Garry Bushell
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Aug 29. Tears, a walk-out, McCririck in his pants, Chantelle still loving Preston... Ultimate Big Brother is shaping up nicely. Much like Makosi...

Clearly Stephen Tompkinson isn’t the only one who’s been ballooning.

This show gets a lot of stick from people who don’t watch it. But over the years Big Bro has conjured up pure TV magic. No-one who saw George Galloway, MP for Baghdad North, on his knees imitating a cat will ever forget it. Ditto Vanessa’s break-down, Jack Dee’s break-out or Verne Troyer sloshed on his scooter. Normal Big Brother also churned out an amazing array of fools, nuisances, sweethearts and pantomime villains.

At heart, the show is a living soap. It’s given us love, anger, rows, friendship and on a couple of occasions pure unbridled hatred. Real people, real emotions. Real deluded nitwits too. Step forward Paul Clarke who claimed to have lived his life “like an international pop star”. Yes problems set in after series three when BB became a magnet for freaks and talentless losers hungry for undeserved fame.

The low point was Kinga doing unspeakable things with a wine bottle. This shocking moment should never have been broadcast. Everyone knows red wine doesn’t go with fish.

Show bosses made other mistakes too, not least when they put spoilt, tantrum-throwing nitwit Nikki Grahame back into the house after viewers had voted her out. But some contestants were legends. Like Victor ‘The Slick Man’ Ebuwa from BB5, the jungle cat who called himself the plumber “because I lay pipe.” Slick Vic was at the centre of Fight Night, a near-riot over-shadowed only by the Shilpa Shetty incident when poor dim Jade became the first celeb created and destroyed by the series.

I still think Jade was unfairly crucified by the PC lobby. The bust-up wasn’t about race, it was all about class. Shilpa had some, Jade didn’t. The bottom line with Big Bro however is that decent people win. Down-to-earth big-hearted “randy mare” Josie walked the latest run, which also gave us Brian Sewell’s love-child Ben, paranoid grump John James, and Corin possibly rewarding JJ with a J Arthur... C4’s loss will be C5’s gain. Big Brother is dead. Long live Big Brother.

*Ultimate BB could live up to its name if C4 filled that bedsit with Brian Belo, Grace, Jack Dee, Jackie Stallone, Mel Hill, Bubble, Sophie, Charley, Pete, Derek Laud and Aisleyne. And locked in the cellar: Kitten, Kemal, Sezar and Shahbaz. Plus tigers. Very hungry tigers.

*NICE to see Amma again. Lovely girl but very flatulent. She wasn’t so much evicted from the house as blown out. She came into my Big Breakfast dressing room once. The earth didn’t move, but the curtains did. Only Jade kicked up more stink.

*SAD to see The Bill bow out. It was the only bill anyone ever looked forward to. The show created TV’s most believable coppers ever. The likes of Tosh Lines, Jim Carver and June Ackland felt so real every time they came on screen you could smell bacon. The greatest of them all were DI Frank Burnside and dodgy DS Don Beech, a man so bent he made the Tower of Pisa look straight – both characters worthy of a proper revival. ITV blame The Bill’s demise on “changing public taste”. It was our fault! I don’t recall attending the meeting which decided to turn a credible cop drama into yet another melodramatic soap.

*SHIRLENA faces the axe from X Factor for “hiding her mental illness.” In fairness, she didn't hide it very well. But if ITV are genuinely worried that appearing on TV might send Shirl over the edge, what about the effect of giving the woman a taste of fame then publically dropping her? National humiliation? Yeah, that’ll help. Besides, being thrown off X Factor for being nuts is like being barred from the Question Time panel for being out of touch. If Cowell banned the mentally ill he wouldn't have a show. (Or some of the judges.) The bookers run on auto-loon. In contrast, Must Be The Music has original bands, song-writers and musical prodigies as well as the usual karaoke cranks. Real talent.

