BUSHELL ON THE BOX
Dec 28. Ah Christmas... a time of joy and laughter, love and hope.
A time for family, forgiveness and fond memories everywhere...
Except on EastEnders of course, where seasonal glad tidings for the Carter kids amounted to: grandad's dying, nan's got dementia and Mum's been raped by your cousin (who's really your uncle)... Dad Mick wasn't decking the halls with boughs of holly – he was too busy decking Deano...
Rage and recrimination festered on into Boxing Day when distraught Mick threw a few regulars and a load of random extras ahht ov'is pub.
There was a disturbing moment when Shirley said "Please Mick, can we go upstairs" but even Enders wouldn't sink that low.
When Linda finally walked, you wondered what took her so long.
Of course the BBC will say this is "real life", "sh*t happens". But in real life good things happen too.
People love and aspire and get on with each other. And that's what misery junkies at EastEnders forget.
What they serve up isn't Christmas, it's Jeremy Kylemas. They couldn't subvert the Yuletide message more if they were funded by ISIL.
We're told the soap has improved this year. But all they've done is recycle old plots at a faster pace. "Dean's your bruvva" is just the latest twist on "You ain't my muvva."
Linda's ordeal is the fifth time a major character has been raped (Kathy, the part-time bipolar sufferer Stacey, Little Mo – twice, Kat historically by her uncle).
And the big dramatic build-up depended on her usually attentive loving hubby not noticing she's been treating Dean as if he were the Grinch gate-crashing a Nativity Play.
At Xmas, people want to escape from drudgery and celebrate what's great about humanity. That's why our fondest festive TV memories are the Trotters and Morecambe & Wise, shows that brought us sunshine.
All EastEnders brings us is folk getting caught in life's sad downpour without a brolly.
If life were genuinely like this, there would be a Dignitas clinic on every street corner.
*THAT Queen Vic menu in full: turkey roasted, Mick stewed, Dean battered...
*WHAT that Albert Square choir should have sung: "A pitiful sight, we ain't happy tonight, we're wincing in a Walford woeful-land... "
*DID Stan Carter stuff the turkey on Christmas day, or did Cora storm off before he had a chance?
ON Downton, Mrs Crawley confessed: "I'll take it lying down, standing up or in a semi-recumbent position." Blimey, no wonder Lord Merton was so keen on marrying her.
It was a cosy two hours, as warm as the brandy Lord Grantham now has to ration (though his ulcer will probably last as long as Mrs Patmore's blindness scare... )
Innocent Anna was freed from jail, single mum Edith was forgiven and Carson proposed to Mrs Hughes who replied "Of course I'll marry you, you old booby; I thought you'd never ask." So did we!
How long it'll be before he's enjoying her old boobies is both another matter. There's more chance of Barrow trying to snog her than her buttoned-up butler beau. In other news, Tom left, Lady Mary has another love interest, and scowling Lord Sinderby, who looks like The Hood from Thunderbirds, thawed when his secret lovechild was nearly exposed.
The old order is secure – for now. But the General Strike is looming, the depression's still to come, and we're just three generations from seeing the Crawleys reduced to swearing like Fulfords on reality TV.
DR Who was plagued by dream crabs – which sounds like something you might catch from a midnight fantasy involving one of the ropier Geordie Shore boilers.
They were parasites similar to Alien's facehuggers; ugly walnut critters that suck faces like tipsy Xmas aunties. They take over your brain and feed you fantasies to keep you happy while they eat you... much like EU apologists, and mainstream politicians. The story itself was part Inception, part Miracle On 34th Street. Nick Frost sparkled as the curmudgeonly Claus, though the plots had more puzzling fudges than a Heston Blumenthal sweet shop. Who were the dream crabs? Where they were from? And how did Clara get involved to start with? We never found out. The dream-within-dreams stuff must have baffled under-12s, but that didn't stop the show being scarier than waking up in bed with Ian Beale, or Santa's sleigh scenes from being magical.
