BUSHELL ON THE BOX
*This is an edited version of my TV column. The real thing, plus contests, goofs, lookalike pictures and more, can be found each Sunday only in the Daily Star Sunday.
Jan 30. IT’S fair to say Chris Carson is not Liverpool’s most popular cop. Chris – AKA The Responder – is branded “a car crash of a human being” by fellow “bizzy” Rachel. She also calls him “an angry arsehole with a chip on his shoulder” to his face. But rookie Rach is the least of his worries. Chris is being stalked AC-12 style by Ray, who’s already had him busted down to DI, although his real motivation is lust for Chris’s missus (understandable, she’s MyAnna Buring). He’s also peed off local drug-dealer Carl Sweeney, who thinks he owns him. Sweeney orders Carson to find “Town Centre Casey”, a teenage “bag head” (smack addict) and serial liar who’s nicked £10K worth of his cocaine. “I’m not making a song and dance about this,” says Chris as they row. Sweeney retorts, “You’ve got more song and dance than Sammy Davis Jnr.”
The series, written by ex-cop turned taxi driver Tony Schumacher, is packed with authentic black humour, although it’s odd that nobody calls Carl “the Syrup” given his laughable wig. Chris’s doomed attempts to save Casey from Carl, and from herself, propel him through the city’s underclass underbelly, dealing with toe-rags like Marco, who’s amazed Chris actually lives with his wife and daughter. “Does my head in, that,” he says.
On the surface Chris (brilliantly played by Martin Freeman) is as fearless as John McClane, but he’s teetering on the edge of breakdown, punching doors at home and seeing a shrink. He’s been on the take to keep his mum in a care home. When he checks on a recently deceased old dear, he steals her baccy and scoffs her pea and ham soup. “Is this her?” asks the GP of the corpse. Take a stab, doc. Take a stab. It’s bleak, honest and it feels real, although whether it reflects Liverpool now or in the 90s is up for debate.
THE biggest surprise on Secrets Of The Krays was how stunning the Twins’ barrister Nemone Lethbridge once was. If she’d stood up in court and said “I’m appealing” nobody would have disagreed. The ITV mini-series is packed with tasty anecdotes. Not least Judy Garland visiting the Krays’ home in Valance Road, Bethnal Green and serenading mum Violet with an a capella version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Much of the story is familiar, but tales like Reggie breaking Ronnie out of Long Grove by letting Ron walk out in his cashmere coat merited retelling. As did Lord Boothby’s recollection of meeting Hitler in 1932. Adolf clicked his heels, sieg-heiled and barked “Hitler!”. He returned the gesture booming “Boothby!” The Krays’ crime empire was powered by protection rackets. Even ex members of “The Firm” called them “evil, dangerous bastards” – Ronnie in particular. Ron’s close friendship with powerful gay politicians like Tory Boothby and Labour’s Tom Driberg protected them for a while. But the Twins’ fascination with fame ultimately doomed them.
ALEX was caught between a rock salmon and a hard plaice on The Apprentice. The teams had to create a fish dish to flog. Alex’s team opted for crab as their catch of the day, but he forgot to try to sell it to the corporate client, and so became Sugar’s “dispatch of the day”. Given this series’ earlier turd obsession, we should just be grateful he didn’t opt for brown trout. Sugar’s conclusion: “You’re less Captain Birdseye, more Captain Birdbrain.”
*WHO said, “The purpose of the task was to go there and catch crabs?” Was it a) Lord Sugar or b) Fred Sirieix, First Dates?
*WHO said, “Squeeze it hard, apply pressure and get whatever’s in there out?” Was it a) Harpreet talking about Dover Sole on The Apprentice or b) Anna Williamson giving contraceptive advice on Celebs Go Dating?
JACK Sheppard was an 18th Century thief adored by the public. Britain’s Outlaws told how “Honest Jack” escaped from choky more times than Prison Break’s Michael Scofield before being executed. But when his hated captor Jonathan Wild – a hood posing as a crimefighter – was hanged, the authorities made a fortune selling tickets to the public. Worth thinking about, Chancellor? Hundreds would pay to see child-killers swing.
HOT on TV: The Responder... Secrets Of The Krays... The Puppet Master (Netflix).
ROT on TV: The Gilded Age – less Downton Abbey, more downright crappy... Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion
ANYONE else transfixed by Chloe Brockett’s areolas on Celebs Go Dating? They poke above her tops and follow you around the room like the Mona Lisa’s eyes.
