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 29. WE all know modern TV is powered by lies and chicanery. It asks us to believe that the muppets on The Apprentice are “Britain’s best young business brains”. That Silent Witness accurately reflects the work of forensic pathologists. And that Alan Carr and Amanda Holden are bosom buddies (his are bigger) who share the dream of doing up crappy apartments in Sicily. But British telly’s biggest fib is claiming we still make decent sitcoms. Case in point: Everyone Else Burns, a C4 “comedy” with fewer laughs than Hunt’s Spring budget. The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders was more three-dimensional than Simon Bird’s David in this heavy-handed send-up of a cranky religious sect. Funnier and more credible too.
ITV’s The Family Pile has Liverpool sisters trying to sell their late parents’ house. It has the odd half-decent line – Gaynor describes her nail varnish as “a new shade from the gothic range, Midnight Haemorrhage”. But you can’t believe the set-up, the sisters don’t sound Scouse, or even alike, the shed is like the Tardis, and getting laughs with shock lines like “dead Dad’s jizz!” is just lazy. At least The Liver Birds were relatable.
Finding a decent new sitcom is like trying to punch fog. The last good one was Gavin & Stacey. But why? Possibly because the tiny of minority of over-paid snobs who run TV have nothing but contempt for the tastes and values of the vast majority of viewers. What can be done? Money isn’t always the answer, as Everton proved by spending £500million to be 19th in the Premier League. But for a tiny fraction of that outlay, we could launch a new version of Comedy Playhouse for down-to-earth writers outside of TV’s magic circle of failure. Perhaps the BBC chairman knows someone who could stump up a cheeky £800K kick-starter.
I HOPE you weren’t eating during The Last Of Us. Poor doomed Tess was about to torch a building full of zombies when one swooped in for a smacker. It opened its gob to reveal revolting tendrils of fungi, then bosh, Tess gave it more tongue than a giraffe. It was the most stomach-turning smooch since Barbara Owen snogged her own son Steve on DeadEnders. Watching that, even the Alien who kissed Ripley would have felt queasy.
ALAN Cumming adds lashings of camp drama to his role as laird of the murderous Highlands castle on The Traitors US. It’s the same as the UK version except the Yank contestants are largely reality TV left-overs – perfect, as the show is all about deluded “characters” and irrational group-think. They’re split between the “faithful” and the enemy “traitors”. Every night, they convince themselves of someone’s guilt on the flimsiest of evidence, and wrongly boot ’em out. Much like cancel culture, then. Chief stirrer Kate Chastain seems strongest, but traitor Cirie Fields, from US TV’s Survivor, is as smart and deadly as a Tomahawk Cruise missile. Cirie’s cocky co-conspirator Christian is way too gobby though. His clock is ticking.
*THE show says a lot about US education. I’m not sure what hurt Geraldine most – getting banished or seeing her name spelt “Gerldine”, “Jeryldean” and “G-D”. Idiyotz.
HOT on TV: Sarah Lancashire, Happy Valley... Danielle Harold, DeadEnders... The Warship: Tour Of Duty.
ROT on TV: Marie Antoinette – as realistic as Pip & Posy... Everyone Else Burns – shame the script didn’t come alight.
LOVED Peter Crouch on Michael McIntyre’s Midnight Gameshow last weekend. The look on Crouchy’s face when he clocked wife Abbey had been replaced in his bed by Holly Willoughby was priceless. Lucky swine. Baga Chipz would’ve been more of a shock though. (And why wasn’t Schofield next in line?) Mack’s the new king of Saturday night TV. Only his once unmissable send-to-all segment seems tired. Who believes the recipients of those fake texts aren’t in on the joke?
DISHY Denisha got the bum’s rush on The Apprentice after the Brighton shopping task, largely because her sub-team kept within a 500yard area. Their strategy, observed comedian Cally Beaton, was “it must be right because it’s local – that’s the mistake I made with my first husband.”
*GRAYSON Perry says England “has had some dark episodes”. Unlike the Germans, eh Gray? Or the Spanish Inquisition. France’s reign of terror. The Soviets wiping out the Kulaks. The Yanks’ near genocide of the native Americans etc etc (cont around the globe... )
*SOME shows on Talk TV have zero viewers. No jokes. I’m just putting it out there for the Witness Protection bods.
*MEMO to the BBC: You’ve already commissioned Saved & Remade. It’s called The Repair Shop.
