Garry Bushell
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Jan 30. The National TV Awards kicked off with a smart Doctor Who skit, raising hopes that this dull ceremony might actually be worth watching for once. It wasn’t. The show is like Groundhog Day, but much longer, with gongs going to the same old faces - a tenth award for Ant and Dec, a sixth for Lacey Turner, a sixth for David Jason, a fifth for X Factor... All deserved, of course, but as predictable as Question Time. The night isn’t helped by being hosted by Dermot O’Dreary, a nice enough fella with the performance gene of a plant pot. (See how it lifted when Jonathan Ross briefly took over). I can’t have been the only one thinking when Alesha and Holly came on stage, holding hands and looking hot enough to melt a cheese sandwich at twenty paces, that what the show needed to liven it up was a running commentary from Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

Or better still Ricky Gervais at the helm to say what we’re all thinking. Ricky might have suggested that Bruce Forsyth won a special recognition award more for his benefit than anyone else’s - it won’t be long before he looks in the mirror and doesn’t have a clue who’s staring back at him. And when cricket ace Alastair Cook was said to have spent “35 hours at the crease”, Ricky might have quipped “equalling Charlie Sheen’s record.” The funniest moment actually came when Dermot asked the EastEnders cast why they’d won top soap (for the tenth time). Perry Fenwick replied “Don’t ask me.” Steve McFadden said “I haven’t got a clue.” Some claim it wins so often to keep the BBC on board, but that’s not entirely true. They also have a dedicated, computer-literate fan-base. Known to you and I as the Samaritans.

These are the people’s awards, say ITV, chosen by the viewing public. Except of course they’re not. Not entirely. Not everyone sees a voting form, there are no checks on repeat voting, and we can only vote for shows TV companies choose. US series are no longer in the running; the quiz, chat and comedy entertainer categories have been quietly dropped. And popular turns like Brian Conley are no longer on air, having fallen out of favour with TV execs, if not the paying public. The process is as honest and above-board as the average Ugandan election.

*BEING Human is now officially the scariest thing in Barry Island this side of Ness’s bedroom toy-box. The show has something for everyone – everyone who grew up loving B movie horror films at least. There was Robson Green as a skinhead werewolf forced to cage fight by a punk vampire (Paul Kaye). Lacey Turner played flirty Lia confronting Mitchell (the tortured vampire) with his victims in purgatory. And George the werewolf was wrongly arrested for suspected dogging. His chicken worried the doggers anyway. “We don't do funny stuff here,” said one (Rhys from Touchwood). “You gotta got to Swansea for that.” It isn’t Trueblood, but there’s a strong lusty undercurrent. George and Nina shagged for the first time as werewolves; Mitch may give Annie the ghost an out of bodice experience... Which raises unsettling questions. Like could Nina have cubs? Could George cheat on her with the bitch next door? And will Mitch ask Annie out for a bite first?

*THE worst thing about vampire sex? You’re shagging someone who is hundreds of years old! It’s like being married to Bruce Forsyth.

AXING grammar schools has stopped working class kids reaching the top, argued Andrew Neil on Posh & Posher. Old Etonian Jacob Rees-Mogg disagreed. Looking like he’d just stepped out of Downton Abbey, the double-breasted Tory insisted he was a man of the people, and then spoke in Latin to prove it... Neil is an odd combination - vain and chippy – but his case made sense. The grammar school system did allow bright kids from the working and lower middle classes to climb the greasy power pole. The far-Left hated them because they’d rather see equality of failure than selective success. The toffs detested them even more because the grammar schools subverted their hold on society (now restored). No wonder they had to go.

HOT on TV: Being Human (BBC3)... Paul Kaye... Dakota Blue Richards (Skins)... The Killing (BBC4).

ROT on TV: Dancing On Ice – wetter than a penguin’s plimsolls... Mary Portas – so dull no newspaper would hack her phone... John Stape – now in a Corrie psychiatric ward, presumably with the writers.

*JO Brand was named Best Female Comedian at C4’s Comedy Awards. I believe it was decided by the toss of a coin. If it had come down ‘tails’ it would have been Baroness Warsi.

*WHAT was Russell Brand’s Outstanding Contribution To Comedy; anyone know? Was it Ponderland perhaps, or The Abbey? It can’t have been Got Issues cos no-one watched that...

* THE size of Katie Brand now! If she were a bank she’d be nationalised on the grounds that she was “too big to fail.”

*VERNON Kay wants to be Brucie. He’s got all the same catchphrases; he just prefers to text them. And in Vern’s version you do get something for a pair...

* MEMO to the makers of Comedy Rocks: James Blunt doesn’t.

