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June 28. Did you see those chavs beating up Shabnam on EastEnders? Blimey, the Girl Scouts have changed since I was a kid... Three yobs called Shabs “a terrorist” and yanked off her head-scarf as “Islamophobia” joined the soap’s long list of issues addressed. Terrible crimes like this happen of course. But so do other possible storylines. The real East End has given us Anjem Choudary and Lutfur Rahman; this year three Bethnal Green schoolgirls went off to join Islamic State. Nothing like that ever occurs in Walford. Here, the local Muslims are always in the pub. They even had a Christmas tree. There are no “honour” killings, no poppy burning and the scumbags who groomed Whitney were both white Northerners. There are good and bad in all people of course. But why is a soap that revels in the worst of the white working class so keen to avoid reflecting the ugliness of some elements of the Muslim community? What could possibly explain this selective vision? It’s not the world as it is; it’s the world as they’d like it.


*SHIRLEY Carter, who tried to drown her first-born child and abandoned three others, wants custody of grand-daughter Jade. She’s a violent alkie, her fella’s a serial jail-bird and her son, Jade’s Dad, raped his sister-in-law. We’re supposed to like them.


HOW good a cop are you if you don’t realise your other half has been lying to you for years? On No Offence, D.I. Deering was gutted to learn that her musician husband was actually a twisted serial killer. Black Work’s PC Jo Gillespie only discovered hers had been working undercover for two years after he was topped. With detection skills like this, they’d be shoe-ins at Walford nick. If only they’d had time to see more TV... There are so many murders on telly these days you could watch all week without ever leaving the scene of the crime. Viewers have seen more twists than a Chubby Checker convention. But how do you make detective drama different while keeping it gripping and believable, three things The Interceptor can’t begin to do?


Paul Abbott’s No Offence crackled with energy and dark humour but ended with his once-decent officers covering up a murder they’d planned to commit themselves. This felt out of kilter with the kind of cops they were; but full marks for the novelty murder weapon, death by expanding foam filler. On Black Work, victim Ryan Gillespie, had infiltrated a gang and then dropped off radar. Grieving widow Jo (Sheridan Smith) wasn’t quite the loyal wife she appeared to be though. She was over the side with his colleague – and Ryan knew it because he’d bugged her car. Her own freelance snooping left her KO’d. D’oh!


You have to give True Detective time, whether you want to or not. The second season began at a pace even tranquilised snails would have found tiresomely slow. It’s set in Vinci, a Californian town populated by troubled coppers, bent officials and Semyon, a villain with his eyes on a highspeed railroad. Colin Farrell is superb as Ray a conflicted cop with a drink problem who works for Semyon part-time as an enforcer Then there’s Ani a sheriff responsible for a many a semi-on, judging by her mind-boggling collection of bedroom toys. And ex-veteran Paul, a scarred highway patrolman with a death wish, suspended for allegedly soliciting a blow job from a drink-driving actress. True Detective is murky and miserable, shot in washed-out browns and yellows, and so far bereft of the spark that made series one special. Only the cast and the pedigree suggest it’s worth giving it time.


YOU’RE sick, you’re scared, you’re at your wits end with worry... who are you going to call? Why Jeremy Kyle of course. Jeremy Kyle’s Emergency Room really is as bad as it sounds, with sanctimonious arse Kyle strutting around patients’ bedsides asking such helpful questions as “You’re terrified aren’t you?” Doctors reassure, Kyle ramps up the fear. He made one poor woman cry by talking about fella, saying “You’re scared he’s going to leave you... ” This horribly cynical show is ITV’s answer to Embarrassing Bodies with an adrenalin dash of 24 Hours In A&E, except the medical problems aren’t trauma centre ones at all. They’re mystery neck lumps, dry eyes and diabetes none of which need emergency care. A&E medics don’t sport nail varnish and jewellery like these do. Neither would they tolerate a smug clown constantly interrupting them. It makes you wonder who’s the sickest: the patient, the host or the commissioner. Kyle’s ER stinks like a freshly filled bed-pan.


HOT on TV: Colin Farrell, True Detective (SkyAt)... Black Work... Jack Black, The Brink (SkyAt)... Katherine Parkinson, Humans.


