Garry Bushell
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Feb 24. The BRITS have always been pop’s great gift to rhyming slang, but when did they get so dull? Twenty minutes in and I was praying for anything – Brendan Block, a mooning Jarvis Cocker, a table of inmates from HMP Aylesbury - to add some edge to the show. Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood made a better fist of hosting the music business’s annual gong show than James Corden. At least their carnival of cock-ups was funny.

Fat-Boy James only got interesting when he mangled a question to Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and then shouted it at him. Grohl looked as happy as Hilary Mantel at the Royal Garden Party. But nothing dampens Corden’s sense of worth. If he were any more full of himself he’d explode like Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote.

The only man in that audience smugger than him was Simon Cowell, whose cheeks seem to have literally swollen with self-adoration. “You beautiful bastard,” cooed Corden. Clever bastard more like. Cowell has made millions simply by remembering that people like talent shows. In the process he’s reduced pop to karaoke and taken us back to the bad old days of Tin Pan Alley when performers were just puppets. Step forward One Dimension, a pocket money magnet for a million teen and pre-teen girls, and a source of crimson-mist rage to anyone who ever loved Blondie and the Undertones. Good old Syco, turning rebellion into money...

Nowadays pop is as soulless, corporate and lucrative as stadium comedy. Platitudes have replaced attitude, rock has lost its balls, and we’re left with Muse re-living the follies of prog rock with their platoon of violinists and cellists.

Strangely there was no space in the best live band category for the Stone Roses or any metal acts. Talented Emeli Sandé triumphed despite being as over-exposed as Madonna’s nipples. Nice-but-dull Ben Howard did well. Adele’s a doll. And Taylor Swift channelled the spirit of Cheryl Baker with that neat dress-ripping stunt. “It’ll be my go soon,” lusted Robbie Williams, who channelled the spirit of Jack Harper from On The Buses instead. Disgraceful, yes. But at least it wasn’t joyless and bland like the rest of the night. There are accountancy AGMs with more life in them.

*HARD to watch Lana Del Ray without recalling her claim that part of her anatomy tastes like Pepsi Cola. And that’s even after she’s had 7Up.

*THE most interesting thing about Mumford & Sons is Marcus’s moustache. Is he morphing into Private Walker from Dad’s Army?

* WHY don’t The BRITS honour the rock and pop stars lost in the previous twelve months? Giants like Frank Wilson, Jon Lord and Kevin Ayers, who died on Monday, deserve the acknowledgement.

C4’s Fired Chicken Shop served up a week inside Clapham’s Roosters Spot: a greasy combo of drunks, drag queens, a drug dealer with business cards, and a would-be cool dude who fell off his skate-board. Some customers even appeared to be sober. The drunks ranged from amiable Nick (“Do I have to book a table?”) to an obnoxious jerk who started a fight and got his mate to finish it. You felt sorry for boss Ali and guys like Waqar and Shawqat who are working long hours to put themselves through college. Dealing with the dregs here would make a saint despair. It certainly challenges the idea of humanity as nature’s last word.

*HERE’S one for joker Nick. Next time ask for a Sally Bercow Combo: two small breasts and a left wing.

THE earthly portal to hell is not Janine Butcher’s bedroom as previously thought but the Drake building at 666 Park Avenue. Lucifer and his missus, posing as Mr. & Mrs. Doran, run the gaff and will fulfil a tenant’s wildest dreams for the small price of their immortal soul. Gavin Doran charms Henry, a city planner, and his architect girlfriend Jane into becoming resident managers. The last one “moved someplace warmer,” he says.  (Hmm. Somewhere hot and scary. Thailand?) His deals seem sweet. For a short glorious while you can have your dead wife resurrected, become a violin virtuoso, a babe magnet, or even Jimmy Carr. The Devil is in the details... Terry O’Quinn mixes menace and charm as Doran, coming across as a slightly less odious Donald Trump. It’s fun but not original. There are echoes of Rosemary’s Baby, Reaper, The Shining and of course Faust... And like Hotel California, you can have anything you want but you can never leave.

HOT on TV: The Following... Helena Mattsson (666 Park Avenue)... Black Mirror... Laure Berthaud (Spiral)... Vegas.

ROT on TV: Holiday Hit Squad – misprint... Let’s Dance for Comic Relief – no really, let’s not... Meet The Izzzzards... James Corden at the BRITS – putting the ‘pants’ in sycophant.

