Garry Bushell
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Dec 30. XMAS night telly was the biggest wash-out this side of Mr. Stink's bath. We got death and heart-break by the bucket, but comfort and joy were in woefully short supply. Between them, BBC1 and ITV churned out more soap than a Lifebuoy factory - posh soap, medical soap, everyday soap... over six hours of it; the TV equivalent of workhouse gruel. Seventy-five minutes of Call The Midwife had me calling for an epidural. You can see the show’s appeal: abandoned babies, poverty, tough, dedicated women... But unless they’re a Jeremy Hunt, most blokes need gas and air to get through it. I’d rather give birth to a bowling ball than suffer that again.

BBC1’s first new comedy, the Royle Family, didn’t go out until 9.45pm. It wasn’t worth the wait. There was some good news – Derek Branning died. But Matthew’s collision with the Grim Reaper on ITV’s over-long, under-par Downton was sadder. As for the alleged Strictly “treat”, we’ve just endured four months of Brucie and co’s lame banter. Last weekend’s final had more filler than a Mark 2 Cortina. Please sir, I want no more.

Maybe it’d be easier to bear if the ghosts of Xmas Telly Past didn’t haunt our channels. Festive specials from Eric and Ernie and the Fools & Horses gang were worthy of the name. When the Trotters came back eleven years ago, 21.3million viewers – three-quarters of the audience – tuned in. This year the most-watched show was EastEnders with 9.4million, half a million fewer than last year and two mill down on 2010. It could be those viewers are lost permanently to game consoles, social networking sites or rehab. Or it could be they’re just bored rigid by the Xmas misery served up by TV Grinches?

Can anything be done? Yes. BBC1 should immediately revive Comedy Playhouse for writers who aren’t part of the Oxbridge mafia; because if we want a new Del-Boy, Tarquin Farqemhall isn’t going to create him. All current TV hits are re-boots of old formats, yet bizarrely no-one tries to make a down-to-earth, family friendly sitcom or mainstream sketch show. Why aren’t popular modern comics given the budget and creative control to make Yuletide specials as Dave Allen and Les Dawson did? Whoever casts off the ghost of the Xmas TV Scrooge will earn the nation’s gratitude. But make it quick; the Ghost Of Xmas Future is probably already working on a festive Embarrassing Bodies for 2013... Cringe as Dr Jesson shows how to check yourself for jingle balls before tackling a nasty outbreak of genital myrrh. Hallelujah!

CLARA is the best thing to hit Doctor Who since leather-clad Leela. Saucy, smart and stunning, she’s a barmaid and a governess, and is thus capable of bestowing the twin gifts of beer and discipline – a quality even moody Gallifreyans must find appealing. The Doc, still mourning Karen, bumped into her as they faced a flesh-hungry snow monster, possibly the John Lewis snowman’s evil twin. Their real enemy was a kind of giant snow globe wonderfully voiced by Sir Ian McKellan. Small delights abounded, like Tardis hidden above the clouds, Strax the butler and the in-joke of the Doc posing as Sherlock. Lizard lesbian Madame Vastra came back to administer a one-word lie detector test. (My one word to her? Moisturise!) In the end, the world was saved by human tears, which at least means Albert Square will never face an invasion of alien snow fiends. Worryingly, Clara (Jenna-Louise Colman) has been in two episodes and died in both. Maybe she’s channelling Kenny from South Park. This time round she was killed by a deadly ice maiden (think Anne Robinson with frostbite) but lives on in the trailers.

* DR Who’s memory-erasing worm was rather phallic. If Tulisa used it to pleasure herself, she could sing Like A Virgin without blushing.

DEREK Branning had a heart attack on EastEnders, which came as a surprise. Who knew he had a heart? Like Phil, Del was more a bully than a villain. Although billed as a Kray for today, his criminal activity seemed to consist entirely of emotional blackmail and manoeuvring to be “’ead of the fam’lee”. The death of this scumbag will only trouble those who enjoyed pondering how he could possibly be related to Max and Jack. Their old Mum must have really put it about. The slagggg! Elsewhere Tanya found an unexpected surprise in her Xmas stockings - Kirsty, an “exotic dancer” all earrings and cleavage, who Max had absent-mindedly married in Manchester. The guy has more secret past than a Bangkok ladyboy. Max had trusted Derek to pay Kirsty off so he could marry Tanya (the ex-wife who buried him alive). All of which proves you’d be lucky to find one wise man in Albert Square, let alone three. There haven’t been any virgins here for 27 years.