QUESTIONS. Is Everything Everywhere All At Once based on Nadhim Zahawi’s finances? What’s more frustrating for women? Watching Welcome To Chippendales or finding that the blokes are hiding chipolatas in those posing pouches?
TV Quiz: Who said “I’ve never seen so many penises in my life?” Was it a) Irene, Welcome To Chippendales b) Fiona Bruce, Question Time or c) Able Rating Lambert, The Warship: Tour Of Duty?
SMALL joys of TV: Evil Royce’s great escape on Happy Valley. Harry Hill, Junior Bake Off. Lockwood & Co (Netflix). Andy Murray. All three series of Fargo (Prime).
RANDOM Irritations: Bleeding-heart C4 shows running down the English. Love Island lingo. Actresses who get injected with so much Botox their faces can’t move.
SEPARATED at birth: Alan Sugar and Nookie Bear. One a furry-faced boggle-eyed grump known for blunt comments and corny jokes, the other’s a bear.
Classic clanger. Clare Balding was talking about a swimming race when she told gold medal winner Matt Richards: “Your third leg was just phenomenal.”
Jan 22. MEN stink. It must be true. TV tells us all the time. The jailed psycho-killer aside, the blokes on Happy Valley are wet, weak or worthless – yet we put up with it because the writing is as sharp as cheese wire. Fellas in ITV’s new medical drama Maternal are unfeeling bastards to a man, but the show is like a cross between Holby and a joke-free Motherland – all soap, scrubs and suffering. Three young medic mums, back from maternity leave, struggle to juggle work and family under the shadow of cold male indifference. They’re hard-working and hard-done-by. But not poor, judging by the size of those kitchens. Warm-hearted paediatrician Maryam is gutted when a child dies on her watch, thanks to a useless junior – male, of course. Ambitious surgeon Catherine is single and likes to get under the doctor as often as possible. Or up against a stockroom wall, she isn’t bothered. (I’d clap for that. Her kid came from a brief fling with married surgeon Lars. Birth control is not her forte.
“You wanted to be a mother, it demands sacrifice,” sniffs her stiff mum, Anne, miffed when the babysitter calls her away from her ceramics class because Catherine is running late. “My pot is unglazed,” she fumes. Cath’s pot rarely is... Finally, Dr Helen won’t shag her cad of a consultant husband cos he’d had a fling with a much younger colleague. Dudes, don’tcha just hate ’em? Surgeons are renowned for their lofty arrogance, but would it hurt to have one senior bod in the Sir Lancelot Spratt mould, stern but with a heart of gold? Writer Jacqui Honess-Martin needs emergency surgery to remove the man-hating chip on her shoulder.
*GRAN Anne prefers “Nordic walking” to childcare. A Thor point? Sorry.
SET in The Grapes, a backstreet Stockport pub, Early Doors was as down to earth as a discarded fag end, and genuinely funny. Small joys included the boozy cops (“Pinky and Perky”), Maxine Peake as Janine, moaning Tommy, and a pint of mild for £1,64. Loved a woman reporting a flasher who’d driven off. Cop: “Was he in a state of arousal?” Woman: “No, a Ford Escort.” And who could resist the big boys’ beano? A day at the races followed by: “Top comedian, top up with ale, top of the bill two sisters – pole dancers, Twin Cheeks.” How about commissioning a Xmas special of this melancholy sitcom gem? And a toast: “To the Regiment! I wish I was there!”
IF you don’t like being lied to, don’t watch modern telly. From fake laughter cranked up for feeble stand-ups to the endless onslaught of unknown “celebrities”, TV turns deception into an art-form. Love Island isn’t about love, it’s about walking away with £50K, a suntan and five minutes of fame. It isn’t even set on an island. And the hottest woman there is Maya Jama, who the men can’t couple up with. (Although Zara raised the stakes.) The highpoint came when the Cape Town wind blew Maya’s split dress more open than Blackburn Rovers’ defence, officially registering as a cor-nado on the Beaufort scale.
*ARE you a ring girl, Haris the Aris asked Olivia. A bit forward on a first date...
*FARMER Will seems awkward around the women. Understandable. His last lover probably bleated.
HOT on TV: Fauda (Netflix)... The Last Of Us (SkyAt)... Maya Jama, Love Island – hotter (and cooler) than the rest.
ROT on TV: Ekin-Su, Dancing On Ice – effing cack... Rosie Jones... Silent Witness – time to bury this stiff.