* DOWTON’S Julian Fellowes has gone uptown for The Gilded Age, a lavish series that pits Old Money against newly rich upstarts in 19th century New York. It looks terrific but who cares about Yank snobs? *THE Gilded Age. Not to be confused with today. This is The Gelded Age.
*TRIGGER Point bombed. It’s Danger UXB without the gritty plots, gripping acting and depth of character.
*WHY did Katie Price make that tediously dull make-over show? Was it court-ordered community service? What next for Pricey? 24 Hours In Police Custody? Or Screw?
*THE Decade The Rich Won? When didn’t they?
Small Joys of TV: The Afterparty (Apple). Mafia Killers (Blaze). Red Elvis (SkyDocs). The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk. Ex-model Flanagan at 81. Breaking Dad.
Random irritations: Metric-only measurements on docs, quizzes & dramas without an on-screen translation – baffling for millions who think in inches, pints & miles.
*ANYONE else see headlines asking “Curtains for Boris?” and wonder how much they’ll cost us?
Jan 23. LIFE is tough for toffs; some of them are down to their last four gardeners. On Keeping Up With The Aristocrats, we saw crumbling piles, flaky façades, unsightly holes... and the houses were just as bad. The poor oppressed aristos have inherited Downton-style stately homes but can’t afford to maintain them. A million hearts bleed. Lord Ivar Mountbatten (Prince Charles’s 2nd cousin) and husband James roped in Jean-Christophe Novelli to set up a £165-a-head pop-up restaurant in theirs. Ivar’s ex, Penny, and their three daughters slobbered over the Frenchman like starving strays over a spilt steak au poivre. JC swiftly ran up the white flag and retreated, mentioning his missus.
The Sitwells had their own vineyard, and their pals, the Fitzalan-Howards, were offering tasters of their own sparkling plonk at a Harrogate farmers’ market. Lady Sitwell’s face when she tasted it didn’t quite tally with her “Very nice” verdict. She had a butler, but – look away Jeeves and cover Mr. Carsons’ eyes – he was wearing shorts. Shorts! On duty! The indignity! David’s dad was a butler too, but he’d started out as a pig farmer and believed the jobs were identical, “You feed them when they’re hungry, and clean up their mess... ” Princess OIga Romanov is the aristocracy’s answer to Shirley Carter. She effs and blinds like Mrs Brown with Tourette’s, and she isn’t even a Fulford. She’s actually the Queen’s cousin and a great niece of Tsar Nicholas II. Vulgar Olga, 71, is after a bloke – preferably “a trained killer”, who looks like Steve McQueen and is good with horses. A job for Billy Billingham perhaps. Or possibly Dilksy. Sadly, daughter Alexandra said Olga only attracts “w*nkers and c***s”. Politicians, then. What next? Why not sell up and downsize? Or go on Squid Game? Let them eat tripe! PS. Which one was Lord Elpus?
A SMART twist on Celebs Go Dating – the dates got to rate the alleged celebs. Mercifully, they made Karren Brady seem tactful. Sacha gave Abz a feeble 4 out of 10 because of the former 5ive star’s “questionable” table manners. Tsk, who’d have thought crushing muffins, putting a tea towel over your face and screaming like a toddler would turn a girl off? Abz couldn’t even drink without dribbling. Tilly rated pretty boy Miles a five – she saw right through his Made In Chelsea persona (the tall, blonde beauty might also have been miffed when he said his type was a short brunette). Ulrika scored six from dull Tal who marked her down for shouting out for more rum. Mate, with your conversation most dates would want the whole bottle. Dan was best. He gave Apprentice reject Ryan-Mark a crushing 3. Still too generous – the puffed-up berk has no interest in anyone but himself.
NAVID got the boot on The Apprentice simply for being wetter than an otter’s pocket. He went from “Crafted & Spice” to shafted and spliced. They were making non-alcoholic drinks. Yuck. Team Diverse won, despite “Vodify” not tasting remotely like vodka, lime and soda, and team leader Nick being flatter than week-old beer. He’d give you a hang-over just by droning on. Infinity leader Sophie promised their ale would “take you to paradise”. I’d imagine she could, but the beer was a one-way trip to purgatory. These bozos do for business what Freddy Krueger did for peaceful dreams.
HOT on TV: Sydney Sweeney – putting the phwoar in Euphoria... Nina Sosanya, Screw... Ozark (Netflix).