*WHEN they bury Derek will someone please spray-paint his tombstone with the slogan: ‘Toad In The Hole’.

NICK called off his wedding on Corrie and bedded his brother’s wife instead. Kylie – one cracker worth pulling... It was all Leanne’s fault. The bride-to-be stopped off en route to the ceremony to offer Peter first refusal. “I’ll take this dress off now,” she promised; something she used to charge £250 an hour for. Jealous Eva grassed her up, Nick stormed off and Leanne’s big day was as ruined as Kirsty’s turkey. Nick and Kylie got as rat-arsed as Mylie Cyrus’s barber. She offered him a shoulder to cry on, he offered her something harder. Sozzled sex ensued (a ménage Artois?), and it won’t end there. Nothing stays hidden in t’Street, except Peter’s appeal to womankind, and Nick’s personality.

*WHY is Tyrone marrying Kirsty when he could prove he’s Ruby’s Dad with a simple DNA test?

*KIRSTY’S alternative Xmas recipes: chilli con carnage, crushed nuts, battered cod piece, broken leg (possibly of lamb).

*EMMERDALE got their Yuletide slaughter in early – Cameron killed Alex Moss on Xmas Eve. Doctors say he’s still well enough to play for QPR.

HOT on TV: Jenna-Louise Colman (Dr Who) – Karen who?... Room On The Broom... Outnumbered... Kirsty (EastEnders)... Restless.

ROT on TV: Xmas telly – a great advert for Netflix... Mr Stink – Roald Dull... The Girl – stitching up Hitchcock... Doors Open – Rankin ruined ... That Dog Can Dance – stank like Jim Royle on an all-sprout diet.

THE Royle Family revolved around neighbour Joe’s lonely heart ad: ‘Vacant Lady Wanted.’ And they don’t come more vacant than Denise... The rest of the plot involved her equally dim husband Dave’s impotence and was as limp as he was. The Royles should have been allowed to die after 2006’s brilliant, moving Queen Of Sheba episode. The writers have been running on empty ever since, and the odd nice line can’t sustain an hour of screen time.

*BEST gag? Barbara: “I’ve gone over the top with presents this year; I spent two hours in Poundland.”

*COULD anyone be as dim as Dave in real life? Yes. Joey Essex thinks Danish bacon comes from Germany. The kid’s as thick as TOWIE Gemma’s love handles.

*R.I.P. Gerry Anderson, creator of TV’s Katherine Jenkins and Noel Gallagher... sometimes known as Lady Penelope and Parker.

*FIVE people were credited with writing the Miranda script. Does it really take that many to type ‘tall woman falls over’?

*THAT Dog Can Dance with Christine Bleakley... Yeah, we know, we saw her on Strictly.

*THE Yanks are trying to deport Piers Morgan. That’s baffling. Big gob, big head, no talent... America, he’s made for you.

*ON Downton, Edith’s editor told her: “I want you to be in my life, and I want to be in yours.” Her what, he didn’t say, but then it was Xmas.

*PANTO? Oh no it wasn’t! John Bishop’s comedy drama was an odd mix of slush, slapstick and caricature. If the script had been funnier, no-one would have minded.

SMALL Joys of TV: Strax, Doctor Who’s “psychotic potato dwarf” of a Sontaran butler (Jeeves and Who-ster?). Miranda having “the nipple equivalent of a lazy eye.” The darts. The Peep Show finale. Bobby Ball (Strictly). Pete describing vomiting Jane on Outnumbered: “She’s a Vesuvius full of trifle and we’re Pompeii.”

RANDOM irritations: Friday Night Dinner – the only Jewish family in Britain without a sense of humour. Chummy on Call The Midwife – a drunken giraffe in a nurse’s dress would be less awkward. The demise of the Xmas Day blockbuster movie. Let's Do Xmas With Gino & Mel, there was more festive cheer in King Herod's house.

*AN anagram of Gino and Mel is: “Dim, no angel”... but that just refers to Mel of course.

SEPARATED at birth: Merlin’s Dad Balinor and Eric Cantona?

THEY drop babies everywhere on 1950s medical saga Call The Midwife; in the khazi (very hygienic), in empty shops... Where next? At a skiffle concert? In the Quatermass pit? Bring on Mrs. Brown with her baby cannon.

