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Aug 31. On The X Factor heart-broken Shayden groaned through some abomination of a number about a bird who'd "hu-ur-urt" and dumped him. His pain was nothing compared to ours. Like his ex, clearly a discerning woman, three judges made their excuses and left. In their case they went for a pee; Sheydon just seemed to be taking it.


"Why are you singing to me 'I want to be your lover'?" Cowell asked. Maybe he's heard the rumours... which are of course untrue and unfounded – and nowhere near as worrying as the suspicion that time is running out for ITV's mightiest ratings juggernaut. Viewing figures were way down for last year's final and the US version was axed. That's why Cowell is back in the hot seat, replacing Gary 'Zzzz Factor' Barlow.


We also get Louis Walsh, the luckiest man in showbusiness, mega-gob Mel B and top mime artist Cheryl with her formidable assets of looking good in leather, weeping easily and having a new comedy surname. Tonight not one of these alleged experts recognise Ashley Slater from Top 3 act Freak Power – 'the Hip' in Kitten & The Hip who they told Kitten to ditch! They didn't clock super-posh model Chloe-Jasmine from The Face last night either.


There were a lot of people telling Cheryl how beautiful she was. And she is of course. "What am I, chopped liver?" moaned Mel. No, luv, old banger. Duff acts and comic relief abounded – an old dear with cake, a 63-year-old stripper, and squealing "single Pringles" Blonde Electric who are like musical shingles and are potentially as irritating as Jedward. Naturally Louis loved them.


Blonde Electric have lived in 38 countries; presumably ones where deportation orders are easier to get hold of.

We're back in small audition room, so contenders are close enough to see the judges squirm... They also have a much better chance of hitting Simon with an egg. The real pleasure though comes when Si's eyes light up in recognition of potential earnings, as they did with Chloe. When he heard Jay James's superb soulful delivery you could almost see the pound signs spinning in his pupils and his tongue sliding out like the drawer of a till. If Jay doesn't make the final, I'll eat Wagner's codpiece. Unlike The Voice whose winners last as long as a pound-shop battery, the X Factor does actually produce pop stars. True they had a few barren post-Leona years, but the likes of Ella Henderson and smoky-voiced Rebecca Ferguson are here to stay. It's just a crying shame TV lacks a credible platform for great undiscovered bands who write their own songs.


CELEBRITY Big Brother is as hypnotically horrifying as Gary Busey staggering out of the shower with a loose grip on his towel. (But if you do want to see unpleasant plonkers on this show there's always James Jordan.) On Friday, mean queen Leslie got the boot. Surprisingly his non-stop bitching and moaning had made him even more unlikeable than attention-seeking fruit-loop Frenchy. Vain pain David went first - he was less the Tornado and more the bank holiday wash-out. Pathetic pool-piddler Lauren and Smurf-like Ricci won't be far behind. The volatile mix of egos means a much bigger melt-down than Bake Off's "freezergate" is still on the cards. And for that gift many thanks.


*CBB irritations: Kellie's mood swings - she's up and down like Floyd Patterson; Gary eating with his mouth open; Dee being almost likeable, Stephanie Pratt – prat by name...


*GARY stunned the house by revealing that in a past life he'd "fought for freedom at the Alamo." In her previous existence, Frenchy was a poltergeist.


*TOP exchange. James: "I'm the Brad Pitt of the dancing world." Gary: "Who told you that?" Brad Pitt of dancing! Bottomless pit of ego more like.


HOT on TV: Kitten (tonight's X Factor) – I'm smitten... Jack Dee... A League Of Their Own... Karla Crome (Under The Dome).


ROT on TV: Josh – tosh... Big School – small laughs... Scotland Decides – the TV equivalent of Nytol... Lauren Goodyer – gertcha... Tumble – BBC1 fumble the Saturday night entertainment baton yet again.