ROT on TV: Kelvin’s Big Farming Adventure – Clarkson’s Farm without the laughs... Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip... Rules Of The Game – a 4hour advert for Netflix.
THE licence fee telly tax is as obsolete as a tax on windows, and we used to have that too. What do the BBC give us for our dosh? They haven’t got a decent sitcom left, their best dramas are ending and Attenborough won’t live forever. Yet they still want us to subsidise their cash-guzzling waste and empire-building, their eye-watering salaries and ingrained bias. Without telly tax featherbedding, they’d be forced to concentrate on quality programmes and axe the “this-will-do” dross.
I SPOTTED a spelling error in the opening credits of Sue Perkins’ Big American Road Trip – the ‘e’ was missing from the end of Trip. She knew nothing about California, and couldn’t even fake interest in people’s stories. Instead, we got sarcasm, moaning and an odd obsession with poo. Perkins puts the “log” in travelogue.
*I MUST have dozed off during Dancing On Ice, cos Kye “exploded out there on the ice”, according to Holly – that must have been some curry. Lukasz put Ria “into the layback, followed by a big roll-up rotation”. Lucky sod.
*TV question: who said “Every time I lie on the sun lounger the little bastards come all over me?” Snow White, about dwarves, Gemma Collins about paparazzi or Princess Olga about ants?
*LIMITLESS Win? Limited enjoyment.
Small Joys of TV: Bez, Dancing On Ice. Tommy Cooper & Frankie Howerd on Parkinson (BBC4). Geordie Hospital. Empire-building water lilies, The Green Planet.
Random irritations: BBC News swerving the synagogue attacker’s motivation. We’re so castrated by liberal self-loathing that telling the truth is now a thought-crime.
SEPARATED at birth: Ryan-Mark Parsons and young Michael McIntyre? One an over-exposed attention-seeking clown, the other is a comedian.
Classic Clanger. BBC reporter Rebecca Fraser was talking about a motorbike ride when she said: “Wind in my hair, wrapped my legs around Jonathan and he took me up the by-pass.”
Jan 16. BLOKES who go on TV to talk about their feelings should be slapped around the face with a wet haddock. But I’d make an exception for Mau on Couples Therapy. For him, nothing short of a horse-whipping from Tyson Fury would do. The babyish Yank couldn’t be more self-absorbed if he were made out of Kleenex. The only mystery is how wife Annie put up with the selfish git for 23years. Man-child Mau set out his stall early in their therapy session with shrink Orna Guralnik. “I do not have complicated needs,” he said. “I want zero responsibility and all the sex I want without any work on my part, of any kind.”
Mau, who clearly believes he is God’s gift to women, wanted their sex-life to be constantly “spectacular and enthusiastic” and for Anna to anticipate his needs without him having to tell her. Yet when the poor woman organised a bonking weekend for his birthday, including a threesome, he threw a wobbler and waltzed off to Italy without her. The ungrateful bastard. After 23years, most blokes have to settle for driving gloves and bromide.
Mau put Annie down of course, but she got him bang on – his ideal woman would be half-mum, half-hooker. Orna clocked how quickly he ran-down opinions he didn’t like. These voyeuristic shows aren’t aimed at blokes. Most of us would be useless in her job. I’d tell Mau “grow up”, and Annie “get rid”. And the same with knobs on to DeSean whose nuisance wife rang him at work twenty times a day, about sod-all. Yet when he got home and could talk, she didn’t want to know. “We no longer speak the same language,” she moaned. Mine would be a lot bluer.
*MAU doesn’t need a therapist, he needs an “I” specialist. With him it’s all me-me-me.
WIFFY the Wizard and his Magic Wand. Really? The Apprentice boys’ team were pitching a kids-friendly tooth-brush, but it sounded more like a Lovehoney reject. Their product resembled a turd – again! And the glum Wiffy on their app looked like he was coming down from a bad trip. The girls’ talking tooth was scarier but at least their toothbrush was vibrant and fun. I feel for Karren Brady. Suffering dimbo contestants could do her permanent damage. She wouldn’t look more horrified if Djokovic sneezed on her. Still, if frowning ever becomes an Olympic sport she’ll win gold. Likeable Conor got the brush off – unlucky, most of the blokes are far worse. Never mind teeth, the real cavities are between their ears.