*I REALISED I'd also entered a dream-like state during Dr Who. The real-life Jenna Coleman would never do "that!" And she certainly wouldn't thank me afterwards.
BBC1 clobbered the opposition as decisively as Roy Cropper laying into Gary with his cricket bat on Corrie, winning the lion's share of the Xmas Day audience. The Street has long been infected with the EastEnders disease; and although not sucking quite as desperately on the teat of despair, our senior soap also served up festive misery.
It was ho ho woe for Kylie – kicked out by outraged David after he caught Callum delivering a wrap of whiz.
This is the same outraged David who once hid ecstasy tablets in niece Bethany's doll, resulting in a trip to intensive care.
Boxing Day saw Roy come a cropper and ending up inside after hitting Gary for six. Ah, the sweet smack of willow on loser...
Gary was robbing his till, and deserved every whack, so naturally his victim is in the wrong. That's the most believable soap twist of the season. Low point? The Nazirs chasing a chicken.
*NICK Tilsley has always been wooden and stiff, but now he's with Erica those qualities are localised.
*WE know Steve McDonald is depressed, but turning down a kiss from Michelle? That's properly mental.
XMAS crackers: The Wrong Mans... Darcy Oakes, Edge Of Reality... Downton Abbey... Homeland... The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestaum.
XMAS knackered: Celebrity Mastermind contestants - most were clearly neither... Miranda – ho-ho-hopeless... John Bishop's Xmas Show – lame and lazy... The Perfect Penis – total cock.
ONLY an old grouch would bang on about how "Xmas telly was better when we young" – but it was, and the proof is repeated at this time every year. Comedy was the cornerstone of the schedules. It was warm and family-friendly. This year Miranda was the only prime time comedy on Xmas evening, and that was as funny as period pains.
Hart's weak slapstick – big woman falls over/licks cake/mucks up love life – only appeals to that half of the population without testes.
Mrs Brown's Boys was warm-hearted but lazy. (The old quiche/quickie gag again? Really?). It was rightly shunted out after the watershed. John Bishop's effort was so weak you suspected North Korean cyber pests had got at the script.
Time surely for the posh boys who commission BBC comedy to stand aside and make way for someone with a down-to-earth sense of humour.
ON Strictly, the trained dancer (Flackers) beat the other trained dancer (Webbers). It seems Caroline Flack was never quite "one step away from a disaster" as claimed at the start of the series.
The glory of her cha-cha has turned many heads, often belonging to people called Harry. I cheered when she grasped the glitter ball, even if it was older than the ones she usually goes for.
This series proved that even a poor line-up, lightweight presenters and a disappointing lack of sex scandals can't derail the show's amazing ratings. The glamour is the thing.
*POOR old Len Goodman seems to be losing it. Not only was he wrong about Jake and Pixie, he also fluffed lines. "It's a Len from ten"? Time maybe for a management guy from a P45?
THE Apprentice has lost the plot now. If you can get kicked out because Sugar hates your business plan, what's the point of the tasks? Why not just pitch on Dragons' Den? Shugs went for someone in a service industry for the third year running. You bottled it, son.
SMALL Yuletide Joys: Chas & Dave's Xmas Knees-Up. Ray Winstone, Would I Live To You. Ken Dodd, Celebrity Mastermind. Cannon and Ball, Not Going Out. Carols From Kings. Patrick Troughton's son Michael turning up on Dr Who. Morecambe & Wise Live 1973.
AFTER my 'WhoDat?' app, how about 'WhoDaF*ksDat?' It'd come in really handing when identifying the talentless nitwits presented to us as "celebrities" on modern TV shows...
SEPARATED at birth: X Factor's Wagner and Vince Neal, one an overlooked inspirational nutcase, the other some geezer out of Mötley Crüe.
