BUSHELL ON THE BOX
Jan 31. Bake Off bounced back for Sport Relief and Mary Berry scored the first innuendo goal. Discussing Jason Manford's canapés, Berry declared: "You've got something to hold at the end and pop it into your mouth." Ah, but the comic hadn't "quite got the rise", she added – something he probably didn't mention in those sex-texts.
Canapés, though? Blimey, that's posher than the show's usual hot baps, massive horns and soggy-bottom tarts. But then this time they had a genuine aristocrat on board in the shape of baronet's daughter Samantha Cameron, a woman who has scoffed more canapés than her husband has broken promises. Unlike ex-England goalie David James; his creations looked more like sausage slices than dainty bite-sized nibbles, and he served 'em in a bowl. "A bowl of canapés?" roared Jason. "What parties have you been to?" Manford made black pudding and scallop "manapés", Sam-Cam served up Cornish crab and shrimp curry vol-au-vents. Which left EastEnder Maddy Hill, so beautiful away from dreary Walford, to cook up pizza canapés with crisps on top. Very Queen Vic, luv.
The technical challenge was to make Paris-Brest choux pastry rings. "I wouldn't know a Paris-Brest if it hit me in the face," said Maddy, giving Enders' writers an idea for Nancy Carter's bi-curious adventure on the soap's next visit to France. Sam-Cam took up the innuendo baton to say of the cream "I'm assuming you just shove it in" – well it worked for the Tatler Tories. Jason won the round, with Maddy who over-did the salt coming last, leaving Calamity James in third place. Could the likable comic nick the final Trophy Round too? Sadly no. Jason's Ashes-themed cake was as wonky as Scott Boswell's bowling at the C&G trophy final. David's was based on American Football. "That is a big helmet," gasped Mel Giedroyc. The goalie had to deal with a large crack, insert your own Hollyoaks jokes here, before nearly dropping the cake. It was all as messy as James himself in Vienna, 2006. So it was Maddy's Swiss roll yoga mat versus Sam-Cam's true-blue construction with wave effects and sugar paste surfboards. Victory was in the bag for the PM's missus who remained cool and collected, nice but bland throughout – much like the show itself. People in TV think viewers crave nastiness (see CBB's obsession with casting mouthy no-marks). Yet Bake Off remains an oasis of warmth, skill, politeness and safety. And it tops the ratings every time.
SAM-Cam revealed that her husband is a good cook but he "hasn't mastered the cleaning up as you go along... " The PM leaves a trail of destruction. For proof see Libya, Google tax, EU "re-negotiations"...
DO Not Disturb was like Carry On Crossroads with more adult scenes: oral sex, light bondage, prostitutes... or as Lord Sewel calls it, the usual. A couple who'd split up after the wife's fling with a toy-boy met in the honeymoon suite where they'd spent their wedding night years before. Anna (Catherine Tate) was there to mourn their marriage, John (Miles Jupp) because he paid for the room in advance. The romantic fool! A reunion looked possible, but... the hotel had a stag-party in, the best man came to in Anna's bathroom and assumed she was on the game. All the superficial elements of farce were here – blokes without trousers (mostly hotel porter, Steve Edge) women in saucy smalls (the actual hookers). But the show lacked the escalating chaos of the real thing. It needed to faster and crazier; and the characters more likeable. Why should we care about "repentant" Anna's plight when the old slapper enjoyed the best man's bedroom, um, tongue-twister so enthusiastically? Farce fans should watch Frasier's classic Ski Lodge episode; a superb example of how they should be done.
THERE is probably more chance of Donald Duck becoming US President than Donald Trump, the former being less of a cartoon. The Mad World Of Donald Trump showed the Republican frontrunner to be vain, smug, bigoted, cocksure and gobby. Many of Trump's policies are nuttier than his hair, but by talking tough on immigration and Isis, "the Donald" has touched a nerve with the hard-up and disgruntled. Cue liberal outrage. C4 wheeled on talking heads to dismiss him as "this billionaire". Yet you never hear them call Hillary Clinton "this millionaire". Hills is favourite to be the next US President but British telly won't scrutinise her record (Benghazi, iffy emails, dodgy donations) and dubious policies. And C4 won't make The Crazy World of Jeremy Corbyn any time soon. Only right-wing populists get this kind of TV mauling. Compare the easy ride Hislop & co gave Diane Abbot to how they treated Farage... Trump might have the most unpleasant views this side of the offshore wind-farm that blighted his proposed Scottish golf club, but those who'd ban him are scarier.
