*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.

July 25. BALANCING crime and comedy is like trying to juggle ectoplasm – as Professor T proved. On one hand we had Prof Jasper Tempest, a brilliant criminologist prone to picturing his students as clucking chickens, on the other a series of vicious rapes. Brutality and whimsy can work in tandem of course. Where would Midsomer Murder be without death by giant cheese rounds? Well, you know how truculent those truckles of cheese can be. But here the switch between humour and horror was more jarring than a jam factory. It was like seeing loveable Pop Larkin suddenly indulge in a spot of “perfick” people-smuggling. Ben Miller’s Prof T is the best thing about this adaptation (the superior Belgian original was shown on All-4 via Walter Presents). Yet even he couldn’t rescue the set-up. The Prof went from dreaming about tangoing on a Cambridge rooftop to a gruesome flashback of his father’s suicide. It didn’t help that it all felt so... familiar. Prof T is a cold fish who uses hypnosis to solve crimes (as The Mentalist did). He has OCD (like Monk), although not enough to stop him setting his chair at a random angle on the roof. The cliches rapidly became a checklist: Quirky lead character with mental health issues (tick!), repressed childhood tragedy (tick!), odd-ball egg-head struggles to empathise with women (tick!), his brilliant deductive skills make the cops look thick (tick!). And not forgetting the suspect who legs it out of the back door when the cops come calling (tick!). True, T’s nightmare mum soaking her chihuahua in a bubble bath (not a euphemism) didn’t ring any bells but I’m not sure that’s enough to keep us watching. I did warm to Bridgerton star Emma Naomi as the Prof’s detective ally and former student Lisa Donckers though. In real life, jealous rivals would rename the crime-busting couple Donckers & Bonkers.

WORLD-weary, with a gravel voice and looking, “like a bulldog chewing a wasp”, Les Dawson was a deadpan comedy genius. The unseen home movies on Les Dawson: The Lost Tapes, showed he was also a devoted father and loving husband. We didn’t need talking heads to tell us how special Les was though. The archive clips were enough. This was comedy how it used to be – earthy, good-natured and forever funny. Even mothers-in-law loved him. Collyhurst-born Dawson discovered his gift in a notorious Hull club where, if they liked your act, “they let you live”. Bricking it, he hit the booze, insulting the venue and the audience...and brought the house down. How lucky we were.

*LES Dawson: “I don’t have to do this for a living. I just do it for the luxuries like bread and shoes.”

COOKING With The Stars boils the blood. Most of them aren’t stars, are they? Just people you may have glimpsed on TV. And everything is over-baked, X Factor style, with wild talk of “epic cooking battles” and someone saying “food-gasmic” which doesn’t even work as a pun. The words ‘One Italian Chef – ready to judge’ flash up on screen. It sounds scary, ominous even, but just means “we booked someone as a judge and they’ll do what we’re paying them for”. He’s not hanging anyone. Sadly. The judges walk absurdly in slow-motion and Catherine Tyldesley lost a panna cotta challenge to Denise van Outen who couldn’t even create the spun-sugar cage. It was the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to Cath on TV – and she’d been dumped by Nick Tilsley. In fairness, though, her wobble was “exceptional”.

*INCREASE the risk, ITV, invite Willie Nelson on to bake brownies...

HOT on TV: Amy Winehouse – The Day She Came To Dingle... The Pacific (SkyAt).

ROT on TV: Sexy Beasts – there is no Yeti in this dating Serengeti... In Treatment – shrink crap.

BAPTISTE hits like hailstones, being hard, cold and annoying. Are the split timelines there to increase dramatic tension or to misdirect us away from the plot-holes? The intense French detective came to the aid of Fiona Shaw’s Emma Chambers, the British ambassador to Hungary whose husband and sons had vanished mysteriously from their hotel on a hiking holiday. Irritatingly, there was a 14month gap between the disappearance and the present day where Baptiste has turned into Ian Beale: The Hobo Years, and Emma is in a wheelchair with the potential kidnapper caged in her car boot. Baptiste naturally spotted things the Hungarian plod had missed, but there is one mystery I can’t work out. How can he afford to fly around Europe solving crimes when, like Gillian Anderson now she’s stopped wearing a bra, he has no visible means of support?