BBC1 always claim that EastEnders reflects "reality", which explains why when two cops turned up to update Ian about his daughter's murder inquiry he asked them to "come back tomorrow." Like you would. Maybe Beale is as bored with the Lucy storyline as we are. I'm not even convinced she was killed. The weight of her head might just have been too much for her skinny stick insect body. Of course the "reality", the soap chooses to reflect always enforces the BBC's own prejudices. Crack-whores good, businessmen bad... Female sexuality fabulous, male sexuality sleazy... Carnival great, St George's Day dodgy etc. They are as wet and shocking as an ice bucket challenge. Genuine scandals, like family courts secrecy, never interest them, and you wait in vain for a grooming gang or a Jihadi John to show. Although I'm A Celebrity are still casting...


*WHEN did Phil Mitchell start making "legendary curries"? All he's ever cooked are the books.


*TV questions: does that baked alaska drama on Bake Off prove it's not easy to have your cake and heat it? Is Kellie Maloney suffering from false mammary syndrome? Do Judge Rinder's carefully prepared ad-libs do him justice?


*IAIN binned his ruined baked alaska. Shame. If he'd shoved it straight in Sue's face, ratings would have shot up like Jo Brand's cholesterol.


*EVIL vampire Violet showed off a red-hot dildo poker, a skull-crusher and a breast-ripper on True Blood; gruesome instruments of torture. Or as Corrie's Kirsty Soames calls it, foreplay...

*GIRLS to experience the effect of that flaming sex-toy just make love to the Human Torch and half-way through it really annoy him. Talk about blazing saddle-bags. And you thought cystitis stung.

SMALL Joys Of TV: the vision of perfection that is Emma Willis. The moment Rachel Riley 'orgasmed' on Countdown. Isy Suttie. Stephen King's cameo in Under The Dome. Kate Garraway announcing "The Bush is back." Well tidy yourself up, love.


RANDOM Irritations: CBB's tedious PC overload. Reality TV nitwits on anything other than their own shows. BBC sitcoms; in a sane world the berk who re-commissioned Big School would be selling the Big Issue.


*NOT many wins for British TV at the Emmys. Maybe if the Beeb stopped blowing our dough on DIY, cooking shows and man-bashing melodrama, we might be in with more of a shout. Just saying...


*COME On Down hushed up the real reason Bob Johnson answered "turkey" to three consecutive questions on Family Fortunes. The producer had taken poor struggling Bob to one side and told him that was one of the top answers... Then he stuffed himself.


*SEPARATED at birth: Slade legend Dave Hill and Tim Spall? One played on The Banging Man, the other worked with Gary Holton...


*KELLY Hoppen was talking motorbikes on Dragons Den when she confided: "I can't bear helmets normally, but this is lovely." Then she turned it down citing "lack of protection."


Aug 24. Let's back Kellie Maloney to win Celebrity Big Brother. It took real balls for transgender Kellie to go public, and let's face it she won't have them for much longer. I'm not sure alleged "ballroom bad-boy" James Jordan had any to begin with. On day one he kick-started the first row with Gary Busey, the only genuine star in the gaff. Jordan copped the hump when the actor cracked an off-colour joke. It wasn't much of a gag, but the puffed-up dancer over-reacted like crazy. "I've never hit a 70-year-old man before," he huffed, snapping, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." Unfazed, Busey told him to "Stand up." James bricked it immediately. (Not that this stopped the tough-guy repeatedly boasting that he'd put the pensioner in his place... )


The house's resident morons targeted Gary that night. He'd turned in early but was rudely awoken when Geordie Shore's Ricci slipped under his sheets. The merry gang of no-marks then flashed the bedroom light on and off. Hilarious, no? No. What a shame he didn't chin a few of them.


Oscar-nominated Busey has been called a "has-been", but at least he's been somewhere. Brain-damaged from a near-fatal bike crash, he looks like someone put Nick Nolte, Albert Steptoe and Iron Maiden's Eddie in a blender... and is just as volatile as that sounds. He's certainly more interesting than Kelly Brook's muscle-brained van-driver boyfriend or the invisible woman from B*Witched who might as well be a cardboard cut-out for all she's contributed.