*NASTY Nick shagged his ex, Mrs. Doyle, to the romantic sound of the Sex Pistols, although she skipped the obvious evergreen gag "Is this Johnny Rotten?"
Better punk songs for sex with Nick: Born To Lose, Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've), I Wanna Be Sedated...
*XMAS mysteries: how does hard-up Alfie afford his Just For Men hair dye? Why does Mick Carter have lunch and not dinner like most Cockneys (or "a bit of Lily" as in Lilley & Skinner.) Why does no-one in Walford ever joke about their sky-high crime and 'eart-ache rates? Dark humour always thrives in poxy areas.
Dec 21. The British Comedy Awards stink like a pit of Martian methane.
They're self-indulgent, joyless unjust and unrepresentative - largely because they're controlled by industry prigs (misprint).
The jury is made up of TV execs, showbiz agents, broadsheet hacks, so-what acts and so-so comedy writers.
It's basically the people who run TV comedy telling us how great they are. Consequently the backslapping marathon is as funny as Mel B and Stephen Belafonte's next Relate meeting.
Or Christmas Day in Walford.
Leaving aside Jonathan Ross's monologue, the night consists of iffy nominations, witless acceptance speeches and dodgy results. Oh but what about the public vote, they cry. Well who votes and where? Did anyone ask you?
Jack Whitehall being named Britain's funniest man three years on the bounce is as aboveboard as the Russians making Putin "Man of The Year" again.
Harry Enfield's acceptance speeches were cringe-worthy. The only winner who made an effort was Uncle's Nick Helm.
Wossy's scriptwriters certainly didn't. He had a couple of decent lines. "I'm shaking like Griff Rhys Jones opening his mansion tax bill," he quipped, adding the claim that "comedy, like Rolf Harris's lawn, has grown and grown."
Sadly it hasn't, though. Old stalwarts like Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Kay and Lee Evans are unassailable giants compared to the current crop of lightweights.
Naturally the producers found no room for proper tributes to the genuine greats we've lost this year: Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, Rik Mayall etc.
C4 could make this night must-see again. They could clear the schedules and broadcast it live. They could unleash Jerry Sadowitz, Frankie Boyle and Johnny Vegas.
They could invite Dapper Laughs to present a gong with Bridget Christie, resurrect Barrymore and find better judges (any pub would have them).
But the only real way for TV execs to really revitalise the Comedy Awards would be to create more space for working class comedy.
Laughter used to be the backbone of mainstream TV. Thanks to these dullards it's now a minority sport, catering largely to their fringe tastes and snob prejudices.
When Brendan O'Carroll broke through they were genuinely surprised. They don't get earthy humour.
Bad Education is all well and good but this bunch of clowns would never commission another Fools & Horses.
NIGEL Farage drank so much with Steph and Dom that you feared liquor mortis would set in.
The pickled poshoes are part of Googlebox's charm, but their booze-fuelled chat with the UKIP leader was sub-Dermot O'Dreary. Never mind Seth Rogen, this was the interview North Korea should have targeted.
The only thing we learnt was that Nigel has only got one ball... which if nothing else gives his detractors a new song...
If they'd really wanted to unsettle him, Steph should have just whopped out one of her baps and breast-fed a passing cameraman.
*MEMO to C4: why are you looking for the new Hamiltons? No-one liked the old ones!
*I'D rather watch Sandy and Sandra grill Miliband. It'd make a change to see him choking on Pot Noodles instead of bacon...
THOSE scary interviews on The Apprentice were the biggest let-down since the Met Office "weather bomb". The much anticipated main bout, Daniel vs Claude Littner, was kid gloves stuff.
Sure Claude turned on Solomon but that was like duffing up Bambi. Daniel has been a total cock through-out "this process" and even lied about getting an award. Yet the only one reduced to tears was Bianca.
Interrogator Claudine (no idea) accused the South London girl of "hiding behind a mask"; Ricky Martin made her cry. Why? Bee works hard and has comfortably the best business proposal.