*THAT shrink on In Treatment is amazing. She didn’t need hypnotherapy to send me to sleep.

*SUPERGIRL is still in the Phantom Zone. Two doors down from Ian Beale...

*LOVED the closing caption on Evel Knievel doc Stuntman: “Every stuntman was hurt in the making of this film.”

*WE’VE seen Jeff Bezos’s rocket before, haven’t we? On Flesh Gordon... no wonder he called it Blue Origin.

R.I.P. Tom O’Connor, a lovely, genial man and a first-rate comic. Once, performing at Liverpool Dockers’ Club, O’Connor told the audience “It’s great to be here, cos my dad was a docker. But he’s working now.”

Small Joys of TV: Brad Garrett in anything. Farage: Talking Pints (GB News). Wally Funk finally making it into space. Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special (SkyArts).

Random irritations: Chloe’s voice on Love Island. Josh Jones. Tattoos being TV’s latest lazy go-to bad-guy indicator – the inkist bastards. Saturday night “entertainment”.

I FOUND Uprising’s oral history gripping; the politics were harder to digest. I grew up a few miles from New Cross and was involved in the Battle of Lewisham, in 1977. I was still a member of the International Socialists who had foolishly changed their name to the SWP not long before. The hardest fighting I saw was when the IS dockers from East London teamed up with the George Davis Is Innocent campaigners (he wasn’t), also from East London, and charged through the police to attack the National Front’s leader guard at the head of their march. (There was no footage of that). The BBC mini-series held that an awful arson attack on a New Cross house party years later was carried out by far-right nutcases – and there was no evidence of that either. The cops believed it was actually the work of a black drug gang – the series offered no proof that they were wrong, which invalidated many of its points. Neither did it consider the significant level of black-on-white crime at the time, thereby weakening its case further. There is, as my nan used to say, good and bad in all races. Whatever your view of the past, it’s obvious that things are significantly better now. You couldn’t be a racist in South London these days without being in a permanent state of apoplexy. PS. I took a brick to the head that day, thrown by a kid on our side trying to knock a cop off his horse. Not sure I ever recovered... I do remember White Riot running through my head as we legged it from the mounted police. The Clash had been at the earlier peaceful protest, but they weren’t involved in the violence.

Separated at birth: Tom Allen and Lex Luthor? One an unstoppable bearded nuisance who causes problems for Supergirl (Emma Willis)... the other’s a Yank.

July 18. ONE of the odd things about TV is it gets cornier as it gets hornier. Aussie potboiler Lie With Me packed in more ham and cheese than a Darwin deli and served them up with lashings of bondage. You had loaded Jake, his pill-popping English wife Anna and Becky, their bright young nanny who you’d think even Boris Becker would be allowed to call pretty. Inevitably, while Anna struggled to get over mental issues, Jake was busy getting over (and under) Becky. Before long they were in the wine cellar where the nanny’s scarlet scanties gave new meaning to savouring a tasty red. The next day they were riding-crop deep in Fifty Shades territory. It was less Home & Away, more Have It Away. But for unsubtle soft porn, it couldn’t touch Netflix’s ridiculous Sex/Life.

Wife Billie Connolly (honestly), bored with her caring hubby Cooper and their young family, starts yearning for her former lover Bad Boy Brad – a big yin who shagged her in rooftop pools and subway train tunnels. She doesn’t relive these steamy memories in her head but on her lap-top, which she foolishly left open for Cooper to find. The series is one long tease – will she/won’t she cheat... will Cooper betray her with his besotted boss? – all punctuated with flashbacks that would have stopped Mary Whitehouse’s sainted heart dead. It’s hard to believe, watching this over-stylised dross, how outraged we once were by Patrick Malahide’s bobbing buttocks on The Singing Detective.