The other big star is former boxing champ Audley Harrison, not to be confused with Audrey Roberts or Ainsley Harriott who probably punch harder. Then brilliantly bitchy ankle-biter Leslie Jordan, melon-smuggler Claire 'Kim Tate' King, eye-candy Stephanie Pratt (no idea), sweet, funny Googlebox George and... the world famous 'Frenchy'! Wow!

Memo to producers: if we have to google people they're not celebs.


The freakish, cosmetically-botched French-n-Stein came in promising to reveal more than Ian Botham's twitter feed (please don't), and appears to be completely divorced from reality. She once dated Busey, although he seems to have suppressed the memory, which in the circumstances is entirely understandable.


Dull and selfish Lauren Goodger, Mark Wright's thirsty ex, is also about as welcome as Lord Rennard at a feminist sleep-over. The producers' favourite is clearly "duchess" White Dee from Benefits Street. It's good to see she's over the depression that stopped her from working... after she got sacked for nicking £13K from her employer. Can someone this feckless/shameless win? Don't bet against it. After Horrible Helen Wood, anything is possible.


DR Who opened with a T. Rex menacing the Houses of Parliament. Out of habit an MP immediately put it on expenses. In fairness it was probably looking for its fellow dinosaurs - in the Lords. I had high hopes for Peter Capaldi but the new Doc's first adventure was the biggest wash-out since The Flood. Movie length but poorly paced, it took forty minutes for the plot to kick in. Before that we got the Doc running round Victorian London (again) in a nightshirt, moaning about his eyebrows, gurning, moaning about being Scottish, scribbling on floorboards and wearing a tramp's coat... all topped up with wearisomely right-on lesbian overkill. The villains, when they finally appeared, were alien cyborgs who'd converted their ship into an Italian restaurant (sort of Star Trek: Deep Pan 9). Natch, Doc and Clara won't be enjoying gnocchi any time soon. The cyborgs were in search of paradise; they won't find it here. The show needs fresh writers, new locations, and better enemies – great sci-fi reflects the fears of our time, not the box-ticking agenda of BBC dead-heads. Next week: Daleks. Again. Yawn.


HOT on TV: Maggie Gyllenhaal... Jenna Coleman – impossible girl trumps implausible plots... Gomorrah (Sky Atlantic)


ROT on TV: Frenchy (CBB) – who the F is she?... Lauren Goodger – she's no Chloe Sims... Most Haunted – dead boring... Cooks' Questions – question one: why watch?


SHOCK developments on EastEnders as we learnt that Charlie Cotton is a janitor at a care-home... Quite why he's pretending to be an undercover cop, and that his Dad is brown bread, remains about as clear as a midnight bedpan. But with Nasty Nick as a father and Mrs. Doyle from Father Ted as his Mum, the geezer was always going to be more mixed up than the Jackson clan. More puzzling is who the feck uses that Polish deli stall in the market? There are no Poles in the soap whatsoever. Like the flourishing but never-staffed Bhel Puri stall, it's one of the miracles of Walford; along with the ease of obtaining prison visiting orders and the limitless supply of NHS private rooms.


*Previously on EastEnders: death, misery, disease, cheating, beatings, shouting and irritating continuity errors. (See also, 'coming soon on EastEnders').


*ON Falling Skies, beautiful blonde half-alien Lexi is undergoing metamorphosis in a cocoon; the Resistance think she's turning into a heartless, domineering monster. To get the same effect with an earth woman, just put a ring on her finger.

*BBC1 hired Miranda to host the Generation Game because she ticked all the boxes... which she then dropped on the floor and tripped over...


*HELEN Flanagan played a dodgy nurse on Holby. She was careless, light-fingered and unqualified. Although in fairness, demand for bed baths went right through the roof.


*RAY Winstone wasn't related to his alleged forebear on Secrets Of The Asylum. For the true first sign of early madness in the Winstone family, see Ray's decision to star in the 1980s movie Tank Malling.