ROXY’S Kat fight on EastEnders was the biggest wash-out this side of a Keith Miller hose down. You get better rows in chicken shops. Kat Moon is damaged goods. There are cannibal tribes who are less man-hungry and doggers more faithful and discerning. If Kat were on Take Me Out she’d leave her light on for Bill Sykes. Only a wretched nut-less wimp of a man would take her back. So how long shall we give Alfie?

*ANYONE think it odd that Bianca’s poxy silver puffer jacket looks better than anything in London Fashion Week?

*CORRIE’S Catherine Tyldesley got stick for donating £10K to the families of criminals. In fairness, the way things are going it could just be insurance for her cast-mates.

*WHAT about that Belgian diamond theft? That’s the biggest robbery at an airport this side of the short stay parking fees at Heathrow.

THE Alternative Comedy Experience showed “legend” Boothby Graffoe doing a lame egg and spoon race routine. He was funnier on Op Knocks with his face covered in Sellotape back in 1988. But not much...

RANDOM irritations: Second-rate celebs handing out gongs at award ceremonies. ADHD-damaged direction at the BRITS. Steve Jones, way too pleased with himself. Brian Cox’s moody, middle-distance stare. Spartacus marred by actors mumbling over ponderous background music. HMP Aylesbury inmates: bring back the birch.

SMALL Joys of TV: Jeff Stelling. The Who Live In Texas. Matt Le Blanc and Bruce Willis (Top Gear). Driver Jason (The Railway) claiming his plastered passengers illustrate “the demise of man.” Tim Vine, the comic equivalent of indoor fireworks – fun in short bursts.

SEPARATED at birth: Corrie’s Tim Metcalfe and Ray Davies of the Kinks, one sang about a Dead End Street, the other works on one.

HUMAN IQ is said to be declining. For proof see TOWIE... Decling IQs... that’s frightening. That means Jeremey Kyle’s guests are at their intellectual peak...

SYLVAIN was talking about his Dancing On Ice routine with sexy Samia when he revealed: “I’ve been very hard with her all week.” That’s entirely understandable...

Feb 17. With the horse meat scandal engulfing the country, it’s no wonder Bafta decided to rely on ham last weekend. It’s just a shame they settled for the rather oily, self-basting slice of over-done shank that is Stephen Fry.

Everyone in TV will tell you that Fry is the modern Noel Coward, a great wit and a sparkling all-rounder. But read his film awards monologue in the cold light of day and it’s just drivel; a clumsy mix of corny puns, light filth and puffed-up cobblers dressed up with fancy words.

I don’t mind the filth, but the rest stank like the gutting bins on Hugh’s Fish Fight. Fry claimed the EE-sponsored night would be “double-E good”, and went by a tortuous route to dub Hugh Jackman “Hug Jackman.” Life Of Pi became Life Of Pee. Forgivable perhaps if the host had been Barry Chuckle, but not someone feted as a comic genius.

There was gibberish about Lincoln in the Fens and the bizarre claim that Helena Bonham-Carter was “drunk every day” on the set of Les Mis. Her baffled reaction was funnier than any Fry quip, but on he ploughed. “I don’t know when I’ve had such fun,” he said. “Certainly not without the aid of a water-soluble lubricant.” Geddit? That’s the Baftas - not quite as good as shagging. It’s not that different from Keith Lemon saying: “Well that was a top night but I’d rather have been stuck up Anne Hathaway.” Yet dress it up with Fry’s sumptuous/scrumptious bumptious vocabulary and Footlights background and the snobs all think it’s comedy gold. That good old Establishment humour, I guess we’re too dumb to get it. Bafta are generally well intentioned, but maybe give smarmy Stephen a rest next year. Harry Hill might be fun – “stalactites, stalagmites... you gotta have a system... Al Pacino, Tarantino... ”

*SMALL Bafta joys: Billy Connolly sitting stony-faced as Fry banged on. He got more laughs in 30 seconds than the host did in two hours. Paloma Faith’s hat – didn’t it play the groundhog in the Groundhog Day?

*SALLY Field said that “Without a great text you don’t have a great performance.” Isn’t that what Vernon Kay told Rhian Sugden?

*WHAT was the deal with Anne Hathaway? She sounded like she’s just jogged round Covent Garden and lost her asthma pump.