*SEX/Life’s big talking point is Brad’s old chap, so big it has its own elbow. How long is it, asked my wife? Eight episodes, I replied diplomatically.

*THEY say it’s twelve inches, but he doesn’t use it as a rule.

*BILLIE’S magic boobs amaze me. She’s breastfeeding but they’re pert and perfect with permanently erect nipples, so hard they could take your eye out. You’d buy a hat just to hang it on one of them.

FARGO ends tonight. It’s been frustrating. Despite pitting Chris Rock’s black gang boss, Loy Cannon, against the Fadda brothers – the Mafia’s psychopathic answer to Laurel & Hardy – this has been the weakest series yet. It’s over-complex and over-heavy on monologues (and fart jokes). It even threw in a ghost. Despite that, small joys abounded. Episode nine was a beautifully filmed homage to The Wizard Of Oz. Cracking characters included devout Mormon marshal Dick “Deafy” Wickware, smart schoolgirl Ethelrida, Glynn Turman’s wise Doctor Senator, a murderous nurse and two gun-toting escaped lesbian convicts. Gomorrah star Salvatore Esposito was particularly OTT as bug-eyed hot-head Gaetano Fadda. It spoils nothing to say they don’t all make it to the end.

MODERN TV is caught in an endless cycle of imitation. If one show is a hit, scores of unwanted variations follow. Chefs and dancing formats abound. Cooking With The Stars is Celebrity MasterChef with stiffer competition. 50 Shades Of Gravy is probably months away. Cooking and coupling! It’s a banker! There’s someone right now thinking “Normal People was a hit, superheroes are massive... let’s do Paranormal People – the moving tale of mutants in love”.

HOT on TV: Ronnie Corbett’s Lost Tapes... Jennie Silfverhjelm, Beck... War Of The Worlds (Disney+).

ROT on TV: The Void – poor man’s Ninja Warrior, avoid... Celebrity Karaoke Club – zzzz-list racket.

FOR the antidote to TV nostalgia, watch Man From Atlantis on Forces TV. Although remembered fondly, the 70s show is beyond drippy. Patrick Duffy played the not-quite-Aquaman who washed up on a California beach with webbed hands and feet, wearing fetching yellow shorts – all the rage with underwater folk, apparently. Oddly, he spoke English. The humourless hero spent his time fighting implausible villains, unlikely sea monsters and the maddest scientists this side of Sage.

Today’s superheroes are more impressive. Disney+ is awash with them. Could British TV not “do a Marvel” with our own comic strip characters like Dan Dare (pilot of the future), Captain Hurricane, Alf Tupper (the tough of the track), and heroic Garth? At least Roy Of The Rovers won.

*RICHARD Branson’s first time in space lasted four whole minutes. Good going for a Virgin... Branson in zero gravity was something else The Simpsons predicted along with President Trump and Ebola. Expect the next series to foresee Real Marigold Does Naked Attraction, the Go Compare guy as House Of Commons Speaker and Meghan & Harry – the sex-tape.

*YOU can count funny modern sitcoms on the fingers of one foot. This Way Up is a laugh-lite sad-com, high on sarcasm, low on jokes. All cringe, few grins. TV bosses seem as repelled by humour as EastEnders is by the English flag. Like Faye Winter and the alphabet, they forget important components.

*TV quiz. Who said, “Shall I load and you push?” Was it a) Sarah Millican to her Rolling In It partner or b) Billie to Brad on Sex/Life?

*ISN’T life grim enough without knowing that wherever we go on a UK holiday we’re likely to trip over clueless celebrities? The West Country currently has more camera crews than pasties.

*I LIKE Tom Allen but he needs to remember people can die from exposure.

*APOCALYPSE Wow? I smell Nurofen in the morning.