Unpleasant image of the week. Brucie asking judge Bussell for a score on Strictly: “C’mon then Darcy, finish us off, love!”

Dec 23. IT was Derek! Dirty dog Derek has been slipping Kat the goldfish on EastEnders... just as I predicted back in September. Let’s hope he lit her fire better than he lights his cigar. Even Alfie can’t have been that shocked. Kat had his cousin’s kid! She banged Andy the gangster! She did time for prostitution... The woman has handled more suspect scrotums than Christian Jessen.

Poor cuckolded Alfie discovered it was a Branning on Thursday. But which one? Sadly Grandad Jim is indisposed. Jack’s loved up. And it couldn’t be Max cos we saw lover-boy’s legs one week and he wasn’t dragging his feet. Max always drags his feet. No, pug-faced Derek fitted all her requirements being male and available. Never mind ‘Who shagged Kat?’, ‘Who wouldn’t Kat shag?’ is the question, and no doubt a shorter list.

There have been twelve men on the actual moon – that’s a slow year for her.

Alfie was gutted, naturally. I mean you marry a slapper, you don’t expect her to break your heart 97 times. If you’re Alfie...

Let’s hope he doesn’t try picturing Derek giving Kat the cream. It’ll have the same effect as the Winter vomiting bug. Still, it’s easier to believe in their fling than the Brannings sharing a gene pool, though. Hunky Jack, Pug, human baked bean Max... they’re the least likely brothers since Arnie and DeVito.

We’ll never learn what Derek’s rose petal fetish was all about. Every rose has a prick, perhaps. But expect endless close-ups of Kat in tears, her clown make-up running hilariously – just like Del did from those random thugs last week.

Elsewhere in fun town, Bianca is still working for tips. Here’s my tip, love: get down the benefits office, you must be owed a fortune. Whitney got her bucket filled, not for the first time. Alfie found a bell (for the bell-end see Ian Beale). And the German theme, reflecting East London’s long-standing love of the Luftwaffe, saw Big Mo, 76, dressed up as Brunhilde. Tune back on Xmas Day for the seasonal joy of Del’s death and a drunken Fat-boy mistaking Lucy’s legs for a wishbone.

Enders is as doomed as Derek is, a worn-out soap on the ropes, recycling the same tired ideas in ever decreasing circles. Even a great writer like Simon Ashdown can’t do much with characters who have had every interesting facet of their personalities sand-blasted out of them by the show’s tiresome demands for Misery Über Alles.

   *MAX has a dark secret. Yeah. Play join-the-dots with his freckles and it actually spells: ‘Muppet’.

*JOEY Branning has bedded Lauren and Lucy. So technically he’s been through thick and thin.

*DEAR Just Jane, I found Big Mo quite horny as Brunhilde. Do I need psychiatric help? Yours, Jason Grimshaw, Weatherfield.

WELL done Bradley Wiggins for winning Sports Personality of the Year in such a brilliant, tight field. And hard luck to second-placed Jessica Ennis; if it’s any consolation you always come first in my dreams.

C4’s Bad Santas had nothing on Ian McShane as loony Lee Emerson in American Horror Story: Asylum. Lee shot a chain-store Santa dead for promising a kid a racoon skin cap. Wearing his bloodstained suit, he then bumped off a couple for having too many Christmas decorations. Scrooge, eat your heart out. And on Xmas Day in the asylum, he ate an orderly’s face (so many office parties end like that). Now that’s a bad Santa.I believe Lee has since emigrated here and works for the BBC, developing festive storylines for EastEnders.

HOT on TV: Little Crackers (Sky1) – especially Jason Manford’s and Paul O’Grady’s... Christine Scott Bennett (Inbetweeners USA).

ROT on TV: The Making Of A Lady – less Downton Abbey, more downright shabby... Three Go Mad At Xmas – mistle-turd... Celebrity Eggheads – most contestants were neither.

THE Making Of A Lady was comfortably the worst period drama this side of Tracey Barlow with PMT. ITV claimed it was “based on a forgotten classic.” Yeah? Well three cheers for amnesia. The poor man’s Downton (sort of Downsize Abbey) lurched from dull to melodramatic without ever coming close to surprising.

*THE Making Of A Lady? Nothing like how they did it on My Transsexual Summer.