*SOME Scousers With Jokes were decent people, sure, but why not use professional gag-tellers? You wouldn't rely on untrained barristers or surgeons, why leave the vital business of making us laugh to amateurs? Liverpool is crawling with comedians – John Martin, Sean Styles, Doddy. Yet for some perverse reason, Jeremy Paxman has more chance of landing his own stand-up show than Mick Miller.


*MARIELLA Frostrup's 'husband borrowing' scheme; not to be confused with Tina McIntyre's one. That didn't turn out quite as well...


*COME On Down only scratched the surface of quiz show scandals. Forget the coughing major, what about the way Eggheads is slyly and almost imperceptibly fixed in favour of the home team?


SMALL Joys Of TV: Tamzin Outhwaite (New Tricks), despite the clichéd snooker scene. Iron Maiden, Sonisphere (Sky Arts). Cuckoo. Vampire Bill and Sookie getting it on again on True Blood; I guess that made him the really grateful dead.


RANDOM Irritations: Time-wasting, obviously fixed TV list shows. Endless Jonathan Ross bashing – give him a break, he's a funny guy and he's said sowwy.


SEPARATED at birth: Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen and Vladimir Putin? One a ruthless sociopath with absolutely no scruples, the other a TV actor.


*HAIR triplets: Ken Barlow, Justin Hayward, Michael Fabricant?


*HOT not on TV: The Man (Ben Crellin) at Edinburgh.



Aug 17. NICE to see ITV's tribute to old game-show hits (to see it nice). But is Bradley Walsh's Come On Down entirely necessary? ITV schedules are already a nonstop tribute to old game-show hits. You can barely move for antique formats. There's Catchphrase, Family Fortunes, Mr & Mrs... they rebooted The Krypton Factor a while back and Celebrity Squares is coming. It's like watching Challenge.


No-one has managed to revive that other alleged classic, 3-2-1, largely because the show was about as easy to follow as Usain Bolt in a maze. Middle East politics seem sane and rational compared to Ted Rogers's clues; they were as baffling as the scoring system on Mock The Week. All anyone remembers about 3-2-1 are Dusty Bin and Ted's amazing finger dexterity. Yet at its height, it attracted 17million viewers. It was still getting 12million when it was axed!


So why are we bombarded with clapped-out formats these days? Brad didn't ask. TV execs claim it's because of their "timeless appeal" but you can't help suspecting that the real reason is they can't think of anything better. Look at the dross they've slung at us recently: Poker Face (axed), Red Or Black (axed), Amazing Greys (axed), Tipping Point (absurdly not yet axed)... Rob Brydon's The Guest List on BBC1 is pretty much Blankety-Blank without the lousy prizes; although at least it's packed with laughs, unlike say Don't Scare The Hare or Sky's Beat The Crusher (both axed). The Price Is Right was revived in 2006, but was nobbled by a two-bob budget. And Bullseye wasn't itself without Jim Bowen.


The right host can turn a flimsy format into a mega-hit, but the wrong one can kill it dead. Dave Allen was a comedy genius but he couldn't have done Ted Rogers's series. With Dave at the helm, it would have been 3, 2 and a half...


Brilliant Bob Monkhouse was a game-show master. He always used to thank fans for remembering The Golden Shot, and thank 'em again for pronouncing it "shot". Health & Safety concerns no doubt prevented its revival – a loaded crossbow on a live TV show in the presence of someone like Vernon Kaye? The temptation would be too great.


*BRUCE Forsyth was the ultimate game-show host, and if you don't believe me ask Bruce. He took his revenge on me once, dragging me up to play the Generation Game: "Look at the camera – the one with the red light on. You've been in a red light area haven't you, Garry?" It went downhill from there.


HELEN won Big Brother, which just goes to prove how easy the show is to fix. This series was more rigged than the Spanish Armada. Without her free pass to the final, Hell's Hel would have been out in week two. Rooney's ex was a nightmare in human form; stroppy and unreasonable. Attractive yes, but Helen made Charley Uchea seem calm and rational. At the start she bit off more heads than an angry raptor. Consequently she was the most booed winner in Big Brother history. In a sane world you'd rather streak through Gaza singing Hatikvah than spend time cooped up with Helen or Nadia or Nikki bloody Grahame. But reality TV is as far from sanity as Emma Willis's hairdresser is from SpecSavers. BB producers bent the rules to keep her in the house and that will backfire on them. It offends our sense of fair-play and will cost viewers. Rewarding Helen's bad attitude diminishes us all.


