds on the go, but the Beeb have replaced them with one missing missus. No wonder he’s grumpy. The brooding thriller is pompous but promising with intriguing echoes of Kafka and Philip K. Dick.
HOT on TV: Alice Eve & Bill Nighy, Ordeal By Innocence... Simona Brown, Kiss Me First... Deep State (Fox)... Power (Netflix).
ROT on TV: Sue Perkins – if only we could... Change Your Tune – you’ll change the channel... Five Star Hotel – two-bob telly... The Charlotte Show – the only way is stupid... I Don’t Like Mondays – TFI Frightful.
WHAT’S Easter without a resurrection? Fiendish Pat Phelan survived his fall into the ice-cold sea on Corrie. And despite gouging his leg open, he overcame strong currents to re-emerge like a comic book super-villain. (Lex Lewder? Danger Scouse?) Pat’s so hard he stitched up his own wound with a needle and thread... without anaesthetic. Not the first time he’s dealt with a nasty gash. (Insert your own Keith Lemon punch-line here). There hasn’t been a miracle like this since Billy the vicar toppled 200ft off a cliff and lived. Luckily rocks oop North are made entirely of Cheshire pudding and Eccles cakes.
*ON ITV’s Change Your Tune rotten singers are miraculously transformed into... rotten singers with professional styling. Whoopedoo. It’s a perfect addition to a dim-witted culture that gives us actors who can’t act, comedians who aren’t funny and satirists with no teeth.
*AMANDA Holden posed as Elizabeth I to plug Britain’s Got Talent. Amanda the virgin queen? Such acting! Belief hasn’t been this greatly suspended since the Barrymores’ marriage.
*NATHAN on First Dates has his mates’ names tattooed on his buttocks. To viewers, it’s puzzling; to Corrie’s Josh it’s a to-do list.
*TV Name Of The Week: Walking Dead producer Caleb Womble. A busy bloke. Sometimes he’s overground, sometimes underground...
*IT’S 15 years since Roy Evans died on EastEnders. He married Fat Pat and became impotent (cause and effect?). Poor Roy. He’d sit in that caff and weep every time someone said “knob of butter?”
SMALL joys of TV: Classic Larry Grayson & Dave Allen clips. You’re The Worst (ComCen). Cunk on Britain. Benidorm cabaret legend Neil Ross on ITV’s Benidorm. Mindhunter (Netflx). Alan Carr on his Bake Off creation: “Even the bin spat it out.”
RANDOM irritations: Tokio Myers massacring Jerusalem. That pacifist ref ruining the Joshua Parker fight. The Save Me finale – great series, washout end... Dave Allen At Peace – too short, too bitty and why waste money reshooting his immortal sketches?
KLASSY questions: how does Myleene ride her exercise bike in six inch stilettos? And if she really wants to be taken more seriously shouldn’t she try wearing more clothes?
SEPARATED at birth: former Welsh international goalie Neville Southall and Ron Jeremy? One faced powerful balls, dangerous tackles and many an over-crowded box. The other was a footballer.
TV maths. John Barrowman + Michael Jackson = Frank Marino.
April 1. Geoffrey Wellum was just 18 when the Battle of Britain began. The RAF’s youngest Spitfire pilot survived dog-fights with Messerschmitts. Many of his comrades in 92 Squadron didn’t. “You were always aware of absent friends,” Geoffrey told Ewan and Colin McGregor on RAF At 100. “You’d go to the White Hart and have a few pints and think, well last night John was here. He’s not now.” The odds against them were enormous. 640 RAF fighter pilots took on a German Luftwaffe force of 2,600. The men came back totally drained but, he said, “you’d have a couple of pints and you had to snap out of it.” The camaraderie was intense. Geoffrey, now 96, painted a picture of “the boys in their best blue, smoke rising to the ceiling, pints knocking back... a fighter squadron trying to relax, very much aware of one another’s company... ” And equally aware that every day might be their last.
Bomber Command had it worse. Out of a force of 125,000, 55,000 were lost. Tail-gunner Dave Fellowes was told by his captain to bail out after their Lancaster had a mid-air collision. He refused. Dave told the McGregors: “We could still have been attacked by enemy aircraft. My turret was still operational. So why should I jump out? “What? Leave my mates?” he added, aghast. These men weren’t saints – the STI rates for Bomber Command were outrageous. (“A blob on the knob spells demob”, went the warning.) But by god they had guts.
Actor Ewan and his older brother Colin, a former RAF pilot, were reliable guides in this stirring centenary year story. It began in WW1, when pilots braved open cockpits, and continued through the Cold War to the Falklands and beyond. They met remarkable women too. Trail-blazers Mary Ellis, now 100, and Joy Lofthouse, 94, flew planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary and flirted with them playfully. Joy joked that Ewan was a poor substitute for Martin Shaw “my favourite toy-boy”. Sadly she and Dave Fellowes died recently. I’d like to think their spirit survives. But we seem a less resourceful people today; certainly less stoic. Compare and contrast the can-do pluck of these heroes with the preening prats of reality TV and then tell me that’s progress.