HOT on TV: Pete Vs Life... John Lythgow (Dexter)... Chuck (Virgin1)... Straight Outta L.A. (ESPN).

ROT on TV: The Deep – plumbing new depths...Great British Waste Menu – a grating waste of money...Ghosthunting with Katie, Alex & Friends – a truly terrifying experience; for the ghosts.

*BILLY Murray plays a vampire in new horror film Dead Cert. Wouldn’t the undead brighten up his old Albert Square stomping ground too? Vampires are sexy, exciting and frankly a lot less far-fetched than current plot-lines. Minty and Heather? Come on! It’d be easier to believe Dot was The Stig.

*THE stars of vampire drama True Blood have got married. Apparently it went very well until the reception. Garlic dips...

*RE Jedward Let Loose, can’t we Let Loose a few rounds instead?

*THE Beeb has launched a contest to find a multicultural sitcom. Very laudable. But given the quality of the cack they’re broadcasting shouldn’t they try finding a funny one first?

RANDOM irritations: no helpline number after distressing scenes of Minty and Heather snogging on Enders. The cash-haemorrhaging BBC lecturing US about waste! Phill Jupitus – he’ll never be as fat as his head, or as funny as he thinks he is.

SMALL joys of TV: Dizzee Rascal flirting with every fit contender (MBTM). Nick Tilsley sharing facial expressions with Wallace from Wallace & Gromit. Mick Miller (Ideal). Joe Strummer Night (Sky Arts). Nikki’s reaction to Mr Snuggles (UBB), and Josie’s verdict on Coolio: “he’s a proper wanker.”

HOW about An Audience With for funny sportsmen like Jimmy Greaves, John Conteh and Jack Charlton? Chopper Harris could come on and talk about all the people he’s kicked. He’d be on stage longer than Ken Dodd.

HOT not on TV: The Best of Brian Conley – real variety on tour.

*C4’s latest ‘provocative’/tedious format Beauty & The Beast will pair an attractive person with a disfigured one. Tsk. Another show based on Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.

Aug 22. IT’S back! Back, barking and absolutely bloody brilliant.The X Factor may be more pleased with itself than Jedward in a room full of mirrors, but it still delivers like Parcelforce on piece rate. Shirlena performing what Simon Cowell called “a musical exorcism” was the funniest sight on TV last night. Her bold re-working of Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ involved growls, screeching, random chat and a lot of whirling. She did a dance that David Brent would have thought twice about.

Shirlena’s a single mum. Anyone surprised? Even Jean Slater thinks this woman is nuts.

Outrageously Cheryl gave her the thumbs down, but Cowell over-ruled her. He was smitten. The leopard skin strides probably swung it. Far worse were Jahm, pronounced Jam because they’d sound best in a lot of traffic. Louis, with his usual startling originality, likened them to “three cats being strangled in an alley.” “Likeable” is Louis’s word of the series, although oddly he failed to apply it to quirky Katie; a 24-year-old Madonna obsessive who Simon called “a singing scarecrow” and who sang better than Madge ever did. Even Cowell gets it wrong, occasionally. He made Katie sing a Queen number instead of her chosen Etta James song ‘At Last’. But when Katie finally belted out ‘At Last’, she blew the crowd away. Cowell has more fun here than he ever does on Britain’s Got Talent. After Cheryl made catty remarks about girl group wannabes, Simon poured her a saucer of milk. And he must have approved the mickey-take of Geri Halliwell whose over-long verdicts were packaged together over Chas & Dave’s ‘Rabbit’. Geri is full of more hot air than Stephen Tompkinson’s balloon. Best voice? Gamu. Worst voice? Ian from G&S. Biggest surprise? Stephen Hunter being married to a woman - he’s the campest straight man since Niles Crane. Steve claimed he’d been influenced by Tina Turner. His dancing made you wish Ike was around to slap him about a bit. It was a tremendous first show. That banner in the crowd saying ‘Simon Cowell is God’ was probably hoist aloft by a relieved ITV exec. It’s not true. But the Pope of throw-away Pop is still the King of Saturday Night telly.