HOT on TV: Deutschland 83... Jessica Lucas, Gotham... Planet's Got Talent... Making A Murderer (Netflix).
ROT on TV: poo-obsessed Gillian McKeith – still full of crap... Miriam Margolyes, Real Marigold Hotel – flatulent and frightful... Sugar Free Farm – point-free TV.
CHRIS Packham was talking about a bird on the Winterwatch out link when he said: "And I'll be getting Michaela out of bed to show her blackcock in the flesh." Remarkably both kept a straight face.
ON Sugar Free Farm, Jane McDonald said: "I looked into a mirror today and thought I looked old." Is she sure she was looking at a mirror, and not a DVD of The Cruise? TV doesn't get more so-what than this. Sub-jungle celebs work a farm and swerve sugar. Why do we care? It's yawnsome nonsense.
*ROY Walker is on The Real Marigold Hotel. Dangerous. Let's hope he's tempted to "say what you see" next time Miriam lets rip.
*CBB wheeled out "health guru" Gillian McKeith. Yes viewers, one day you too could look as good as Gillian.
*DID you see that lunatic in the suit made of exploding fireworks on Planet's Got Talent? Imagine going through all that only for the judges to give you a rocket up the arse.
*MARY Berry described lobster and chips as "the height of decadence". Something tells me she's never had a night out with the Happy Mondays.
*WHAT'S the deal with Branwen Jeffreys' glasses? Did the BBC's Education Editor nick them from On The Buses' Olive? Or is she moonlighting as a spot-welder?
*IF Ian Beale had a spare £25K why is he driving a 2009 VW?
SMALL Joys of TV: Cameron Monaghan as murderous magician The Great Rudolpho on Gotham. Allison Janey's hot-pants on Mom. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon. Marg, Benidorm. The Great Gangster Film Fraud.
JAN 24. A magical moment at the National TV Awards - just the one - as Billy Connolly copped for a Special Recognition gong. "This is the greatest laxative I've ever known," the Big Yin told the O2 throng. "I'd like to thank the Catholic Church for the rhythm method of birth control without which I wouldn't be here." He's 73 and has Parkinson's, but Billy is still the funniest man alive. Earlier, Peter Kay had dedicated his own award to Connolly but kept the statuette. Billy branded him "cheapo" and "a bastard", adding "limelight grabber" when Kay ran up to hand it over. It was an oasis of laughter in an over-long, largely wrong and generally dull ceremony; wrong because it forgot last year's best shows - Fargo and Catastrophe - and completely snubbed Idris Elba. Who do they think they are, the Oscars?
These are supposed to be the people's awards, yet TV execs decide the categories and which shows we can vote for; the voting figures are never declared, voting forms are only printed in selected rags and some shows can canvas for your support while others can't. The top Drama category offered a choice between the widely-panned Broadchurch 2, the viewer-haemorrhaging Doctor Who, snoozy old Casualty and the dullest-ever series of Downton.
The NTAs were launched in 1995 as a way of honouring shows that viewers love and Bafta snub, but they lost their point years ago. The night has become as depressingly predictable as Cameron's EU fudge. EastEnders scooped top soap for dragging out Who Cares Who-Killed-Lucy? for longer than the Greek bailout. "I am so honoured to be part of such a sublime depressing programme," quipped Danny Dyer, winning the pompously named best Serial Drama Performance (top soap actor). Dyer is terrific, but surely Corrie's Alison King deserved it more?
The Challenge category ludicrously pitted survivalists against cake-makers. Shayne Ward, X Factor winner 2005, was best newcomer. While Ant & Dec surprisingly scooped the annual Ant & Dec award for the 15th year running. The tightest category was New Drama with four strong contenders. Suranne Jones's psycho Doctor Foster rightly won her an acting gong, while another category was invented so Aidan Turner could get one for taking his shirt off - the TV moment of the year apparently, although Services to Scything would have been just as credible.
Peter Kay's endearing Car Share romped home in a weak Comedy field. But Kay clearly hadn't bothered thinking about an acceptance speech. Referring to BGT's border collie Matisse, who on the night was funnier, Peter lamely quipped "could have done some dogging". He then threw in a chronic knock-knock gag. Rest easy, Billy. The comedy crown is safe in your hands.