ON The Railway: Keeping Britain On Track, cleaner Roni told of dirty books and discarded knickers she’d found in first class (talk about a bit on the sidings). But commuters are the ones getting really screwed. A standard Newcastle return sets you back £301, a £100 ticket is no guarantee of a seat, and using the wrong saver-deal might well cost the soul of your first-born. Kings Cross station workers cope with passenger anger with cheery eccentricity and clip-on ties to prevent strangulation. How no-one throttles manager East Coast manager Steve Newland is another matter, he appears to be channelling the spirit of David Brent. The series only hints at the real story, though. Our trains were crap when they were nationalised and still are; privatisation just allowed a pack of greedy parasites get richer out of our misery. “Peak time” expanded while responsibility diversified. Kings Cross is run by Network Rail who can’t be blamed for the trains because they’re run by four different operators. I liked the old boy who suffered all the management jargon about “vision” and “seamless journey experiences” and then explained patiently that all passengers really want are trains that depart and arrive on time. And a seat would be nice.

*TSK. Fancy paying £100 to stand up getting prodded, groped, rubbed and squeezed... when’s the next train again?

SOME dead horses end up in ready meals, others just get flogged by C4. Big Fat Gypsy Valentine featured two tinker weddings, exactly like the ones we’ve seen before: beautiful, barely-legal brides in dresses the size of carnival floats. And idiot grooms. Danielle, just sixteen, wed Brendon, a feckless feckwit killing time between jail sentences. His stag night, involving air-rifles, beer and a bonfire, made a Queen Vic booze-up seem glamorous. It’s a wonder he didn’t lay on a wedding night cock-fight. Only Theresa, 8, spoke any sense. “I won’t get married young,” she said. “It’s not my dream to cook, it’s not my dream to clean.” She dreamt of a better life, perhaps involving indoor plumbing. Theresa was wise before her time, but not wise enough to refuse make-up.

*I’M not going to say that gypsy women have their knockers, we’re not at Bafta. But strewth, Ina’s Mum could breast-feed Cork. She woke up the next day with a huge hangover; she may also have had a headache.

*MEMO to Brendon: you’re supposed to wear a suit for court, not a tracksuit. Idjit.

HOT on TV: Spartacus: War Of The Damned (Sky1)... Dennis Quaid (Vegas)... Connie Britton (Nashville)... The Walking Dead (Fox).

ROT on TV: Food & Drink – no thanks I’m full... Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners – C4’s neat-freak show, laughing at the mentally ill...

*TERRIBLE news about that asteroid. It completely missed Walford.

THE EastEnders Valentine’s Day theme was Angry Birds. Roxy, Sharon, Bianca - angry, angry, angry. So obviously no change there. Kat got herself nicked, perhaps hoping for a strip search. But at least Abi got what she wanted: 50 Shades of Jay. The week’s best row was over Bianca’s baked bean lasagne. Yuck. No wonder Liam’s grumpy. Why eat beans when horsemeat is plentiful?

* PLEASE note: ‘having a mare’ in Walford traditionally means sleeping with Janine.

*THIS horsemeat scandal would have broken a lot sooner if Mr Ed was still on air. Now you’ll find him with his fellow TV horse at TGI... Flicker.

TERRIFYING scenes on Being Human as a child’s ghost turned unexpectedly into... Spider Nugent! Remember him? Corrie’s answer to Swampy... Even Emily turned eco-warrior and spent a night up a tree. It was a bit like sleeping with Nick Tilsley but slightly less wooden.

*LIFE’S Too Short won’t be coming back for a second series. Laughs Too Few.

RANDOM irritations: Streakers. King Cross station: a £547million refurb and there’s still nowhere to sit. Jo Brand on Room 101 - again. BBC1’s three hour Bafta coverage delay. Was it run by East Coast trains?

SMALL Joys of TV: Walter Kershaw’s street art (One Show). University Challenge’s Roger Tilling trying to cope with “Tyszczuk Smith” and “Papaphilippopoulus”. Kerry Katona adopting the Pat Butcher look for The Big Reunion; from Atomic Kitten to bubonic mutton...

TV Maths: Albert Steptoe + Jimmy Savile = Christopher (Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners).

SEPARATED at birth: Hufty from The Word and gypsy valentine Brendon?

QUOTE of the week, from a fella trying to flog a bike on Pawn Stars: “I’ve got a chopper like you’ve never seen before.”