*GERI Halliwell judging talent...who says ITV can’t do irony?

*AL Murray had a pop at my dress sense last weekend. The cheeky bastard! Has he got no mirrors at home? He’s slating my clothes while wearing some dodgy maroon blazer, a dull shirt and a naff belt buckle with ‘BEER’ emblazoned across it. Not exactly Beau Brummell is he? I like the Landlord but he’s really just a posh boy pretending to be Alf Garnett. He hasn’t got a tenth of Johnny Speight’s bottle.

*MEMO to the clueless Sun: Billy Connolly’s Audience With wasn’t included in their retro series because Billy blocked them using the clips.

*ACTS who should get An Audience With: Jasper Carrott – comedy craftsman; Paul O’Grady – naturally hilarious; Jim Davidson – for white-knuckle viewing; Vic & Bob – more bonkers than Dizzee; Jay Leno – a total pro; Lee Evans – genius; Jack Dee – what a grump-fest it would be; Cannon & Ball – audiences adore them; Bobby Davro – with the right producer it would re-launch his career; Lenny Henry – to prove how funny he can be; and Joe Longthorne – because Gypsy Joe is the spirit of showbiz decanted into a suit. And how about the surviving cast of The Comedians, led by Frank Carson?

*NOW Celebrity Masterchef is over, will Dick Strawbridge give Super Mario back his moustache? The state of it! It looked like Dick had just eaten a giant Bradford rat and thrown it back up. How can that be hygienic? If he ever ran out of ingredients he’d just comb out the ’tache and cook up the bugs. We might not have known who most of these celebrities were (this series should have been called Can’t Cook, Vaguely Recognisable) but in fairness, Lisa Faulkner – You Still Would.

*WHY must they serve nosh – which we pay for – to Harrow rich kids or stuck-up French ponces? Why not hard-working nurses, firemen or homeless people? Let’s see what grub goes best with Tennents Super.

*MICHEL Roux’s verdict on Christine Hamilton: “Bone is not on.” I quite agree.

VEXED is...vexing. A female DI kneecapped her husband cos she thought, wrongly, that he was cheating. Is this funny? No, but I guess that’s what happens when you let women out of the kitchen. (Rest of column written with black eyes). Vexed falls between more stools than a sozzled sewerage worker. Its grip on police procedure is as weak as Emo Phillips’s handshake. Crime scenes weren’t sealed off. The hunt for a serial killer involved just two cops. It’s neither comic enough for comedy nor real enough to be taken seriously. And if that’s upset Lucy Punch, let her come round and give me the thrashing I so richly deserve.

HOT on TV: the Spartacus finale... The X Factor... Vexed’s Lucy Punch – knockout... Ideal (BBC3)... new Dexter (FX)... The Middle (Sky1)... Dizzee Rascal (Sky1’s Must Be The Music).

ROT on TV: Roger & Val – till duff us do part... Drama Trails – more like a trial... The Klang Show – falls as flat as Olive Oyl’s chest... and The Great British Bake-Off – oh, just **** off.

*TRAGIC news on Mistresses, then – there’s still another episode to go.

*THE One Show on Monday: big, bright, shiny... but enough about Alex Jones’s teeth.

*IF Mariella Forstrop thinks blondes are discriminated against why doesn’t she stop dying her hair?

*PHIL’s crack den on EastEnders. Not to be confused with Leslie Grantham’s last appearance. That was crap Den.

*MEMO to Whitney: if you want to keep a fella, make an effort. I’ve seen better dressed salads. And did you see Mercy walking around in just a bath towel? Where does that happen? Other than in Minty’s dreams... I’d like to see Zsa Zsa take this up, though, she’d be a towelling inferno. On second thoughts, towels are old hat. Blow driers are far more now. And what man amongst us wouldn’t happily breathe hot air all over Sam Mitchell’s nooks and crannies? Risque in a soap, perhaps, but a lot more wholesome than watching Phil at crack o’clock.