ROT on TV: Jeremy Kyle Emergency Room – diseased... Made In Chelsea finale... The Last Leg – if only it were... Don’t Tell The Bride – don’t tell Lord Reith, he’ll be spinning in his grave.


*THE BBC changed Titty’s name to Tatty in Swallows & Amazons in case it offends. The writing is on the wall for Andreas Wank, Dick Trickle and Fanny Chmelar... .In a related story, King Cnut will henceforth be known as Cyril.


The Beeb also apologised after Alan Titchmarsh used the gardening phrase bastard trenching. They’ll go into meltdown when he forces his rhubarb.


*AMANDA Donohoe was shown how to master “the perfect quenelle” on Celebrity Masterchef. Apt. Many base men who saw Amanda stark naked in Castaway will remember thinking “Quenelle! Perfect!”... or something very similar.


*THE Chase USA uses just one chaser, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labett. They have three contestants, not four. And they’ve replaced Bradley with ex-Baywatch beauty Brooke Burns, which means the Yanks don’t get to see Brad corpsing as he did this week at the maritime distress signal meaning “I require a tug”.


*YOUR Inner Fish says we’re all descended from sea-life. In Nikki Grahame’s case it’s probably the piece of cod that passeth all understanding.


SMALL Joys of TV: Kenneth Williams: The Interviews. The fight scenes on Banshee – Nola vs Burton was up there with Hood vs Sanchez. Amazing Spaces Shed Of The Year. Jeremy Kyle asking a poor sap who couldn’t ejaculate “Are you glad you came?”


RANDOM irritations: C5’s love affair with Horrible Helen Wood. BBC2’s soundtrack rendering Napoleon unlistenable. Blatantly unbalanced one-sided news coverage of every issue from austerity to the migrant crisis on the BBC and C4.


SEPARATED at birth: Jack Branning and Ethan Burke in Wayward Pines – one trapped in a weird, terrifying hell-hole with no hope and no future... and then Jack got written out of EastEnders. Wayward Pines looks almost pleasant in comparison.



June 21. Who IS she? Nikki Grahame's return to Big Brother was a proper Time Warp treat. The woman is madder than an Ascot hat. Nikki pulls more faces than a world champion gurner. One minute she looks like an anorexic Vanessa Feltz, the next a vexed Albert Steptoe with sciatica.


It took just days for Nik to hit full banshee mode, screeching and carrying on like a toddler with one foot in a nettle patch. She's a nightmare to live with, but a joy to watch. Unlike hard-faced Helen Wood, the power-crazed irritant wheeled on by the producers to do more stirring than a Masterchef champ. I don't think they actually booked Helen for the series, they just drew a pentagram in goat's blood on the floor and she appeared. As arguably the most loathed BB winner ever, it's hard to see how she justifies the "legend" tag, compared to say Kate Lawler. I'd rather see Kinga back, although few would sip her Ugni from the bottle.


Hell's Hel she took an instant dislike to Harry "a manipulative little bitch", and upset her so much she started keeping her clothes on. She also dug out Jack, the kid who looks like a toddler crossed with a giant jacket potato. Likeable Brian Belo, a genuine BB legend, quickly summed up Helen as "low-life scum", and stood up to her for persecuting Chloe. "Girl's cwyin'," Essex boy Belo bellowed. "She's a 'uman bean and she's cwying." Next time we saw him he was in bed with Jade. Decide for yourselves if that was a reward or not. We've seen house invasions by Craig Phillips, Victor Ebuwa, potty Pete Bennett, Jon Tickle and Charley Uchea. (Wot? No Makosi?) Now Aisleyne is after Helen's blood. These old favourites only under-line how weak the housemates are this run, a series blighted by tedious nominations twists and evicted nitwits sent back in. Most of their lives seem emptier than the Greek treasury. At least cocky Marc has nobbled his chances of winning.