*"PEOPLE probe me constantly," moaned Helen, as Wayne Rooney shifted nervously on the family sofa...


*STATS this series - down: viewers; up: Rooney's phone bill. Up: Two-Second Steven; down: Kimberly's drawers. Up: viewer complaints; down: the nation's collective intelligence...


*BEST-ever BB contestants: Brian Belo, Jade Goody, Victor Ebuwa, Nasty Nick, Kate Lawler, Jon Tickle, Imogen Thomas, Craig Phillips, Charley Uchea, Sophie Reade (for a couple of good reasons).


SEXY Beasts is a dating show with a difference, the main one being it looks like an off-shoot of Torchwood. The would-be lovers are made up like aliens; so a tree woman is wooed by a fish-face, a demon and the world's tallest leprechaun. It's basically Blind Date meets Grimm. With their faces hidden, it's all about personality - bad news for fishy Jake who didn't have one. Demon Matty blew it with crude chat, so the guy "getting wood" was lucky leprechaun Chris who won Bridget over with pizza, gentle charm and a card game. Poker? If he's lucky. Miss Tree woman was well worth a shuffle. Despite the leprechaun, there was no pot of gold in sight but whoever dreamt up this format could probably supply some pot.


*WHAT a relief Jake did the poetry and not Matty. He would definitely have found a rhyme to end with tree-some.


HOT on TV: Josie Gibson... Gomorrah (Sky Atlantic)... Royal Marines Commando School... Lilli Simmons (Banshee, Sky At)


ROT on TV: Tumble "taking gymnastics to a new level" – yeah, rock bottom... bumbling Alex Jones (Tumble)...Boomers – bust... The Village – history lessened... In The Club – my cue to be In The Pub.


THE first series of The Village was bleaker than EastEnders, the second is so one-sided and clichéd it's unintentionally hilarious. Lord Kilmartin is an arrogant aristocrat who hunts peasants, cheats and drops the N bomb; he's part Alan B'stard, part Justin Bieber. The nasty newspaper baron couldn't be more dastardly if they gave him a cartoon moustache to twirl. Writer Peter Moffat is shoe-horning modern obsessions into the saga. So as well as a cheeky gay peck, we get a black boxer (who nobody in this small 1923 Derbyshire backwater is even mildly surprised to see). In coming weeks: swoon as Kilmartin bites the heads off kittens, evicts farm labourers from their own skins, sells the widows and for a laugh personally kick-starts the Wall Street Crash...


*WE got "erect biscuits" and a "good forking" on Bake-Off, along with Sue Perkins observing "A penny lick off the street doesn't sound like the most hygienic thing in the world." The biggest shock? Contestant Kate revealing: "I could probably pipe for a few days and still not be quite finished." That's stamina.


*JOHN drove up the kerb and on the wrong side of the road on 100 Year Old Drivers. But he's still officially safer behind the wheel than Lindsay Lohan.


*THE Kardashians are refusing to shoot their next TV series until the burglars who robbed them are caught. Lads, if you need a safe house...


SMALL Joys Of TV: Brian Blessed. Sexy Beasts. Jim McDonald's "chateau du big house". Banshee's decapitation scene – bringing new meaning to a lorry heading off.


RANDOM Irritations: Child Genius confusing memory with IQ. Clare Balding overkill. The Beeb's uncritical Edinburgh festival coverage. Comedy-drama Walter – neither funny nor dramatic.


SEPARATED at birth? Bobby Gould and Max Clifford? One likes to dribble before he shoots, the other played for Arsenal.


STOPPRESS. Here's a relief. That offensive material the cops are rumoured to have removed from Cliff's house? It was just his greatest hits collection.



