Garry Bushell
On The Box On The Blog Shop Features Archive Biography Books Booking Details Homepage


Jan 27. The coldest place in Britain last Tuesday? The Brannings’ bedroom on EastEnders. The wind chill factor coming off Tanya would have withered the nuts of a Bake-Off squirrel.

Tan’s fall-out with Max ended with her splitting their house in two. She kept the inside. Unfortunately, to make the big bust-up work the soap had to completely rewrite Max’s character. Firstly he aroused Tanya’ suspicions by turning down sex. Men like Max do not turn down sex. The old Mekon would have cheerfully shagged Kirsty and Tanya and then popped out for a pint. What women see in a bloke who looks like Heinz’s 58th variety is beyond me; but on past form, given half a chance he’d be stiffer than Derek.

Secondly, even more ridiculously, he told Tan the truth! This bloke has been a serial adulterer for decades; he’d never make the schoolboy error of taking what a woman says at face value. “I wanna know everything,” said Tanya. And instead of replying “Look I got her to sign the divorce papers, what more do you want, you daft mare?” he owned up to fancying Kirsty and let Tan kick him out. At no point did he mention her fling with his brother, or psycho Sean Slater, or remind her of their own affair when she was briefly married to Gormless Greg. At no point did he bring up the small matter of her BURYING HIM ALIVE, which in my experience is the sort of thing you tend to recall in the course of a relationship-busting tear-up.

Kirsty has gone, for now, and Tanya leaves shortly. But the soap has other unfeasible love triangles to baffle us with. Ayesha, the Asian Cheryl Cole (also known as Wye-Ayesha) has the hots for Masood, the multi-tasking middle-aged postman-teacher and occasional restaurateur. And Miss Piggy will get it on soon with alcoholic ex-crack fiend Phil. Again. Quick catch-up: Phil once stole Sharon from his bruv, but she’s now with Jack who had a kid with Roxy while dating her sister. Confused? Don’t be. All you need to know is that in Walford, your marriage will fail, your spouse will cheat, your business will go bust and there’s a higher chance of violent death here than in Algeria.

BBC1 has been preaching this message of hopeless despair for 28 years. And we wonder why the country’s so ruddy miserable...

*IS Tanya being unreasonable? I mean, Kirsty is gorgeous. You wouldn’t wait five years for an In/Out referendum...

IN the grand tradition of stars who can’t dive, dance or skate, BBC2 served up celebs who can’t bake, and in many cases, couldn’t be recognised. These “well-known personalities” included the little-watched Watson & Oliver (aka Watson The Other Side?) and Stephen K. Amos whose own series was so lousy even the Beeb didn’t re-commission it. Amos said he wanted to annoy the others. He should have tried telling them some of his jokes. Pun-loving Mel Giedroyc was worse, though. Taking people “into custardy” Mel? Really? No wonder Sue Perkins stayed at home.

*WITH its back-biting, bitching and bust-ups, Celebrity Big Brother is a far better use of scarce celeb resources than Comic Relief’s take on Bake-Off. CBB shows the real person behind the TV image. Why, who would have thought winner that Rylan is actually a sulky, self-centred show-off? Oh, hang about, there must be better examples. Ah yeah, who knew that when he wasn’t laying about with his hands down his pants, Razor would take so enthusiastically to dragging up? Talk about lardy boy. Even Ugly Sisters were traumatised. It was as disconcerting as catching Rylan in slippers and a sensible cardigan reading the Telegraph while smoking a pipe.

HOW is Splash holding its audience? Well, BBC1’s opposition Britain’s Brightest is a lot duller, and it’s possible that the cold is playing havoc with TV remotes. But isn’t it more likely that viewers quite like seeing celebs in swimming costumes? I mentioned this in my local, and Old Col got so worked up about Linda Barker’s posterior that he spilt his pint. Talk about “lock hands for a dream entry”. If ITV sign Holly Willoughby, Mel B and Kaplinsky for series two, this thing will run and run.

HOT on TV: The Following (Sky Atlantic)... Louie (Fox)... Natalie Gumede (Corrie)... Fringe finale.

ROT on TV: Mr Selfridge – a store of snore... Haunted Highway – it wasn’t... Richard Hammond’s Secret Service – Beadle without the magic... Blandings – flushes Wodehouse down the khazi of corn.