IMAGINE having a robot girlfriend. She'd be so easy to turn on... On Humans, synthetic people work as housemaids, PAs and even hookers. There's nothing new about androids on TV. Star Trek's Data, Cyclons on Battlestar Galatica, Phillip Schofield... we've seen dozens of them. Most raised the same issues as Humans: What if artificial people develop feelings? What if they become smarter than us? Gemma Chan makes this new sci-fi series special though. With her passive face and expressive green eyes, Gemma's character Anita, a domestic robot, is creepily believable. She's also super efficient; an electronic Mary Poppins snapped up by Joe who feels career wife Laura is neglecting him and their three kids. They don't know Anita is one of a small number of "synths" capable of thinking... and of abducting their youngest daughter. C4's near-future world seems scarily possible. It also opens a can of worms. If machines do our jobs, what would the Eastern Europeans do? Some people would turn nasty – Joe's brat of a daughter Matilda likes shooting them with an air rifle. Others would demand android rights. How long before we got android MPs? Watching Question Time, it's easy to suspect they're already here.


*MY Top 7 awesome androids: 1) Number Six (Battlestar Galactica) 2) Roy Batty (Blade Runner) 3) Terminator T-1000 4) Data (Star Trek TNG) 5) Bishop (Aliens) 6) Ethan (Extant) 7) The Gunslinger (Westworld).


GAME Of Thrones ended with much love and happiness as the rival kings, warriors and schemers got together for a big group hug. I'm lying of course. There were seven major deaths in the series finale. And Queen Cersei was forced to do a naked walk of atonement while commoners flashed and spat at her. Like a bad night in Magaluf, it was. Elsewhere heroic Jon Snow was killed, like Caesar, by his own men. Stannis's neck had an appointment with Brienne's sword. His wife Selsye hung herself. Myrcella was poisoned. Arya Stark murdered Meryn but was blinded; her sister Sansa jumped from the Bolton castle walls with eunuch Theon. Finally the poor bloke grew a pair... What next? Who knows, but if Ramsay Bolton's still alive at the end of this I might top him myself. PS We didn't see anything of Bran Stark this series. So what are they saving him up for? Imagine the revenge Bran could wreak if he took over a dragon...


HOT on TV: Ruby Rose, Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)... Humans and Gemma Chan... Strike Back: Legacy (Sky1)... Long Lost Family.


ROT on TV: Simon 'No Fizz' Showbiz, CBB... Undercover – underwhelming... Prized Apart... Running The Shop – old ideas reheated, how about Stopping The Run?


THERE were more belly-laughs in the final Bob Monkhouse – The Million Joke Man than in C4's entire Comedy Gala. Bob spoke about coming home to find his wife spread-eagled on their bed, her wrists tied to the bedrail. "We've been learning some saucy tricks," he smiled. "We've been burgled, you stupid bastard," she replied.


*BOB: "Last night I dreamt that I had an operation on the NHS. I'd been waiting two years for that dream."


*DEAN got off with Roxy on EastEnders. That girl's been pulled more than a Subway pork sandwich. Later he smashed a mirror, so seven years bad luck. Or in Walford, business as usual.


*WOULD we enjoy The Tribe so much if it had a more realistic name, such as Benefits Street – The Next Generation?


*NICK Grimshaw is joining Simon Cowell on The X Factor. They've got a lot in common; they've both lost a million fans.


*JASON Manford on Kate Moss's Easyjet kerfuffle: "Apparently she was so loud the hen party in front of her could barely hear themselves fight."


*ON Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell an evil ancient entity sentences his doomed playthings to an eternity of ballroom dancing. Can Bruce Forsyth sue?


SMALL Joys of TV: Cersei's body double (Game Of Thrones). Sean Bean on Waterloo. Guitar Star (SkyArts). Melissa O'Neil, Dark Matter (Syfy). The Chase contenders winning £90K (good work, Lauren).


RANDOM irritations: the Beeb squandering fortunes on management gurus, PR and new HQs instead of decent programmes. Yvette Fielding's abject failure to channel the spirit of Fanny Craddock on Celebrity Masterchef. BBC2 white-washing Napoleon.


*WHY bring back whistling sock puppets The Clangers? Why not Noggin The Nog or Twizzle? (For Bagpuss see Eileen Grimshaw.)


SEPARATED at birth: Ronnie Mitchell and the original Lady Penelope? One a cold plastic beauty with an odd sense of entitlement, the other a Thunderbirds puppet...


TV Maths: Lee Hurst + blonde wig = Eva Speakman.