August 10. If reincarnation works will Ken Barlow come back as a lemming? The old rover returned to Corrie looking lean, healthy and happy. And you knew that'd last about as long as Kirk would on Eggheads... or Norris Cole on Kylie. Ken's gone veggie, but that's not the reason he won't be chewing on Deidre's turkey neck any time soon. A few words with Carla were enough for him to learn that his darling wife had kept a few things from him. Like the small matter of his son being banged up on a murder charge. "How could you NOT TELL ME!" he yelled. Dreary sobbed, she wailed, she gurned. It was hilarious! Seriously, Corrie hasn't been this funny since Blanche died.


Using a form of logic known only to women, Dreary tried to pin the blame on Ken. Will it be enough to push him onto another bird's canal boat? It usually is. And Carla did tell him "I'll give you one." Granted she was talking about a sympathetic ear, but you never know with Kenneth. He's had more flings than a fifties frisbee.


Elsewhere Jim McDonald popped up as an inmate in the same slammer as Peter, so he did. The great man is known as The Landlord cos he controls the clink's supply of illegal hooch. Jim's opening line "Welcome to the big house" was topped only by "Some of my best friends are murderers, so they are." He's already more fun than the Andrea/Lloyd saga, wild-child Max (so much like wild-child David it's easy to forget he isn't the kid's real Dad) and the soap's woeful attempts at slapstick.


Sadly Corrie has been curling up like the last cheese sarnie in Roy's caff for yonks. Like a rather sleazy transvestite tart, it's garish, trashy, past its best and increasingly hard to take seriously. The earthy reality that once made our senior soap special has been drowned out by melodrama; its humour has gone to pot. Killers, crooks, conmen - Corrie has seen more crime than Compton. Lord knows what Albert Tatlock would have made of ITV's cascade of PC cobblers masquerading as plot, though. So yeah, it's good to see Ken and Jim, but what a shame they didn't bring some fresh writers and a new exec producer along with 'em.


YOU can rely on The Great British Bake-Off to serve up exactly what viewers expect from it – non-stop, nudge-nudge innuendo. In rapid succession we were treated to "perfect nuts", "I just like to feel it", "I'll do it by hand", "nice swirl, shame about the crack" and from Sue "There's no such thing as too big, not in my world." "You can get a nice rise doing the all-in-one method," contestant Kate revealed. "It makes it difficult to handle but it does taste better." And if you think that's childish, you're probably right, but in Ruby's absence it's the only way I can get through an hour of people cooking cakes we can't eat. There's gold in them thar goofs, folks. And remember, as teenager Martha discovered, "It springs back when I touch it."


TV shows marking 100 years since the outbreak of the Great War have been moving and respectful, capturing the incredible heroism and horror of the conflict. Teenage volunteers, swept along by patriotism, lied about their age to join up, and as old men painted vivid pictures of sacrifice and valour. We now know that "the war to end all wars" was based on lies. Franz Ferdinand's assassination wasn't a plot by the Serbian government. Britain didn't go to war to save Belgium either. Politicians deceived us then as they do now. See Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya... The cost in lives, wealth and power was immense; nearly 900,000 of those brave British Tommies never returned. And the terrible bloodbath led directly to Hitler and Stalin.


HOT on TV: Brothers In Arms... A Touch Of Cloth (Sky1)... Fiona O'Shaughnessy, Utopia ... Gomorrah (Sky At).


ROT on TV: Walter – criminal... Sue Perkins – cold, corny & condescending... Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy – E4's mystery re-commission.


US late night chat-show Conan O'Brien is back (Conan, TruTV), which at least guarantees new jokes nightly. Our TV has practically given up on topical comedy. We get Chatty Man once a week if we're lucky. When Ukraine announced plans to open Chernobyl, their nuclear disaster site, to tourists, Conan quipped: "They say it's just like Disneyland except the six foot mouse is real." His news predictions include: "Violence in the music business will hit a new peak when rapper 50 Cent is cut into quarters."