WHO needs Dancing On Ice when we’re skidding on the streets? Strictly on skates lacks the charm of the original, and dearly needs Jason Gardner back to add bite to the judging panel. I only watch for commentary, like this on Lukasz and Michelle: “A very experienced partner, he spooned her into the teapot to start off with before pouring everything into the double wooshka.” A lot more fun than skating.
*SIVA from The Wanted “finished with that old favourite the Hoover”. They do that a lot backstage at the Brits.
THE Apprentice clots failed miserably in a task to create cartoons for under-4s. Losing animation, Femi & Faye, should’ve ended with a clapping game. Difficult when neither had hands. Or feet. “I stand by the plot,” squealed loser Reece. What plot? Both teams were handicapped by trying to impose a PC-message on tots. Abysmal. Sugar sacked the wrong berk.
*C5 had three back-to-back cop shows on Monday. You could watch all night and never leave the scene of a crime.
*HIV, underage pregnancy... as EastEnders recycles old plots, how long till someone torches the car-lot? It’s been years.
*GAG of the week: “I got a stinking letter from ScrewFix, apparently they’re not a dating agency” – Duncan Norville (Proper Comedians, Ustreme).
SMALL joys of TV: The Traitors US (i-Player). Vintage Tony Hancock clips (Gold). Kae Kurd. The Happy Valley twist. Norman Wisdom (TPTV). McIntyre’s Big Show.
RANDOM Irritations: ITV dummies not knowing the meaning of “bloopers” (mistakes, not jokes!) or “catchphrase” – rocky road is a cake not a catchphrase.
TV Maths. Joel Dommett + grow bag = Tom Clare, Love Island. Runner-up: Farmer Will – all human decency = Grindr killer Stephen Port.
QUOTE of the week: Hannah, talking about a trophy’s diameter on Limitless Win, told Ant & Dec: “18 inches? That feels small now.” She’s been spoilt.
Jan 15. HAVE you ever heard of a bao bun? I hadn’t. Truth be told, until I turned on the subtitles, I was convinced Thursday’s Apprentice task was to make bowel buns. Which you’d assume would taste a bit crap. It’s been years since Sugar’s show was a genuine business contest. Now it's part Generation Game, part Love Island in suits. The young contenders include a finance controller, a brief and a sales rep. Not exactly Dragon material. This week, they had to make and flog Chinese dumplings. Innuendo abounded. “Can I put my support for Bradley’s meat?” asked McIntyre lookalike Gregory, sounding like he was auditioning for Welcome To Chippendales...
The girls were into fish. Sadly, they weren’t into maths. Victoria ordered one kilo of Basa filling when she should have ordered six. They then set out to make 400 buns and managed 128. Their bespoke buns were dismissed as “white balls of dough with chocolate filling and sprinkles on top”. Although they were praised for their “glittery ganache”. Isn’t that a vajazzle? Luckily for them the boys flopped like Hugh Hefner without his Viagra. Avi rolled their dough too thin, their dinosaur buns looked like “Homer Simpson’s knackers” (A.Sugar). And their sales prices plummeted like space rocket debris on the Cornish countryside.
Brad slashed the price of his bespoke buns from £8 to £4 within seconds of meeting their corporate client. While sub-team leader Kevin (an accountant) flogged ’em off for £3.80 a pop in Greenwich market – going from bao buns to dim suns, Sugar observed. In the boardroom, Shannon bao-ed out and likeable Kevin was fired. The big shock was Greenwich mug punters buying the girls’ tiny buns for £9 each. Try that in Charlton and they’d have been run out of town.
THE Kardashians: Billion Dollar Dynasty showed how the all-pervading pests made a mint out of manufactured celebrity. Kim was propelled from goal-hanging wannabe to global brand by a cable TV show and a mysteriously leaked sex tape – a route to fame pioneered by her pal Paris Hilton. Four years later, mum Kris negotiated a $1.5million magazine deal for Kim’s “fairy-tale wedding” to basketball ace Kris Humphries. The result was suitably Grimm. The marriage lasted 72days before Kim kalled it kwits. David Letterman joked: “They started bickering at the altar – now they’re fighting over custody of the cake.” Facing a huge backlash, Kim trumped her critics by marrying crazed rapper Kanye... a relationship that lasted for at least 72 magazine covers. Meanwhile Kris built the careers of her other kids, Khloe, Kendall, Kuckoo & Kerching! If Sugar had someone as shrewd as her on The Apprentice it’d be a much better show.
