Garry Bushell
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June 26. The spirit of Del-Boy Trotter hung over The Apprentice in Paris: dismal schoolboy French, dodgy products, dipstick decisions... bonnet de douche! The task – to flog British goods to the Frogs – was won and lost over child car seats that turned into rucksacks. More accurately it was lost by Melody, a woman pushier than a rugby prop who makes David Walliams seem modest and self-effacing. Team leader Tom sent Mel ahead to do market research; but she hated the car seats and manipulated the results to suit her opinion, lying like a cheap watch. French people “don’t use cars very much,” she assured him, after speaking to four commuters outside of a Metro station. So Team Tom ended up selling a bone china teapot lamp and a postcard you could grow watercress on. (Who makes this stuff, the Mighty Boosh?)

Tom is bright, but he’s as weak as a Chinaman’s tea. He let Mel walk all over him, and would struggle to sell umbrellas in a downpour. Tom made Amy Winehouse seem together. Luckily, Leon was even more useless. Leon spent the task gormlessly fretting that he wasn’t contributing much because he couldn’t parlez Francais without noticing that Mel was mostly parlezing English. D’oh. Susan, who led the opposition, seemed to think the French were an alien race, asking idiotic questions that may or may not have included “Do the French eat their own children?” Yet she had the sense to choose the convertible car seat, which Helen pitched superbly netting a whopping order worth more than £200K.

It was all over for Team Tom. In the boardroom, Melody was exposed as a rude, domineering liar – Sugar loved her. While Tom was exposed as the idiot who’d played rock, papers, scissors over a vital pitch. In the rock, paper, scissors game of life, Tom is Edward Scissorhands. I can’t see him, or buck-passing Jim winning – although I do want to watch Jim get torn apart by Sugar’s inquisitors. Surely a woman will triumph this year, and just as surely it won’t be Natasha, Susan or the miraculously un-chinned Melody.

*SO to sum up, Melody is bi-lingual, Natasha is apparently bi-sexual, and Edna seemed borderline bi-polar.

* KARREN Brady is a poor sub for the sainted Margaret; given her links with Avram Grant it’s hard to see how she’ s got the front to lecture anyone about bad decisions.

HAYLEY Cropper slammed a door on Corrie. “That’ll be the testosterone,” quipped Sylvia, who’s struggling to cope with the fact that her daughter-in-law was born a bloke. She’d put their lack of kids down to the menopause. “Hayley’s been through the change all right,” sniped Tracy. “A flaming sex change.”

*When Hayley star Julie Hesmondhalgh was pregnant for real in 2001, everyone had to pretend not to notice this medical miracle. This was around the time when the Croppers ran off with Wayne. I believe the Gazette headline was ‘Kid Disappears In Tranny Snatch’.

DO you ever think there just aren’t enough gay chat-show hosts on TV? Why on Friday nights there are only three of them. Producers must be trawling Old Compton Street with nets. Razor-sharp Graham Norton makes the others seem redundant. Not only is he very funny, he’s actually interested in what people have to say. Paul O’Grady is in the wrong slot (not for the first time); without Lily, he’s like Samson without his hair. Alan Carr would turn Louie Spence straight. He talks like he’s chewing a cocktail sausage (and I cleaned that up.) Worse, his show is lazy and predictable. Gay is okay, dull is unforgiveable. Des O’Connor was more fun. If he’d bitten the pillow he might still be on telly.

*WITH chat shows in the pink, Winton’s Wonderland must be in with a chance of revival. I’d give Craig Hill a shot, but I suspect we’re more likely to get Toilet Talk with Louis Walsh.

HOT on TV: Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce (Sky Atlantic)... Game Of Thrones finale... Emilia Clarke... America’s Got Talent (ITV2).

ROT on TV: Three Men Go To Venice – far canal... Odd One Out – call my duff... The Marriage Ref – misses and misses... Supernatural – putting the suck in succubus.

I COULDN’T bring myself to watch The Marriage Ref again, not after last week. You want us to take relationship advice from Geri Halliwell? Why? Was Jim Davidson unavailable? Who next? Sarah Ferguson? Ashley Cole? Jeez.

*CHERYL and Ashley: the Ex Factor. Although she denies it.