THERE’S a surreal feel to Dale Winton these days; his hair in particular looks like a CGI effect. But do BBC1 make the most of his extraordinary talents? Sure his In It To Win is their highest rating lotto format, but Dale cut his teeth on shows like Pets Win Prizes, Supermarket Sweep, Hole In The Wall and Touch The Truck... all winners in the WTF stakes. Surely TV’s king of kitsch merits something less pedestrian than Britain’s dumbest quiz?

SMALL joys of TV: The Tudors – Carry On Henry! Daisy Haggard’s expressions (Episodes). Head-twisting extreme vampire sex (True Blood). And Antonia Moore (May The Best House Win), self-confessed skip raider and sexy style queen - engagingly bonkers.

*JON Ross: “If it wasn’t for comedy panel shows, Andy Parsons would just be a man shouting in the pub.”

RANDOM irritations: Heather Trott coughing and spluttering over everyone (Enders) – award-worthy stuff. Apparently. Witless acceptance speeches at the Comedy Awards. C4’s definition of ‘teenage’ stretching to 23-year-olds. David Mitchell – you’re no Paxman, pal.

Jan 26. There is some odd double-think at work in the Andy Gray affair. His views on female assistant refs, although wrong, are no worse than the man-bashing heard daily on Loose Women. Or in the ‘humour’ of Jo Brand. And blatant gender discrimination is tolerated without complaint on TV shows about or involving minorities, where it’s excused on dubious cultural or ‘faith’ grounds. In the event Sian Massey’s performance made Randy Andy and Richard Keys look like dinosaurs. They’re perfectly entitled to have private opinions, however. And besides, isn’t it a bigger scandal that two men should lose jobs that they are rather good at for thought-crime?

*THIS takes the irony biscuit, today’s Sun accuses Andy Gray of “perving” over a blonde on page one while supplying a topless blonde for millions to perve over on Page 3... Someone at Sky clearly wanted Gray out and they’re leaking stories which the Sun, owned by the same company, is happily splashing on to justify his sacking. Some thoughts: leaking stories about the company you work for is a sackable offence – will there now be an official in-house investigation at Sky Sport? Don’t hold your breath. The ‘just banter’ defence is flawed however, because banter by definition needs to be funny. Theirs was cringe-worthy. But women in a masculine environment, like football, should be prepared to take the same level of stick a man does (and any referee hears much worse than this every week.) Any attempt to ring-fence women in football from jokes or criticism would be ridiculous – not to mention patronising. And anyone who thinks women in football can’t be the subject of ridicule should be invited to watch the 1998 Women’s Cup Final while keeping a straight face. There is a difference too between sexism (discriminating on grounds of gender) and men fancying women. All that “smash it” stuff was pretty crass, but do you think women in a bloke-free environment are any better? Listen in on a female only factory floor, it’d curl your hair.

With the old guard dealt with, viewers were left to enjoy the mumblings of Eidur Gudjohnsen, a sleeping pill in human form. You wonder where it will end; perhaps with football commentary open only to Guardian readers and season tickets restricted to state-approved automatons without an ounce of passion in their souls. How about Match Of The Day with Germaine Greer; World Of Spart (one for Private Eye readers), Harriet Harman’s Spot The Balls & Cut Them Off (Continued Loose Women)

*SKY Sport has always been po-faced. Remember them banning Chloe Everton from twitter after she tweeted: ‘Golf today. Played with three guys. I came first, must have been down to good length.’

Jan 23. The Joy of Teen Sex was just The Sex Education Show aimed more blatantly at paedophiles. Any pretence of serious intent went out the window quicker than a randy fifth-former whose girlfriend’s husband just arrived home unexpectedly. Viewers cringed at close-ups of diseased privates, winced at dim confessions and yelped in anguish at intimate piercings. All over Britain toes were curling up like Ali Baba’s slippers. There was little joy in evidence.

C4’s ‘experts’ included HIV specialist Dr Rachael Jones (cos nothing spells fun like HIV), who looked like someone had just sucked the jam out of her donut. Ruth Corden, the tubbier lube-obsessed sister of James; qualifications zero. And Joanna Wierzbicka who flogs sex toys for a living and clearly hasn’t got an agenda beyond buy-my-stuff. Old-fashioned concepts like ‘love’ and ‘morality’ were swerved completely in favour of nudge-nudge moments, such as gay Scot Calvin fretting about losing his, ahem, backdoor virginity. Calvin was 20, so why was he on a show about teen sex? Sadly Frankie Boyle wasn’t on hand to tell him to stop whimpering and take it like a man.