RANDOM irritations: BBC snubbing VJ Day coverage. Sharleen Spiteri. Geri Halliwell saying of Stephen Hunter “there’s a bit of a diva in there”; the word is pronounced ‘div’, love. A Big Brother flood and not one shot of Corin in a wet t-shirt...

SMALL joys of TV: Aunt Sal’s rant (EastEnders – written by Daran Little). Classic Beadle clips (The Unforgettable). Whoopi Goldberg giggling at beavers (One Show). The Viet Cong using shit on a stick as a weapon (Deadliest Warrior). Missing Andy (Must Be The Music) – a really promising band, writing original songs. Everything the X Factor would never show. See also Buster Shuffle and The Hungover Stuntmen.

* CELEB maths: Cheryl Baker + ET = Sharon Small.

*THOSE bodies on The Deep all had bleeding from the eyes and ears. Hmm. The Russian sub’s entertainment committee should never have booked Motorhead.

*DIM TV questions: Why no Norman Wisdom in the BBC’s Normans series? Has Alfred Molina got a brother called Sem? Is Alex Reid’s middle name Can’t?

Aug 15. BBC1’s Mistresses is about as unpredictable as sun rise, a forest bear’s ablutions or an England footballer going over the side. Honestly, there are small town paper rounds with more surprises. When money-bags Chris invested in Trudi’s cake-making business you knew a more thrilling merger would swiftly follow. All it took was champagne and a hug. The little tart turned out to be a piece of cake. A double-layer if I’m not mistaken. First Lucas, now Chris... Mr Kipling had better brace himself. This woman likes to have her cake and eat cock too.

Elsewhere Calamity Katie snogged Trudi’s pussy-whipped husband Richard (aka Dick-less Dick). And Siobhan ended up as ‘best man’ at her ex’s wedding, because none of these drippy blokes have actual mates or backbones.

Dom turned her down but his resolve will last about as long as a fresh-cream doughnut in Dawn French’s fridge. Finally, Jessica’s shifty hubby Mark is now jobless and pot-less, which, according to the show’s demented logic, makes him fair game for betrayal. Especially as Jess makes Monica Mint look like a vestal virgin. The only ones not getting any are the band who follow these daft bints everywhere, plonking out lacklustre backing music. Which mistress will blow some life into that clunking keyboardist?

On past form, Jess will take the horn section.

Things are very different on Spartacus: Blood & Sand where men must fight or die and treachery is rewarded with instant death. In an exciting episode Selonius – framed for murder by Batiatus – met his fate in the coliseum. Shirtless, he looked like a healthier Iggy Pop. And that was after Spartacus had spilt his guts on the earth. One by one the show’s big secrets unravelled – Lucretia’s affair with gladiator Crixus, his hots for slave girl Naevia, Ilythia’s murder of Licinia... it’s all building nicely for next week’s finale, when Sparts finally leads his righteous slave uprising.

This show seemed flimsy at the start, but it’s packed in true love, conspiracy, vengeance, power struggles and shocking twists – like Sparts having to slaughter his best pal Varro. All a bit more exciting than a run on Trudi’s vanilla pods, know what I mean? Imagine a Mistresses episode written by the Spartacus team. We’d get slo-mo fistfights, gratuitous nudity, colourful swearing, bloody murder and a heart-warming scene when Richard’s testicles grow back.

*I HEAR Afghan TV has bought Mistresses but they’re changing the title to Stone Me.