*LOOSE Women’s viewing figures have plummeted since Janet Street-Porter joined the show. Surely not? They did try and book someone more likeable but Rose West wasn’t available.

MERSEY Shore will be the next ‘reality’ TV show. Same cack, different accents. Let’s hope the Scouse House defies convention and books someone with half a brain. Imagine it: Kenny has taken Kara upstairs and he’s showing her something she’s never seen before; it’s large, it’s hard, it’s... a book.

*REJECTED TV spin-offs: Terry Pratchett’s Come Die With Me home kit. Gok Wan vacuum cleaners, Gok Suckers. 8 Out Of Ten Cats Cantonese cook-book. Jason Gardiner pizzas – they come with extra topping...

*I’D like to see Katie Price on Fake Or Fortune: “Oi, Fiona, these are fake but they’re worth a fortune.”

*THE EastEnders producer hints that he’ll bring back big names. Who? All the great characters are either dead or played out. I’d rather see Jack The Ripper back than sad-sap Charlie Slater.

*PLANET of the Apemen concerned an early hostile human species that were dim but extremely violent. For more details, see Phil Mitchell.

*NURSE Jen on 24 Hours In A&E had a patient who’d been shot in the penis. The thought of it had made her laugh for an entire shift. It certainly put lead in his pencil.

SMALL joys of TV: Emma Hawkins’s heels (Four Rooms). Ruth Wilson’s lips. Kathy Griffin. Collagen and male waxing infesting 5th century Camelot, and those famous mixed-race knights of Arthurian legend.

*THINGS I’d like to hear on Camelot: “Hey, Guinevere, that’s not a sword in the stone but don’t stop pulling it.”

RANDOM irritations: Newsnight making Paxman discuss vajazzles. BBC sitcoms – doing for laughter what Wimbledon’s centre court cover does for Cliff Richard sing-songs.

*TOP 5 forgotten sitcoms that were actually worth watching: Thick As Thieves, Brass, In For A Penny, Comrade Dad, The Brothers McGregor.

*THOSE Kardashians haven’t half changed since they were on Star Trek. I’m sorry, that was the Cardassians. Strange, predatory humanoids with odd-looking faces... that’s both of them.

June 19. Hurrah! Luther is back and it’s madder than an Ascot hat. Cleared of murdering his wife, maverick cop John Luther has taken to starting his day with a cup of coffee and a quick game of Russian Roulette. Now that’s what I call breakfast Cheerios... The plots are definitely Fruit Loops, though. Luther is working for a new police department which may as well be based in a Marvel comic. His latest adversary is a costumed serial-killer who models himself on the Victorian super-villain Spring-heeled Jack. “Murder by theatre” is his game. The callous swine slashes his victims like Jack The Ripper while wearing a Punch mask, and carries out his dirty deeds via a live webcam stream so he can give the watching cops a running commentary. “He’s taunting us,” says Luther, demonstrating the razor-sharp powers of deduction it takes to make DCI in the Met these days.

There’s a sub-plot involving faked snuff movies and a hooker who lets herself be gangbanged while unconscious (an idea they took from Geordie Shore). Mad Alice, who killed her parents last series, is still around. Luther pops along to the nut-house for a bit of banter with the sexy psychopath, played with lip-licking glee by Ruth Wilson. He even appears to chuck her a security swipe card hidden inside an apple. Maybe he needs her criminal genius to net the killer, or warm his bed, or in the absence of Terry Pratchett load his early morning revolver.

Disappointingly ‘Jack’ doesn’t appear to have actual springs on his heels, but he can materialise mysteriously in the backseats of cars - a stunt that would baffle Penn & Teller. The whole show is barking, and its morals are often muddier than Glastonbury. But Idris Elba as moody Luther makes it work. Last series he took on a Satanist who liked to write scripture in blood, and a fake cabbie who couldn’t get it up unless he’d just topped a passenger – talk about leaving the driver a tip. It’s reassuring to know that wherever unlikely killers strike, John Luther is there battling for justice, between bouts of extreme depression.