CHARLIE Brooks snubbed the National TV Awards to watch a mate give birth. Wise choice, it was probably less agonising, better produced and over a damn sight quicker. These awards are awful. They don’t reflect quality or popularity. Is TOWIE more entertaining than TV Burp? No. Was Planet Earth Live a better-made documentary than 7/7: One Day In London? Never. Was the Ab-Fab Olympics special really one of 2012’s finest sitcoms? Of course not. The categories are ludicrous, the voting is suspect, and TV companies decide the contenders. What’s the point?

*ACCORDING to ITV’s gong show, Alan Hansall out-acted the great Larry Hagman, R.I.P. And Merlin outclassed Sherlock (and Homeland) as drama... despite it doing to the Arthurian legends what Eden Hazard does to ball-boys (and Gaius wearing specs centuries before they were invented... )

*DANCING On Ice? Bah, open your curtains, the whole country’s slipping on it.

*I’M not saying Pasquale’s bad, but the only thing that could improve his skating is a gritter.

*ROB fancies Tracy Barlow on Corrie because she’s a evil, violent psycho-bitch. Has he not met Kirsty?

CLASSIC exchange on Mrs Brown’s Boys. Cathy: “If you were going on a first date nowadays, a man would expect you to perform fellatio.” Mrs. Brown: “Me? Sing opera?” (Beat) “He’d have a better chance of getting a blowjob.”

SHOWS I’d like to see: Too Fake To Bake – when breast implants make cooking a challenge. Too Smashed To Splash – major league drunks including Shane MacGowan and Denise Welch are sent tottering along the 10metre board with hilarious consequences.

RANDOM irritations: a BBC weathergirl using the made-up word “slizzle” for sleet. Clare Balding – great at the Olympics, grating in primetime. PC air-heads censoring Fawlty Towers. Jo Brand’s Splash ‘gags’. Mel Giedroyc failing to use the baking slogan, “Let’s Get Ready To Crumble!”

SEPARATED at birth: Max Branning and the Mighty Mekon? One an scheming emotion-free genius, the other a cartoon. Runners-up Lorna Watson’s Sue Perkins Cake and Frank Sidebottom.

SMALL Joys of TV: Nigel Havers (Corrie). Joe Pasquale. Speidi – perfect reality show villains. The giggle heard after the words “a nice little rise to that” on Bake-Off. Jo Brand’s novel way of softening butter.

Quote of the week, Countryfile’s Julia, who was talking about flyball racing when she asked Matt: “Are you up for the full length now?”

Jan 20. The Tesco horsemeat scandal sparked off an unbridled wave of text gags: they give you the trots; you get them over the canter. They’re low in fat, high in Shergar. Sales are stable. The hottest brand? My Lidl Pony... If we had nightly topical TV comedy shows here, like the Yanks do, the hosts would have gone to town. But no broadcaster thinks they’re worth it. And besides, it seems most stand-ups are too busy doing corporate gigs...

Ricky Gervais gets £25grand – that’s more than a band four nurse earns in a year - for doing one twenty minute spot at a company conference. Michael McIntrye pockets £40K a time! Poor old Max Wall would have turned up for a pie and a pint. Like Charlie Drake and Ben Warriss who also died in poverty, Max was born in the wrong era.

Funny Business shone a light into the lavish world of corporate comedy, which Jo Brand likened to “high end prostitution without the sex.” (And without the sex is just how I like to think of Jo). Business audiences rarely know which comedian they’re paying through the nose for. Brand admitted she often goes out to “an audible sound of despair.” Welcome to my world! The woman’s as much use as an HMV voucher; rarely funny, a rotten judge and she can’t adlib, yet she’s on every show going.

Corporate dos aren’t easy though. Rhod Gilbert recalled an FA dinner when Alex Ferguson chatted throughout his act. But then a man who has been entertained by the country’s classiest comics, and Bernard Manning, was never likely to be impressed by an angry Welshman hollering about duvets and potatoes.

Many US comics see stand-up as a route into the movies; here it’s a way onto the business gravy-train. I’ve nothing against performers coining it in, but the gap between worth and reward seems absurd. It’s Emperor’s New Clothes time. Between them, TV and the ad industry have created a breed of comics in their own image: smug, right-on millionaires sneering at anyone they can look down on. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer my stand-ups warm and down-to-earth. And funny. Funny definitely helps.

Mark Thomas, an anarchist comic, rightly said that no-one could reasonably object to a hard-up turn sucking the industry cheque-book; but if you’re already coining it in on TV panel shows millions why whore yourself?