*I’LL say this for Kim, she has the best false bottom this side of a smuggler’s briefcase.
NEXT Level Chef is a bonkers cross between MasterChef and Netflix film The Platform, without the cannibalism (so far). Teams compete in kitchens on three levels. The top one is ultra-chic, middle is restaurant quality, bottom is sub-Steptoe. And everyone shouts a lot. The chefs have seconds to grab the food they’ll cook – top floor has first dibs, the bottom has the left-overs. “Go, go, go, go!” yell the mentors. If only they would. With Gordon Ramsay swearing, the result is frantic, stressful and pointless. It’s wrong on at least three levels. The set looks like a multi-storey carpark; the grub is almost an after-thought, and who cares who wins? ITV haven’t just jumped the shark, they’ve burnt it to a charcoaled crisp.
*WHAT about those mentors? There’s Shouty Chef, Dull Chef and for Little Chef, see Nyesha.
AS any food show gets commissioned now, I’d like to pitch Buffet Wars – two teams go toe-to-toe in a breakfast buffet food fight. Hard boiled eggs would be the long-range weapons of choice but you could do a lot of damage close-up with a well-primed jumbo sausage. Losers eat the spillage.
HOT on TV: Happy Valley... Rita Ora... Welcome To Chippendales (Disney+)... Spector (SkyDocs).
ROT on TV: Next Level Chef – over-cooked tripe... Meet The Khans – not boxing clever... The Reunion.
*HAPPY Valley beat Prince Harry’s big interview on Sunday. Hurrah! Cue an unhappy valet. Most viewers respected his right to privacy and turned over.
*M3GAN is a new hit horror movie. You’ve read the book, you’ve heard the whinges... now see the film...
*SUE Perkins has ADHD. A Dreadful Humour Deficit.
*ON the news they said it’ll take years to work out why Branson’s Cosmic Girl failed. Why? It’s not rocket science. Oh, wait...
*PROPER Comedians, gag of the week: My wife said, ‘I always wanted to get married in castle.’ I said, ‘That’s what we’ll do.’ And we did. Her face when we were bouncing up and down... ” – Mick Miller.
QUESTIONS. When will Gordon Ramsay realise he’s the kitchen nightmare? What happens if you moon a werewolf? Shouldn’t we replace the New Year Honours List with a Dishonours one? There’d be a lot more contenders...
SMALL joys of TV: Early Doors. Billy Connolly Does. Proper Comedians (Ustreme). Spike Milligan: Love, Light & Peace. Crown Court rerunning on TPTV.
RANDOM Irritations: ITV’s Tom Bradby failing to ask the shy guy any incisive or even basic questions – he seemed more like a therapist than a journalist.
TV Maths. Jah Jah Binks + blonde wig = Victoria, The Apprentice.
Classic clanger. Paul Dickson talking about a power lift on Britain’s Strongest Man: “He’s four inches short but there’s his wife telling him to hold it back and push his hips forward.”
Jan 8. HAPPY NEW Year? Not in Happy Valley it’s not. That title is TV’s greatest oxymoron since Celebrity Mastermind. The brilliant BBC crime thriller is grimmer than Frankie Boyle’s masturbation fantasies. There’s domestic violence, drug gangs, and of course jailed psycho-rapist Tommy Lee Royce. His nemesis, is sharp-tongued Sgt Catherine Cawood in her now fashionable XXL uniform. Her spiky humour unsettles fellow officers. “I never know if she’s joking or just a pillock,” says a colleague trying to organise her retirement do. It’s probably why she’s never been promoted.
When workers draining a reservoir uncover human remains, Cawood channels George Formby greeting them with a cherry, “Turned out nice again”. Her patronising superior scoffs when she calls the corpse male. How could she know? Cath retorts, “I’d recognise those teeth anywhere. I nicked him once for a public order offence and he bit me.” As she goes, she says, “I’ll leave it with you”, muttering “twats” under her breath.