Jun 14. SO many comedians, so few laughs... Channel 4's annual Comedy Gala is about as welcome as Kate Moss on an Easyjet flight. It's more an endurance test than light entertainment. Staged in the intimate, cough, surroundings of the O2 Arena, the Gala lumbered on for 155 soul-sapping minutes, longer than most movies. "Still to come, Josh Widdecombe," the continuity announcer boomed; as if that were an inducement, rather than a dire warning. And although "obviously it's a charity gig so I'm not going to do my best stuff", was meant as a joke it was also clearly true. Especially in the case of Rich Hall whose lame, show-closing drivel about US politics must have cleared seats quicker than a bomb scare.


Highlights? Aisling Bea opening with "Oh my God, I can't believe I've made it through to the live finals... " And the reliably grumpy Sean Lock: "Imagine being Madonna's masseur. There'd be more give in a Trafalgar Square lion." (He also confessed he hasn't read Russell Brand's book, adding "I'm waiting for it to be translated into English.") Spiky Katherine Ryan impressed too. "My daughter was planned," she said. "Poorly, as it turns out... " But the normally reliable Kevin Bridges, Jack Dee and Paul Chowdhry seemed under par. McIntyre just recycled his 'Dubai is hot' observations from his recent TV special. Trevor Noah is sharp, smart and promising although his spot felt more like a strong chatshow routine than stand-up comedy. Similarly Rob Beckett's "sh*t yourself" gear may be a hoot in the pub, but wasn't so well judged on an arena stage.


At least Alan Carr put some effort in. "Looking like Ronald McDonald on crack" in a clown suit, Carr described Northampton as "the kind of place where if you wear shoes they think you're the Secret Millionaire." The rest ranged from mildly amusing to moderately irritating. Great Ormond Street is a terrific cause of course. But when the late agent Addison Cresswell came up with the Gala idea it must have occurred to him that it would also serve as a handy showcase for his acts. Most are still from his Off The Kerb agency; and by handy coincidence the show is filmed by his Open Mike production company who also make the BBC's Live At The Apollo series. They're the gatekeepers for TV comedy these days. It was funnier when they weren't.


A BLOKE who can sculpt his stomach muscles into the shape of a constipated elephant. A woman who can drink milk and then cry it through her eye sockets... It could only be TFI Friday. The return of Chris Evans's iconic 90s show was a riot of nostalgic fun, busier than an HSBC leaving party planner, with guest appearances from Shaun Ryder, Ewan McGregor, Clarkson, Tom Daley and the Archbishop of York. Not to mention Chris's dear old mum Minnie, 89, completing the Top Gear course on her mobility scooter.  And Liam Gallagher dueting with Roger Daltrey on The Who's My Generation. This one-off special reminded us why the original show was a must-see success for four glorious years. Scripted as ever by brilliant Danny Baker, it included a performance from Blur, a pre-recorded appearance from Sir Kenneth Branagh, and Evans confessing: "You're allowed a bit of touching up when you're a grandad." (Memo to Yewtree: he was talking about dying his ginger barnet of course.) Struggling C4 should bring the show back immediately with Evans at the helm (not Nick Grimshaw). Live TV, breaking the rules and flying by the seat of its pants... You can't beat it. PS Next time, revive The Big Breakfast. C4 were nuts to lose that too.


ON Corrie Michael Rodwell leapt on Eileen like a ravenous lion sinking his choppers into a well-nourished hippo. She was just as up for it, pulling him on top of her as if she were auditioning for Love Island. Like two bouncy castles colliding, it was. For a moment, former house-breaker Michael looked set to break into Eileen's not-so-small smalls. Would he rod well? Mercifully his dicky ticker kicked in before any clothes were shed. (I don't want to imagine Eileen stripping! How many Malaysian mountain gods would that piss off?) Will sanctimonious Gail discover their unlikely betrayal? We asked a 100 people and our survey says: let's hope so.


*STEVE'S in Spain. Isn't it time Tracy moved somewhere warmer, like the seventh circle of Hell?


*CORRIE questions: is Lloyd still on that boat? Has Mary forgotten her camper van? And how did Leanne get a bruised cheek when Simon hit her head with the remote he slung at her?


HOT on TV: Game Of Thrones (SkyAt) – unmissable... Peter Mullan, Stonemouth... Lili Simmons, Banshee... Jo Scanlon, No Offence.