*HAS anyone seen Celine Dion since the horsemeat scandal broke? Or Audrey Roberts? Just asking...

A BRITISH Prime Minister finally told the truth about the EU this week. Unfortunately it was in a TV sitcom. “Dealing with Europe isn’t about achieving success,” Jim Hacker told policy adviser Claire on Yes Prime Minister. “It’s about concealing failure.” The classic comedy is back, sadly a shadow of its former glory. That line aside, the gags were weak, the production stagey, the laugh track irritated and the “dago” lingo felt horribly dated. Reality was funnier. Politicians spent all week debating a speech on the EU that the PM still hasn’t made. Cameron will demand things he knows he can’t get, and promise a referendum for when he won’t be in office. (But not an in/out one, which is apparently “a false choice.”) Sir Humphrey? “Power abhors a vacuum... and we’re currently led by one.”

FRANKIE Dettori became house dictator on Celebrity Big Brother, a role George Galloway was made for. Rylan was the rebel leader, kind of Fey Guevara. In fairness, the boy has form - he has murdered hundreds of tunes.

*JUST as well Razor isn’t playing anymore. Imagine how the terraces would have reacted to that Tragedy routine: ‘He’s old, he’s fat, he dances like a twat... ’

*WE can’t be sure what Speidi got up to in bed, but Gillian’s reaction was priceless. Why couldn’t they wait and find a lay-by like decent folk?

*HEIDI’s a helpful woman; she definitely lent Spencer a hand.

*CLAIRE Richards: is she called “Claire Steps”, cos she’s never more than ten steps from a cake?

HOT on TV: Tankies... Sisde Babett Knudsen (Borgen)... Dave Legeno (Ripper Street)... Utopia... Hell On Wheels (TCM).

ROT on TV: Splash – water torture... Tom Daley – way out of his depth... Blandings – just bland... Jason Gardiner – never funny... Paddy’s TV Guide – no likey, all sh*tey.

KYLIE didn’t want David’s baby on Corrie, which makes sense as she already has David. How many whining brats can one woman cope with? Now she’s pregnant with his brother’s sprog and “in a really awkward position.” You can say that again! Almost as awkward as the position she was in when she conceived... hanging off a hotel chandelier wearing a horse’s bridle with a champagne bottle in both hands. I like to imagine.

THE US has been fighting a “war on drugs” for forty years. Drugs appear to be winning. The House I Live In showed its drug law is draconian but ineffective. David Simon called it “a holocaust in slow motion.” OTT? Maybe, but the trillion dollar crack-down hasn’t made the problem go away. It’s just swollen the prison industry and diverted cops from tackling the more winnable war on thieves and killers.

ONE of the show’s expert was Dr. Gabor Maté, who was the most tired-looking human being ever seen on TV. The bloke looked like sleep in a cheap suit. I wouldn’t normally advocate drug use, but someone should chop him out a fat one. Comatose lizards look more lively.

MUCH confusion on Splash last night; celebs were told to jump off the wooden board and two of them started to climb up Vernon.

CAPRICE wanted “to get through to the semis”. Ohhh, so close. Just one more swimsuit shot...

THE kindest thing to say about Blandings? The pig was good...

MICHAELA was thrilled that a bearded tit had been spotted in London (Winterwatch). Was it Justin Lee Collins?

PEOPLE give Miranda stick but she has given us “clacker” as a new word for a woman’s privates (it’s actually Aussie slang for arse). She’s also revived the career of Sally Phillips as Tilly who no doubt had a cracker of a clacker in her day.

SMALL Joys of TV: Razor waxed. The Eggheads team losing Only Connect. Janis Joplin (Sky Arts). Pandora’s peaks (AHS: Asylum). Victoria Coren’s décolletage (posh bird, posh word, obviously). That elephant’s, ahem, second trunk on Africa - that pachyderm was packing.

RANDOM irritations: ITV claiming that Richard Bacon and Louie Bloody Spence constitute an “All-Star” edition of Family Fortunes. Janet Street-Porter being on Room 101 instead of in it. Brian Cox talking only in kilometres, despite this still being Britain the last time I looked.

WASN’T it cold last week? On EastEnders, Kat was bedding gangsters just for the body warmth. It was so cold, Lauren the Lush switched from vodka to Irish coffee. Cold? Future murder victims were queuing up at Walford crem...