WELL done, EastEnders for showing us the nightmare reality of crack-cocaine addiction. Apparently it makes you listen to old Who songs, dance like Douglas Bader, shadow box, wear rotten woolly hats and sprinkle whiskey on skanky women like vinegar on chips. It’s harrowing. Poor Phil. It was only a few months that the only crack he was up for was Dawn’s. He was a proper geezer when he first appeared in the soap. Two-fisted, hard-grafting. He loved his family, his sister-in-law a little too much, but there y’go. Now he’s a human train wreck, slapping his Mum about (with crack you generally get the first hit for free) and barely able to control his own saliva. It seems far-fetched to me; as likely as Phil marrying a Romanian bag lady, turning into a grass, having a wuss son or nearly marrying a stuck-up solicitor he’d never even kissed. Oh yeah. He did all that as well.

*WHY make Phil a cocaine addict? Well it couldn’t be Max. In that live episode he forgot his line.

LOVED Benedict Cumberpatch as Holmes; my only Sherlock moans are: 1) Just three episodes? WHY? Even The Deep got five and that wouldn’t sparkle if they dipped the scripts in Lourdes spring water. 2) The casting of Moriarty as a camp, Irish git – sort of Graham Not-On. Not so much a criminal mastermind as a criminal disappointment.

*A GAY Moriarty! So presumably his interest in Holmes was alimentary my dear Watson.

*AFTER Sherlock’s success, will the copy-cats at ITV re-jig the adventures of that other great detective Sexton Blake, with his sidekicks Tinker and Pedro the bloodhound?

HOT on TV: Sherlock... Rafe Spall (Pete vs Life)... Pauline Quirke (Emmerdale)...The Heroes of Biggin Hill (Yesterday).

ROT on TV: The Deep – deeply dippy... Grandma’s House – laughter’s hearse... Inn Mates – I’m out... Four Sons vs Four Daughters – forlorn, forgettable, forgotten.

*WHY was Alfred Molina cast as Dawn French’s husband? Simple. He was Doctor Octopus. He’s the only man alive who can get his arms around her.

*I’VE heard Molina pronounced as Mo-Leaner. And Dawn as Ever-Mo’-Fatter.

*DAVID Cameron, Eton-educated, worth £30mill, says he’s middle class. In a related story, Hyacinth Bucket has been downgraded to chav.

*SIMON Amstell? Great catty pop quiz host, lousy actor. His defenders say that Jerry Seinfeld couldn’t act either, but Seinfeld was the finest US sitcom ever written. Grandma’s House honks like Grandpa’s pants.

SMALL joys of TV: Panto horse racing (BB). Corin in jodhpurs. Gerrard’s goals. Lewis (Corrie) – a diamond geezer, in the Liberian bastard sense. Deirdre’s cctv shame. Les Dawson clips (Heroes of Comedy). Phil Mitchell (Enders) – cracking me up.

RANDOM irritations: Tonight’s The Night – especially when gurning loon Barrowman drags some poor sod up from the audience, tells their tale of woe and then sings at them. Haven’t they suffered enough?

WOULD have reviewed The Unforgettable Bob Monkhouse, but forgot to Sky+ it... Seriously, ITV did the great man proud, even if Bob had no time for at least two of the people billed as his friends. The BBC treated the master comedian appallingly at the end, refusing to re-run his sparkling On The Spot series because it contained topical gags (not that it stops them repeating HIGNFY...) Bob was hurt and frustrated, but for trend-obsessed TV bosses he’d committed the ultimate crime. He’d got old.

*QUESTION arising from Simon Cowell going topless: would a bisexual girlfriend be turned on or off by man boobs?

*FATHER & secret son: Angelos (Shooting Stars) and Fabio Capello?

AUG 8. A MISTRESS, as we all know, is something that comes between a mister and a mattress. BBC1’s Mistresses is nowhere near as much fun. It’s like Desperate Housewives without the wit, or Sex & The City without soft porn and the Manhattan backdrop. In short, it’s dull; the plots are dreary, the men are wetter than The Deep, and the women deserve everything they get.

There’s Siobhan, once a married lawyer who got knocked up by her boss. Her wimp husband took her back, and the little slut rewarded him by nipping out for hotel room-servicing from wealthy strangers she picked up in bars. Unsurprisingly she is now single.