The show’s two main plots involve her grandson, Ryan. His bullying sports teacher, Mr Hepworth, is a love-rat with a hair-trigger temper who terrorises wife Jo and is over the side with a Mrs Oates. “Have you had your oats, sir?” asks Ryan, risking life and limb. Jo’s chemist slips her Valium in exchange for sexual favours, but gets screwed himself by local drug thugs, the Knezovics. Catherine’s daughter topped herself after Royce raped her. Ryan, her son with Royce, has been visiting the Charles Manson lookalike in chokey behind her back with the help of someone close to her. Tsk, she should have killed him when she had the chance in series one… The barbed bleakness of Sally Wainwright’s scripts stands in stark contrast to the beautiful West Yorkshire setting. They’re so well written I won’t even moan about how fashionably useless all the blokes are…
SHOCK news on The Apprentice as Emma Browne – the closest Sugar will ever get to Daenerys Targaryen – was fired in week one. The County Kildare beauty was branded “disruptive” for telling the girls’ team they were wrong to flog tour tickets on a deserted Antigua beach. Even though she was right… But Em kept banging on about it (unlike any woman I have ever met, or married). Her finest quote was “That ten minutes could actually have been spent in the bar”, which by coincidence is the motto I live my life by.
*JOE says he’s “the James Bond of business”. With .007% chance of winning?
ITV’S Stonehouse centred on the Labour MP who faked his own death on Miami Beach in 1974. We saw the married Honourable Member enjoying a “traditional Czech speciality” – to wit, a fit blonde translator riding his own honourable member. Blackmailed into spying, Stonehouse asked, “Would I be paid?” He was, handsomely, until the Czechs realised the intel he was leaking was, as his lover Sheila would say, “wubbish”. She had twouble with her Rs – and John Stonehouse was the biggest one. It was hard to believe this Tim Nice-But-Dim buffoon would qualify for the Commons post room let alone Post-Master General. At least we know such a delusional mediocre bighead couldn’t possibly flourish in today’s House Of Commons. Don’t we?
*JOHN and Sheila both had speech impediments. Every time she spoke, she lisped; every time he spoke, he lied.
HOT on TV: Tom Stoltman… Mark Bonner, The Rig (Prime)… Ruby Turner… Jellyfish, The Masked Singer.
ROT on TV: Prince Andrew: the Musical – toothless & trite… This Flag Means Death – yo-ho-hopeless.
SILENT Witness is so far beyond bonkers you wouldn’t have been that surprised if Jeremy Beadle’s ghost had turned up at the end dressed as a traffic warden. The BBC’s gung-ho pathologists should surely be backed by a crack team of action-accountants with black belts in corporation tax.
THERE was a huge cat and dog fight on EastEnders, or more exactly Kat and DCI Keeble. The dodgy cop-turned-kidnapper was shot, proving Keebles wobble but they do fall down.
*LILY Branning had sex because she was “bored”. In a related story, I’ve just sent Honey the collected speeches of Keir Starmer. Here’s hoping…
*LILY is 12! A late starter for soaps. On Emmerdale she’d have slept with half the cast and all of the livestock.
*COMING soon: How To Survive The Royal Family – Prince Harry with Bear Grylls. Knock Down Ginger – celebs queue up to “do a Wills” and batter Harry lookalikes… Down & Out in Santa Barbara – Meghan lectures LA’s homeless about her life of suffering…
*IOREK is the real star of His Dark Materials. Every show needs an armoured polar bear to stand up for what’s right. Send him to Walford for the ultimate showdown with raging bully Phil Mitchell.
*BBC dramas are blighted with PC bias, says a study. It took them this long to notice?
*VIENNA Blood is a triumph of style over substance. As Midge Ure sang, “It means nothing to me.”
TV questions: If you get fleeced by Watchdog who do you complain to? Who has got the guts to tell “gangster” Phil Mitchell he’s got the smallest criminal empire this side of Lilliput?
SMALL joys of TV: When Motown Came To Britain. Frozen Planet II. Claude Littner. Phil McNally as Harold Wilson. Johnny Vegas, Romantic Getaway.
RANDOM Irritations: The BBC blowing a whopping £7million of our money on a logo. Mumbled dialogue in TV dramas. Miriam Margolyes! Enough already.
TV Maths. Ronnie Corbett + Michael McIntyre = Gregory (The Apprentice).
Teeth twins: Dan Wootton and Bruce The Shark from Finding Nemo.
Jan 1st. 2023. IT was the year the Lionesses made history, EastEnders’ ratings slumped like sterling and former health minister Matt Hancock got stuck into a lifeless vagina. He also went on I’m A Celebrity. Sadly, we lost the Queen and elbowed more Prime Ministers than DiCaprio did girlfriends. But what was hot and what was rot in 2022? To celebrate the highs and lows of a crackpot year, here are my prestigious Garry Awards For TV Achievement.