TV Maths: Errol Flynn + Praying Mantis = Rylan

*AFTER ten weeks of Cornwall with Caroline Quentin, will there be any pasties left?

*HOW about an all-Chinese snooker final: Ding Junhui vs. Dong Dong... it’d be a right old ding-dong.

A SURPRISE moment on Bargain Hunt; Tim Wannacott, who I hope was talking about a woman’s teddy bear on Bargain Hunt, told her: “First up is your old growler.”

Jan 13. WHO voted Paula Hamilton out of Celebrity Big Brother? You nitwits! She was brilliant! Ex-model Paula has more tall stories than the brothers Grimm. She drops names like a drunken clown juggling ID badges. Mel Gibson taught her to use a long bow (“I almost took my nipple off”). She was trained to smell “by Zulus”. She cooks like a pro because Marco Pierre White and Anton Mosimann have been “dear friends for 27 years.” Paula was a racing driver (“only at Silverstone”), she has a pet coconut and thinks a penis is “the most beautiful thing you can give a woman” which suggests she never saw Razor’s.

OK, her angry exercise work-outs would put the wind up Rocky; but she says “I’ve never hurt anyone, I can’t, I’ve got a karate license.” Yet hints of a darker side to her, a Bad Paula, were also in evidence. It was Bad Paula who said of Frankie: “You’re a jockey, what the hell do you know?” Tricia Penrose alleged she once called her “a Scouse bitch.” You don’t kick out a woman like that! You give her a long bow and pin a target on Rylan’s arse.

With Paula gone, the show is top-heavy with underperforming soap stars, although it was fun reliving Gillian Taylforth’s A1 slip road controversy. Asking for a G&T never meant the same after that. “Everyone’s done it,” shrugged Lacey. Good girl. I like her even more now we know she can treat pancreatitis.

Big Bro persuaded Spencer and Heidi to fake a walk-out; an inspired twist. The odd couple had seemed dull before, and entirely wrapped up in themselves; but they returned like avenging angels, putting Claire and an outraged Rylan up for eviction. She’ll go off course. (Claire, not Rylan.)

So who will win? Hopefully Razor. He’s big and funny, a proper geezer; not to mention a great loss to London Fashion Week. Although his part in last night’s row – he got a red card from show bosses for loudly defending Toadfish from what he saw as Spencer’s bullying - might damage his chances.

Frankie’s okay, but weepy Rylan, the camp praying mantis, is Razor’s biggest rival. Perhaps they could settle it by arm-wrestling? Rylan? No? Okay, how about poker? Pool? Press-ups? Chess? Where’s he gone?

*FUNNIEST moment? Rylan speculating about being married to David Beckham, reckoned “He could do worse.” Razor replied: “He has.”

*PAULA was fine about being first out; but her coconut was desiccated.

WHEN a show as bad as Splash! hits Saturday night TV, you’re tempted to think the commissioners must just be clueless nitwits. But what if it’s deliberate? What if there’s a secret competition among broadcasters to come up with the worst entertainment format ever? Touch The Truck, Naked Jungle, Sing If You Can... it’s easier to believe they’re the result of some private joke at our expense than the product of over-paid graduates brain-storming. Could someone at ITV really have thought that 150 seconds of bad micro-celebrity diving was worth padding out to a 90 minute show? And that the term ‘celebrity diving’ could be stretched to include obscure comic actress Helen Lederer flopping off the three-metre board like a tranquilized manatee? (Not so much diving as oozing). Splash! is either ITV’s biggest cock-up since Red Or Black or a magnificent first shot at Turkey Of The Year 2013.

*SPLASH! is bad, but could we do worse? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sewerage Wars: Two teams of camera botherers led by Shami Chakrabati and Cillit Bang legend Barry Scott are bombarded with 10,000 tons of steaming horse shit. Will any survive? No? Oh well.

*IT took guts for Omid to bomb off the ten-metre board. But it took brass balls for him to go on TV days earlier with an act consisting of years-old football chants.

ALL You Can Eat covered extreme food contests, or as they’re known in Africa: more reasons to hate the West. In Kent, Sue, who apparently has “a gift for swallowing”, demolished rock oysters. Elsewhere, crazed gluttons chomped through 72oz steaks, chilies, stinging nettles and, in Florida, chicken wings – sponsored by leg and breast specialists, Hooters. The winner noshed 144 in ten minutes. 144! Diane Abbott must have been pelting the screen with alfalfa. This wasn’t so much Man Vs Food as Man Vs Heart Disease... But Brits are made of sterner stuff. Step forward Peter Dowdeswell, 72, from Northamptonshire who smashed the world record for eating hard boiled eggs. Come on Heston, build an egg old Pete couldn’t swallow.