*JENNIFER Saunders told Graham Norton how she got chewing gum in her knickers. It made her Extra Wrigley. (Dawn French had two pies, and a pasty in hers.)

*DID Jennifer have Juicy Fruit in her underwear? Probably, back in the day... Flavour? Tuna. Eventually...

*EX MP Oona King will be Dancing On Ice alongside Pamela Anderson. Oona says: “I have no strategy; I just want to stay upright” – so pretty much the opposite of Pam’s life-story.

*ANTHEA Turner’s booked too. Makes sense. Her career’s been on ice for years.

*LISA Riley claims Strictly is better than sex, which begs the question how lousy must John Sargent’s love-life be?

*MAGENTA Devine turned up on Celebrity Eggheads. I thought she was dead! Having watched it, I’m not convinced she isn’t.

*EAMONN Holmes is to appear in Holyoaks. He’ll be playing Birkenhead.

*ODD Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways ended and still no mention of London’s Northern Line.

*LEANNE had an ice-skating disaster on Corrie – she couldn’t keep her legs together. Old escort habits die hard...

*POOR Tyrone got battered again. He’s like a Teddy Bear ravaged by a Rottweiler. Life with Kirsty is painful, sure, but think of the make-up sex...

*RAMSAY’S Kitchen Nightmares? Boring now. Suggest Ramsay’s Kith & Kin Nightmares, co-starring his father-in-law.

*THOMAS Kochs is general manager at Claridge’s, so when Inside Claridge’s voice-over revealed “At the helm is Kochs” it didn’t mean the same as when similar things are said about QPR...

SMALL Joys of TV: Slade Night (BBC4). The Graham Norton Show. US weathergirl Ginger Zee. Fringe’s homage to Monty Python. Kirk’s floating birds on Corrie – the biggest collection of unsinkable turkeys this side of the Xmas TV schedules.

RANDOM irritations: One Direction playing at Max Branning’s stag do – yeah, that’s what Cockney geezers want. “Crisis meetings” to save X Factor – why bother? It’s had its natural run. We’re bored with it now.

SEPARATED at birth: Kat Moon and the Saturday Superstore crow? One a mucked-up squawking mess of a bird who’s seen better days, the other a puppet. Runner-up: ‘Lord’ Patten and a knackered toad.

TV Questions: why does Michel Roux always look like someone experiencing the final part of a back, crack and sack procedure? Why does Strictly’s results show need two writers? What’s to write? A semi-stunned gibbon could knock out those links.

Quote of the month, Mel Giedroyc choosing between Jason Statham and Brian Cox announced: “Give me Cox, definitely.” Her mate Sue begs to differ.

Dec 16. JULIA Davis echoed the thoughts of millions of viewers at the British Comedy Awards. “Say something funny for f***’s sake,” she begged her team. Most of the winners couldn’t be arsed to try. So well done Lee Mack for snogging Augustine Kwembe to the floor, and Bob Mortimer for saying “We’d like to thank... so many dealers.”

Host Jonathan Ross had some half-decent lines. He called David Mitchell and Victoria Coren “the oddest pair in showbiz since Russell Howard’s eyes.” And claimed: “John Bishop appeared on Who Do You Think You Are and managed to trace his act all the way back to 1972” (still no word on his accent).

Yet most of JR’s script had the distinct whiff of “that’ll do” about it. No wonder the show’s end credits sped past like a North Korean rocket.

The judges’ decisions were as baffling as Hunted. Gloomy curmudgeon Charlie Brooker was named Best Entertainment Personality, despite having the disposition of a toxic dump. The unwatched Hunderby won Best Sitcom; Morgana Robinson, who’s been on TV for three years, got best Comedy Breakthrough Artist. And Jack Whitehall is the new King Of Comedy, a result C4 fixed by making sure he wasn’t up against any big box office comics, or popular contemporaries like Kevin Bridges and Micky Flanagan...

Vic and Bob richly deserved their writing gong, but Moone Boy was disgracefully snubbed. And why was there no international award? Is it because smart Yank sitcoms like Modern Family still aim for a mainstream audience? Most of the night felt like a small, self-satisfied elite patting themselves on the backs. It took the show-closing return of Ali G in his Jimmy Savile tracksuit to make the event come alive. C4 should pay whatever it takes to get Danny Baker back writing the opening monologue. They need to up the anarchy, too. Get Johnny Vegas blathered, bring on the Browns (Mrs and Chubby), have Peter Capaldi host in character as Malcolm Tucker and give pride of place to comedy psychopath Jerry Sadowitz.