HOW do the presenters on Craig Charles’s UFO Conspiracies keep a straight face? Yes, some things seen in the sky are superficially hard to explain. But it’s a huge jump from that to Sarah Cruddas saying we can be “confident” of contacting extra-terrestrial life “in the next few decades”. We can’t even be confident Sky History will provide subtitles by then. Here’s what Sarah and Craig should be asking: UFO sightings peaked in the sixties at the time LSD was most popular; coincidence? Why would aliens travel hundreds of light years to beam up bumpkins from the backwoods of Buckeye, Arizona, rather than say Harvard professors or Gal Gadot? And, respectfully eyewitnesses, when you saw this flying pyramid, was it before or after the pub shut?
HOT on TV: The Tourist and Shalom Brune-Franklin... Mae West, Dirty Blonde (PBS).
ROT on TV: Stay Close (Netflix) – madder than Most Haunted... Eddie Izzard – acts as well as Rachel Parris gets belly-laughs.
RULES Of The Game combines two of BBC drama’s key messages – ‘all men are bastards’ and businesses stink – with the subtlety of a Cold War Soviet cartoon. Evil executive Sam said her daughter wouldn’t become a company director because “She wants to change the world, not profit from its destruction”. All she was missing was Blofeld’s cat to stroke.
*ON EastEnders, the juvenile writers linked voting for Brexit and Maggie Thatcher with neo-Nazi bombers. Surely if fascist fanatics were active in Walford, the first thing they’d do is paint over that mural.
*THINGS we’ll never see on DeadEnders: a marriage that stays happy, a businessman who isn’t a hateful loser, someone actually buying a copy of the Racing Post...
*ON The Chase we learnt that a ship’s rope yarns, which prevent its rigging from chaffing, are called a baggywrinkle and not a “slackcrease” – that’s an 18th century medical condition suffered by ITV’s Harlots.
*EUPHORIA had drugs, booze, swearing and extreme violence. Tarantino doesn’t do Downing Street work events, but if he did...
THE BBC are accused of glossing over Dubai’s dark side. True. But New York: World’s Busiest City completely swerves the Big Apple’s rocketing rates of crime, homelessness and rats too.
Small Joys of TV: The Green Planet. The Fargo-like humour on The Tourist. Vera’s hat – more Bill & Ben than The Bill. New After Life. The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane.
Random irritations: Most modern British TV dramas. They’re relentlessly grim, charmless and more concerned with telling us what to think than entertaining us.
TV Maths. Inspector Montalbano + suntan = Mr Chips, from Catchphrase.
TV question: why does The Bay’s schoolboy Jamal look older than half the coppers?
Jan 9. THE boys team lost round one of The Apprentice, largely because of their cruise ship logo. It was meant to convey “relaxing, luxury, the ultimate experience”. It looked more like a seasick seal, an exploding banana, a one-legged man throwing up, or as Alan Sugar said, “like someone sneezed with a mouthful of lentil soup”. “The last time I saw something like that, I called Dyno-Rod,” he scoffed. It completely sank their pitch... which was lucky for girls’ team leader Kathryn who’d saddled their effort with the horrendous name “Bouji Cruises”. How boozy – or dozy – do you need to be to suggest that?
“Bouji” apparently means stuck-up or swanky, although Kathryn couldn’t explain it. Fortunately for her, the women remembered to include their cruise name and motto on their corporate-looking logo. The blokes didn’t bother. Their erupting turd logo, approved by sub-team leader Akeem, was as clueless as Walford plod. It didn’t feature their name, Seaquility, or motto, “Never-ending Nautical”. (For never-ending nausea, sail on to the Bay Of Biscay). Team leader Akshay – more full of himself than a self-catering cannibal – ended up in the boardroom standoff along with Akeem and Harry Mahmood. Harry, the “bad boy of the bath bomb world”, went for being “disruptive”, but as his disruption consisted of accurately saying their logo was crap, he got a raw deal. These puffed-up big-heads aren’t really business bods. There’s an accountant, a chemist, a former theatre producer... But it’s great to have this back. And good to see likeable Tim Campbell standing in for Claude Littner. It’s too early to call a winner, but I liked Aaron, no-nonsense Stephanie and Alex. And at least when Kathryn goes, she can walk straight in to Too Hot To Handle.
*AKSHAY’S friends call him AK47 “because I’m a killer salesman”. Sugar quipped, “They get fired very quickly.”