Small Joys of TV: Fleur East’s amazing hair. Country Music. Spotting what looked like Denis Healey’s love-child play viola on Vienna Summer Night Concert 2021.

Random irritations: Sky History teasing us with William Shatner Meets Ancient Aliens – he didn’t, just fantasists, liars and cranks. Loki’s underwhelming series finale.

Separated at birth: Italy’s technical director Alberico Evani and Corky Turnbull from Sykes. One dished out bibs and cones as casually as the other handed out parking tickets.

TV questions: shouldn’t that alligator version of Loki on Disney+ be called Croki? Would Brad’s titanic todger (Sex/Life) stand up to close inspection?

Classic Clanger. Francis Boulle was talking about Fred Ferrier’s violin recital on Made In Chelsea when he said: “Your fingering has really improved since school.”

Finally, the real talking point – Italy Vs England at Euro 2020 Final which reached a peak audience of 31million, many of whom were left heart-broken. Were we foolish for dreaming... or for believing the TV pundits who never questioned Southgate’s tactics? I felt for young, likeable Bukayo Saka who has been left nursing a pain that will never quite leave him. He’d played well too. Roll on the World Cup!

July 11. IT TOOK until Tuesday for this year’s worst-ever Love Island to ignite. And even then the “drama” fell well short of the Spain Vs Italy penalty shootout. Nice guy Hugo Hammond upset the applecart by saying he found “anything fake” in potential girlfriends a turn-off. It was an innocent remark, spoken without malice... so naturally it was taken the wrong way. Faye, who’s had a boob job and daft duck lip implants, made it personal. “Get f***ing educated as to why girls get work done,” she stormed. Hugo could have told her to get educated as to why girls shouldn’t get work done, citing Leslie Ash’s lips, Jocelyn Wildenstein, Chloe Ferry’s kisser and more. Katie Price, once naturally pretty, has just had yet more surgery to repair previous bodge jobs. Instead he burst into tears, losing the sympathy of older viewers while probably ensuring his place in the final.

Hugo told Faye and the equally “offended” Sharon “I’m really f***ing sorry... I meant no harm”. Faye snapped, “I don’t give a f*** if he’s upset, he can f*** off.” Such a charmer. It was a rare dollop of tension in a dull series – so far the only thing going down are the ratings. Later, realising Hugo was genuine, the three hugged. But if he had meant cosmetic surgery rather than bullshine merchants, wouldn’t he have been right? Reality TV is full of attractive women who have that made themselves look distinctly odd. Rock solid boobs with no wobble, over-pumped joke lips... Isn’t it better to judge people on their personalities? Or failing that, girls, why not opt for something truly eye-catching like swapping silicone for Playdough? Then, instead of a bog-standard 36DD, you could have a head-turning 44long. And after sex, you and your partner could have hours of fun fashioning your thrupennies into bouncy castles.

BEING mean to James Corden feels like torturing a Care Bear. Yet potty PC puritans have turned on him over Spill Your Guts Or Fill Your Guts, a segment on his Late Late Show, where celebs either tell all or scoff chicken feet and disgusting 1000-year-old eggs as a forfeit. Critics claim it’s “anti-Asian”. Yet these aren’t the only horror foods in the game. Besides, all cultures have delicacies that revolt the uninitiated – trying getting today’s pampered youths to sample good old English grub like bread and dripping or tripe and onions. In America’s southern states they eat fried egg ’n’ brains. The French consume Ortolan birds whole, fertilised duck eggs are a Filipino delicacy... The only person this segment should wind up is the sadist who invented Ant & Dec’s Bushtucker trials. My problem with James is he just isn’t funny enough to fill the shoes of Craig Ferguson, Leno, Letterman and Conan. He’s swapped opening gags for lazy chitchat, which is no substitute. And as his Friends special proved, he’s no interviewer. Any further up their arses and he’d have needed a snorkel.

HOT on TV: England... Terry Venables: A Man Can Dream (Sky Docs)... Cynthia Erivo, Aretha (Disney+).