*MAN Vs Food is fronted by Adam Richman; not to be confused with Woman Vs Sausage. That was Gillian Taylforth.

HOT on TV: new NCIS (Fox)... Borgen (BBC4)... Ripper Street... Tankies: Tank Heroes Of World War 2.

ROT on TV: Mr. Sainsbury – dull in every department... Splash! – the audience will dive-bomb... Jo Brand – judge dreadful... The Undateables – mocking the afflicted... Britain’s Brightest? Not even close.

SHOCK news from Dancing On Ice. Pamela Anderson’s boobs fell out and the judges voted her off the show. Idiots. I’d have voted her into a lower-cut top.

*ROBIN Cousins on Pamela: “I can see there’s a skater insider her ready to come out.” Lucky bastard.

*A PSYCHIC was murdered on Lewis. He didn’t see that coming, a million viewers said as one. Ah, but he was a fake psychic (Is there another kind?). The killer is stalking phony clairvoyants. Let’s hope Robbie doesn’t nab him until after his session with Derek Acorah, Sally Morgan, Colin Fry...

PRIMEVAL seems as hard to destroy as the prehistoric beasts they battle. It’s back as Primeval New World, set in Canada. The CGI dinosaurs are still here, but there’s one shocking oversight. Where’s Hannah Spearritt? Abby dancing in her pants was the greatest joy of the original series. Come on Crystal Lowe, it’s a tough job but we know you can do it.

*ON Corrie, Leanne told Nick: “I love you and I can’t find a way of saying it that’s not words.” What, with your track record?

*GAIL Platt assured Lewis she’s “not just a pretty face.” Sometimes this job is like shooting fish in a barrel.

*EVERYONE is gutted about Derek on EastEnders, but it could be worse. He could still be alive.

SMALL Joys of TV: Bobby George. New American Dad (FX). Tony Gubba pointing out that Pamela Anderson had “a couple of wobbles” I’d say. We’ll draw a discrete veil over her rotating fish lift.

RANDOM irritations: Room 101 - one opinionated guest is ten times better than three pretending to be. Numb, more therapy than comedy. Only Joking - if John Bishop really wants to “recreate The Comedians” why use amateurs?

SEPARATED at birth: Frankie Dettori and Fred Astaire? Fred’s Three Little Words involved dancing, Frankie’s were: “I used drugs.”

ADVICE of the month – Kevin McLoud, giving building repair tips on Grand Designs: “You should only worry about a crack when you can get your hand in it.”

Jan 6. IT WAS the year of Olympics glory, soggy bottoms and Tulisa demonstrating the first swallow of summer. The Savile scandal shocked the nation – who knew that ‘BBC’ stood for Better Beware Children? Kate became the first topless Royal since Charles 1st. And The Voice made a star of an absolute nobody... Danny O’Donaghue. Against the odds 2012 also saw some brilliant television. Here’s my guide to TV’s winners and losers.

TV Event Of The Year: The Olympics - the BBC at their best. Turkey Of The Year: BBC1’s dismal Diamond Jubilee omnishambles. Top 2012 TV Images: JR’s eye-brows. Boris on a zip-wire. Ilithyia in the bath (Spartacus). Lara Pulver, Sherlock’s dominatrix. Pam St Clement on screen with the caption: ‘Problem – Humping’.

Worst Idea: Planet Earth Live, in the dark. Runners-up: Stargazing Live, through the clouds. Drugs Live, which induced a pleasant rush... to change channels.

Best New Drama: Line Of Duty. Worst: Titanic – before it sank, it stank. Runner-up: Hunted. Top Import: Homeland – series one; series two was so bonkers you wouldn’t have been surprised to see Carrie riding into action on a unicorn.

Top Cops: Braquo. Top Hood: Steve Van Zandt (Lilyhammer). Worst pirate: Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver (Treasure Island), comprehensively out-acted by his parrot.

Top soap: Dallas. Worst soap affair: Sunita & Karl (Corrie) – she was better off under the rubble. Least Surprising (and dullest): Kat and Derek (Enders); a real Beauty & The Beast coupling. Derek was the beauty.