*JACK Whitehall has overcome tremendous odds to triumph. The son of a leading theatrical agent, he attended two top private schools before breezing through an art degree. What chance did he have in life?

*OF course the real fun is in the bogs at the after-party, which traditionally see a heavy, seasonal layer of Russell Brand approved snow.

*WHY was vent Nina Conti up for a ‘breakthrough’ gong? Nina broke through a decade ago when she won a BBC New Comedy award.

WRESTLING’S Golden Age knocked the stuffing out of any rosy nostalgia you might have had for the, ahem, sport’s ITV glory days. It’s hard to believe that millions of us brought in to grotesques like Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. The 40-stone Haystacks had just three moves in his repertoire and barely enough stamina to go two rounds. At least Hulk Hogan looked the part! BBC4 recalled the legends: Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, Johnny Kincaid... Sadly they missed Brian Glover as French fighter “Aris from Paris”, but who could forget the enigmatic Kendo Nagasaki and flamboyant Adrian Street who was half Tarzan, half New York Doll? Equating these old grunts and grapplers with today’s WWE would be like comparing a tin-can telephone to Skype. Yet kids and grannies lapped it up, the old dears going nuts at ringside wading in with their handbags. It may have been as authentic as Mick McManus’s hair colour but millions were suckered, much as some today believe that X Factor is a guileless singing contest designed to produce pop stars.

HARD-working builder Jason had a fair bit to see to on Corrie – landlady Stella! Their fling has all the future of the John Lewis snowman, of course, but Audrey should probably brace herself. Now he’s had cougar, he might fancy some moose.

*MEMO to Corrie: next time Carla and Leanne have a public cat-fight, please make sure it involves water, oil or a pyjama party, with Tina vs. Kylie on the undercard.

*ON Misfits, a woman switched her baby to another bird’s womb, like Izzy and Tina; and a fella had his wedding tackle stolen, just like Tyrone and his cojones. Misfits, it’s Corrie for mutants!

HOT on TV: Boardwalk Empire season finale... Jack Irish (FX)... Micky Flanagan... Karla Crome (Misfits)... Pacquiao vs Marquez.

ROT on TV: 15-Stone Babies – nappy saps... Susan Calman – as funny as Syria... The Hour – clocked up more clichés than the X Factor judges.

LIKE many parts of the East End, Albert Square has been transformed into a German Xmas market... Hmm. Maybe the soap’s ratings would pick up if they got real. Walford General must be one of the few London hospitals left with a functioning A&E department. And why is Bianca working for tips? Unionise, girl.

*WHO should help bring up Lola’s baby, Phil or Shirley? Strewth, Tarzan had a better start in life raised by apes.

ON Weight-Loss Ward, a consultant told 47-stone Terry how much his treatment was costing. “How’s that my problem?” he responded indignantly. “It’s not a cost to me. That’s a cost to the NHS.” Yeah. US! Thanks fatty.

*PLEASE note: Life Of Pi is a movie, for Life Of Pies see Eamonn Holmes.

*15-Stone Babies? Yikes! Imagine the stitches!

*WHAT connects 15-Stone Babies, Rylan Clark and the Spice Girls musical? They’re all signs of the forthcoming Apocalypse...

BIG drama on Strictly when Darcy told Lisa Riley “your cha-cha got loose.” Mercifully the cameraman missed that. Kimberly Walsh got four “tens”, which made sense. She’s always been a ten to me.

*STEWART Francis: “People say I have the legs of a dancer, but until the cops find the rest of the body they’ve got nothing on me, man.”

*LOVE Archer on C5, but when is he going back to Ambridge?

SMALL Joys of TV: Tommy Tiernan. Stewart Francis. Moonshiners (Discovery). Cheers re-runs (ITV4). Kirsten Price (My Bare Lady). Lorraine Pascale sharing her preference for meringues (“I like them stiff and shiny”) and a seven inch loose bottom (tin).

RANDOM irritations: unfunny Comedy Awards acceptance speeches. Daphne’s voice (Eggheads). People calling Maloney “the new Steve Brookstein” – Steve had and has a great soul voice. Have I Got News For You persisting with joke-free female panellists. Film 2012, rendered unwatchable by Winkleman. And Alfie Moon: ditch her you wuss!