Bright, beautiful Roisin followed Solomon out the door. Sadly her product plan, for food-free food, was a) pants and b) already on sale.
Daniel went next, leaving Mark and Bianca for the final. Mark will probably nick it, with his dull search engine proposal – can you imagine Sugar getting into women's tights?
If you can, hold the image. It'll help you shed more weight than Roisin's ready-meals.
*SHUGS needs tougher "trusted advisers". Claude aside, this lot are Capital One Cup compared to his old Premier League rottweiler Paul Kelmsley (sadly inconvenienced by bankruptcy)...
HOT on TV: Black Mirror White Xmas... Oona Chaplin... Kiefer Sutherland, Marked (Sky Arts 1)... Sean Pertwee (Gotham)... The Knick finale.
ROT on TV: Steph & Dom "interviewers" – posh tosh... The Fall – drama fail... The Fight For Saturday Night... Wild Weather – wash-out... Xmas Casualty – the plot was DOA.
HOT not on TV: New York a capella group Naturally 7.
CORRIE dropped below 5million viewers last week. Why? Well let's see. They've had 17 violent deaths in four years, yet the drama is largely dull.
The soap has no decent storylines, laughs are few, they've given Steve McDonald depression, and it currently resembles a badly written, council diversity project. Nope can't think of anything.
*APPS we should invent: WhoDat? – like Shazam but for faces, to tell you where you've seen that actor before. Though it might cause some confusion in Corrie. "Erica? No, love, it says here you're Kim Tate off Emmerdale." Luckily no-one in soaps watches TV, thus avoiding any unfortunate misunderstandings.
*HOW about an Alfie Moon app? Call it the iChump. It's guaranteed to show you the dumbest possible thing to do in any crisis.
Or Minger, the opposite of Tinder - it lets you know whenever Big Mo is on-heat within a 500 yard radius... so you can hide.
*NASTY Nick was locked up as a punishment on EastEnders. They'd obviously seen him act.
*HURRAH! There's going to be snow in Walford this Christmas! If only in Peter's pocket...
THE Fight For Saturday Night was a procession of ancient TV execs blowing their own trumpets. To rub our noses in it, it was presented by Michael Grade – the man who cancelled Dr Who and nearly killed Brucie's career stone dead. That's chutzpah.
*NATHAN Caton on lazy racism: "Don't chuck a banana at a black footballer. We've moved on. Chuck a Nando's menu."
RANDOM irritations: Xmas cooking show over-loads – how many ways are there to roast a turkey? Googlebox axing the Michaels. X Factor clichés. Strictly – Jake was robbed. The Missing missing an ending as good as its start.
SMALL Joys of TV: Bullseyes & Beer. Spike Milligan: Assorted Qs. The Flash/Arrow cross-over. Francess McDormand (Olive Kitteridge). The Millies. Kay Burley tackling smug John Dickinson.
ON Tomorrow's Worlds, Dominic Sandbrook tackled time travel, a complicated concept loaded with paradoxes. But if they worked, time machines would revolutionise protest marches.
"What do we want?" "An EU referendum!" "When do we want it?" "1992!"
SEPARATED at birth: TV boffin Jim Al-Khalili and Doctor Manhattan, one a quantum super-hero, the other a character from Watchmen.
MICHAEL Vaughan was talking about a cricket star Alastair Cook's mental attributes when he said:
"It's the six inches under his helmet, that's where his strength is." Goofs like that could win you £35 – buy today's paper to find out where to send them.
Dec 14. There are times when a CIA torture session must seem preferable to sitting through the Royal Variety show. Times when even the royals must wonder whether the toadies sitting in their box are meant to keep them company or just keep them there. And yes I am referring to Inala. The much-hyped Zulu ballet felt like a sales day tear-up set to music. A real Candy Crush interlude.