ROT on TV: England vs Ireland – more boring than Crossrail... Richard E. Grant – a clear case of mistaken non-entity... Suntrap – does the parrot know he's in a turkey?


COULD C4's flop Sex Box be saved by merging it with The Cube? A combination of dexterity, hand-to-eye co-ordination, ball scooping challenges and tiny shooting zones would make it a late night hit for perverts and voyeurs everywhere. While a pre-match demonstration by The Body would definitely merit a Memory Flash.


*SHAME The Interceptor didn't intercept and destroy that lazy script. It was dull, clichéd, untroubled by reality... O.T. Fagbenle as Ash seemed as distracted as Prince Harry at a Lady Gaga bra-fitting. To make things worse, Annabel Croft didn't even bother to show up.


*GOATS and cattle come with marriage on The Tribe. Unlike in Britain. Here it's mostly cows and pigs.


*BOB Monkhouse asked a bloke in his audience what made him a great lover (Million Joke Man). "He doesn't know," Bob snorted. "He just sits there silently, licking his eyebrows."


*MEMO to Sara Pascoe: your "bare bottom" stories might work better with a PowerPoint display.


SMALL Joys of TV: Daenerys dragon-riding, Game Of Thrones. Scott and Stourbridge's parachute escape, Strike Back. The Tribe (even though it's obviously faked). Episodes reuniting Matt Le Blanc and David Schwimmer. Vicki Michelle, a daily delight as Yvette in 'Allo 'Allo! Crocodile Shoes re-runs (Drama).


RANDOM irritations: the obscene salaries paid to C4's execs for their conveyor belt of prurient crap: Dogging Tales, My Granny The Escort...kerching! Dr Effin' Dance. Sub-student union politics (Comedy Gala). The Syndicate's theme tune desecrating the Small Faces.


SEPARATED at birth: Jonathan Strange and Inspector Gadget? One a thinly-drawn character on the side of good... and so is the other one.


THINGS Prince Harry didn't say to Dr Who star Jenna Coleman: 3) "You have a time machine? Take me back for the Big Bang." 2) "Tell me, is everything much bigger on the inside?" 1) "Any chance of a sonic screwdriver?"



June 7. Bob Monkhouse famously wanted to die like his father, "peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like his passengers". He passed, sadly, in 2003 but his wonderful gags live on. Some are more poignant than others. Bob quipped that his mother had tried to kill him after he was born, adding "She denied it; she said she thought the plastic bag would keep me fresh". A funny line, but heart-breaking when you knew how chillingly cold his mother had been to him...


Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man was a fitting tribute to Britain's greatest comedy craftsman. It featured his famous joke books; sixteen beautifully illustrated labours of love, pilchard-packed with hand-written original gags. Rib-ticklers like "When I said I wanted to be a comedian people laughed... well, they're not laughing now".


The rare archive footage was fabulous. I'd have preferred more gags and fewer talking heads, but Gold still did the great man proud. Monkhouse knew he'd never be loved the way instinctive funny-men like Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe were, so he worked harder. He stuffed his game-shows with "funny putty" to make them memorable. His finest achievement was Bob Monkhouse On The Spot, a tour de force that showcased his amazing encyclopaedic mind, memory and gift for adlibs. It was a Saturday night smash for BBC1 but criminally Alan Yentob refused to repeat it on the spurious grounds that Bob opened with topical gags. (Remember that when watching Have I Got Old News For You and Mock The Week repeats).


The real reason was prejudice. TV execs were so blinded by their dislike of "old school" comedians that they couldn't see his genius. It took a younger generation of comics to realise it. Bob used to joke "People think I'm from Kent, I hear them whisper it as I walk past". The actual Kents were running the show.


Monkhouse was a Marmite comedian. Some disliked his slickness, mannerisms and that tan like something from the mahogany end of the Dulux paint chart, two shades beyond Judith Chalmers. But he was an incredible man, as bright, charming and considerate as he was hilarious. To know Bob, as I did, was to love him.


*CLASSIC Bob: "People always say 'You're a comedian, tell us a joke', they don't say 'You're a politician, tell us a lie... You're a gynaecologist, take a look at the wife'."


*ON wife Jackie: "I used to do things deliberately to annoy her. In the mornings I'd wake up. God she hated that".