Gormless GP Katie shagged her married, dying patient and mercy-killed him (she’s Shipman in chiffon). She then slept with his son and was lucky just to get suspended for a year. Last series she cheated on her new fella with a married doctor. Misery ensued.

Trudi had her heart broken by her hubby who faked his own death to get away from the tedious bitch. She moved in with equally boring single dad Richard but sampled salami with deli dude Lucas, losing any sympathy we may have had for her. Finally there’s Jessica, who’s just a tramp: multiple mistress, lesbian fling, open marriage experiment... this girl has dropped more flies than Rentokil. She’s also a good ten to fifteen years younger than the rest; so why has she been hanging around with these drips since her teens? We’re never told.

The Mistresses returned for a third series on Thursday, arriving at Katie’s stony-faced and miserable – so no change there. The action started six months earlier and the big twist is none of them is cheating – yet. Clearly they soon will be. Wet Richard is sniffing around Katie; baker Trudi has a wealthy investor who wants to cream her cup-cakes. (She needs his dough; he wants to knead her baps.) Jessica’s love rat hubby Mark is as slippery as a well-oiled Mandelson and Siobhan has two weeks to stop ex-love Dom marrying Chris Patten’s daughter, Alice.

There’s some relief from Joanna Lumley as Katie’s ice-cold witch of a Mum; but little fun watching four apparently bright professional boilers repeatedly cock up their pampered lives. Some women viewers find Mistresses “liberating”. The odd stray male viewer is simply thinking: what order would I do them in? (Answer: Shelley Conn first, second and third).

*IF cake-maker Trudi bedded Chris and Richard would it be a meringue a trois?

THE submarine crashed on The Deep. That’s what happens when the captain’s a Minnie Driver. This may be the funniest BBC comedy since Bonekickers. Unfortunately it’s supposed to be a drama. Essentially, The Deep is Cold Feet meets The Abyss after a lobotomy. Pretty people populate the world’s most spacious sub. Their mission is to find out what became of James Nesbitt’s missus (if they’d stayed home they’d have seen her on Mistresses). Goran from ER almost dies retracing her doomed journey only for Minnie to wake him from a coma by threatening to tell his wife they’ve been at it. (Yes, exploring a mysterious crevice, he’d felt a swell and it was “Up periscope!”) I’d like to see Minnie’s technique used on Holby: “We’re losing him, doctor!” “Quick nurse, tell him if he doesn’t pull through you’ll post his STI history on Facebook!” The casting is crazy; the dialogue nuts. But we’re 2000 feet under the Arctic Ocean and There’s Something Nasty Down There. It’s big and scary enough to merit a sinister government hit-man coming along for the ride. What though? I can’t be sure, but we’ve not seen Ann Widdecombe on TV for a while...

*LOOKS like Lewis is gearing up for the Deirdre Barlow Handicap Stakes on Corrie. It’s an unusual event. The nag isn’t widely fancied - the jockey wears the blinkers - but at least the going is good and firm, thanks to Viagra. For an Each Way Bet, see Julie Goodyear.

HOT on TV: Pete Versus Life... Getting On... Mongrels (BBC3)... Jessica Ennis... Glenn Martin DDS (Sky1).

ROT on TV: The Deep – give it Das Boot... Roger & Val Have Just Got In – good for them, wake us up when they’re funny... Mistresses – failing to put the spin in spinster.

*SO let’s get this right. We’ve got Mistresses without sex, sitcoms that aren’t funny (Roger & Val, Rev) and a Saturday Night line-up that dies on its arse until ITV starts showing us clips of Proper Entertainers. Sherlock aside, British TV is tanking like the Pakistani cricket team at Edgbaston. The least bosses could do is re-commission Comedy Playhouse and revive the Audience With format for our many much-loved but under-used mainstream variety acts.