On the plus side, host Michael McIntyre was on sparkling form. Genuine showbiz legends Bassey and Bette Midler brightened the bill. The producers even managed to showcase a promising young comedian. Rod Woodward is half-Welsh, half-Italian and all funny. He dated a girl from his remote village: "She took me home to meet her parents and they were mine," he quipped, adding: "The village had a lookalike contest and everybody won."
McIntyre energised the whole night, jokingly reminding William and Kate that Prince Charles took a sword to their wedding: "Odd. Even on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding there are no weapons involved."
Then, as Charles, he muttered: "Never know when things might kick off."
It'd be hard to fault the incredible range of singing talent assembled, from Pumeza Matshikiza to Demi Lovato via Alfie Boe.
But the bill was too top-heavy with musical acts, squeezing out speciality turns. There was no room for vents, mimics, or jugglers. All we got was nice Stephen Mulhern doing a card trick, using patter older than he is, and stripping acrobats the English Gents who gave the night the feel of an upmarket hen party.
There were no surprises. No unexpected snatch of Longthorne or Brian Conley. Bizarrely headliners One Direction performed just one song. Why not have Bassey top the bill?
And if they can find room for every type of singer, why not acknowledge older comedians?
If we can't see Doddy at the Royal, when can we see him? Or Pasquale? How about booking Adrian Walsh or Johnnie Casson one year instead of the so-what stand-ups we see all the time?
Trevor Noah and Sarah Millican ticked various boxes, unfortunately none of them marked funny. What are ITV afraid of? Belly laughs?
Lee Evans would have torn the roof off.
*ELLIE Goulding's dress was amazing. It had two functions. It looked spectacular and distracted us from the fact that no-one can understand a word she sings.
*JACK Whitehall's claims to have fallen for Kate at school might have worked if he hadn't been eleven when she left Marlborough College.
GEMMA Collins told fellow TOWIE nitwits she didn't want conflict, which was a bit like Isis insisting that violence isn't their bag.
The woman is conflict is a plus-size sack, with a side order of self-absorption.
Returning for their Xmas edition, presumably for the cake, two-faced Gemma quickly tried to ruin Ferne and Danni's friendship.
People say the Essex mob are just role-playing, and aren't really the way they come across on screen. Sadly we saw Gem whingeing and whining down under and know she's actually a whole lot worse.
Honestly, she'd give Freddie Krueger nightmares.
*GEMMA'S endless porkies: "I'll never do telly again" (last month), "I'll never leave Essex again" while on a ferry to Calais, "I've got malaria" (continued indefinitely).
XMAS was coming early for Phil on EastEnders. He had a big plump bird beautifully trussed – Sharon. And was just about to ding-dong merrily on her thighs when Ian burst in with the shock news that Nasty Nick is still alive.
Yeah, incredibly Nick's big secret was blown when he was spotted wandering around the Square in broad daylight.
Meanwhile Linda's on-off abortion is off again, Ian is still as much use as a one-legged reindeer, and Shirley's absentee Mum is an old slapper with Alzheimer's, so that apple didn't fall far from the tree.
Please note: there are only eleven wrist-slashing days till Xmas.
*MEMO to EastEnders writers: cocaine cheers you up.
HOT on TV: Homeland... Ruta Gedmintas, The Strain... Michael Kitchen (Brian Pern – A Life In Rock)... Our War: Goodbye Afghanistan.
ROT on TV: Marco Polo (Netflix) – Game of Clones... Xmas Kitchen with James Martin – reheated leftovers... A Night In With Olly Murs – not a patch on a night out down the pub.
NEW York has been over-run by hordes of vampires on The Strain, but no-one seems to have noticed except for our plucky band of heroes.
Maybe the cops are working to rule, and one good long stare from vampire leader The Master cracked all the CCTV cameras.
In the season finale, Abraham had the chance to top the evil swine but made the schoolboy error of pausing to deliver some righteous words instead of just lobbing off his head.