ROT on TV: Celebrity Karaoke Club – more car crash than carpool... Kathy Burke: Money Talks... ITV’s Diana overkill.

HARRY Redknapp turned up on EastEnders. Cockney Harry is funny, upbeat and self-made through hard work and talent. So to fit in here, his wife would have to leave him, the taxman would’ve taken his house, and he’d have just seen Phil Mitchell run over his dog while eloping with the underage daughter he never knew he had. Wonder what he said off-camera about the lack of England flags.

*JANINE Butcher comes back soon, because this soap can never have enough killers. Walford already has more murderers than Midsomer. Janine’s return coincides with a major fire, presumably cos they haven't had a decent blaze since Alfie nearly barbecued Kat alive in 2014. Before that came the Vic (2010 & 1992), Pauline’s house (2006), Little Mo’s (2002), the bookies (1999), Angie’s Den and the car-lot (96 and 94), in fact, the only thing that never catches alight here is the script.

*WATCH out, Janine. In Walford, what doesn’t kill you makes you Sonia.

*JANINE should take over the Vic. That tongue of hers is so forked she could use it to open wine bottles.

*HOW much did C4 bung Kathy Burke to eff and blind and state the bleedin’ obvious on Money Talks? Odds on her talk doesn’t come as cheap as it sounded.

*ANYONE else only watching late night ITV for the junk food ads?

*THINGS I’d like to pitch on Dragons’ Den: The Handmaid’s Trowel, perfect for loading extra agony into any TV drama.

*ODD. Clarkson On TV having nothing to say about the Clarkson on ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire whose speciality is sending viewers to sleep...

*ODDER, Googlebox telling us what an exciting week of TV we’ve had and then cutting straight to the first review – a decades-old movie.

Small Joys of TV: Michael Douglas & Alan Arkin’s heart-warming double act on The Kominsky Method (Netflix). Tiny World (Apple TV). The Last Man On Earth (Dave).

Random irritations: Kathy Burke “investigating” TikTok but not private equity. MPs who’ve always looked down on football fans suddenly jumping on the Euros bandwagon.

Separated at birth: Sam Vimes and Jamie Vardy? One the hard-drinking leader of a bunch of misfits and underdogs. The other is in The Watch...

*DOESN’T Tom Allen realise he can actually say no to bookings?

QUOTE of the week. Amir Khan, talking about the Euros, told Lorraine: “I feel a large semi coming on tonight.”

July 4. SHANNON Singh was the first one out of Love Island. A shame. Shannon likes sex “eight times a day”, so for close friends it must have made a nice change to see her standing up. ITV promised us this year’s series would be “the most diverse ever”. But so far, it’s the same old lovable/toxic cocktail of vanity, delusion and public humiliation. On the first night, three blokes pursued Faye Winter – the one with the long legs and fish lips. Or “Number 5” as Aaron called her, the romantic fool. The Game Of Thrones slogan “Winter is coming” could find new meaning here. Faye boasted modestly “I’m great in bed” and announced she wants a fella to “rip me a new arsehole”. Bless. Her dad must be so proud.

Nobody picked Kaz Kamwi, who must have felt like Roly on Grange Hill when they were choosing football sides. But Kaz wanted “a bloke to rail me” – shag her aggressively. So maybe degradation is her thing. Once they’d coupled up, ITV sent in Chloe Burrows who’s being touted as this year’s Maura Higgins. Do me a favour! Maura was fun. Chloe’s personality is as irritating as her voice – the verbal equivalent of an ingrowing toenail. Maura was stunning. Chloe is... nothing special. It’s like following Joni Mitchell with Jedward or Piers Morgan with Alastair Campbell. Love Island is all about birds with side-boob bikinis and blokes with more sixpacks than the Tesco booze aisle. It’s pretty dull, unless you get off on watching civil servant Sharon give PE teacher Hugo’s lug-hole more tongue than a giraffe porn special. Elsewhere, Jake aired his foot fetish, the women united in their dislike of “bad teeth”, and the air was thick with quotes like “what’s an earlobe?”. We’re not talking Mastermind here.