WHY the outcry about the Britain's Got Talent final? We saw a dog rope walking, didn't we? No-one said it was Matisse, viewers just assumed it was. It was classic misdirection as used by magicians, comedians and unscrupulous politicians for decades. (See also Cheryl lip-synching). I'm more irritated by Amanda Holden's bizarre insistence all series that rubbish amateur acts are "quintessentially British" and Simon's obvious bias on the night. Compare and contrast the way Cowell rained on Danny Posthill's parade to the massive slack he cut his favourite singer Calum Scott who forgot his words. The judging this series has been appalling, the final was lop-sided yet again. Isn't it time ITV gave BGT a few years off and revived New Faces or the Big Big Talent Show instead?


*RE Amanda's plunging necklines, why open the garage doors when you haven't got a car?


*ISAAC Waddington has a great voice. If only there were a singing contest on TV he could have competed in instead...


WE'RE "living in Garry Bushell's world," the snooty old Times said about TV last week. If only! It's true that I championed variety shows and talent shows at a time when telly execs had written them off. But if I ran TV, variety bills wouldn't consist of umpteen unsuitable lightweight comedians (the BBC version), or a random array of singers (ITV). And the hunt for next Fools & Horses would start now.


HOT on TV: Banshee (SkyAt)... Strike Back Legacy (Sky 1)... Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Game Of Thrones... Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man (Gold)... Sense8 (Netflix).


ROT on TV: Most Haunted with Yvette Fielding – more ghastly than ghostly... The Syndicate – pure balls... Man Down – he'd be more down if he watched this charmless crud.


STRIKE Back Legacy is like a Phil Mitchell knee-trembler – fast, brutal and often hard to take seriously. We're in Thailand for this series, and in the party area Chloe, the British ambassador's hot blonde daughter, thinks she's pulled. Phuket? Not quite... Like many romantic Thai encounters, her date isn't all he seems. He's actually a decoy working for evil Max Beesley's kidnapping gang. Skipping pleasantries, ruthless Max lops off her finger with red-hot secateurs – a nice pressie for Dad to unwrap as he tries to talk the North Koreans out of selling nukes to hostiles. Dad gets the choice: blow up the big meeting or Chloe cops it. Our heroes Scott and Stonebridge have fifteen minutes to save her while new boss Robson Green pursues him. A doddle! Our boys' speed, grit and derring-do make Jack Bauer look like a dawdling sissy. Just don't ask how Section 20 got all that ultra-modern surveillance kit in place so quickly...


*ACTOR Freddie considered aging on Vicious. "If I can just stick it out a bit longer, I'll segue into a whole new range of roles," he said. Raising an eyebrow, Stuart snorted: "Corpses?"


*KATE Humble: Living With Nomads, not to be confused with Kellie Maloney: Living With No Nads.


*JONATHAN Strange claimed the corpses he re-animated were speaking "one of the dialects of Hell". For Hell's other dialect see Jud on Poldark. Tain't right, tain't fit, tain't proper.


*FIVE beavers got a clean bill of health on Springwatch. That's more than you can say for Geordie Shore.


SMALL Joys of TV: the breath-taking White Walkers attack, Game Of Thrones. BB King – The Life Of Riley. ITV weathergirl Becky Mantin – she's inspired many a ridge of high pressure. Long Lost Family. Sausage thief Matisse. Pinewood – 80 Years Of Movie Magic.


RANDOM irritations: Simon Gross and his pathetic fake crying, the bloke's about as "showbiz" as Nick Knowles. Amanda Holden banging on about "authentic voices", how many singers have artificial ones, luv? ITV passing on series three of The Americans.


SEPARATED at birth: Brian May and Samuel Pepys? One an ancient chronicler of a lost age with ridiculous hair who witnessed many an outrage, the other kept a diary.


*JOHN Bishop is amazing; he's invented a new art-form – virtual humour. He looks like a comedian, his words have the rhythm of comedy, yet they're never ever funny.


*PHIL Spencer was talking about a roomy bedroom when he told a house-hunter: "If it's size Lisa wants then I'll give it to her". I'm still paying £35 for any howlers I print. Buy today's Daily Star Sunday to see where to send 'em.










Garry Bushell