For everyday teens this show will have been as useful as phone sex for the deaf. Most kids are more concerned with how to even communicate with the opposite sex, rather than ramming lumps of metal through their privates or massaging their alimentary canals. The show did raise some talking points, though. I was particularly tickled by that blue strap-on for lesbians, which made the young novice look like an aroused Smurf. And intrigued by advice to eat pineapples, grapes and mangoes if you want your other half to enjoy doing what made Linda Lovelace famous. And who wasn’t moved by the story about a kid who caught crabs in his eyebrows. (Denis Healy’s were big enough to house actual Alaskan snow crabs.) And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the fresh fruit aisle.

*GIRLS want vajazzles cos “boys find them sexy,” we were told. Listen, love, if he’s that close you’ve done enough.

10o’Clock Live arrived with more hype than the iPhone but didn’t live up to it. It was so sold on its own significance it forgot to be funny. Even Jimmy Carr’s gags had a whiff of “this’ll do” about them. David Mitchell couldn’t land a glove on David Willetts. While Jimmy looked dumb taking lame shots at bright (and right) environmental sceptic Bjorn Lomborg. Charlie Brooker had nice lines, Lauren Laverne has nice legs. But the show was much less than the sum of its parts. The real problem is its politics are Brisbane wet. David Mitchell’s banker bashing segment resembled Question Time for grumpy Guardian readers. You don’t expect C4 comedy to tackle the liberal elite from the libertarian right, but at least a properly leftwing comic like Mark Steel would have injected some anger into the show. The format is an awkward mishmash: too tame to make an impact, too lame to make us laugh. It’ll get better but it won’t do damage.

*JIMMY Carr on Alan Johnson: “So it’s Johnson out, Balls in. I don’t think they’re doing that right.”

*I HAVE to declare an interest. I’ve worked with Angelica Fenney, the bouncy Scouse model who featured on Will My Crash Diet Kill Me? She’s performed with my Gonads (the band – your minds!), and I’m glad she lost two stone. Which, from memory, was about the weight of one breast... The show revealed that the Maple Syrup diet gives you the trots, and cabbage soup results in nausea and flatulence. Nice. Meanwhile Charlie Sheen has lost 1st 10 on a diet consisting entirely of beer, cocaine and porn stars... Hmm. Tough choice...

*WILL My Crash Diet Kill Me? Not as surely as Lindsay Lohan’s crash driving.

HOT on TV: Hustle – back on form... True Blood (FX)... Sons Of Anarchy (Five USA)... Doc Brown (Comedy Rocks)... Nurse Jackie.

ROT on TV: Coming Of Age – winning the prestigious Baby Doc ‘Least Welcome Come-back’ award (runner-up, Sonia returning to Walford like a mutt to its own poo)... and Kat Moon’s baby saga - dragging on like a House of Lords all-nighter...

*BOYS groped young girls like Berlusconi on heat on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. It was like watching a rapist’s foreplay. Yet C4 reported ‘grabbing’, as the custom is called, as a quaint dating ritual. Would minority-obsessed TV execs have been so understanding if the boys had been everyday soccer yobs rather than travellers?

*STEVE Tyler, the new judge on American Idol, is 62. There are judges at the Old Bailey younger than that! These days when he tells you to Walk This Way you’d have to use a Zimmer frame. But the “Demon of Screamin’” is riveting viewing. Tyler’s so up-for-it he makes the Hoff seem calm and collected. And Louis Walsh look as limp as a discarded glove puppet.

*ON Dancing On Ice, Emma Bunton told Comedy Dave “you’re stiff and you incorporated that into your routine.” Risqué, maybe, but it still sounds better than watching him dance.

*EILEEN’S insurance man was mistaken for a peeping Tom on Corrie. He’s playing Nanki-Poo in the Mikado. Rosie thought he wanted to see her Yum-Yum.

*ZEN finished with a bang then – on his boss’s desk, with his married girlfriend. The collapsing desk was funnier than all of 10o’Clock Live.

*FREE advice to BBC2: Fast & Loose? Lose it fast.

*I’M not sure why Jack Branning walks out of EastEnders, but by my reckoning he must be due at least three years paternity leave.

*IF Bianca confesses, can she go into the Whitney Protection Programme? Sorry.

*IS Brucie really the best advert for HD? In close-up he’ll look like the north face of the Eiger. But older.

*NOW Jonathan Ross has carelessly outed daughter Betty Kitten as a wug muncher, will his next TV house band be Four Poofs & A Lesbo? Only a cynic would accuse Wossy of blatantly exploiting her sexuality to drum up publicity for the Comedy Awards – of which more next week.

*SO Scotland was once an ocean away and built on fiery volcanoes. Dangerous, bleak, separated from England and spewing up everywhere... that’s Scotland now. Back then it was much the same but hotter.