Feb 10. Making sense of Being Human is like trying to nail ectoplasm to a ghost. Or for that matter trying to nail a ghost... The show has a new one, in the pleasing shape of Kate Bracken as Alex, but there’s little chance of her putting the willies up her non-human housemates, or vice versa. Imagine the frustration of living with a woman this hot and knowing her midnight moaning will never be for you. It must be like being Hugh Hefner without Viagra.

Vampire Hal and werewolf Tom have got themselves jobs at the Barry Grand hotel this series, which is handy because the latest resident, foul-mouthed Captain Hatch is actually the Devil. What’s Old Nick doing in Barry, you ask? We can’t be sure but he’s probably looking for his protégées, Horne and Corden.

The back-story is equally diabolical. In 1918, Hal, a foxy werewolf queen, some extras and a wizard summoned Satan to kill him, but Hal hadn’t used his own blood so the prince of darkness was only weakened. Lucifer has been trapped as Captain Hatch ever since, which worryingly means Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot weren’t his work at all.

There’s also office nitwit Ian ‘Crumb’ Cram. Hal made him a vampire to save his life... and then Alex released him into the world untrained, proving she’s a complete knucklehead. Mr Rook, the man from the Ministry, turns up to cover up Crumb’s killing spree and ends up stabbing his boss to death with a pen, like Joe Pesci in Casino. Ball-point? No, just in the eye. You don’t get that with the Ministry of Transport.

Rook’s department is now facing cuts, so his next murder will probably be by crayon. You can tell there’s an austerity drive on, because when Hal and Tom break into Rook’s HQ there are no security guards at all. Ruthless civil servants, an irritating ‘comedy’ vampire and Beelzebub... writer Toby Whithouse throws them all at us in a bid to distract us from the fact that the show’s not as hot as it used to be. Too late. The BBC (Beelzebub Broadcasting Co?) just axed it.

*SATAN is played by Phil Davis and not as previously thought Chris Huhne. His powers have been greatly reduced but, like Huhne, he can still make you feel suicidal just by uttering a few sentences.

* WHY is Alex so stressed? Simple. This is a woman who can’t change clothes, put on make-up or eat chocolate... no wonder she’s grumpy. What girl wants that?

*BOFFINS say watching TV reduces a man’s sperm count. Not if you’re watching Jordana Brewster on Dallas it doesn’t... Loose Women, maybe...

*BRIAN Cox’s image of a chicken “radiating disorder” brought Bianca Jackson to mind. Most soap women are like poultry; they lack logic, are unable to comprehend human speech, and are easily distracted by glittering objects...

His latest Wonders Of Life showed that the scorpion, much like a supermodel, can go for a year without food. It can also detect its prey via vibrations it feels through its feet. Imagine if Corrie’s Lewis Archer could do that... widow at twenty paces, heavy handbag. No old dear would be safe.

THE problem with Danny Baker’s Great Album Showdown was there was no showdown. I’m not saying there should have been a punch-up (“Slade or Sham 69? Coats off, outside now!”), but they could have tried to get a bit worked up about the subject in hand. Baker was great company of course, amiable and engaging. But someone as smart as Dan must have known he was serving up a kid-gloves compromise. Where was the passion, the controversy? The rock edition had talk of Egg (prog-rock band whose albums didn’t trouble the charts), but no mention of the Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake or Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast. It failed to address keynote issues like: who made better albums, the Beatles or the Stones? What’s more over-rated, London Calling or Metal Machine Music? And which was more influential, the first Sabbath LP or Deep Purple In Rock? Given that Dan’s panel consisted of Jeremy Clarkson (great on cars, tedious on Genesis), the Smiths’ old producer and obscure music writer Kate Mossman it’s possible that they hadn’t even heard them. The next night’s pop album discussion didn’t mention The Jam or Elvis Costello, and gave Tighten Up reggae ten measly seconds. Poor show.

PS. Beatles or Stones? Most authorities rate Sgt Pepper as the all-time Number One album; I’d rather listen to Exile On Main Street. My own favourite LP cover? Probably Electric Ladyland, but I was 13 at the time. The worst cover? Sabbath’s Sabotage – a monumental stinker.

HOT on TV: Nashville (More4)... Hayden Panetierre... new Leverage (Fox)... new Sons Of Anarchy (5USA).

ROT on TV: Dancing On The Edge – way too tame and slow for jazz... Colin Hoult (Being Human) – comedy vampire lacks bite... Common Ground: Patricia – Sky should have found some common ground and buried it there.

