Garry Bushell
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March 28. IF you could see your future would you change it? That’s the central premise of FlashForward, as well as a question worth putting to Cheryl Cole on her wedding day. At the start, almost everyone on earth blacked out for 137 seconds. Drivers crashed, swimmers drowned, rock climbers plummeted and on Masterchef the minute steak was completely ruined. All survivors had seen a flash of their lives six months later. Crap news for FBI agent Mark Benford, a recovering alcoholic. He was drinking like Peter Barlow, and his missus Olivia was shacked up with another fella – gormless boffin Lloyd. At least one bloke – Suspect Zero – had stayed awake throughout the blackout at a baseball stadium. (Impossible at a Palace match).

It was a great concept, marred only by ham acting and a plot that went round the houses like a postman on meow meow. Viewers dropped off and the show went on a three month hiatus which ironically the producers hadn’t seen coming. They rebooted and come back all guns blazing. Doped, Mark recalled every detail of his booze-blitzed premonition. The extended remix ended with him on the phone to Lloyd saying: “Unless we stop this, there's going to be another blackout!” So he’s destined to work with a bastard who is a nail in the coffin of his happy marriage.

Lloyd’s arrogant sidekick Simon the Hobbit is Suspect Zero. Their experiments didn’t cause the blackout, but amplified it. Or so ruthless fatso Flosso (magician Ricky Jay) revealed while brutalising them. Mark rescued ’em Jack Bauer style. But Flosso returned posing as Simon’s “Uncle Teddy” after abducting his sister. Furious, Si topped the tosso vowing vengeance on his bosso.

Let’s hope it stays this exciting. I’ve already devoted 100 hours of my life to Lost and have devised a spectacular revenge on JJ Abrams – involving a cellar, Gaffa tape and a TV permanently tuned to S4C - if the ending falls anywhere short of mind-blowing. If nothing else it’d double S4C’s ratings. Either way, both shows top British TV’s standard mix of soap, cooking shows and antiques over-load.

*Flashforward is a US drama. But if Holly Willoughby wants to take it as an instruction...

SOME shocks on Comedy Rocks. For starters Jo Brand was funny. And host Jason Manford proved variety isn’t dead in the water. Refreshingly there wasn’t a naff act on the bill. John Bishop is the sharpest Scouse comedian since Mick Miller.
Paul Zerdin is a good vent whose act works a treat, particularly if you haven’t seen Ronn Lucas do it. And Joe Pasquale got them roaring, which will only have surprised TV executives. Loved his Amy Winehouse ‘flower-arranging’ stunt. This show should go to a series, and showcase more great turns – older ones too. Acts sometimes get stage fright. Telly bookers have permanent age fright.

*BUZZ Aldrin is on Dancing With The Stars (Watch). Host Tom Bergeron described him as “the American icon who moon-walked years before anyone did it to music.” Sadly Bruno brought the amazing 80-year-old astronaut down to earth. “You did a cha-cha-cha,” he said. “It looked like you still had your moon boots on.” Ouch. Pamela Anderson is sensational though. Let’s hope she lasts longer than her marriage to Kid Rock. I’d love to get a proper look at her American Smooth.

*ODD. Why no Heather Mills on Inside The Perfect Predator?

* IF you watched The Delicious Miss Dahl hoping for tips your patience would have been stretched thinner than Sally Spode’s conscience. There was little sign that Sophie had ever cooked in her life. She can’t chop or even cut bread well. She didn’t even show us her dumplings. Sophie’s a Nigella wannabe, right down to the flirty looks, suggestive squeezes of mozzarella and cheeky asides like “I can't remember the first time when I had Arnold Bennett.” (An omelette; not to be confused with “Gordon Bennett” – her reaction to the first time she saw Mick Jagger starkers.)

*SOPHIE says “cooking should be an adventure.” It is with my mother-in-law, Marigold. Who knew it was possible to burn salad?

HOT on TV: A League of Their Own (Sky1)... Glenn Martin DDS... Ricky Jay (FlashForward, Five)... Abigail Spencer (Mad Men)... Comedy Rocks...