10,000BC asks if modern folk can live a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer life-style, to which the simple answer is no, of course they blood can't. Last year, C5 Elf & Safety evacuated the camp after some light snow and two thirds of the contenders deserted. This year they filmed in summer and added competition. It's 10,000BC: Two Tribes now. Tribe one had a whingeing cop, who quickly quit, and a chunky gospel singer who wept cos she hated Stone Age clobber (or perhaps because she realised that she'd be first in the pot in the event of famine). Tribe two have pub landlord John and gung-ho nitwit Ahmad, possibly there to symbolise the survival of the thickest. We've already seen naked fishing, bringing new meaning to "I'm getting a nibble", a dehydrated teenager and a wild boar eaten - not to be confused with Jay, a mild bore destined for beating. As Frankie foretold, two tribes generally go to war. But there's a whiff of Corbyn about tribe one's Suzanne. Maybe she'll confront Johnny Come Lately with bows and no arrows.
*ANY truth in the rumour that Corbyn turned down a job on The Voice because he knew he'd never press the red button?
CHRIS Maloney wept and retched after face-to-face nominations on CBB. He's turned the show into Big Blubber (also Gemma's nickname for different reasons). How they must laugh in Raqqa at these weak, needy blokes, and hysterical screeching birds. Look at the West, bruv, it's pitiful. Self-obsessed Gemma either wallows in her bed like a great idle walrus or swans about sticking her nose into other people's business. Steph described her as a witch, a bully and "the Lion King" which was ridiculous - the Lion King was animated. Angie threw the week's best tantrum dubbing Big Brother a "pathetic capitalist whore" - tsk, the language kids learn at posh Swiss finishing schools. Most of the Yanks have understandably quit, citing boredom or convenient ailments. Only Terrible Tiff is hanging in there, giving lip to all-comers and heckling anyone who nominates her. The girl's got spunk... and more anger management issues than Bruce Banner. She compared the house to The Twilight Zone, an old US sci-fi series. I'm not so sure. That had unexpected twists.
HOT on TV: The Rack Pack - snooker loopy (iPlayer)... Stan Lee's Lucky Man (Sky1)... Lemmy Night (BBC4).
ROT on TV: Crashing - yawning... Phone Shop Idol - wrong number... Beowulf - be-o-have... Mr Selfridge - no sale... Redtop - a satirical flop, totally bereft of bite, wit and insight.
ON War & Peace, Hélène seduced war hero Boris Drubetskoy, making her the original Boris bike, and waltzed with Russia's Alexander 1st. Can a lame-brain BBC1 Dancing With The Tsars spin-off be far behind? Husband Pierre meanwhile found salvation in Freemasonry, but is likely to have more fun bearing breasts with the sweet-natured Natasha. His duel with dirty Dolokhov was the making of the man.
*DID they skip Charlie Slater's funeral scenes on EastEnders because they couldn't book the other Slater sisters? Or because they couldn't find six blokes strong enough to carry the coffin?
*I COULDN'T see the point of Lip Synch Battle UK. It's people miming! Why should we care? They haven't even used professionals like Cheryl... Then Michelle Keegan came on in skin-tight leathers singing Sex On Fire and I struggled to see any problem with it at all. Great lip action.
*SEX On Fire? Friction burns, Mr. Wright?
*SAVOUR the irony. For years we've been lectured on the evils of ethnic stereotyping in comedy, then the Comic Strip's one-dimensional cliché of Wendi Deng sent us straight back to Mind Your Language...
SMALL Joys of TV: Vintage big top footage on Storyville: The Golden Age of Circus, including six-man blindfolded boxing. Drunk Phil Mitchell. Bob Monkhouse On The Spot. Police Squad re-runs. The X-Files Essential Collection. Helen George's stockings on Call The Midwife.
RANDOM irritations: TV news reporters with lisps. Corrie writers nicking Dads Army's classic "Don't tell him, Pike" line. Tracey Ullman's punch-line deficiency. Greedy dimbos who take minus sums on The Chase. The term "adult humour" being used to mean crass, lazy old cobblers.
SEPARATED at birth, triplets special: Cherrie Blair, Pete Doherty and Boris from War & Peace?