The Master is so hideous you wonder what The Mistress would possibly look like, and how soon she'll fetch up on Loose Women.
*FOGGY described the meals in his final jungle challenge as "like dog-sh*t wrapped in Kentucky" and like "your own vomit but worse." Both almost certainly on Heston Blumenthal's Xmas menu...
*IF Mel and Cheryl's cleavage wars are meant to divert attention from The X Factor's failings, Corrie had better call in the Victoria's Secret Angels.
*WHY don't the Googleboxers ever comment on Googlebox? Imagine it: "What is she wearing?" "The state of their front room!" "Sit up you lazy fat gits!" "Is that kid mute? He never says a word!" "Isn't Katie Michael cute?" "Not to mention Scarlett... "
*OTHER mysteries: Why is half of Atlantis shot in the dark? How come male strippers are allowed on ITV but we never get to see Ursula Martinez?
*PIXIE went from Strictly. Len said her legs were "a distraction." Fair comment; they certainly distracted me.
SMALL Joys of TV: Spike Milligan – Love, Light & Peace. Aisling Bea. Bassey. The Librarians (Syfy). Fleur East's frantic thigh action. Matt Berry. Simon Evans. Question Time with Brand and Farage.
RANDOM irritations: BBC drama's inflated view of their own genius. Leaving aside the shocking legacy of Bonekickers and The Deep, even their good gear is substandard. The Fall is flawed murder porn, serial killers don't look like this; The Missing started well but is too drawn-out and ponderous.
FATHER & Secret Offspring: Catweazle and Foggy? One a magical hero from olden times, the other a kids' TV character.
TV Maths: Joe Swash + Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman = Rod Woodward
See today's paper for a chance to win Frank Skinner's Man In A Suit stand-up DVD.
Dec 7. I'm A Celebrity died for me the night Jimmy Bullard got voted out. The ex-Wigan midfielder was the most entertaining campmate by a country mile. Jimmy's righteous path to the final was derailed by claims that he bullied Jake in the great Bullard vs Dullard "banter-gate" row.
There was no real malice in what he said; like it or not witless insults pass for knockabout humour in certain all-male circles. But there was a degree of truth in Jimmy's words: "What the f*ck is this pr*ck doing in here? What's he offering? What sort of skill have you got?"
My thoughts exactly.
Now, ludicrously, a dull reality show loser who happens to look good with his shirt off could triumph. Jake could follow in the hallowed footsteps of Pasquale, Blackburn, Tufnell, Katona, Biggins, Swash and, er, Stacey Solomon... further devaluing the very concept of celebrity.
I'd like Foggy or Mel to nick it, but whoever wins it was Bullard's series.
Okay, it's true that Jimmy wimped out of challenges like a gutless ninny. But what about his mad dashes, daft japes, and running commentaries?
Even as he bottled out he was funny, forgetting the name of the show and instead screaming: "Celebrity! Get me the f*ck out of here! Ranger! Ranger! Get me out of here! Celebrity jungle!"
Personally I'd have liked to have heard his Michael Buerk #bantz:
"What 'appened to you? You used to be a respected journo now you're done up like a multicoloured sparrer wearing yellow leggings, ya plum!"
Not to mention horny old Edwina: "Wina by name, wiener-crazy by nature... what did you do at Westminster, put cards up in phone boxes?"
Once she dreamt of being PM, then she slept with one. Now Edwina will be remembered for perving over male totty and imitating a vibrator.
Even when ITV sabotage this great format with poor bookings, secret tasks and fixed votes, Ant and Dec make it watchable.
Memorable moments included Jimmy's trials, Michael Buerk rapping with Tinchy, genuine friendships forging, and Foggy reading Kendra's letter from home dressed as a giant wasp.
One from her hubby's transsexual girlfriend would have had more sting...
*KENDRA reluctantly got wood for an elderly man... insert your own Playboy Mansion punch-line.