* MEMO to Tony Robinson: stop shouting, we can hear you.

SMALL Joys of TV: Ricky Gervais (Golden Globes). Matt Le Blanc (Episodes). Niles’s classic silent comedy ironing routine (Frasier). Paul Kaye (Shameless). Alan Carr on Katie Price’s £40million fortune: “£40million? That’s £20 million a tit!”

RANDOM irritations: More4 dropping the Daily Show like a hot Andy Coulson. The Secret Mediterranean having just one secret: how does Trevor get away with it? Comedy Dave (Dancing On Ice) – not funny, can’t dance on ice.

Jan 16. I’M not sure if skate-o-phobia is a recognised prejudice, but I’d like to confess to it. You’d need a quantum physicist to measure how little Dancing On Ice interests me. The only thing I want to see on ice is a large malt whisky. Yet clearly there is an audience for pro-am micro-celebrity ice-skating because ITV screened 165 minutes of it on Sunday; a two hour show followed an hour later by a 45 minute ‘skate off’ featuring all of the highlights you might have missed, if you were lucky. That’s 165 minutes of asking: Who’s that? Why him? And where’s she from again? Nick Junior? I thought that was Ronnie Mitchell’s nickname...

The big stars were: Ashley the butcher from Corrie, who sounds like he’s already had a nasty accident involving his privates and a sharpened blade. Denise Welch from Loose Women, no stranger to ending up on her back by all accounts. Kerry Katona (Dancing On Tranquilisers). And early favourite Vanilla Ice, surprisingly available two decades after he troubled the pop charts. Angela Rippon, still gamely trading off Morecambe & Wise’s 1976 Xmas show, was first out, along with Nadia Sawalha. Show One also featured a lacklustre performance from Jade Goody’s ex, lovely if obscure kids presenter Laura Hamilton and Johnson Beharry, VC, who despite much public goodwill is unlikely to prove much of a showman.

For the skate-hating viewer there is little relief: the odd shot of Holly Wobbly; Laura threatening to pop out of her top, and the ever-reliable commentary. Tony Gubba’s references to a “flying Cinderella”, “rotating lay-outs” and even a “half-stairs camel” rarely fail to lift the gloom. I thought the “frog lift” was what Sarkozy wore in his shoes and that the “rotating double stag” was something Premiership footballers enjoyed in Las Vegas but Gubs insists they’re genuine terms. Tonight? Another batch of semi-recognisable nincompoops including Richard & Judy’s world famous daughter, Frank Lampard’s ex and a bloke who once had a bit-part as a Walford GP. Deep joy. The only thing that could improve this show would be a council gritter. Here’s hoping Vanilla falls over and gets the second hit of his career.

TO confound critics who think the bottom has been scraped out of the ‘celebrity’ barrel, C4 unveiled Celebrity 5 Go To... featuring some of the biggest names you’ve barely heard of. Long-forgotten eighties wild child Emma Ridley! Fat ham Russell Grant! Prissy Jan Leeming! And Antony Costa out of the charts (by nearly a decade). Plus, wait for it, Derek Conway! Yes, that Derek Conway, the disgraced MP notorious for slipping his son £40K of our loot. The show was as dull as you’d imagine – five turkeys go to Turkey. (Make it Tunisia and we’d be in business). But it made you wonder who wouldn’t qualify as a celeb these days. If Conway counts, why not David Chaytor? Will we get Tommy Sheridan on Would I Lie To You? Or Nick Griffin squeezing his fat gut through an odal rune cut-out on Hole In The Wall? The line between fame and notoriety has been blurred, and the notion that if caught with your hands in the till you should retire quietly from public life is forgotten. At least Nadine Dorries will look good in Lycra.

* EMMA “felt like one of the boys”. With her muscle-bound upper-body she also looked like one.

NO Ordinary Family is The Incredibles with real people. A holiday plane crash plunges the Powells into water as green and gungy as a toxic pond, giving them all amazing powers. Dad Jim (Michael Chiklis) gets super-strength, invulnerability and can leap tall buildings with a single bound, like early Superman. Mum Steph (Julie Benz; I bet she does)... can run at up to 718mph. Daughter Daphne reads minds; son JJ becomes a maths genius (tough luck, kid; Dad gets to fight crime, you win Junior Mastermind). The show’s already better than the last two series of Heroes.

*NO word yet on the Powells’ great-grandad, Enoch, and his fearsome powers of repatriation.

HOT on TV: new True Blood (FX)... No Ordinary Family (Watch)... Comedy Rocks... Angela Griffin (Hustle)... CSI (C5)... Kidnap and Ransom.