*TV questions: What if Stacey Slater isn't mad? How does Piers Morgan cope with all those self-inflicted love-bites? Are Izzy Bisu's middle names 'Wizzy Lets-Get'? What's scarier, Donald Trump's Tea Party or Vladimir Putin's? And will Sam-Cam follow her husband's EU lead and make a massive pig's ear on Bake Off?
PHONE Shop Idol's Sean was talking about a salesman called Jonny when he said: "If we had a shop full of Jonnies imagine what the shop would be like." A chemist's?
Jan 17. If you thought Angry Birds was a game you haven't been watching Celebrity Big Brother. Or as I like to call it, Mad Boilers Shouting. It's like the Slater sisters on steroids or Loose Women re-enacted by menopausal Daleks. It kicked off this week after David Bowie's sad demise when the "David's dead" incident turned tragedy into cringe-worthy farce. Learning of her ex's passing, Angie told fellow Yank Tiffany Pollard: "You've gotta do me a favour, don't say a word. David's dead." Thinking she meant housemate David Gest, Tiff erupted like Vesuvius. She screeched, she squealed, she wailed... it was like setting off a stink-bomb in the middle of a wake. Gest was then found alive which caused more confusion. I haven't laughed so hard since Big Mo wept on EastEnders.
John Partridge eventually explained why Ange was shaken up. And being a fully-rounded and compassionate individual, Tiff responded by snapping of "I ain't saying sorry to that old bitch". Telling Pollard to calm down is like instructing a fire to stop burning. As she ranted, you could have made ice cubes from the chill of her fellow housemates. "People don't want to be around you," John told her. "Too f**king bad," Tiff replied. Incredibly Gemma emerged as peace-maker. "You've done yourself up like a kipper," she told her. "Your b*ll*cks ain't gonna wash with nobody." Tiffany probably didn't understand an Essex word of that, but Gemma's apparent concern defused the craziness and peace was temporarily restored...
Until Thursday, when it was Megan's opportunity to turn the air bluer than Dot Branning's varicose veins. Drunker than Phil Mitchell, Megs branded Gemma a "fat c***" - No! She's a fat, lazy c*** - and John a "lying sh*t-bag." She's not far wrong. Partridge comes over as a kindly father figure, but he's actually a back-stabbing weasel. He nominated his "friend" Darren Day, claiming he'd done it to stop Darren smoking. But if you were worried about a mate's bad habits wouldn't you have a quiet word rather than stitch them up? In other news Steph and Jeremy seem just a hotel booking away from "laying the table" War & Peace style. Dull Jonathan walked. Boring Nancy got the boot, Kristina has shown us the square root of bugger all. And various housemates retched after eating fermented eggs, as many viewers must have done watched Gest sucking Jeremy's tongue. I preferred him when he was dead. Jezza was dressed as Liza Minnelli. Mercifully the cabaret ended before they got to "come blow the horn".
ON War & Peace, Dirty Dolokhov had sex with newly-wed Princess Hélène on her vast dining table. I could have sworn she'd asked for duck. Beautifully laid, I felt, though. The woman certainly puts on a decent spread. But sex on a dinner table? The risks are immense. A recklessly placed pepper pot, horse radish wrongly applied, servants might walk in... Horny Hélène would have probably asked 'em to join in. She'll hump anyone... apart from hubby Pierre. Dolokhov is supposed to be Pierre's mate, but as he says "It always tastes better from another fellow's plate... " The clueless Count needed an anonymous tip-off before he challenged the rascal to a duel. Let's hope he shoots his dolloks-hoff. These 1805 aristocrats are like Club 18-30 but with more sex, and the small distraction of the Napoleonic wars. Old Bony was out-numbered but tricked Russian and Austrian forces into a terrible defeat at Austerlitz. They need Richard Sharpe sharpish.
80s: Ten Years That Changed Britain was more about the producers' prejudices than 1980s realities. The Smiths had more screen time than hip-hop. The decade's biggest British movies were shunned in favour of My Beautiful Launderette. And Red Ken got away with suggesting the Falklands Conflict was an election stunt. There was no mention of the fatwah on Salman Rushdie, IRA bombs or the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock. Red Wedge was discussed, the miners' strike wasn't. And Alexei Sayle was allowed to state unchallenged that mainstream comedy was "men in working men's clubs shouting about Hitler". The lie that all blue collar comics were racist or worse is part of alternative comedy's creation myth. In fact ITV's The Comedians got rave reviews from the Morning Star, Alexei's newspaper of choice. Still, TV bosses took their cue from right-on student bar gob-sh*tes shouting about "Fatcher" and destroyed popular comedy for decades.