SEPARATED at birth: Raymond Blanc and Dudley Moore? One a comical little fella with a daft accent, the other Dudley Moore. Runners-up: James Arthur and Sloth from the Goonies.

*CAROLINE Quentin: Little Cracker? A little crackers, surely?

DEC 9. The Royal Variety show was more to do with Britain’s Got Talent than a 100 years of showbiz. This was the Simon Cowell vision of popular entertainment; a vision with all the breadth of a model village drainpipe. Variety didn’t come into it; it was 95per cent music with a lazy pinch of nostalgia and a dancing dog. And when ITV did pay tribute to the greats of yore, it only served to remind us what we’ve lost. Then Sammy Davis, now Stavros Flatley. Then Tommy Cooper, now Rhod Gilbert hollering pointlessly about potatoes. Then Morecambe & Wise, now David Walliams cracking feeble Queen/ Cowell gags; be still my aching TV remote.

David’s turn with Alan Carr as Ashleigh and Pudsey was a comic dog turd of Digby proportions. Even the old pros couldn’t be arsed. Tarby phoned in an ancient anecdote; Brucie tap-danced sitting down. At least he didn’t sing. Hype triumphed over substance. Bill Bailey was hailed as a ‘comic genius’. Eh? Sure he’s clever and musically adroit, but we’ve seen seals play tunes on car horns. One Direction were fine if you like that sort of thing. Rod managed to croak out one song, headliner Neil Diamond just two. Not much of a climax.

It’s tragic that comedy takes a backseat these days. You only have to go back to 1996 to find a bill that packed in Bob Monkhouse, Jackie Mason, Jim Davidson and Joan Rivers – all hosted by Brian Conley. There are still international acts who can deliver classy comic punch: Jay Leno, Bobby Slayton, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, Lewis Black. And home-grown craftsmen such as Adrian Walsh and Johnnie Casson who deserve the screen time. Terry Alderton would smash it. The Royal needs world class variety stars: magician Lance Burton, impressionist Rich Little, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. It needs younger UK pros like vent Steve Hewlett. And why not Joe Longthorne? It seems odd that an event raising funds for old stagers turns its back on Britain’s living gold. Above all, the show needs a natural entertainer like Bradley Walsh or Brian Conley at the helm. And Pasquale. Don’t scoff. Check out Joe’s panto takings. People love him.

*TOP Royal performance? Prince William, about eight weeks ago.

*SO, the big result this weekend at last. The final battle after all that build-up. I don’t know who the winner was yet, but my money was on Pacquiao. Apparently there’s some singing contest going on as well.

ALIEN Investigation hyped up their ‘aliens’ as shamelessly as a Victorian freak-show: Roll up, roll up for the Montauk Monster, a mysterious corpse found on a beach that was “no match to any known species.” Was it the result of secret genetic experiments at a near-by government complex, C4 asked breathlessly? Nope. It was a partially-rotted racoon. Wayki, a tiny skeleton in Peru with Marty Feldman eyes and a bigger head than David Walliams turned out to be a deformed baby. While the Alien Mummy of Metepec was actually three marmoset monkeys stitched together by a bored taxidermist. Conclusion? People will swallow anything. Mermaids, Big Foot, Boris Johnson... we want to believe that something more than human exists.

*PEOPLE who claim they’ve been abducted by aliens always report the same things: odd bruising, memory loss, the feeling they’ve been fiddled with. That’s not alien abduction, that’s a night out with Denise Welch.

TOWIE Live was everything you could have hoped for if, like me, you were waiting to see the biggest TV disaster of 2012. The setting was a variety night performed by the cast, people who are to talent what George Osborne is to economic growth. The episode was directed with the grace of a blind air traffic controller with a migraine. Scenes were cut off mid-sentence, sound faded, people talked over each other, or looked around desperately for cues... It was so far beyond horrendous, it lurched into hilarious. The producers clearly forgot this show only works as a heavily-edited soap about the young and dim blowing their dough. We don’t need Arg in his pants looking like he’s auditioning for a West End farce, we need the next step beyond the vajazzle. And as I’ve argued before that innovation is the surgically constructed second “Minnie”. C’mon Chloe, you’ve had fake boobs, a butt lift and veneers, why not an extra fanny? You’re already called ‘that woman with the two prats’... every time you’re seen out with Joey and Diags.