*IN soaps it’s always the little people who get hurt. But enough about Phil Mitchell slapping Peggy...

*MEMO to Peg: you don’t need to trash the Vic to put people off buying it. Just post the crime stats on the net: three landlords murdered, a rape, arson, armed gang raids... Happy Hour here lasts 60 seconds.

*So Bianca hasn’t had it off for two months. Perhaps Ricky has lost his ear-plugs. Bee is a loud woman. Can you imagine the kind of noise she’d make on orgasm? It’d sound like a soccer riot in a monkey house.

*ODD. Watching Mitchell & Webb I swear that I heard the laugh-track yawning. The laughter isn’t so much canned as conned.

HOT not on TV: Jim Jeffries (Bohemia tent, Sonisphere) – makes Frankie Boyle seem tasteful. And saucy magician Kokov whose amazing Russian Roulette routine and uncanny ability to discern the colour of women’s underwear would certainly brighten up Newsnight.

RANDOM irritations: self-obsessed Naomi Campbell. Sam Pepper – as pleasant as a pepper spray facial; his attitude stinks like Josie’s garlic pillow. Groundhog Day scheduling of duff shows like Antiques Master. Alan Titchmarsh, celebrity interviewer – he blows more smoke up a star’s backside than a chain-puffing proctologist.

SMALL joys of TV: Kenny Everett clips (Heroes of Comedy). Iron Maiden live (Scuzz). The cruel but hysterical Jeremy Beadle gag on Mongrels. The Jesse James gang whipping Al Capone’s arse on Deadliest Warrior.

SEPARATED at birth: Bono and Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory), one a maladjusted short-arsed geek who always makes you laugh; the other a character in a US sitcom. Runners-up: Gregg Wallace and the Michelin Man.

*SO, Newly-weds: The One Year Itch... not to be confused with One Night Stand and The Two Week Itch, as seen on The Hospital.

*JOSH on being a virgin bridegroom: “It’s so hard...” Yeah. And it sticks out a mile. (© Donald McGill)

*TELLY Fact: the first-ever cloned cow was Cilla Battersby-Brown.

AUG 1st. THE biggest mystery about the new Sherlock Holmes is the real name of its star. What kind of sadist calls their kid Benedict Cumberpatch? He sounds like a character Kenneth Williams would have played in an old Radio 4 comedy. You half expected to see J. Peasmold Gruntfuttock in the credits too. But what an actor! Cumbo’s performance is dazzling, and the show’s a smash. Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have boldly updated Conan Doyle’s master detective to modern London. Out have gone the deerstalker, the pipe and the cocaine; in have come texting, Aspergers’ and a three-patch nicotine addiction.

Today’s Holmes is a genius who is also more barking than a kennel full of Baskerville hounds. “I am not a psychopath,” he tells a disapproving cop. “I’m a high-functioning sociopath.” He’s closer in feel to Dr Cal on Lie To Me or The Mentalist than Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing. He’s still based at 221b Baker Street, but now his side-kick Watson (Martin Freeman) is a discharged army surgeon with post-traumatic stress disorder. Holmes is an awkward bugger too, subverting CID press conferences with texts. No wonder Plod don’t like him.

The central theme - genius sleuth solves crime through power of deduction – is unchanged. The first case involved a dying cab driver playing homicidal mind-games with his victims. His logic was a bit long-winded (unusual, a London cabbie going round the houses.) But the episode had wit, dark humour and the mental agility of Derren Brown. It introduced Holmes’s spook brother, his landlady Mrs Hudson (“I'm not your housekeeper, you know”) and made the first mention of his arch-nemesis Moriarty. It also visualized Sherlock’s thought processes, so we slow-witted souls could all keep up.

The show is much more in keeping with the true spirit of Sherlock than Guy Ritchie’s ridiculous movie version (The Minging Detective?); and far superior to the Beeb’s last attempt to revive the character with Rupert Everett as Holmes - so washed-out he looked like he needed a blast of the crack-pipe just to get out of bed. My verdict? Complementary, my dear Watson.