STEVEN Toast is such a lousy actor it’s a wonder he’s not on EastEnders. Naturally, he believes he’s the finest “thesp” since Gielgud. Matt Berry brings the booming bighead to life on Toast Of Tinseltown – a gloriously daft sitcom that combines cartoon violence with pound shop surrealism. Toast jets off to Hollywood, the spiritual home of the deluded, but only after he’s reached PEAK ANGER here – not helped by a Zoom encounter with author Sola Mirrornek (the great Larry David). Cured by an anger management guru, Toast apologises to the luvvies he’s offended. Rival Ray Purchase isn’t too pleased when Toast admits he’d made love to his wife “every week for the past 20 years, sometimes when you’ve been in the house, sometimes when you’ve been in the bed... ” “Hmm. I don’t remember that,” said Mrs P, deadpan. New characters include Des Wigwam and Russ Nightlife – fine successors to Una Length, Cocker Boo and hipster legend Clem Fandango.
*MAKE your own Toast alias by adding your grandad’s first name to the last thing you ate. I’d be Freddie Fishfinger. (It’s how Jonathan Cake and Richard Bacon started.)
SLOW-burn Aussie drama The Tourist grips like Crocodile Dundee’s hand on a cold can of Castlemaine. When a lorry forces a lone Briton off the road, he loses his memory, but soon realises someone is out to top him – the bomb is the big clue. But who? Why? And who can he trust? The hot waitress helping him turns out to be his ex, there’s a killer cowboy called Billy, an eager rookie cop with an arsehole fiancé, and a bloke’s been buried alive. The real star is the Outback itself, as vast as Rebel Wilson’s pre-diet backside and drier than a dead dingo’s donger.
HOT on TV: Cobra Kai (Netflix)... Matt Berry... Maxine Peake, Anne... Screw.
ROT on TV: The Language Of Love – lingo dimbos... Around The World In 80 Days – not worth staying in for.
THE Masked Singer is the dumbest format ever seen on a smart TV. Yet it’s hard to hate a show with its tongue wedged so firmly in its cheek. Contestants like Bagpipes, Doughnuts, Chandelier, Traffic Cone... judges claiming to have detected John McEnroe, Dame Judi Dench and Prince Harry behind the masks... It’s potty, but critic-proof. You can either ignore it, or surrender to the madness.
BBC bosses want EastEnders on five nights a week “to stop its ratings rot” – which is like a gambling addict sticking his last tenner on black. The real answer: cut back to two episodes-a-week, sack the snowflake writers and come up with credible storylines. It’s so preachy now, you wouldn’t be surprised if they had the Carters burning an effigy of JK Rowling or demolishing the Queen Vic bust. In comparison to most current plots, Suki and Peter shagging seemed almost realistic.
*ISN’T Limitless Win an apt description of Ant & Dec’s entire career? Nothing – not drink-driving or defrauding viewers – can derail them. They’re the Blair and Campbell of light entertainment.
*YOU Are What You Eat. Especially on Love Island...
*APPLE TV’s See is so naff, it brings new meaning to “apple turnover”.
Small Joys of TV: Charlie Chuck, Mandy. Apprentice berks. Doon Mackichan, Toast Of Tinseltown. The Chase: The Bloopers. Those brilliant Repair Shop miracle workers.
Random irritations: The endless pessimism of doom-obsessed BBC News. Inside Dubai, lacking even a smidgeon of journalistic curiosity. Daft valuations on Dragons’ Den.
SEPARATED at birth: Stock car racer Popo Bueno and Alan Partridge. One a bullish big-head who cheats death on a regular basis. The other is Brazilian.
Classic Clanger. The BBC Wales snooker commentator was talking about a clearance when he said: “A terrific 69! Mark Williams will be feeling loads better.”
Jan 2. 2022. IT was the year of Piers Morgan staged The Great British Walk-Off. A fuel crisis meant we went from clapping for carers to punching for petrol. And the GB News launch was apparently managed by The Goes Wrong Show. With streaming services booming, choice for viewers has swollen up like Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s testicles. But what was hot and what was rot in 2021? To celebrate the handsome highs and lousy lows of this difficult year, here are my prestigious Garry Awards for TV Achievement.
Top TV Moment: Rose and Giovanni’s breath-taking 17second silent dance on Strictly.
Top drama: Unforgotten. The spell-binding ITV detective show delivered more twists than Line Of Duty, and a much more shocking ending. R.I.P. Cassie. Runners-up: Time. Showtrial. Help.