* TOWIE: Totally ’Orrible, Witless, Incompetent Effluence.

HOT on TV: The Fear... Peter Mullan... Heather Headley (Royal)... The Town.

ROT on TV: live TOWIE – the biggest bomb this side of the Gaza Strip... Kirk Norcross singing - Kirk No-Voice... Stephen Fry Gadget Man – bodge-it show.

TO save Britain’s pub trade, Heston Blumenthal built an edible boozer, which was as logical as trying to keep the Norovirus at bay with hankies made of corned beef. You could eat Heston’s pool table, and even his pub walls. I hear the barmaid’s underwear tasted of scampi fries, although that was nothing to do with the show. PS. To save pubs, slash beer duty. Simple. Cheers!

*CHARLIE Brooks expressed a preference for old camel penis on I’m A Celeb. Wasn’t that Dirty Den’s nickname?

*THE Walford advent calendar is full of good cheer: dumped daughter, cheating wife, dead Derek... Open it Xmas day and Santa coshes you.

*BOFFINS say the universe is producing fewer stars than it used to do. For proof, see X Factor.

*JAMES Arthur revealed: “This time last year, I’d given up.” This time next year? Ditto.

*CHRIS Tarrant’s terrifying train journey through the Congo had something in common with his trip through Surrey. Both left Staines.

*FIVE more top cartoon cuties: Lurleen Lumpkin (Simpsons), Lana Lockhart (Family Guy), Valerie Brown (Josie & The Pussycats), Becky Arangino (American Dad), Titania (Simpsons)

SMALL Joys of TV: Kevin Bridges. Chris Tarrant Extreme Railways. Richard Madeley – out-Partridging Partridge. Anne Hathaway’s Claire Danes spoof (youtube).

*IRON Maiden Behind The Beast + AC/DC Live At River Plate + Led Zeppelin Live In London = antidote to X Factor.

SEPARATED at birth: Charlie Baker and Jack Black?

Dec 2. THE sight of Rosemary Shrager in the bath on I’m A Celebrity was bad enough, but talk of her love-life has scarred me for life. Rosemary told Ashley that she’d gone without sex for twenty years. Ash advised her to “release your dragon”. Possibly a reference to some supercharged vibrating device I’m unfamiliar with...

Rosemary is a big woman; the telly chef lost two stone in the jungle and nobody noticed. I’m not saying she’s fat but when she sat in that bath the water in the dunny rose a foot and a half. Shrager is so large, a night with her probably counts as a threesome. But good luck to her next lover; he’ll need an awful lot of Vaseline - just to fit her through the bedroom door. (And ear-plugs; big, powerful ear-plugs. Rose bursts into more tuneless songs than Rylan Clark.)

This hasn’t been a classic series, which is why the producers nicked old Big Brother ideas (the secret meddling, the shackles) just to spice it up. ITV’s jungle is always watchable, though. It shows famous people as they really are. We’ve learnt that Ashley is down to earth, bright and decent, that actors are often dull without a script, and that Helen Flanagan is a feeble flake who looks great in a bikini. Helen’s ‘best bits’ montage should just have been a video of her in the shower.

In the absence of real needle, Eric Bristow kept the show alive. Only Pampers take the piss better. David Haye played it almost right, coming over as easy-going and polite as well as rock hard. When the Hayemaker was in a confined space with a crocodile, you were worried for the croc. MP Nadine was a controversial booking but there was definitely something sexy about her. Many base men are asking: would you do to her what she did to her constituents? I’m not entirely sure what happened with my old mate Brian Conley. I don’t buy the idea that he was weakened by lack of food. I reckon camera starvation was the real problem. And that’s understandable. Brian is one of our last great all-round entertainers. He lives to perform. Why stick him in the jungle, ITV? He should have been compere at tomorrow’s Royal Variety Show.

*CHARLIE Brooks won I’m A Celeb. Not entirely sure why; she did sod-all in there. That EastEnders fan bloc vote is a powerful force, I guess.

*ERIC Bristow thought Helen was a waste of space. Surprising. I thought the old darts maestro would have an eye for a double top.

*ROSEMARY claimed Bristow bullied her. (Teased, surely?) She moaned about not having had rumpy-pumpy. She should have seduced Eric for some grumpy-pumpy. Remember, Bristow browns, Bristow thickens all in one go...