*A LONDON cabbie was the psycho-killer. And here’s what really hurt – while he did it, he left the meter running.

*I’LL never forget An Audience With Freddie Starr. I couldn’t. I needed counselling. I was traumatized. Fred strapped me up and made me think he was hurling knives at me while Janet Street-Porter screamed “Kill him!” in a voice that could have torn the testicles off of a Rottweiler. I still bear the mental scars. Starr, who was always volatile, rehearsed a whole new routine for his second Audience With but changed his mind on the night and went into his blue club act instead. Right then, if ITV’s Nigel Lythgoe had access to his knives, hamsters could have eaten Freddie.

*WHEN exactly did weeping sores become a badge of honour? The Hospital introduced us to a procession of swaggering idiots who glowed with pride about their STDs. These shameless birdbrains had unprotected sex with ‘randoms’ and then strutted off to the NHS for a free cure. The boys were full of bravado. “I've had lots of guys thinking they can ask me out after I've treated their genital warts,” said nurse Steph McMillan, one of the unflappable staff. It costs tax-payers £1billion a year to treat STDs. Why? If some condom-dodging dimwit catches dose after dose, let him pay his own bill. Or at the very least, let’s insist that the doctor who treats him is old and doddery, and that he carries a rusty saw in one shaky hand and a book on penile amputation in the other.

HOT on TV: Sherlock – ideal Holmes... Portia De Rossi (Better Off Ted)... Kathleen Turner (Californication).

ROT on TV: Mitchell & Webb – they are to comedy writing what Enders is to social realism... The Old Guys – lamer than an unlucky base-jumper... Kevin Bridges – someone else Scotland has released too soon.

*JOHN Stape may evade the cops on Corrie, but there’s no way he’ll escape the bin-men. If it’s £100 for putting a coke can in with food waste, how much will they fine him for a corpse?

*RUPERT Everett’s ancestors included a rogue stockbroker, a run-away seaman and a colonial officer... all a damn sight more interesting than he is.

*BULL-fights are getting banned yet we can still see a cock fight on ITV2. But enough about Alex Reid.

* QUICK correction: Ride of My Life on BBC4 was the story of the bicycle, and not as previously thought Holly Willoughby’s husband reminiscing about their honeymoon.

*SO 18 Albert Square has a never-mentioned cellar the size of Ian Beale’s caff. Even more amazing, this underground basement in a boarded up house is bathed in natural light. It’s a miracle I tell you; almost as miraculous as Denise’s bladder which held out for three whole weeks...

* JODIE screamed and bolted when she saw boyfriend Darren’s uncircumcised todger. Could’ve been worse, mate; she could have broken it off...

Never mind circumcisions, what Walford needs is a mass vasectomy programme.

*SOAP mysteries: how can those three Fox women be sisters? They’re about as alike as a Swede, an Algerian and an Eskimo. Why didn’t Walford plod follow up on Denise’s abandoned 999 call? If Jodie is so Jewish what was she doing eating quiche?

RANDOM irritations: Big Brother ‘walkers’ being rewarded with TV interviews – they should be fined for time-wasting and permanently banned from our screens. Rubbish cooks on Celebrity MasterChef – some of these Muppets would be hard-pushed to fry an egg. Alan Titchmarsh talking about anything other than gardening. Why do ITV insist on pushing this smug, pug-ugly bore down our throats?

SMALL joys of TV: Top Gun Tom Cruise topping the Top Gear leader board. Dr Legg in the Daz advert. And Reynholm describing Heston Blumenthal’s grub (IT Crowd): “I ate a chocolate radio that still worked in my stomach and a chicken that was actually a glass of water.”

SEPARATED at birth: Ian Hislop and world’s smallest man ‘Well’ Huang Kaijang – one a tiny, balding irritant with an unpopular organ, the other a Chinaman.