*OTHER 80s Things C4 missed: Liposuction, Prozac, John Lennon's murder, the AIDS scare, Challenger, the hole in the ozone layer - before that, many thought that ozone layers worked on building sites.
HOT on TV: Occupied (Sky Arts)... Jim Broadbent, War & Peace... Deutschland 83... Gotham: Rise Of The Villains... Shaun Evans, Endeavour.
ROT on TV: Stacey's religious mania, EastEnders - the smart money says her "demons" are writing the scripts... Crashing - crashing bore... Camilla "Umm" Long on Question Time.
BOB Monkhouse claimed his unmarried sister was so randy "if it wasn't for fruit-flavoured condoms she'd get no vitamin C at all". He cheered gay men. "Whenever I see two men kissing I think 'Great, two more women for me'." And said: "There's an organisation in this country that helps people to die. It's the NHS." These gags are from Bob Monkhouse On The Spot, a series made in 1996 and never repeated by the BBC because their cultural gamekeeper Alan Yentob wasn't keen on comedy's "old guard". Catch episode two tonight on Gold.
*BILLY Connolly: "I've got Parkinson's disease. I wish he'd f***ing kept it."
*DERREN Brown went to a lot of trouble to take someone to the brink of murder last week. It was brilliant and unsettling in equal measure. But wouldn't it have been simpler just to sign 'em up for Big Brother?
*VOICE fact: Boy George's beard is Just For Men, just like the rest of him.
*TRACEY Ullman was superb as Angela Merkel and shop-lifting Dame Judy Dench. But that script! Mostly dull, man.
SMALL Joys of TV: skinny-dipping Annette, Deutschland 83. A League Of Their Own. Mark Lawrenson calling Steven Pienaar "Steven Penis" on MOTD. Halle Berry on Extant. Bobby Knutt on Benidorm (shame the script's lame). Endeavour showing smart-arse Sherlock how to deliver crime with clever twists.
RANDOM irritations: ITV's laughably cosmopolitan view of Beowulf period Scandinavia. British TV failing to screen the Golden Globes. Nanny-state busybodies telling us what we can drink. 14 units a week? That's not even a night IN for Carla Connor.
SEPARATED at birth: Hugh Laurie and Boris Karloff as Ardeth Bey? One a terrifying creature with mad, staring eyes brought back to life in a far-off place... the other's in The Mummy.
Jan 10. Get Winston out! Get Winston out... the closest Celebrity Big Brother comes to George Orwell is the baying mob on eviction night. It's the two minutes of hate from 1984, and Winston McKenzie was on the receiving end. The would-be politician was guilty of having an opinion on gay adoption that the production company disagreed with. So he had to go, even if it meant rigging the process.
Instead of facing the public vote, McKenzie was subjected to a show-trial with other housemates denouncing him for that other Orwellian concept - thoughtcrime... You don't have to agree with Winston's antiquated views, expressed outside the house, to find this disturbing. I'd have given him a restraining order for that jacket alone. But whatever happened to free speech? What happened to "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?
And what the hell happened to the casting on this show? It's not an exciting line-up. For Celebrity read Nonentity. Half of the housemates would be zero scores in Pointless. They've either been dredged from obscure corners of reality TV for their tendency to kick off or copulate, or they're desperately clinging to the coat-tails of someone else's fame. Jeremy who? Jonathan what? Tiffany Pollard? Is she Eric's daughter? They were probably only wearing name-tags so the director knew who to cut to... Recognisable faces are ex-soap stars John Partridge (the producers' favourite) and poor damaged Danniella, genuine talent Darren Day, Strictly's Kristina and orange ogre Gemma Collins. The GC (Great Cow) calls herself a star, but is largely known for bottling it on I'm A Celeb and having a "designer vagina" (possibly designed by Stephen King). She's already playing matchmaker, although getting love tips from Gemma is a bit like getting sunbathing advice from a snowman.