Bloodiest drama: Squid Game (Netflix). Hard-up players competed in sick games on this South Korean survival saga. The winner copped a fortune. The losers died.
Flop Drama: Vigil, Voyage To The Bottom of the Ratings. Runners-up: Finding Alice. Angela Black. Close To Me. Hollington Drive.
Most over-hyped: The Serpent – all style, no substance.
Biggest let-down: The Line Of Duty finale. How the F could H be bungling Buckells? Runners-up: Baptiste. Lupin (series two). You Don’t Know Me’s cop-out ending.
Top imported drama: Mare Of Eastown. Kate Winslet’s scowling, vape-sucking cop Mare Sheehan was tough, tenacious and utterly believable. As well as solving a griping whodunnit – the murder of a teenage girl – Mare dealt with divorce, a custody battle and her nightmare mother. It was as authentic a portrait of Rust Belt life as we’ve seen on screen; and to do her bit for reality Winslet made the director reinstate footage of her “bulgy bit of belly”. She also had the first known example of arresting bitch face. Runner-up: Dopesick.
Top True Crime: Manhunt: The Night Stalker. Top cop: Ted Hastings, Line Of Duty. Craziest Cop: Marcella. Top villain: Gennaro “Genny” Savastano, Gomorrah. Top conman: Lupin (series one)
Top cannibal: Sophie Okonedo’s Hemple. She had a ball on Britannia, two if she was peckish. Quirkiest detective: Professor T.
Hottest barrister: Tracy Ifeachor, Showtrial.
Top TV Sex: Bridgerton. In one sizzling scene, Daphne and Simon were at it with her halfway up a bookshelf ladder in the library, prompting thousands of puzzled Netflix viewers to ask, what’s a library?
Randiest drama that wasn’t Bridgerton: Sex Education.
Weirdest sex scene: Roy, Lisa and the wound below her ribs that doubled as a vagina (Brand New Cherry Flavour, Netflix). The scene is scorched on the retinas of anyone who saw it, as is the one where Lisa vomited up kittens.
Top TV Name (News): The BBC’s fuel crisis reporter, Phil McCann. Top TV Name (Olympics): Togo table tennis player Kokou Dodji Fanny.
Best Comedy Drama: The White Lotus. Filthy rich, entitled Yanks turn a 5star Hawaiian hotel paradise into holiday hell. Hilarious.
Runners-up: Only Murders In The Building. The Outlaws.
Top sitcom that wasn’t a 42year-old Fawlty Towers repeat: Curb Your Enthusiasm (US). Two Doors Down (UK). Runner-up: We Are Lady Parts.
Top comedy: Inside No 9. Only events inside No 10 were funnier. Flop Comedy: Shrill – less a scream, more a cry for help. Runner-up: Buffering.
Best Topical Comedy: Bill Maher’s Real Time. Worst: Frankie Boyle’s New World Order – a ruptured sewer of smart-arse abuse.
Top panel show: Would I Lie To You? Top Comedy Doc: The Story Of Late Night.
Worst Quiz: Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance – part Buckaroo, part bugger off.
Best Documentary Series: Football’s Darkest Secret. Runners-up: Bent Coppers. Look Away. Best Sport Doc: Gods Of Snooker. Runner-up: Terry Venables: A Man Can Dream. Best Single Doc: 9/11: Inside The President’s War Room.
Top Reality Show: Clarkson’s Farm. Jeremy Clarkson turned his hand to farming his 1,000acre Cotswolds estate. It didn’t start well. He spent unwisely, drove his monster tractor badly and terrified his sheep – who he accused of “gum-chewing insolence” – with a drone. The compulsive series made stars of his young advisor Kaleb and dry-stone wall-builder Gerald whose accent made him as incomprehensible to Clarkson as Stanley Unwin was to a previous generation. Worst reality: Selling Sunset.
Biggest Talking Point #1: Oprah’s interview with Ginge and Whinge, sorry, Harry and Meghan whose grasp on “the truth” is thoroughly prime ministerial. In the US, it was shown on CBS. “Makes sense,” said Bill Maher. “Cos when I turned it on, boy did I see BS.”
Biggest Talking Point #2: Brad’s, ahem, attribute on SEX/Life. It was said to be 12inches but he didn’t use it as a rule.
Top Casanova: Matt Hancock, who got caught on camera re-making Sex, Lies & Videotape in his office, in clear breach of social distancing rules, with Gina Coladangelo. Still, at least he was hard at work.