TV drama of the year: The World Cup final, spectacular from 80minutes in.
Biggest Talking Point: The talking plonker on Pam & Tommy, not to be confused with the ones on Newsnight. Tommy Lee’s puppet manhood moved like a snake charmer’s python. Imagine the chaos Rod Hull could have caused with that.
Runner-up: Cameron’s prosthetic attribute on The White Lotus. It was two inches... off the floor.
Top Spooks: Slow Horses. A British spy saga full of believably flawed characters, barbed humour and tense plotting. Gary Oldman excels as Jackson Lamb, the slob boss of his squad of under-valued MI5 rejects.
Top war drama: SAS Rogue Heroes, despite panto beards and the script painting Blair “Paddy” Maine as a bar-room psycho. The VC he deserved was a Victoria Cross not a vacuous caricature.
Top UK drama: The Responder. Runner-up: Top Boy. Best finale: Peaky Blinders.
Top US drama: The White Lotus. Top Action Drama: Reacher. Runner-up: The Terminal List. Flop Drama: Rules Of The Game – a four-hour advert for Netflix. Runner-up: Trigger Point – has there ever been a clumsier, more panicky bomb disposal unit?
Best Imports: Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers. Runners-up: We Own This City. The Tourist. The Newsreader. Blocco 181. Best Punky Drama: Pistol. Worst Preachy Drama: Around The World In 80 Box-ticks. Most Over-rated: Marriage (also worst theme tune). Worst historical blunder: Alfie Solomons on Peaky Blinders talking about bayonetting Italians in World War I – they were on our side!
Scariest sex scene: Jean Slater stripping to shag Harvey in the EastEnders launderette. She’d dreamt of it, she said, “ever since I saw that film”. Carry On Screaming? Jean is a lot like the machines there – easy to load, usually in a spin and frequently out of order.
Weirdest sex scene (incorporating weirdest death): Termite on The Boys shrinking down and zipping up into his boyfriend’s manhood only to sneeze, return to full size and rip him to shreds.
Top Sex position: The Broken Eagle, advocated by Paige Thorne (Love Island). I’d wing it.
Randiest drama: Euphoria. Runners-up: Pammy & Tommy. Industry.
Most unexpected perversion: Tractor porn.
Best fight: Taylor vs Serrano. Worst fight: Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. He was banned from future ceremonies. Yes, said Bill Maher, but what’s his punishment? Biggest fright: Simon Cowell’s new face.
Best Sport Doc: The Real Mo Farah. Runners-up: Welcome To Wrexham. Muhammad Ali. Worst Sport: The Games. Best High Jumper: Gianmarco Tamberi. Best Queue Jumpers: Phil & Holly.
Best New ‘Reality’ Show: The Traitors. Worst: Unbreakable. Runner-up: Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion. Top ‘reality star’: Incredibly, Matt Hancock.
Top comedy drama: Hacks. Smuggest: Chivalry. Top sitcom: Derry Girls, RIP. Top Stand-up (UK): Ricky Gervais, SuperNature. (US) Dave Chapelle. Worst comedy: Comedians Giving Lectures. Runner-up: Friday Night Live. Best Black Comedy: This Is Going To Hurt Top cartoon: Charlie Brooker’s Cat Burglar. Best Topical Comedy: Real Time with Bill Maher. Worst: The Last Leg Top panel show: Left Right & Centre (Ustreme) Best comedy crime: The Curse.
Best crime: Gangs Of London (also winner of the Clockwork Orange crown for Most Gratuitous Ultra-Violence). Runners-up: Blocco 181, Kin.
Worst Televised Death: Rebel Wilson at the Baftas. Biggest True Crime Irritation: TV’s ghoulish obsession with rehashing The Moors Murders.
Best Superheroes: The Boys (Prime). Best Sci-Fi: The Expanse. Worst: Doctor Who. Best horror: Stranger Things. Best fantasy: House Of The Dragon. Runner-up: The Peripheral.
Best New Quiz: The 1% Club. Biggest Quiz nitwit: Snoochie Shy, Celeb Mastermind.
Best Cooking Drama: The Bear. Worst: James Corden & the omelette. Worst Cooking Reality: Future Food Stars.
Most self-inflicted harm: revamped Question Of Sport.
Best Documentary Series: The Falklands War. Best Doc: Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes. Oddest: The Man With The Penis On His Arm, not to be confused with the woman with a dick on her arm – that’s Jeremy Kyle’s missus. Best Nature: The Green Planet.