DEAN Gaffney applied for a job at MI5. Ridiculous, yes, but still more believable than Carrie Mathison as a CIA agent on Homeland. Not only is Carrie a crazy-eyed fruit-loop, she also disobeys orders, beds her prime target (noisily) and is incapable of concealing her emotions. She’d make the world’s worst poker player; every thought shows on her face. There are actors in silent movies who react less. Boss Saul defended Carrie, insisting “She’s turning it around” – yeah, reverse cow-girl by the sound of it. Her possibly deafened lover Brody is now a CIA triple agent. Last week he was snatched and delivered to Abu Nazir, the world’s most wanted terrorist, who somehow slipped into the USA unnoticed. The plots have gone from exciting to ridiculous, with a side order of dull (hello Dana), but it’s still more watchable than Hunted.

*HOMELAND mysteries: Why bother bugging Brody’s motel room? You could hear Carrie’s moaning three streets away. How did Quinn recover so quickly after getting machine gunned in the guts? And how-come the terrorists’ teeth are so white? Roya must use Simon Cowell’s dental hygienist.

*DEAN ‘Robbie Jackson’ Gaffney a sexy Bond-style spy? Jack from EastEnders is likely to roger more...

KIRSTY beat up poor Tyrone again on Corrie. She also locked him up in their house. How thick is Ty? He was on the ground floor and didn’t even think to climb out a window. The boy needs slapping. Oh, hang on... He is an idiot though. If Kirsty said she wanted to start swinging he’d take her up the park. Natalie Gumede is scarily convincing as the female Chris Brown, but the sooner Kirsty takes up jogging on Blackpool tram lines the better.

HOT on TV: An Idiot Abroad 3 (Sky1)... The Dust Bowl (PBS America)... Peep Show – men behaving sadly.

ROT on TV: Kookyville, C4’s “comedy with a difference” - the difference being it’s not remotely funny... Falcon – falc-off... Have I Got News For You – all the satirical bite of a toothless Gummy Bear.

MICHAEL Parkinson, plugging his new DVD, told Loose Women: “We took twenty of my favourite interviews and gave them length.” Parky’s guests have included Shirley McLean, Cameron Diaz, and Sandra Bullock – all worthy of length in their day.

*RYLAN will come into his own on the X Factor Live tour. Those big arenas always need good ushers.

*THIS year: Sarah Beeny’s Selling Houses; next year: Helen Flanagan Selling Burgers.

*Married BBC news bods Tim Willcox and Sophie Long are at it. Every night he whispers those three magic words: “This just in.”

*THEY tackled insomnia on Goodnight Britain. Yeah, trouble sleeping? Watch BBC1. It always works for me.

*WE never got to the bottom of Secret State’s biggest mystery – what shade of boot polish is Gabriel Byrne using on his barnet?

*JUST 470,000 people watched Hugh Grant’s C4 documentary on phone hacking. Poor Hugh. He’s gone from sucked-off to Hacked-Off, and now his audience have f**ked-off.

*BIANCA is cutting hair on Enders. Who’d trust old wobbly-gob with scissors? Still, now she’s got ’em, would it hurt to cut up that poxy puffa jacket?

*RHOD Gilbert’s Work Experience is a great original idea for a TV series… if only Hale and Pace hadn’t done it before in 1997’s Jobs for the Boys.

*QUICK Crickley question: Devil’s Cleave, is it anywhere near Builder’s Bum?

SMALL Joys of TV: Gyp Rossetti (Boardwalk Empire). Rhod Gilbert’s egg and cress sandwich train debacle. Ricardo Fuller’s goal against Peterborough. Eric Morecambe riffing with the Beatles (Bring Me Morecambe & Wise).

RANDOM irritations: X Factor murdering Motown. Rylan’s inevitable future on reality TV. Dermot’s ‘concerned’ face. End of year round-ups already. Chris Patten, there are knitting patterns with more substance.

*I LIKE the Old Jews Telling Jokes franchise, but what has the BBC got against old pros telling them properly?

SEPARATED at birth: Merlin’s Morgana and Robert Smith from the Cure, one a source of terrifying evil, the other a sorcerer from the Arthurian legends... Runner-up: Eric ‘Beaky’ Bristow and a parrot.