Oddest body party: James Nesbitt’s eyebrows – they made him look like a permanently startled clown.
Biggest Xmas Downer: A Very British Scandal. If we wanted to see selfish, repulsive toffs hating each other we’d watch Parliamentlive.tv
Top entertainer: Bradley Walsh. Flop Entertainer: Robert Peston, All Star Musicals.
The David Brent award for worst dancer: Emma Thompson (An Audience with Adele). Runner-up Michael Gove.
Biggest washout: I’m A Celebrity, wet and wasted in Wales.
Top self-inflicted harm: ITV sacking Piers from GMB and losing 65% of their audience. D’oh!
Worst entertainment: Celebrity Ghost Hunt. Runners-up: This Is My House. I Can See Your Voice. Take Off. The Masked Dancers. Celebrity Karaoke Club. The Void.
Biggest Dog: Pooch Perfect; paw show.
Top reboot: The Wonder Years. Flop reboot: Question Of Sport. Top Nostalgia: Cobra Kai.
Most Moving Series: Long Lost Family. Scottish Paula discovered her GI father had been a Comanche (definitely not known as Hawkeye the Noo).
Worst culinary innovation: Nadiya’s macaroni cheese with Cheese Puffs and Marmite.
The coveted Crown award for Fake History: The Great. Runner-up: Anne Boleyn, raising the question: what’s better – being politically correct or historically inept?
Biggest historical blunder: double yellow lines on Bridgerton.
Top Royal show: Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers.
Top natural history: Tiny World (Apple TV)
Top TV Quiz: Mastermind. Worst: Sitting On A Fortune.
Best sci-fi: Resident Alien. Worst Sci-Fi: Doctor Who: Flux, the biggest mess this side of the GB News launch. Best Science Fact: William Shatner’s historic trip on star-ship Blue Origin whose 11-minute mission made the Captain Kirk star the oldest man in space. Sadly when he got there, 90-year-old Bill forgot why he’d gone.
Hottest witch: Nynaeve, The Wheel Of Time.
Top Actor: Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus). Top Actress: Kate Winslet (Mare Of Easttown). Runner-up: Céline Buckens (Showtrial).
Top TV revelation: Davina calls her most private part, “Kevin” – as in Spacey?
Top Fight: Fury vs Wilder.
Top Lookalikes: Darragh Ennis and Sid The Sexist. Runners-up: Blue Origin and Dr Jerkoff’s rocket-ship from Flesh Gordon.
Top Subtitle Error: Channel 4 turning Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka into “Buckeye Psycho”. Runner-up: “Tyson Fury retains World Head Waiter Championship”. (It was heavyweight).
Show of the year: WandaVision (Disney+). Avengers superheroes Wanda Maximoff and Vision resurfaced as newly-weds in a series of old sitcom settings. Their homage to shows like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show, with a sprinkle of Bewitched, was spot on. It was perfect until you remembered Vision was dead…
Flop Fantasy: Fear The Walking Dead. Biggest Let-down: Jupiter’s Legacy. Top Animated Superhero: Invincible.
Fantasy woman of the year: Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff (WandaVision). Woman of the year: Rose Ayling-Ellis. Runner-up: Emma Raducanu. Man Of The Year: Tyson Fury. Star of the year: Geronimo, RIP
Small joys of 2021: Anna Maxwell Martin’s Patricia “Bloody” Carmichael. Ted Hastings’ exasperated quote of the year: “Jesus, Mary & Joseph, & the wee donkey”. Ostrich sex, The Mating Game. Hawkeye. Benny Hill re-runs. The Outlaws. The Kominsky Method. Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.
Irritations of 2021: C4 turning SAS: Who Dares Wins into Who Dares Shares. Ex-footballers fronting feeble quiz shows. TV’s endless indulgence of “woke” cobblers. Celebrity Mastermind contestants who are neither. Dramas with jumping timelines. Channels without subtitles for the deaf. The relentless war on our past.
Top scripted innuendo: Thomas talking about Mary repairing Lady Fanny’s portrait (Ghosts): “Lucky Fanny to be touched up by such a hand.”
Top Goof: Shirley Ballas was talking about dancing on Strictly when she told John Whaite: “Because obviously it’s your thing to switch, get a little bit more comfortable in the receiving.”
For the rest of my 2021 awards, for albums, films and books, see http://www.garry-bushell.co.uk/barfta.htm.