JAMES “Lockie” Lock insisted he was a gentleman on Towie, moments before calling girlfriend Yaz “a f***ing little brat” and making her cry. Not exactly John Steed, then. More League Of Gentlemen, perhaps. His claim, “I am a f***ing nice boy”, is a Royston Vasey catchphrase waiting to happen. And some of these grotesques would fit right in. Eh, Gemma? They’re still blowing dough on cosmetic surgery. Lockie’s had hair plugs and his ears pulled back. Georgia has new boobs. While Chloe’s “new fat arse” makes her “walk like a pigeon” according to Pirate Pete. (She already had the face of a constipated duck.) No-one has ever topped the vajazzle, though. They haven’t taken up my suggestion of raspberry-flavoured nipples. Or a strategically placed, surgically constructed second “minny” – think of the publicity that would generate! Arg definitely needs laser eye surgery. He and the GC (Gobby Cow) are apparently – showmance alert – so loved up they’re buying a holiday home in Spain. Why Spain? In India she’d be worshipped.
*WHO’S next for over-promotion? Clelia would look hot in ITV’s jungle shower. Chloe L is pretty gutsy. I quite like Shelby too, but her eyes are so narrow you could blindfold her with dental floss.
LEE Mack brought chaos to the Bake Off tent, juggling eggs and dropping them. Only his baking was a bigger mess. Lee made Nick Hewer look like Nadia. He didn’t even recognise a cooking apple. “Celebrity A&E would be easier,” Lee moaned. “If I don’t burn this tent down, I’ve won.” His wife’s recipe saved him. “I think your wife’s sponge is delicious,” Paul Hollywood slavered. Easy, tiger. Lee got the Hollywood handshake, but magnificent Melanie Sykes won the apron. Her tequila-spiked chilli chocolate Freido Kahla cake was a work of art. (Lee’s creations were more like a Dali nightmare.) Only a despicable sexist would suggest that Mel leaning forward over her chopping board was the real show-stopper.
* IT’S a wonder Mel has the energy for cooking with all those toy-boys. It’d be unkind to say she’s tampered with more balls than the Aussie cricket team, but possibly accurate.
HOT on TV: RAF At 100 with Ewan & Colin McGregor – moving and mesmerising... Come Home & Kerri Quinn... .Hospital... Billions (SkyAt).
ROT on TV: Real Full Monty – real bad telly... Hold The Sunset – press the reset... yet another EastEnders crime family – this lot are Brummies, the Peaky Blunders?
WHY is painful comedy Mum so critically acclaimed? There are some smart lines and Leslie Manville works as widowed Cathy, but how could such a sensible, patient woman have such a repulsive family? Her idiot son, his even dimmer girlfriend, her horrible in-laws... I just don’t buy the set-up. Faulty sitcom Hold The Sunset was worse, an insult to John Cleese’s legacy. Man-child Roger wouldn’t get through a single day without being punched. Idris Elba’s In The Long Room seems more promising but Bill Bailey’s character Bagpipes sounds several wrong notes.
*THEY had cannabis lube on Russell Howard & Mum: USA Road Trip, an odd coincidence because whenever I watch Howard performing the words “dopy tw*t” spring to mind. And yes, I did clean that up. Sadly for wonky-eyed Russell and twinkly-eyed Ninette, ITV did the same show in November with bigger names and funnier consequences.
*CANNABIS lube! What kind of munchies do you get after that?
*BILL Maher on Stormy Daniels’s claim that she shagged Trump “dozens of times”: “It was always the same, ‘Yes Donald... you’re so big Donald... I love you, Donald’... then SHE would talk.”
SMALL joys of TV: Amber’s lace bodysuit on Towie. Episodes. Supergirl (Sky One). Roger Griffiths, Enders. Becki Newton, Divorced. The One Strange Rock visuals. The fall of Pat Phelan, Corrie – finally! Let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long for David Platt to batter Josh.
RANDOM irritations: Cookery overkill. EastEnders’ chess obsession – nearly as thrilling as the samosa storyline. Celebrity stripping shows – all tease, little point. The ridiculous Roger character on Hold The Sunset. Survival shows set on islands. Seen that, done that. Move on.
TV Maths. Terry Scott + hair extensions = Kat Moon.
SEPARATED at birth: Robert Snodgrass and Ant Middleton? One has regularly courted danger – at Leeds, West Ham and Aston Villa. The other was in the SBS.
*RE that repulsive anti-Semitic mural: why the hell is Alf Garnett sitting on the end?
*PHIL Schofield was talking about Toff Toffolo’s latest experience on This Morning when he said: “At 11.10 we’ll see what happened to Toff when she was taken up the chimney.” Blimey.