STEWART Lee is right; TV comedy is dominated by arrogant agencies using their production wings to tirelessly plug their own acts. But his Alternative Comedy Experience did little to challenge that. There wasn’t a memorable gag in the whole show and certainly no modern equivalent of Alexei Sayle telling us that the light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming HS2 train. A real alternative comedy show would rip apart orthodox liberal thinking. But as that will never happen, I’d settle for a half-an-hour of blue collar comics telling jokes.

*I HEAR that archaeologists digging up that Leicester car-park panicked when they unearthed Richard III’s bones. At first they thought it was Andy Hamilton pot-holing... Poor Richard, all that history and he died fighting over a parking space...

*THE Super Bowl had it lucky. A half hour blackout? That’s nothing, EastEnders has been spreading darkness and gloom for 27 years.

*MASOOD’S turmoil taught blokes a valuable lesson: if a fit Geordie bird offers herself on a plate, get it while you can.

*BURGER King invite us to try their “new angry Whopper”. Isn’t that Phil Mitchell’s chat-up line?

RANDOM irritations: The Big Questions, tackling the issues nobody gives a toss about. Holiday Hit Squad – not a sniper in sight. Max Branning accepting morality lectures from Lauren, the lush who is raw-dogging her own cousin. Kate Mossman discussing rock albums - I don’t mind that she grew up in the CD era; I do mind that she had nothing worth saying. Funny, opinionated Talita Two-Shoes from Bloodstock Radio would have been a better booking.

AMAZING scenes on Dancing On Ice when after weeks of something nearly happening, something actually did happen - Matt stumbled in the Skate-Off. Gasp. Still, the judges saved him anyway... which renders the whole point of Skating-Off redundant. Skate-Off? F*** off.

SMALL Joys of TV: Six Nations Rugby. Paloma Faith. Kangaroo Dundee. Water-feature rage (Enders). Noddy Holder (Common Ground: Floyd). Amanda Mealing’s short-shorts (Death In Paradise). Frank Skinner’s response to Mary Portas saying the sixties aren’t here anymore: “Try telling your hairdresser.”

SEPARATED at birth: Ian Stone and Marge Proops? Runners-up: Deborah Meaden and Rick Wakeman.

*WHAT do they actually sell in Miranda’s shop?

A GOLDEN oldie from Craig Charles running through the rules on Takeshi’s Castle: “If your ring is penetrated you’re out of the game.” (Although you can now get married... )

Feb 3. This week saw a major victory in Lewis’s campaign to fleece Gail Platt, or as I like to call it, the War On Terror. The Corrie conman found her bank account details on Nick Tilsley’s computer (high security password: ‘NICK’); and blackmailed Kylie into getting her password. Lewis had to move fast, Gail was getting fruity. “Do you think she’s got any intention of coming?” asked Audrey on Monday. She had, but he expertly swerved it.

I’ll admit I’ve been mean to Gail in the past. It was me who first pointed out her striking resemblance to ET; I claimed they called her Gail because it looks like her face has been blown inside out. But terrible sanctimonious, interfering old baggage though she is, you can’t help feeling sorry for her. Gail’s first husband was killed, her second cheated on her, her third tried to top her, (her son nearly did), and she went on trial for murdering her fourth. The woman’s a bloody jinx. Now there’s Lewis. “Gail’s been completely sucked in by him,” observed Rita; another image it’s best not to dwell on.

Some may scoff that Wednesday’s high drama made little sense. Lewis Had no way of proving that Kylie’s child is Nick’s, and who’d take the word of a renowned wrong’un over theirs? No-one would realise the terrible truth until the kid grew up to be incredibly wooden.

But then again what does make sense in soapland? Certainly not Steve McDonald’s apparent sex appeal - his receding hairline makes him look increasingly like a grumpy Frankenstein’s Monster. Or Faye, 12, wearing a Bessie Street primary school uniform. Or Rob pursuing Tracy ‘The Terminator’ Barlow. “I might be able to jiggle things about a bit,” she told him. I bet she could. She’s also quite likely to do his brains in with a hefty mother and child figurine.

At least Corrie doesn’t pretend to be real life; unlike “gritty” EastEnders where Tanya has abandoned her kids and yet Max still bizarrely won’t move back into his own house for fear of upsetting her. That ship that sailed when you married another woman, pal. It’s Billy Mitchell who worries me, though. The poor sod hasn’t had a girlfriend for seventeen months. I’m not saying his libido’s dead, but there are vultures circling his crotch.