David Gest is famous for name-dropping, an entirely heterosexual marriage to Liza with a Zzzz and his inventive lying. He's smart, sure, but he'll never be as funny as his hair. There's a bird from Hollyoaks who describes herself as "eyes wide open, mind open, everything open". (Here's 'opin'). Megan, "the screaming one" from Ex On The Beach, has already dropped her drawers once on TV and could be up for scoring away with Geordie Shore's likeable nitwit Scotty T (short for twerp). Stroppy Angie Bowie divorced rock god David a quarter of a century ago yet bizarrely kept his stage name. Nancy Doollalio split with flop England manager Sven in 2007. And Duke McKenzie's brother Winston was as doomed here as he is at the polls; as is heavily-booed X Factor flop Chris Baloney.
There's an up-himself unknown Irish model, and a bad attitude Yank who claims to be Kim Kardashian's mate. How many arses has this woman got? Not as many as C5 who seem to have ditched the concept of celebrity completely in favour of Obscure Reality TV Berk Brother, or Unknown Loudmouth Brother. And yet they have the temerity to give this series a Vaudeville theme! Vaudeville required skilled entertainers - the polar opposite of most of these talentless, self-obsessed minnows.
WAR! Huh! What is it good for? Costume dramas, mostly. Cue flashing blades, heaving bosoms, and according to BBC1's War & Peace a little light incest. Yes while daft count Pierre is content with a cigar, his fiancée Princess Hélène seems far happier rolling her own... She and brother Anatole are the shaggin' Kuragins, a little detail Leo Tolstoy forgot to mention. But sex-mad screen-writer Andrew Davies couldn't adapt the Nativity without squeezing in a 3-in-a-bed wise men/angel orgy, and there's more Russian rumpo to come. Pudding-faced Pierre is the Curly Watts of St Petersburg, with a dash of Wolfie Smith thrown in. He hates "over-fed aristocrats who have no idea what real life is". Not that this stops him hanging out with the 1805 equivalent of the Bullingdon Club, drinking, whoring and tying a hapless cop to the back of an escaped bear (that's what I call going Teddy). He's also the newly-rich bastard son of dead Count Bezukhov. Hélène hasn't mispronounced that as "Bes'ZukOff" yet but give Davies time. If Pierre's Curly, H is more a posh Tracy Barlow. She's played by Tuppence Middleton but her morals are definitely two bob. Napoleon's advancing army concentrates their minds. Pierre's pal square-jawed Andrei sees battle as an escape from his clingy, pregnant missus. Better death or glory than pipe and slippers. The BBC have taken a few liberties but all that matters is: do we care about the Rostovs and Bolkonskys? I think we might. Beyond the grand balls and military balls-ups, the characters ring bells - the young idealist, the pushy mum, randy love rats and self-serving snakes. All human life is here.
ELDERLY ostrich jockey Bernie Clifton failed to win over The Voice judges. A shame, but at least that leaves the field clear for Roger De Courcey. A bit of Nookie would liven this show up no end. BBC1 have tried to rescue it with a quick Corbyn reshuffle, but changing judges can't fix the format's fundamental problem: it can't deliver stars. It just means that now instead of most contenders choosing Tom, they choose Rick. Boy George hasn't looked this gutted since he got 15 months. In fairness, Geo did land the most interesting singer in Cody Frost, and he did have a couple of nice lines: "I'm more of a campervan than a coach" and "I'll make you so famous drag queens will impersonate you".
*BERNIE told the judges how audiences had changed over the years: "In those days, they were facing you when you began."
*WILL.I.AM is angry about joke acts on The Voice. He really needs to get over Andrea Begley.
HOT on TV: Amy... War & Peace... Tuppence Middleton (worra piece)... Deutschland 83... Jemima West, Endeavour... Texas Rising (History).
ROT on TV: Stevi & Chloe Jasmine - please come in, your 15minutes of undeserved fame is up... Insert Name Here - insert point... Royal Wives At War... Christopher Maloney - his Nan loves him, though.
PETER'S reaction to coming last on Come Dine With Me was the week's funniest TV moment. The pompous prig turned on winner Jane in a jealous rage saying she had "all the grace of a reversing dump truck". If sparks don't fly on CBB, they should send in this fat gas-bag.
*THE Celebrity Mastermind farce drags on. BBC2 had two shows back to back full of thickos who wouldn't turn a head at a bus stop. Maybe John Humphrys's opening question should be: Who the feck are you?
*R.I.P. poor old Slater pater Charlie. His EastEnders tombstone should surely read: for this relief much thanks.
*WHY did screaming boilers give Chas a heart attack? He had a house full of 'em. He should've died in a more traditional Walford way: gunned down by bunch of daffs or conked out after a quick reverse cow-girl with Roxy Mitchell.