MANY viewers are angry about Choosing To Die on the grounds that it might encourage suicides, and we’ve already got EastEnders for that. The climax of Terry Pratchett’s documentary saw Peter Smedley, 71, an affable English gent with motor neurone disease, being given a lethal dose of poison in a Swizz clinic and popping his clogs on screen. It was moving propaganda, complete with tears, compassion, chocolate and Elgar’s Nimrod. But it was also about as well-balanced as a one-legged man with cramp on a tightrope in a force nine gale. Pratchett didn’t tell us that one in five Dignitas ‘customers’ don’t have a terminal illness, they have depression. He didn’t ask if legalising ‘assisted suicide’ would encourage abuse. Or consider whether rich elderly relatives might be conveniently talked into it.

*DID you see that shock death on TV this week? It took my breath away. How could they do that to Ned Stark? Game Of Thrones keeps getting better.

*THE assisted suicide/murder scene on Pratchett’s show provoked mixed reactions. Some were shocked, some saddened. John Stape’s using it as his screensaver.

NO mention of Greece or Syria on 8 Out Of Ten Cats, but Sean Lock did nail that dimwit Facebook juror: “Never mind right and wrong, she looks like she doesn’t know the difference between right and left.” Jon Richardson made a decent debut as team captain, imaging the Milibands united at the despatch box like Jedward (“Deadwood”). But Jimmy Carr had the quip of the night, noting: “Not only has Ryan Giggs been in someone who’s been in Big Brother, but his brother has been in someone his big brother has been in.”

HOT on TV: Our War (BBC3)... Idris Elba (Luther)... Tamson Egerton (Camelot)... Castle (Five)... new Dexter (FX).

ROT on TV: Michelle Collins (Corrie) – Cindy Beale? No big deal... Graeme & Xin’s leaving scenes – I couldn’t give a crispy fried duck... King Of – the opposite of Room 101, more like Room Oh-So-Dumb.

MUCH pioneering work was done by The Sex Researchers, or as they’re known these days the Giggs family. Episode one focused on Victorian views of female sexuality, including concepts like ‘womb furry’ and ‘menstrual madness’, still evident today on Loose Women. Some feared the series might be just more C4 titillation, but nothing says serious like a Robert Webb voice-over.

THE Arthurian legends are tales of chivalry and courage. They are vital, potent inspirational British folklore. Camelot takes them and reduces ’em to a bonkathon. (Came-a-lot, apparently...) Still, there are a couple of things about Eva Green that weigh heavily in its favour.

*Top 5 TV brunettes: 1) Eva Green 2) Belinda Stewart-Wilson 3) Sophie Winkleman 4) Imogen Thomas 5) Funda (Made In Chelsea)

*NO-ONE in Corrie commented on Stella’s strange Manc accent, mind you they’ve still not noticed David Platt is from Yorkshire.

*HAS that geezer from Taggart turned up in Weatherfield cos these days there’s always a mur-dah?

*RICKY Grover will play Heather’s love interest on EastEnders. He’s already saving up for the rings: 35 of them, all deep-fried and onion.

*BBC4’s documentary on Stalin revealed ‘Uncle Joe’ to a brutal dictator who created his own legend while ruthlessly shafting friends and enemies alike. Basically, he was Simon Cowell with an army.

RANDOM irritations: Bruce’s knighthood. TV’s bleeding heart inability to reflect public anger over revolting creeps like Nigel Leat. Dave Walliams, Wall Of Fame? Wally of Lame, more like. The BBC’s desecration of its White City studios, and its one-sided, wrong-headed campaigns (for the Euro, for assisted suicide, against England etc etc).

SMALL joys of TV: C5 restaurant inspector Fernando Peire. Penn & Teller. Angry Boys (BBC3). The Shadow Line finale, despite being as confusing as Father’s Day in Walford. And Dermot Monaghan on Eggheads offering surprised male contenders “Your last chance to knock one out.”

SEPARATED at birth: Nigel Lythgoe and Larry Grayson – one camp, absurd and prone to parrot ridiculous catchphrases, the other Larry Grayson.

June 12. POPSTAR To Operastar poses the question no-one else would think to ask: will ITV be able to take some washed-up chart warblers and bring out the inner Caruso in them? To which the short answer is no of course not, don’t be daft. There’s more chance of Ryan Giggs keeping it in his trousers than of some former Pussycat Doll being able to rattle off the Appassionata after a few hours with Katherine Jenkins and a crate of stout. Real opera singers train for years. But that doesn’t mean the show is bereft of joys. No-one who saw Alex James’s version of The Barber Of Seville last year could easily forget it. I think the barber was out and we got The Plumber Of Seville instead.