ROT on TV: Ben Miller’s dumbed-down Horizon... Emma Ridley – show-oaf... Michel Roux – putting the Zzz in Zizzi... The Biggest Loser – you wanna lose weight? Fine. Eat less, do more, and shut the flab up about it.

WE’RE all so het-up about the baby-snatch story on EastEnders, no-one is asking why hunky Connor would actually want grumpy-pumpy with Carol Jackson, the glummest old boiler since Pauline Fowler. Whenever I see a sign “humps for 100 yards” I think of her. Con is bonking Carol and step grand-daughter Whit to spark yet another teen prostitute story (Standard Walford Plot twist #9). Who will he bed next, Bianca for the set? Big Mo? In BBC1’s East London, there’s more chance of seeing Dot Branning Lipstick Lesbian than anything approaching everyday reality.

*IS Oral Sex Safe, asked Ray Winstone’s daughter Jaime? Yes it is – providing your Dad doesn’t find out. Is it safe? If in doubt, fellas, send a canary down first.

*CALL off that search for The Biggest Loser, ITV. After the Old & Sad by-election we know who it is: Nick Clegg.

*NEW for ITV2: Who Katie Did Next.

*“THERE is no such thing as heat,” according to a boffin on Horizon. Yeah? Trying saying that face down in the Al Azizia desert with a gob-full of phal and a red-hot poker up the jacksie.

EPISODES might have worked if it’d been a) less smug, b) remotely funny, and c) if there had been a single Brit-com since The Office worth watching.

RANDOM Irritations: Phil Schofield, the TV equivalent of smog – wet, grey, gets everywhere but serves no useful purpose. David Miliband seeking a TV career instead of representing his constituents. Shameless becoming a cartoon.

SMALL joys of TV: The Tick (Syfy). Precious Little. Jim Jeffries. Dale Winton, very twitchy around his red area (In It To Win It). Sister Rosetta Tharpe. And the ‘Careless Whisper’ mime on new improved show Fast & Loose although there was no way on earth that was improvised.

*Fast & Loose? Shouldn’t the title be Whose Show Is This Anyway?

SEPARATED at birth: Aggie the baby from Nanny McPhee and Al Murray? One a bald, noisy and full of wind. The other a small child...

WELL done, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for exposing the wasteful lunacy of EU fishing regulations. Seeing mountains of dead cod and coley dumped back into the North Sea was utterly sickening.

Jan 12. Well done Miriam O’Reilly for sticking it to the BBC. But I’m not entirely convinced that ‘ageism’ per se is what is wrong with television, or that the law is the best way to deal with it. The real and related problem is the Corporation’s ‘yoof’ obsession. Chasing viewers under-35 results in some truly shocking commissions (and 97 per cent of BBC3). Particularly irritating is the ban it operates against any comedian or entertainer their middle class executives deem old-hat. Take for example Brian Conley and Joe Pasquale, currently starring in two of the country’s most successful pantomimes. They put bums on seats and delight audiences of all ages but you won’t see them on Saturday night TV for love nor money. Why? Because some clueless executives thinks they are old-fashioned. (The great Bob Monkhouse’s TV career was cut dead simply because two executives – the BBC’s Yentob and ITV’s lemon-lipped Liddiment - didn’t like him.) But it is not the job of the BBC to tell us who we can laugh at. After the worst Christmas TV in living memory, BBC1 should rethink their approach to comedy, let a thousand flowers bloom and show us the funny.

Jan 9. A CYNICAL cot death and baby-snatching story-line has left EastEnders’s credibility on life-support. Sam Womack has quit, other stars may follow, and angry viewers are up in arms. Enders defenders claim the show “reflects life.” Yet all it really reflects is the poverty of the writers’ imagination. There is a void at the heart of the soap as black as any Brian Cox has ever stared in to. Its default setting is wretched misery, stretched to increasingly far-fetched proportions. Drama can and should deal with difficult issues, but we’re not talking Paul Abbott here. This is bog-standard badly-written BBC1 garbage.

Consider this. The Square was packed yet no-one noticed a distraught neighbour wandering about clutching her dead child. Alfie left the Vic’s bedroom window open in the coldest week of the year so Ronnie could hear Tommy crying above the New Year’s Eve racket with her bionic lug-holes. For the story-line to work, the babies would have to be identical. They weren’t - the midwife noticed Ronnie’s baby had lost not only one fifth of its bodyweight but also his club foot. She put it down to clerical error. D’oh! The Moons must be the only couple who didn’t take pictures of their new-born etc etc...