Best Celebrity Booking: Julie Goodyear (CBB). Runners-up: Ken Morley, evil bitch queen Jasmine Lennard. Most irritating Celeb: Helen Flanagan. Her encounter with an ostrich was hilarious, though. The excitable feather-brained bird really freaked out the ostrich.

Best Reality: Celebrity Big Brother. Worst: Live TOWIE - fluffed lines, missed cues, mumbled dialogue... At one stage, the cast even got their strings tangled.

Small Joys of 2012 TV: Megan singing Zou Bisou Bisou (Mad Men), Ali G’s ‘Savile’ tracksuit. Madness at the Jubilee. Ryder Cup come-back. Top Joy: women’s beach volleyball, a sport notorious for wrist injuries... among viewers.

Top Tranny: Sean Bean as Tracie (Accused). Top Gurner: Claire Danes, Homeland. Runner-up: Jessie J. Top Disease: Ash Dieback; scientific name: Chalara Fraxinea (who I believe once dated Spencer on Made In Chelsea.)

Best comedy: A Touch Of Cloth. Runner-up: Moone Boy. Worst: The Royal Bodyguard. Runner-up: Citizen Khan. Best Comedy Drama: Girls. Best Documentary Series: Secret History Of Our Streets. Best Doc: Knuckle, Bare-Fist Fighting. Worst: Jo Brand On Kissing. Best sci-fi newcomer: Jenna-Louise Colman (Doctor Who). She played a deranged Dalek who saw herself as a stunner. Think Samantha Brick in space.

Worst ‘Medical’ Show: Embarrassing Bodies Live. Rarest medical condition: This Morning’s woman with two vaginas (it was like Kelly-Anne Lyons and Dick & Dom all over again).

Hottest new talent: swim act Aquabatique (BGT) – brilliant and sexy in a small tank; just think what they could do with a full length. Most cheated talent show contestant: Ella Henderson. Runner-up: Carolynne Poole, she had a lovely country twang... and from where Louis was sitting he could nearly see it. Worst talent show judge: Geri Halliwell.

Best Performance by an Inanimate Object: Nicole Sherzinger’s mic. Runner-up: Joey Essex. Sexiest Brunette: Jessica Paré (Mad Men). Top Blonde: Rachel Riley. Top Lookalikes: Jessie J/Mystic Meg; Micky Flanagan/Billy The Fish; Linda Robson/Nick Nolte.

Most misleading quote: “Stimulating your ferret by hand is very important” – Pam St Clement.

Biggest Mystery: Paddy Docherty (Paddy & Sally’s Excellent Gypsy Adventure) asking: “How am I meant to ride a skanky old bike?” Dunno. Ask John Bercow?

Irritations of the Year: TOWIE spin-offs, Claudia Winkleman, Louie Spence, Sinbad disappearing up ship creek without a paddle. Top Chat: Graham Norton. Top Actor: Lennie James (Line Of Duty). Top actress: Julie Bowen (Modern Family). Top Child Actress: Maisie Williams (Game Of Thrones) Best Celeb Behaving Badly: shop-lifting chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson: first take some cheese, then some more cheese...

Best Names: Tiny Kox (election observer) and Kum Sok (North Korean weightlifter). Man of the Year: Wiggins! Woman of the Year: Jessica Ennis. TV Series of The Year: Game Of Thrones. Star Of The Year: Felix Baumgartner.

TWO hours into Celebrity Big Brother and we already knew far too much about Razor Ruddock. He’d told us about his gonads, “the biggest Niagara Falls in the world;” and his “winkle” which “ain’t the best, I think I’ve worn it out.” No wonder Frankie Dettori and Rylan Clark banished him straight to Big Bro’s basement. Worryingly Rylan could nick this. He delivered most of the laughs on the opening night, asking “Where the f*** is the basement?” (Dunno mate, try the loft.) And telling Frankie “If they’re horrible, f*** ’em off.” He’s got a catchphrase, too: “Drop me out.” I love it. I’d even hire the helicopter. They had to send half the housemates to the dark, damp basement. Naturally they got rid of all the blokes – even Toadfish from Neighbours. Plus barking mad Paula Hamilton, who looks like Mr Punch, and Heidi from The Hills cos it was either her and nitwit hubby Spencer or them. Paula brilliantly mistook Toadie for a show runner. Upstairs went Gillian Taylforth (voiced by Barry White), Lacey Banghard and Tricia Penrose who’s seen more action than Claire Richards’s chip pan. My tip? Banghard to win. Whoever you are.