OI Mick no! The Queen Vic guv'nor has only taken the rap for Ian over that old brass Rainie. It's proper pony. As if he'd dip his candle in that! (For translation, see Danny Dyer). Mick's week started with his swimming ordeal and ended with him pleading guilty to kerb-crawling. He went from Splash to rash... in both senses. Linda is loyal, but will dirty Dean exploit her fears to enjoy a full length?


*BIG news from The Holiday Show: last year's luggage has just got here.


*ON Utopia, the Janus virus is set to wipe out everyone except the Roma. I'm pretty sure Nigel Farage isn't writing this. Will Janus work? Who knows? But with deadly chicken bugs and Ebola it might not need to.


*MYSTERIES: re Todd's expanding cheeks on Corrie, is he storing nuts for the winter? Why isn't each episode of Bake Off 69 minutes long? When will Ken Barlow give the Moody Blues back their hair?


*THE latest True Blood episode was Lost Cause, also my feelings on the show.


SMALL Joys Of TV: Jim McDonald (Corrie), so it is. The Simpsons go Lego. Scrappers. Enwezor's voice (Bake Off) – is he swigging helium between bakes? The Orange Is The New Black episode of Conan.


RANDOM Irritations: BBC1's man-hating drama agenda. English TV blanking the Scottish independence debate. Bake Off's Jordan Cox, a proper Colin Hunt. The 21st Question; question 22: Who commissioned this cack?


MOTHER & Secret Daugher: Kirsten Dunst and Bake Off's Martha? Maybe Kirsten had a bun in her oven...


*IN The Club, BBC1's laboured pregnancy drama, divides blokes into fools and f***wits. No surprises there. Weak, worthless men are par for the course in TV drama. Why it also has to be so joyless escapes me. *BERNIE Ecclestone paid a German court £60million to end his bribery trail. Wasn't that a bribe?



Aug 3. The talk turned to kinky sex on The Only Way Is Essex. Danielle Armstrong had been reading Fifty Shades, which shocked me – who knew she could read? Danni wondered which Towie temptresses would be up for a bit of bondage. She thought Grace, who could certainly do with a gag.


The sauciest it got was Foghorn Ferne revealing that Charlie "has got the length to do an elephant's trunk." Let's hope she was talking about his hair.


Granted Lydia let Arg blindfold her in this series finale, but that was only so he could surprise her with a gospel choir belting out Westlife's Flying Without Wings. Proper torture, then... They were at a funfair, but the only rollercoaster Arg took her on was an emotional one. The pair had consciously, okay semi-consciously, re-coupled in Spain, and then the shock news of Arg's historic threesome – with two pies and a kebab – tore them apart. He charmed her back with the help of some blue Manolos and this private serenading session round the back of a Grease-themed fairground party. I'd guess you'd call that a funfair advantage.


Elsewhere dodgem was the order of the day – Gemma Collins and her three bellies were looking for love and the blokes had to dodge 'em. Gemma, 33 (stone) fantasized about Danny Dyer giving her a spin on the waltzer, without stopping to consider how they'd fit her into one of the cars to start with. Presumably grease the sides and sling in a bun. Love was in the air for some, though. Lewis Bloor, AKA Franken-Bloor, pretended to cop off with Lauren Pope; and Elliott asked duck-faced Chloe to slip away to Spain with him. For all its stilted acting, psychic charlatans and obvious fakery, Towie's core is essentially sweet-natured. It has a morality that's generally absent from Geordie Shore's sexed-up shenanigans. Granted it's hard to care much about Grace (Luisa Lite) and frowning Fran, but with its flirting, feuding and working class families made good Towie is still a reliable antidote to the downer of EastEnders. How could you not love a show that serves up lines like "Chemistry is like Chlamydia; you've either got it or you ain't?" On Geordie Shore they've got both.