Alan Titchmarsh has gone this time. Shame. I know he’s only a gardener, but there’s always been something of the Tosca about him. Gone too as judges are renowned opera buffs Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (soft furnishing expert) and Meat Loaf (a giant ham). In their place are Vanessa Mae (violinist) and Simon Callow (actor)...which suggests the producers are just picking names randomly out of a hat. Maybe next year we’ll get Bobby George and Natasha Giggs (Madam Unbutton-Fly.) Mercifully we’ve still got Rolando Villazon, who comes across as a demented CGI hybrid of Mr Bean and a Muppet?

The judges bend over backwards to avoid actual criticism. Katherine told gurning nightmare Melody Thornton “you do sexy very easy with your body.” Yeah, but what about the singing, Kath? Rolando congratulated Joe McElderry on an “almost chaka, chaka, chaka performance.” (What?) While Callow noted that Midge Ure’s bizarre Scottish-Italian version of Questa O Quella (Pava-Grotty) had “great charm.” Unfortunately his character is supposed to make Dominique Strauss-Kahn look like a eunuch house husband. Callow is the master of damning with faint praise. He told Cheryl Baker that although technical criticisms of her singing were true “I was indescribably touched” (a lot like Imogen Thomas, then.) But Cheryl won over the audience, without even having to rip off her sequinned ball gown, Eurovision style. Chezza to win!

*THERE’S a new batch of hopefuls tonight. It won’t be over until Claire Richards sings.

* WAYS to improve PTO: 1) Kim Woodburn as Brunhilde 2) June Brown as TuranDot Cotton 3) Fill audience with largo louts 4) New round: Deep Sea Divas 5) Have Melody get to grips with Andrew Bridgen’s Stiffelio...

*THOSE live C4 doctors’ clinics are a god-send for celebrity love-cheats. Now when the missus catches them on Skype with their pants down, they can snap: “Do you mind? I’m having a medical examination...!”

*DANNII Minogue has been voted TV personality of the year. Dannii? A personality? Blimey. Trailing in behind her were Alan Titchmarsh’s trowel, Mary Taylor’s coconut macaroons and a broken-down Dalek.

C4’s Comedy Gala? Good cause, big names, nowhere near enough laughs. Micky Flanagan and Kevin Bridges impressed but are lazy Jo Brand and lacklustre Shappi really the “cream of British comedy”? It’s hard to believe that three hours of the best available mainstream comics would have delivered such feeble fare. Comedy now is all about cheap shock and right-on platitudes. It makes you nostalgic for the sheer class of Bob Monkhouse and the innocent charm of Russ Abbot’s Madhouse.

*JASON Manford on Andy Gray: “Imagine losing your job for something you did off air...”

SIMON Cowell insists that nothing on Britain’s Got Talent was fixed, apart from his teeth, hair and face obviously... It’d be easier to believe if his pop music company didn’t manage the winning acts, if the running order were decided by drawing lots. And if all finalists got equal levels of support. The singers get choreographers and backing singers, why not furnish Les Gibson with comedy writers?

  HOT on TV: Our War (BBC3)... The Mentalist finale (C5)... Injustice...Eva Green (Camelot)... Lee Evans (Comedy Gala) – still class.

ROT on TV: Popstar To Operastar – Verdi on the ridiculous... In With The Flynns – out with the commissioning editor... Embarrassing Fat Bodies – embarrassingly thin programming.

WHEN Bobby Davro arrived in EastEnders he ran down Shirley. When David Essex got there, Carol Jackson ran into him. It’s obvious which celeb they should recruit next: Alvin ‘Green Cross Code’ Stardust! The Square is a death trap – see Jamie Mitchell, Tiff, Danielle, Ashley Cotton...

*EDDIE Moon is accused of murdering his wife. Kind of brings new meaning to ‘Hold me close, don’t let me go’. Ed will be punished for it though. They’re lining him up for a fling with Carol.