You’d have to be as drunk as an open prison inmate to swallow all that. But what else can we expect from a show whose first resort is always sensationalism? “Reality” on EastEnders includes bringing characters back from the dead, making Ireland look like a feudal hellhole and turning Phil from helpless crack addict into London’s top fence in a matter of weeks. Walford has more killers, lunatics and unpleasant couplings per square yard than Death Row. Even when they have great characters they ruin them. Mark Fowler was once the East End’s answer to Elvis, he was cool, sexy and rock’n’roll until the ishoo-obsessed writers made him HIV positively dull. They then sent he-man Grant into “ferapy” and turned sexy Stacey nuts.

Max was buried alive, but never reminds Tanya about it. Ronnie was given an unmentioned childhood abuse back-story just to kill off Archie. No wonder Sam quit. It was either that or mooning around for the years as a suicidal loon. Soap bosses have two choices. Either they carry on cranking up the melodrama. Or return to the kind of well-observed characters and believable storylines which once made this sinking soap great.

*1,001 Reasons Why EastEnders Is 'Pony' - get it here while stocks last.

*FAMOUS & Fearless was more like Fatuous & Endless. Show one offered six minutes of excitement squeezed into two hours of tedium. Richard Branson’s son and Ewan McGregor’s mate wouldn’t turn heads at a bus stop. And how fearless do you need to be to ride a BMX bike? River-rafting in Deliverance country – now, that’s genuinely scary. Squeal like a pig, Charley.

*BEST F&F quote? Jenny Frost: “I was so hot, I really enjoyed the jump.”

*BEST unfinished quote: “Jenny has a massive lead...” and she’s using it to take Clare Balding walkies.

*THE highlight of Primeval was a grumpy dinosaur dancing awkwardly to an S Club 7 song. It was like Wagner had never gone away. But how come Abby and Connor spent months stranded in the super-hot Cretaceous period without getting a tan? Why hasn’t Hannah Spearritt danced in her pants yet? And how about some smarter storylines? If we just want some cumbersome creature stomping about and roaring, we’ll watch John Prescott’s cruise-ship act. (Now that’s what I call an anomaly.)

HOT on TV: Derren Brown – mesmerizing... Penn & Teller... Caterina Murino (Zen)... Jenny Frost... Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse (BBC4).

ROT on TV: Got To Dance (Sky1) – got to dash... Not Going Out – not very funny... Zen – zzzz... Louie Spence's Showbusiness – no he isn’t... David Walliams – Matt Lucas’s anchor.

SHE nearly roasted in the Vic, but the fiery barbs of C4 comics couldn’t even singe Barbara Windsor’s syrup. “She’s blown more of the East End than the Luftwaffe,” joked Patrick Kielty in one of many jibes about her sex life. While Jimmy Carr quipped “The only EastEnder better at burying bones is Wellard.” Bar rolled with the punches and hit back telling Kielty: “It’s such a shame Sid James couldn’t be here tonight. Sadly Sid died on stage; and Patrick, you know exactly what’s that like.”

WAS televised Subbuteo really more embarrassing than Heads Or Tails? It’d be easier to be smug about past TV – as Awfully Good tried to be - if the noughties hadn’t given us Bonekickers, The Door and Kinga with her bottle. Even Tiswas was here! That show was side-splitting genius compared to the comedy disaster area that was presenter David Williams’s own Little Britain USA.

MEMO to the Beeb: not every show benefits from added celebrities. No-one watched The Magicians to catch a glimpse of a BBC Breakfast presenter. The illusions are the stars, the celebs a pointless distraction. (See also Dara on Stargazing.) Just show us the tricks! Penn & Teller: Fool Us was a much better format, flawed only by the fact that the wrong magicians won.

*BRIAN Cox revealed that diamonds the size of planet earth can be found inside white dwarf stars. In a related story, Kim Kardashian just joined NASA.

*POOR Kerry Katona's got a rib problem. Yeah, she struggles fitting more than three in her gob at one time.

*BRUCE Parry’s Arctic was very educational. He found the one place on earth where Nigel Lythgoe’s haircut is still in fashion.

*THE real scandal about Britain’s Fattest Man Paul Mason is we paid for him to end up looking like an advert for Whale Week. His diet is funded by benefits.

*AURELIO Zen: the only TV tec whose name is worth 400 points at Scrabble....

SMALL joys of TV: Monkey Life (Five). Bruce Parry. Early clips of Lenny Henry (when he was funny). Kareena Ferreira popping up as a cop on Corrie – I’m amazed avid Street fan Dot Branning didn’t notice.

RANDOM Irritations: non-entities on Celebrity Mastermind, if a third or more of the audience don’t recognise a contestant they should be immediately ejected. Richard Ayode and Ruth Jones on the Big Fat Quiz Of The Year - a big flat waste of space.