IS it any surprise that Max on Corrie is "a nut-job"? His selfish Mum Kylie is a boozing bird-brain who once sold him, and as for his Dad... who is he again? Have we ever been told? Because he might as well have been David Platt, son of Satan. He seems to have inherited those evil Platt/Tilsley genes by a process of osmosis. Seeing Max on Child Genius would be surprising, seeing him terrorise Norris with a souped-up water-gun is exactly what you'd expect, along with cloven hooves and a discreet 666 birthmark. His uncle Nick (very nearly his step-father) gave a masterful display of family values when he smashed up Michael's Super Scoop ice-cream van. Seeing him snog Gail pushed Nick over the edge. A few minutes more and the ex-con might have whipped out his Magnum and started on the raspberry ripples. No Häagen-Dazs remarks by request. Nick vented his fury on the defenceless vehicle, kicking in the wing mirror and hurling rocks at it. Talk about a Nicka Shocka Glory. The Weatherfield Gazette missed a proper super scoop there. Gail reacted by dumping Michael; unlikely maybe but nowhere near as iffy as that library sit-in.


*CORRIE women's favourite ice cream topping? Crushed nuts.


THE Singer Takes It All is a singing contest where keen young wannabes compete to belt out karaoke songs... What a great idea! It's a wonder nobody ever thought of that before. Oh hold on... Ah, but unlike The X Factor or The Voice, this show lets viewers vote live via an app (just like Rising Star in the US... coming to ITV later this year.) C4 could have created a real alternative to Cowell's plastic pop by launching a vehicle for bands with original songs; a credible successor to So It Goes. Presumably this generic cack required less effort.


HOT on TV: Tori Black (Ray Donovan)... Children Of Syria... Red Arrows: Inside The Bubble... Kerry Washington (Scandal).


ROT on TV: Josie Cunningham (This Morning) – why give her the oxygen of publicity? (or oxygen)... The Singer Takes It All – C4 hits a bum note... creepy cry-baby Chris (Big Brother) – get rid.


HOT not on TV: easy-going stand-up Martin Beaumont.


SO Nick Cotton isn't dead at all. His funeral was faked, EastEnders undertaker (Norman Tebbit) was in on it, and we're probably just weeks away from the least welcome return since Ebola. "'Ello ma... " But if Nasty Nick can live, why not Pete 'Treacle' Beale or Angie Watts? And how about reviving Dr Legg and family? It'd make a nice change for Dot to get a Legg over.


*WAS burning sacks of dope really the best way to get shot of it without being detected? Great clouds of puff wafting through Walford... even the local Plod were going "Dude, need nibbles... "


*HUMAN women have been mating with fish-faced aliens on 21st century sci-fi saga Falling Skies. Didn't I tell you Pete Burns was from the future?


*THE Alternative Comedy Experience brings us Robin Ince, Josie Long, Susan Calman, Kevin Eldon... Alternative to what, exactly? They've been on telly and BBC radio for years. Eldon had his own BBC2 series.


*THE Dragons were horrified by Norman Wright's taxidermy business. Why? A mounted grizzly would really liven up that den... starting with a decapitated Duncan. Norm should've made them an otter they couldn't refuse.


*BEAVERS Behaving Badly? Isn't that Geordie Shore?


*THIS driverless car on the news, was it inspired by the one George Michael fell out off?


SMALL Joys Of TV: the Commonwealth Games. Renee beating the Chaser single-handedly on The Chase. Dee Ivens (All-Star Mr & Mrs), still gorgeous. Michael Rodwell's Corrie car reg: E57 SAG – almost exactly his reaction on seeing Gail naked ("Eeee, 57? Saggy!").


RANDOM Irritations: Neurotic Mums on Child Genius (not you, Catherine); Shoshana is pushier than a cash-strapped dealer. Excessive re-capping: "Here's what you watched five minutes ago... " Car Thieves & Thugs illustrating how good cops are undermined by bad courts.


SEPARATED at birth: Hayley Elton (Child Genius) and Veep's Selina – one frighteningly pushy and ambitious, the other a sitcom nitwit.


PUT-down of the week; True Blood's sarky Pam to vampire boss: "I'm sorry, did we f**k and I blocked it out?"









Garry Bushell