*GAZ slept with Charlotte on Geordie Shore. “She’s walking like John Wayne today,” observed Sophie. Let’s hope she won’t need a visit to Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.

*THEY had to make money out of garbage on The Apprentice. Well it’s worked for Jeremy Kyle.

*PRINCE Philip was interviewed by BBC1 for his ninetieth birthday. Old, unreasonable, full of absurd political views...that’s the Beeb. The Duke still adds to the gaiety of the nation.

* DAWN French has lost five stone of useless flab. Twenty-five if you include Lenny...

BOFFINS creates anti-matter last week. That’s nothing, the BBC1 sitcom department churn out anti-humour every week. Scientists are now investigating an even greater mystery: the physics of Arlene Phillips’s face.

RIP James Arnes, best known as the cowboy hero of Gunsmoke, a star from the time when men were men, not bawling metrosexual wimps.

THE Hoff is famous largely for boozing, talking to his car and giving the world Pamela Anderson. It’s hard to dislike him. But his new reality series The Hasselhoffs sucks like a Dyson. We want hell-raising, not wiener jokes! I’d suggest reviving Baywatch, but I’m not sure Dave could suck his gut in for an entire series.

RANDOM irritations: assisted suicide storylines on soaps – a dangerous game. BBC News’ metric obsession. Chris Moyles on C4’s Comedy Gala, arsing about as a fat Freddie Mercury. Next year, try booking comics.

SMALL joys of TV: Crazy Kraut Mrs. Tee (Four In A Bed). Rich Hall’s moving song about being in love with a girl in the KKK. Angry Boys. Edna’s transformation for You’re Fired: she went from Edna Average to Grace Jones style rubber-gloved dominatrix. Sweet dreams are made of this.

June 5. SIMON Cowell has called in the cops over shock Britain’s Got Talent allegations. A malicious internet joker is claiming the ITV show is an actual talent contest, and that someone who isn’t a singer or a dancer has a chance of winning it. It’s outrageous. They’ll be saying Cowell doesn’t manipulate the media next…

Simon returned as Superman last week. Hurrah! Unfortunately most of the contenders were pure Kryptonite. We got underperforming dogs (not you, Buddy) table-tappers, mother-smothered kids, poor pointless Popeye, and a dancer who mimed between changing clothes. That karaoke Terminator was so ropy it’s a wonder the real Terminator wasn’t sent back from the future to rip out his larynx at birth, and then impregnate Girls Roc and Britney lookalike Lorna Bliss. Lorna had a voice as limp as Robbie Williams without his pills; she’s Lorna Far From Bliss.

Some of the decisions made you think they’d all been swigging nail polish remover. How did very ordinary cabaret organist Jean Martyn beat amazing magic act David & Karen into the finals? How did that stone-deaf, doddery old pensioner with the attractive female companion get past the auditions? Did ITV think, well, it works for Strictly Come Dancing?

BGT combines the fairness of FIFA with all the fun of an Albert Square kidnapping. There were acts with real potential, too of course. Mimic Les Gibson was my favourite, although he blew it last night; and I liked the Circus of Horror and Pip from Pip & Pup. Others were either recruited directly from YouTube or stole their routines from there. Edward Reid impressed anyone who’d never heard the radio comedy staple ‘one song to the tune of another’. Nathan’s “unique” toast art has already been done by Lennie Payne. The show was nobbled by nitwit novelty acts and over-paid judges with no critical faculties. Without Cowell, this series was like True Blood without vampires.

Talent shows need his kind of caustic honesty. Yet even Simon’s not perfect. He doesn’t know variety, he hates comedy. All he really gets is a narrow strain of pop. Cowell’s eyes lit up when he saw Ronan and New Bounce because he understands how to make money out of singers. Full stop. BGT can’t unearth the kind of stars previous talent shows discovered because its values are corrupted. It’s too Britain’s Got Nutters, too much about the idiot judges, too much about lining Simon’s already over-stuffed pockets. (I’ve seen the contracts). Britain has got talent, but ITV can’t find it.

*DID you watch that miserable excuse for talent on ITV yesterday? Talk about ten over-hyped losers. But enough about the England game. At least Jack Wilshere put some effort into it.