*MEL confessed she uses blokes for sex. Imagine the outcry if a male celeb had said he only used women for sex... compared to most men's reaction: "Use me!"
Given Sykesy's controlling "my way or the highway" nature though, you'd be better off leaving before breakfast.
*WE don't know what caused last weekend's mystery "big bang" but I can't have been the only one praying it didn't involve Edwina.
THEY had to buy Nigella seeds on The Apprentice. Many blokes spill theirs every time she's on telly.
This was the "buy nine items cheap" challenge: a kosher chicken, a diamond, a human skeleton, and Oud oil which sounds like it should be scrapped from the spaghetti face of a Doctor Who alien.
Bizarrely, kosher chicken seemed to baffle some of these dolts. "Is any chicken kosher?" asked Londoner Sanjay. D'oh! Daniel went straight to Golders Green and was oi-vey'ing like a good'un.
Erh, wasn't he crossing himself outside the boardroom last month?
Sugar tells his wannabes to "think outside the box", but fired poor Felipe for doing just that. His skeleton purchase was genius. It was paper, but just as anatomically correct as a plastic one.
All "reality" shows are as engineered as the Hoover Dam, but coupled with Sugar's arbitrary fines, this decision stank like a jungle cocktail.
Felipe getting the tin-tack saved dithering Sanjay from the chop and meant Shugs spared ocean-going nitwit Daniel yet again.
Dan's arse has been hauled out of the fire so often he must wear asbestos pants. Favouritism?
*ROISIN negotiated a cheap diamond deal largely by fluttering her eyes at the salesman. It seems unlikely he was thinking "outside the box" at that juncture.
ON Tomorrow's Worlds, Dominic Sandbrook links sci-fi with real fears. The Daleks were Nazis, the Borg Communists.
Alien Nation was about immigration, The X Files was driven by paranoia and conspiracy theories. Sandbrook brings brains and the best line-up of talking heads this side of Futurama.
*I LOVED The X Files, but it wouldn't work now. Every week Mulder saw ghouls and aliens but could never prove it. All he needed was a camera phone...
*BRIAN Cox insists we'll never meet aliens. His version of Star Trek would be: "Captain's log: yesterday nothing, today nix, tomorrow sod all."
HOT on TV: Fleur East (X Factor)... Lee Evans... Mandy Patinkin (Homeland)... Jada Pinkett Smith (Gotham).
ROT on TV: Remember Me – forgettable... Nadia – brought nada to the jungle table... Turner Prize 2014 – does for art what campylobacter does for chicken sales.
BBC boss Danny Cohen begs critics to defend the BBC. Hey Dan, look at how much you pay your execs, then look at your Xmas schedule and defend that. He's got more neck than Melanie Sykes.
*XMAS on EastEnders: rape revelations, Alfie's arson shame, Lucy murder twists... it's the most wonderful time of the year.
*NEVER mind Lucy's dealer, who was her cook?
*COCAINE outrage, a gastric band, caravan holidays. Cutting edge stuff. Next week: someone gets a Sky dish.
*BEN Shepherd almost threw up after putting six fish eyes in his mouth on GBM. Eh? Was it really any worse than sharing a sofa with Richard Arnold?
*CRAIG Revel Horrid wants to "see more expression in the hands." Good call. One finger or two?
SMALL Joys of TV: Laura Whitmore's legs. Bradley Walsh cracking up on The Chase. Phil Silvers re-runs. Boux Avenue ads. UK Strongest Man.
RANDOM irritations: "Comedy" sketches on You're Fired. Lazy fly-on-wall formats. Dermot O'Dreary's interviews, ban "How was it for you?" and he'd be a dumb mute.
SEPARATED at birth: Roger Taylor (X Factor) and Papa Smurf? One a small furry cartoon character... and so's the other one.
*CONFESSIONS Of A Secretary recalled a time when female PAs were regularly groped, spanked and propositioned. Women viewers were horrified, men were thinking: where can I get a job like that?