SEPARATED at birth: Gordon Ramsay and a Shar Pei – one an ugly, noisy hound renowned for its distinctive deep wrinkles; the other a canine.

Jan 1st 2011. It was the year of volcanic ash, Wiki-Leaks, and the vuvuzela – the World Cup horn that was louder than Corrie’s Fiz with her nipples caught in a mouse-trap. Jonathan Ross quit his BBC chat show, and Graham Norton was shunted into his slot, which must have hurt. TV news brought unexpected joy as the BA strikers’ slogan “Willie Out!” appeared to signal the birth of a new innuendo-based militancy. But also bitter disappointment as the two helpless twins mauled by an urban fox turned out not to be Jedward. British drama came back strong with Sherlock and Downton Abbey. And amazing fantasy abounded, from Misfits to Simon Cowell’s engagement. Here’s my definitive guide to TV’s 2010 winners and losers.

Nuisance of The Year: a crowded field, but one man stands pout and pirouette above the also-rans – Louie Spence, a creature so camp he makes Dale Winton look like Gene Hunt. Toff of the Year: Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey. Top UK Drama: Sherlock. Top US Drama: The Walking Dead. Runners-up: Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, Sons Of Anarchy. Worst drama: The Deep – HMS Codswallop. The Frankie Howerd Annual Best-Reason-for-Tittering Award: Spartacus Blood & Sand. Best actor: Trevor Eve. Best actress: Edie Falco. Worst: Gillian McKeith. Sexiest Newcomer (UK): Karen Gillan. Sexiest Newcomer (US): Katrina Law.

Word of the Year: Vajazzle. Most short-lived catchphrase: “I agree with Nick.” Most educational revelation: The Chatham Pocket (Coppers). Top Reality Stars: Shaun Ryder, Stacey Solomon. Most deluded: Stuart Baggs The Brand. Sexiest: Jessica Wright. Worst ‘Celeb’ Booking: Aggro Santos – more people had seen the Argos Santa. Runner-up: Chloe Madeley. Greatest Reality TV Moment: Alex Reid leaving the BB House to chants of “Dump her!” Most misleading quote: “I may have to eat camel toes” – Stacey Solomon.

Top X Factor irritation: Cheryl Cole, the worst judge since Judy. See also auto-tuning, Katie Weasel, random rule-changing... Top sitcom: Modern Family. Best new sitcom: The Middle, Raising Hope. Worst: Big Top. Top Comedy Newcomer: Lee Nelson. Worst: Morgana. Top Sadist: Glee’s Sue Sylvester. Worst musical performance: Wagner. Runners-up: The Who at the Superbowl. Greatest musical come-back: Leon Russell. Worst chat-show: Ruth Jones. Best: Chelsea Handler. Top Entertainment: Total Wipeout. Worst: The Door. Runner-up: Heads Or Tails. Biggest embarrassment: Danny Dyer I Believe In UFOs.

Top soap star: Scott Maslin, doing to EastEnders’ live episode what Jack Branning did to Ronnie and Roxy. Most wearisome plot: Corrie’s Fishwick saga. Biggest surprise: postman Masood delivering a baby instead of leaving a card saying ‘We tried to deliver an item...’ Top soap acting: Jane Danson. Worst acting: Pam St Clement for Fat Pat’s heart attack – putting the cement in Clement.

Top TV joy: Wagner singing Creep. Runner-up: the Grim Reaper appearing in the last Heartbeat. Worst alleged joy: Anton the Berk dragging Widdy around the floor like a Smithfield meat porter with a freshly-killed carcass or a cop with a student rioter. Top irritation: the Go Compare ad. Top impressions: Morgana’s Fearne Cotton, Francine Lewis’s Stacey Solomon. Top psychic: Paul the World Cup octopus. Worst: Derek Acorrah. Sporting hero: Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. Sporting zeroes: England world cup team. Runners-up: ITV for replacing Gerrard's tournament-opening goal with an ad for Hyundai. Top goof, Win McMurry on Tiger’s disc problem: “He’s been playing with a bad neck for about a month and thinks it could be a bulging dick.”

Top kids’ show: Phineas & Ferb. Top Doc: Julien Temple’s Requiem for Detroit. Top Travel: An Idiot Abroad. Top Cooking advice: “You're Scottish, fry something” – Doctor Who.

Best Performance by an Inanimate Object: Holly Willoughby’s bra. Runner-up: Amanda Holden’s face. Top costume: Lady Gaga’s meat dress – look close and you could see the beef curtains. Most heart-warming news footage: Chilean miners rescue. Most-missed: Jack Bauer. Nitwits I’d never miss: Lembit, Dappy, Katona, Yentob, Jedward, Gillian McKeith, Alexa Chung. Name of the Year: Andreas Wank (Winter Olympics). Turkey of the Year: Daybreak. Woman of the Year: Gamu. Man of The Year: Brian Cox. Star of the Year: Michael McIntyre.