*ANT & Dec's encounter with Prince Charles was a let-down. No bushtucker.
SMALL Joys of TV: Bernie Clifton, The Voice, and Beth Morris's leopard-print cat-suit. Florence's shorts, Death In Paradise. Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell (Fox). The Endeavour soundtrack and The Who's The Seeker on the trailer (even if it was three years later than the series). Liza Tarbuck, Silent Witness - stroppiest cop since Roy Galloway.
RANDOM irritations: BBC News - more concerned with possible "Islamophobia" than reporting reality. Cillit Bang loudmouth Barry Scott's unwelcome come-back. Beowulf, ITV lose their game of clones with this badly-written tosh. BBC3's pointless, pricy and poncy new logo.
TV mysteries: How long can 40 year-old Ant & Dec get away with their giggling school-boy act? What was inside those confiscated cases on CBB: Danniella's original nose? A London Spy corpse?
CORRIE maths: Johnny Connor + Simon Barlow's hair = Fred West.
JAN 1st 2016. New Year's Eve telly was a chaotic mix of quality and chronic embarrassment. Some of it was inspired - when else will you see guitar legend Jeff Beck performing with Beth Hart? Cheers, Jools! But most was as sure-footed as a sozzled Stan Boardman on a malfunctioning hover-board. Alan Carr's New Year Specstacular is the showbiz equivalent of Nigella's avocado on toast: book random celebs, get them properly smashed and mash 'em up a bit. The likeable Carr served up two hours of Hogmanay hogwash: daft games, dire sketches and diabolical impressions. The biggest puzzle was the one home viewers were playing: what work has Mel B had done? Is that a new nose? How much Botox is in the forehead? Alan admitted that last year his speech had become "so blurred and incoherent I landed a part in Wolf Hall". This year it was the turn of Danny Dyer who must surely have been swigging from Phil Mitchell's hip-flask. The EastEnder was Lord Mayoring like Malcolm Tucker taking on Chubby Brown at a sponsored swearathon.
Too many holiday programmes are aimed at the demographic who are most likely to be out partying, leaving the poor old sods stuck at home - who'd probably be happy with Ken Dodd, André Rieu and the cast of Cats - frustrated and mystified. At least Graham Norton's special had some Hollywood sparkle. British TV's best chatty man was complimented by big name guests including Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Lawrence and Will Farrell. Other Old Year's Night highlights included Tim Peake's upbeat message from the International Space Station, the ever-reliable Hootenanny, those cute Panda Babies and TFI Friday... on a Thursday. Chris Evans kicked off the evening in fine anarchic style with guests Quentin Tarantino, Kurt Russell; the lack of substance counter-weighted by bucket-loads of energy. He also had the peculiar head-less Sia who claimed to have "a one-way ticket to where all the demons go", or Walford as it's usually known. On ITV, Corrie served up Ken Barlow's party. I think I'd rather "see it in" with Deano Wicks.
BBC1 had Bryan Adams and live fireworks but Jools Holland, who was my midnight destination, brought on the 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards to provide the traditional swirl of kilts and the skirl of pipes. Paul Weller is often thought to be as happy as a teetotal vegan at a Xmas carvery but even the Modfather cracked a smile as Hootenanny built to a climax. Jools had Selecter stars Pauline Black and Gappa Henderson, Tom Jones, Rhiannon Giddens, Hozier, and Ruby Turner. Seriously, what's not to love?
*JOOLS included a tribute to the late Rico Rodriguez; being pre-recorded he missed the passing of Lemmy and John Bradbury of the Specials. Two points: 1) how much better would the show be if it were live and dangerous? 2) It's an absolute disgrace that the death of the genuinely iconic and influential Motörhead star has not yet been marked properly by British TV.
*I THOUGHT I'd given Sherlock a really smart, insightful review but then I woke up and discovered I'd dreamt it. So I started to type it up from memory then and realised I was actually in another dream involving Emma Willis which was far more fun. For me, if not for her...
UNLIKELY New Year Predictions: Lena Dunham to keep her clothes on for an entire series of Girls... .C4 to launch new transvestite monster saga: Dr Jekyll & Mrs Hyde... Celebrity Big Brother to cast people we actually recognise. (That last one is impossible, of course, but how about booking Ellen Hoog and Eva de Goede to brighten up the house?)