IS Anne Robinson still worth a wink? Watching her playing nice on Countdown is strangely disconcerting, like seeing Al Capone baking cakes at a pensioners’ pop-in parlour or Rommel changing nappies. What would the old Anne say about this Anne? Some reference to a portrait in the attic perhaps? Or a suggestion that kids might want to go as her at Halloween? She’s still razor sharp but is too restrained here. I found myself shouting, “Tell ’em what you really think!” A sedate afternoon quiz is no place for Anne’s savage wit. She’d be more fun doing a red button commentary on Love Island. Imagine that! As sharp as Sharon’s chin...

*WE got a small spark of the old Anne when Rachel Riley said ex-host Nick Hewer had stolen things from the studio. Anne replied, “I can’t see anything to steal apart from {contestant} Louise’s boyfriend.”

IT’S unlikely Scottish TV is full of dumpy English comics singing the praises of Plockton and Tobermory, but it’d be churlish to complain about Susan Calman’s Week By The Sea. The wee tubster seemed genuinely thrilled by Great Yarmouth, especially the historic Hippodrome Circus where Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin once performed. It’s Britain’s last surviving circus building, with a built-in pool so they can have synchronised swimmers as well as acrobats and jugglers. Yarmouth was a regular fixture on BBC1’s Seaside Special and ITV’s Summertime Special. Great turns like Dick Emery, Les Dawson and Frank Carson headlined live variety bills, brightening up Saturday evenings with pop stars and dancers. Innocent family fun... would it catch on again?

*WHY doesn’t Simon Cowell invest some of his vast fortune in modern variety clubs? Without a circuit to build them, where will acts learn their craft?

HOT on TV: England 2, Germany 0... Madison Lintz (Bosch)... Salvatore Esposito, Fargo.

ROT on TV: Supergirl – woman of steel, script of sh**... ref Daniel Siebert... Wolfgang – an under-cooked tribute to an overhyped chef.

RORY Bremner can’t mimic Matt Hancock. “He doesn’t stand out,” he said. (Gina knows different... ) But I saw Seann Walsh did a blinding Hancock impression at Up The Creek comedy club last weekend – no words, just hands and thrusts. Referring to his own Strictly “scandal”, Seann added “At least he didn’t have to learn the Charleston the week after”.

THE BBC need to shake up Mock The Week. It’s so lazy now. Why not film it an hour before transmission? That’d put pressure on the comics to be faster, funnier, and topical. And bring back the Dara’s opening monologue so he has more to do than just rephrase other people’s jokes.

*TERRY had to choose between Shirley and Kathy on DeadEnders. It could’ve been worse, mate; it could’ve been Shirley and Karen – the Walford equivalent of Godzilla Vs Kong.

*ITV’S Extraordinary Twins was disappointing. No Kelly Brook or Rita Ora.

*A WOMAN on Unbeatable hadn’t heard of Francis Drake’s ship The Golden Hind. Worse, she had a history degree! Unbeatable? Unbelievable.

Small Joys of TV: Anna Torv in Fringe (Pick). Laurel & Hardy shorts (TPTV). Loki’s episode 4 twist (Disney+). Muller missing that sitter. Morata’s extra-time stunner.

Random Irritations: Chloe’s voice on Love Island – like some Oxfordshire attempt to sound Kardashian. BBC1 reviving The Weakest Link without the acid putdowns.

SEPARATED at birth: Didier Deschamps and Albert Steptoe. One deals with failure, the blues and a shovel full of horse crap, the other was a rag and bone man. Runners-up: Gary Neville and Kevin Rowland?

Classic Wimbledon Clanger. Ann Jones, commenting on the 1987 Ladies Doubles final, exclaimed: “How much better a doubles match is when all four players are alive!”


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