*CELEBS had to go up or down. Surprisingly Gillian went up.

RIPPER Street is set in 1889, just months after the mutilated corpse of Jack The Ripper’s final victim was found. We’re in Whitechapel, East London, where men are men and prostitutes are unfeasibly gorgeous. Rose, Long Susan... blimey. You got a lot more oats for your groats back then. Although the only Shades Of Grey they had was the London fog. A fresh body troubled our heroes DI Reid, his bare-knuckle boxing sidekick Drake, and seedy Captain Jackson (Yank detective, surgeon and in-door diving enthusiast). Together they deduced it wasn’t the work of the Ripper but a copycat killer - a twisted toff who made snuff films in his back garden... eight decades before Charles Manson made the first one. As daft plots go this was up there with Spike Milligan’s The Phantom Raspberry Blower Of Old London Town... But at least Ripper Street is a rock of testosterone in BBC1’s soggy sea of soap. It mixes Sherlock, CSI and Garrow’s Law and is as watchable as Rose and Susan sharing a loofer.

*THE fake Ripper scrawled ‘Down On Whores’ above a corpse, rather than the more grammatically correct ‘Down with Whores’. Going down on whores is more Jackson’s predilection.

HOT on TV: Africa... Galapagos... Ripper Street... Natacha Lindinger (Hard)... Jade Ewen.

ROT on TV: Splash – wetter than South west England... Waterloo Road – Mange Hill... Joey Branning’s grief (EastEnders) – made Paula Hamilton’s CBB ‘pain’ look Oscar worthy... Room 101 – dumb oh dumb... Big Fat Quizzz Of Year – big, fatuous waste of time.

NEW Year’s Eve and C4 offered us the chance to “see it in” with Melanie Sykes, a cheerier thought than having to watch her on telly. At least Jools puts some effort into his Hootenanny, booking class singers like Bettye Lavette and Ruby Turner; and for comic relief, Adam Ant who now looks like Alan Carr playing Johnny Depp. Carr’s own Specstacular felt longer than The Hobbit and relied on C4’s standard jaded formula: book the same old faces and get ’em sloshed. Jonathan Ross, Rylan Clark, Gok Wan, Jack Whitehall... you spoil us! No really, you don’t. Minutes on screen: 125; memorable jokes: zero.

*WHY does Jools insist on playing with so many guests? If Cradle Of Filth came on, Jools would be up tickling the ivories with ’em. Dirge Inferno? Yeah, stick some boogie woogie piano on it, it’ll go down a treat.

*ON Corrie, Fiz was knocked unconscious by a poisonous boiler. (Not Kirsty.) Leaking gas might have damaged her brain, though docs admit it’ll be hard to tell.

*WILL Sharon wed Jack or Phil on EastEnders? She’s not that bothered as long as she gets custody of the cake.

THE mystery of Peggy’s text to Phil revealed! She said: “Ere Phil, this Lexi storyline’s as Poxy as Woxy. Hahahaha. Get outta my pub.”

*THE Spice Girls musical? It’d make a change.

*WERE contestants on Dale’s Great Get-away chosen by the ghost of Benny Hill? The Manloves, the Pycocks (a bit crusty)... I liked the Smiths, Steph and Janet - the sexiest daughter/mum combo this side of Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn. Tune back next time when the Pellow-Byters take on the Joys of Upper Dicker.

SMALL Joys of TV: rucking giraffes (Africa). The darts. Classic Frankie Howerd and Stanley Baxter clips. Bear Grylls revealing: “I took Miranda Hart up the Matterhorn.” Milton Jones on Mastermind, specialist subject: potatoes; and Adele Silva beating him.

RANDOM irritations: BBC1 lecturing us about the papers exploiting crime, in a series called Ripper Street. C4 claiming their Big Fat Quiz was “adult humour” - Jack Whitehall sniggering about “bumming” was as puerile as it gets. Is he 12? EastEnders recycling the booze-smuggled-into-party plot again. Why would drinkers go to a party where you can’t drink?

SEPARATED at birth: EastEnders Kirsty and a young Dave Lee Roth – so Max, jump, go ahead and jump (her again).

All-Star NY Resolutions. Jonathan Ross: to act my age. Stephen Fry: to tell agent ‘no’ occasionally. Helen Flanagan: more me time.