GAZZA and his chicken, Naomi’s blood diamonds, mental Mel Gibson phone calls... it’s been a bumper year for the famous and foolish. But I take issue with C5’s claim that Ricky Martin coming out was one of 2010’s Most Shocking Celebrity Moments. It was about as surprising as Lindsay Lohan getting busted or Nick Clegg breaking a promise. The real shock was Mark Owen multi-cheating on his missus. Not so much Take That as “have summa this.” 2010 taught us a lot – mostly that it’s safer to accept a lift from George Michael than wed a Premiership footballer; they’ll wander as wildly as Russell Crowe’s accent in Robin Hood. Cheryl Cole suffered - betrayed by Ashley, bitten by a mosquito. The poor thing was in a terrible state, and Cheryl was just as bad. The difference between Cheryl and that Icelandic volcano last April? The volcano was still blowing ash...

*TOP non-celeb scandal? The BA prostitute ring. Strewth. It’s hard enough to get a second bag of nuts out of them normally. The only time I was banged by a stewardess she used a drinks trolley.

BAD timing, BBC1. Upstairs Downstairs was completely upstaged by Downton. ITV got in first, with a grander house, a wittier script and a likeable leading man. UD still had its moments, with neat performances particularly from Dame Eileen Atkins as iron-willed Lady Holland, and Solomon the monkey (easier to understand than Stacey). And it ended well with the butler delivering Lady Agnes’s baby and Lady Persie running off with the Nazis. But I couldn’t warm to Sir Hallam, who looked like a thinner Nick Berry with stomach cramps. And with Keeley ‘Bolly-Knickers’ Hawes as Lady Agnes I expected Gene Hunt to surface as Oswald Mosley’s minder.

*CABLE Street 1936. Not to be confused with Cable Indiscrete 2010. Give Vince his due, though. He trod on less toes on Strictly than he does in government.

HOT on TV: The Ashes... World’s Strongest Man... Matt Lucas (Les Mis)... Shooting Stars... the tricks on The Magicians (shame about the ridiculous format).

ROT on TV: Three Men Go To Scotland – as funny as a thistle suppository... Su ‘Thickie’ Pollard in an under-par Benidorm... 2010 Unwrapped -100% Unfunny... Oz & Hugh Raise The Bar – correction, should be barred.

TO Walford, where, to no-one’s surprise, tragedy has been ripped once again from the womb of joy. But why on earth would Ronnie and Kat’s new-borns look identical? Why was Kat talking like she’d never given birth before? And even more puzzling: where exactly was the racing from that Patrick was watching on Boxing Day?

*DANCING On Ice? With that cast it’s more like Dancing with ITV2. Katona should do well, though. She’s a natural on the floor.

*Lookalike Of The Year: Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and Dobby the Elf from Harry Potter.

REASONS to be cheerful: 1) Boardwalk Empire (starts Feb, on Sky Atlantic). 2) No Ordinary Family (January, Watch) 3) Game Of Thrones - the Middle Ages get the HBO treatment (Sky Atlantic, April) 4) Scorcese launching a TV prequel to Goodfellas. 4) Live comedy from Jerry Seinfeld - his first UK gig since 1998 5) Jerry Sadowitz’s London show - starts this week.

WHO to watch in 2011: actress Michelle Dockery, comic Mickey Flanagan, model Harriet Dennant (pictured here on the right), singer Anna Calvi, musical funny-man Kev Orkian, magician Kockov, singer Florrie, actress Carey Mulligan, the Funny Old Bastards comedy show (hosted by me!), and actor Dave Legeno – about time the big guy moved centre stage.

SMALL joys of TV: Toots Hibbert (Hootenanny). Rock & Chips. Kevin Webster reclaiming his pouffe – but when will he remember Sal’s affair with Ian? (Or Matthew, or Martin Platt, master prat?). Super-fit Hannah Spearritt fighting dinosaurs and dodgy dialogue on Primeval. Spearritt? It’d be rude not to.

RANDOM irritations: Tracey-Luv Barlow – perma-gurning cartoon baddie. Celebrity Mastermind’s extremely loose definition of celebrity. (See also Celebrity Eggheads). Blockhead list-shows where the famous, feckwitted and annoying are mocked by the not-famous but equally feckwitted and annoying. TV chefs – enough, already.

Harriet Dennant
Designer: Velda Lauder
Pic: Ariel Da Snapper