Best Royals: Charles and Camilla visiting EastEnders. Just think, a divorced geezer with a problem son, a trappy daughter-in-law and a shamed bruv... the King fitted right in. Best double act: The Queen and Paddington Bear. Most divisive Royal: Meghan. Hot in Fringe, dodgy on Ginge. Oddest Cunning Plan: Harry & Meghan protecting their privacy by plastering their lives all over Netflix.
Best Topical Knockabout: Farage (GB News). The Sarcasm Society’s Most Thrilling Soap Plot: Alfie’s boat raffle, EastEnders. Worst Dating Show: Romeo & Duet. David Brent award for worst dancer: Tony Adams, Strictly – all the grace of a teak sideboard. Worst revival: Bel Air. Worst entertainment: Unbreakable. Top Nostalgia: Cobra Kai.
Top Lookalikes: Joe Cole as Harry Palmer (The Ipcress Files) and Joe 90... also young Elvis Costello. Runners-up: Didier Deschamps & Albert Steptoe. Putin & Billy from Saw. TV Maths. Googleboxers Lee + Jenny = Sir Keir Starmer.
Top Subtitle Error: The Taliban have decreed that all women should wear the Bercow – BBC News. Top Goof that’s also sadly very true: “There’s never a beaver around when you want one,” Michaela Strachan. Biggest Let-down: This England.
Top Actor: Stephen Graham. Top Actress: Zendaya, Euphoria. Best newcomers: Lewis Gribben & Sydney Chandler. Best Actress in a documentary: Meghan.
Turkey of the Year: Talk TV – Murdoch’s maddest money-wasting folly since MySpace. Even people who bought into the crypto-currency fantasy thought it was dumb.
Woman of the year: Jill Scott. Runner-up: Fatima Whitbread. Top Warrior Woman: Galadriel (The Rings Of Power). Best sex symbol: Lily James as Pamela Anderson. Best smile: Scarlette Douglas.
Monster Of The Year: Putin. Runner-up: Vecna, Stranger Things.
Equaliser Of The Year: Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson). Top Slob: Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb.
Star of the year: Lee Mack.
Small joys of 2022: Bez, Dancing On Ice. Liam Neeson on Derry Girls. Reacher’s vintage blues soundtrack. Tim Burton’s Wednesday. Aubrey Plaza. Stallone in Tulsa King.
Irritations of 2022: Anne Robinson on Countdown. Staged crowd comments on talent shows. Fake footage in docs. ITV ruining the Royal Variety again. Fixed ‘reality’ shows.
TV Quiz: Who said, “Did you see the relief when Matt Hancock realised the vagina wasn’t that big?” a) Ant or Dec in the jungle b) Kirsty Wark, Newsight or c) Fred on First Dates?
Who said, “I’m thinking of getting a really hot frying pan and tossing over a bit of olive oil?” a) Rick Stein b) Jamie Oliver c) Popeye. Where was “tit-gate”? a) Love Island b) Downing Street or c) The Playboy Mansion.
Xmas TV: WE can’t be sure who put the BBC’s Christmas schedules together, but Scrooge must be in the frame. The Xmas Day line-up felt as empty as Janine Butcher’s soul. Where was the comedy? BBC1’s best-rated effort was Ghosts. It’s warm and likeable with well-drawn characters, but you’ll find more laughs on Most Haunted. It managed a miserable 3.9million viewers – less than a quarter of Gavin & Stacey’s audience three years ago (17m on catch-up). When comedy delivers, viewers will still come, because face it, we need laughs more than ever. Elsewhere Call The Midwife served up alcoholism and Thalidomide (again). And Doc Martin had a Santa with syphilis. Father Crustmas! Moral? It’s not just the presents you need to wrap up tightly, pal.
*ON EastEnders slang-loving Mick Carter perished (at least until Danny Dyer needs another career boost, anyway). Lying backstabber Janine Butcher was shockingly exposed as a backstabbing liar. She fled by car and drove 84miles to Ramsgate via the Dartford Bridge at record speed, even though the Blackwall Tunnel is right by Walford... and City Airport is two miles away... Incredibly Mick’s fate made the Walford Gazette’s front page on the 27th... (how?) Let’s hope the obit says: “Cockney Ice Cream brown bread in taters housemaid’s knee”. It’s what he would’ve wanted.