*IT’D be harsh to say that Girls Roc put the ‘tart’ in fire-starters. But their outfits definitely put the semi in semi-finals. I hear paramedics were on stand-by in case of singed minge.

SCOTT & Bailey are the least convincing female detectives since drag night at Sun Hill. Clueless DC Rachel Bailey hadn’t clocked that her boyfriend of two years was married to someone else. D’oh! While DC Janet Scott cracked a big murder case because she recognized a similar bunch of flowers to the one the killer had left by the corpse in a petrol station forecourt. Yeah, cos that’s the thing about petrol stations flowers, they’re always so distinctive. If you spot North Staffs daffs mixed with Watford Gap tulips, you can trace the killer’s route right back to the All-Men-Are-Bastards depot...

OK, so Doctor Who’s River Song was Amy Pond’s grown-up baby all along...and Little Melody was part Time Lord because she’d been conceived in the Tardis on Amy and Rory’s wedding night. Yeah, right. Tell it to the Child Support Agency, Doc.

*WHY did Amy say Melody’s Dad was known on earth as the Last Centurion? After the Doc rebooted the universe, that plastic Auton version of Rory had never existed.

HOT on TV: Game Of Thrones... Modern Family finale... Queen - Days Of Our Lives.

ROT on TV: Scott & Bailey – Cagney & Lassie... Jack Dee upstaged by a pig (Lead Balloon)... Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle – as pointless as Chris Huhne’s driving licence.

NEXT on Diagnosis Live: Sepp Blatter – a mental condition that causes deluded waffling, extreme vanity and moral blindness. Feargal Sharkey – fungus growing between the toes. Hasselhoff Syndrome – a tendency to swing wildly between confusion and extreme enthusiasm. Can be cured, and caused, by alcohol.

*C4’s Diagnosis Live is too tame to shock. Up the ante, give us Drunken Cosmetic Surgery Live! Your operation’s free, but your surgeon’s plastered. Sip/Tuck, Slip/F***ed.

*SHOCKING scenes on Corrie last week – freckle-fright Fiz, naked in the shower. The horror! Otherwise it was business as usual in ITV’s everyday story of murderers, body-snatchers and baby-buyers.

*IF mad hostage-taker Snape had met a double would he have kept himself to himself? Other Corrie mysteries: how many social workers make non-emergency visits on a Bank Holiday?

*A Chinese golfer won the Open. That’s two words you don’t often see together, ‘Chinese’ and ‘open’... except in the context of takeaways, and Xin’s legs on Corrie.

*YUSEF got stuck into an old boot on EastEnders. And after snogging Denise he got kidnapped.

*EGYPT’S Lost Cities was too dumbed down to take seriously, but many shallow male viewers would love a crack at turning Liz Bonnin into a mummy.

*I WAS mesmerised by Bums, Boobs and Botox.  But enough about the BGT judges...

I LOVE the comedians on Talking Funny – Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Gervais, Louis CK, these fellas are at the top of their game. But I once spent a night with Mick Miller, Chubby Brown, Bobby Ball, Buddy Lee and Johnnie Casson in the Queens hotel, Blackpool, and hand on heart that was funnier.

*THAT poor woman in the papers last week with a chronic fear of men, do you think she’s head of drama at ITV?

RANDOM irritations: Tweet-obsessed Stephen Fry moaning that he’s over-exposed. Cheryl Cole overkill. There are shop window mannequins with better judgement (and probably better voices) than mime artist Cheryl. What’s Cole got in common with the Daleks? They’ll both be back.

SMALL joys of TV: Classic Chaplin clips (Paul Merton’s Birth Of Hollywood). Loveable loony Lynn (Four In A Bed). Batman re-runs (ITV4). Vince’s ‘Easy Jet’ shirt and tie combo (The Apprentice). Vince doing for dog food what Spanish cucumbers do to Germans - Pedigree Dumb. JANET Street-Porter reacted badly to honest criticism on Celebrity Britain’s Best Dish, but that can’t have been the first time she’s ruined someone rhubarb.

*SEPARATED at birth: Ratko Mladic’s wife and decrepit C4 madam Lillian Tyler – both utterly Shameless.

*WILL BBC2 follow The Men Who Won’t Stop Marching with The Men Who Won’t Stop Bombing? Thought not.