A RACY start to Dallas as John Ross hit on a bride-to-be at her hen do. The saucy minx was wearing an apron listing all the things she wanted to do before her wedding: ‘Show a guy your bra’, ‘Dance on the bar’, ‘Ask a guy the collar of his underwear.’ Hen do? Bah! That’s a slow night out for Denise Welch. JR’s bad-boy son suggested a task of his own: ‘Slow kiss a stranger until his toes curl’. Naturally she ended up sampling the Texan longhorn. (She told him to “go out the back way” and that wasn’t on the list at all.) JR Junior had an angle of course. He’d filmed their romp to blackmail her trucker Dad into selling his fleet to Ewing Energies. Series two burst out the stall like a rodeo bull, with secret daughters and the revelation of a Barnes in the nest; but Larry Hagman’s death casts a long shadow. Can anyone compensate for the loss of soap’s biggest character? John Ross is trying, but it’s an awfully big Stetson to fill.

ON The Wonders Of Life, Brian Cox revealed that mankind shares a common ancestor with the chicken. My thoughts turned immediately to Fred, I say, Fred Elliott, Corrie’s much-loved butcher who had the exact same mannerisms as Foghorn Leghorn. He also had a secret son called... Peacock. Could Fred have been an evolutionary throw-back to the missing link? All the signs were there, but Cox didn’t even consider it. He was too busy getting through BBC2’s lavish travel budget. One minute Borneo, the next Micronesia... the bloke gets everywhere. The Philippines are a tad more exotic than the arse-end of Manchester, of course, but surely the Corrie connection merits scientific study? After all Gail famously resembles a patronizing pigeon (Tapehead passim), and now I think about it Our Vera looked quite a bit like Big Bird from Sesame Street in full squawk. Forget Galapagos, Coxy, Weatherfield is where all the answers are.

*WHY did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the randy sub-Neanderthal pervert... Poor little clucker.

HOT on TV: England v Scotland (Six Nations)... Person Of Interest (C5)... Arrow (Sky1)... Larry Hagman (Dallas, C5)... The Following (Sky Atlantic)... Midsomer’s Tamzin Malleson.

ROT on TV: Bob Servant – two bob comedy drudge... Paddy’s TV Guide – TV Berk... Death In Paradise – dearth of imagination... Jimmy Fallon – not a patch on Leno, Letterman or Craig Ferguson.

MARTINE McCutcheon was killed with a wheel of blue cheese on Midsomer Murders. Tragic yes, but still less cheesy than when she was run down by Frank on EastEnders... Cheese-themed deaths followed apace. Men were garroted by cheese wire, and stabbed by cheese needle. The killer had to be a Stinking Bishop surely? No? Oh well, back to the cheese board.

*WHAT programme should Jo Brand and Vernon Kay appear on next? I give up. How about Witness Relocation?

*DO dogs have a Secret Life? No. Dogs eat, sleep, shag and play with balls. That’s the not-so-secret life of a Premiership footballer.

*FEARNE Cotton gives birth to Ronnie Wood’s grandkid any day now. Imagine that: the wrinkled, smiling face, the shriveled skin, the indecipherable gurgling... and I daresay the baby won’t be much different.

*DEREK has heart, and fine acting from Kerry Godliman. Even Pilkington is good. I just don’t buy Gervais as the gurning simpleton. Keith Chegwin, now, he would have been perfect.

SMALL Joys of TV: BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt’s man-voice. Wye-Ayesha (EastEnders) – towelling inferno. The comedians’ card-game banter (Louie). Storyville: The Queen Of Versailles, the true story of the timeshare tycoon whose life like his wife went tits up.

RANDOM irritations: Brian Cox’s voice, he sounds like he ought to be making meditational tapes. The EastEnders’ writers’ apparent belief that people can just set up a market stall on a whim. Miranda’s love life; men like Gary do not fall for women like Miranda. Women like her are the reason men go gay.

SEPARATED at birth: Tina Malone and The Face of Boe. One eons-old and terrifying, the other a Doctor Who character.

SOAP questions: why don’t EastEnders buy their wine from offies or supermarkets rather than overpriced pub plonk? Would Masood have taken Wye-Ayesha up on her offer if she’d thrown in the towel?