ROT on TV: Let’s Celebrate – let’s not... Life Of Riley – lifeless baloney... The Delicious Miss Dahl – about as convincing as Big Mo turning up on Undercover Princess...The Budget – Neronomics, fiddling while Britain burns.

*A BODY answering to Stacey’s description was fished out of the river on EastEnders: miserable face, downturned mouth, worn-out vagina...

*MAX and Stacey enjoyed a two-hander on Friday. Yeah, you’re ahead of me...

*SO Graham Norton, Over The Rainbow. Wouldn’t he rather be under the Rambo?

*THE Wizard Of Oz characters included one with no heart, one with no brain, and one with no courage. Put ’em together and you’ve got BBC1’s Head of Light Entertainment.

*HARDLY anyone watched C4’s Dispatches, possibly because few are surprised that MPs are on the take.

RANDOM irritations: Hiro (Heroes). Victoria Coren’s voice – it sounds like a mouth harp played by a depressive. Harry Hill going off the boil. Brian Cox’s kilometre obsession. And Enders’ two-handers – never as good as they think they are. The only Albert Square double act I want to see are Janine and Lucas... with a hit list.

SMALL joys of TV: Edward VII’s sex chair. Dirty Bertie! Jersey Shore (MTV) – a cornucopia of cretins. Russell Howard’s news clips. The Daily Star Sunday on sale in Walford on Tuesday. The fake New York Times mass-produced by the Yes Men (More4).

QUESTIONS arising from Women: if these feminists hate men so much, why dress like us? Is it sensible to moan about discrimination while drinking in a women-only bar? If Germaine Greer is the thinking man’s crumpet, is Heather Trott the stupid man’s rumbaba?

SEPARATED at birth: Anne Robinson and Edna Mode? One a mean and snooty fictional creation. The other a character in The Incredibles.

*WELL done Christine Bleakley for water-skiing across the Channel, although frankly I’d have been more impressed if she’d come back carrying a crate of French beer and a barrel of plonk.

March 21. IT’S just as well Blanche Hunt isn’t in Corrie anymore because last week she’d have died laughing. Rita’s face-lift, Gail getting nicked at Joe’s wake, the choir singing deadpan while his next of kin kicked off - life doesn’t get any funnier than this. And now Gail is banged up awaiting trial for murder. It’s priceless. Even if the police case holds less water than a toddler’s teacup... Gail was nicked after a tip-off that she was “planning to go on holiday”; she’d been seen rowing with Joe... these charges wouldn’t stick with Superglue.

Her other offences are believed to include simpering in a built-up area, impersonating a hamster and possessing an offensive face. Prosecuting counsel neglected to mention that her black polo neck jumper made her look like a Cluedo character: “M’lud, it was Mrs Glum, on the lake, with the boat boom.”

All the evidence is circumstantial; the cops haven’t even done a forensics check on Gailforce. Yet should we care? Consider Gail’s life-story. Her other halves have included a serial killer, a serial shagger, a murder victim and a loser with all the financial nous of a British chancellor. Her daughter got knocked-up at thirteen, her son’s a certified demon, and she looks like a disappointed turtle. The flaws in the prosecution case were heavily outweighed by the need to get this jinx of a woman under lock and key before she blights any more lives. It’s just a shame that Shutter Island was full.

And that my favourite soap is losing the plot. Simon’s incredible journey, Molly’s same day pregnancy scan, Joe not realising he could have cleared all his debts by selling the boat... Corrie’s grip on reality is now more ruptured than David Beckham’s tendon. I amuse myself imagining what Blanche would have made of Molly’s pregnancy: “She was only the baker’s daughter but she had one in the oven for Kevin.” And Rita’s return: “What liner were you away on, Cosmetic Cruises? Was it run by P&O – pull-back and operate?” But I preferred Corrie when the drama was serious and only the comedy was funny.

*MOLLY blamed her pregnancy on “a cock-up”. Yeah, Kevin’s.

*NEW hymn for Corrie: ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the going of the Gail/Her husband was a moron and she’s ended up in jail/She looks just like a gerbil and all she ever does is wail/She won’t stop banging on. ‘Glory, glory, Gail’s in C Wing (x 3)/In truth she’s better gone.’

*JAMES Corden was the face of Sport Relief cos nothing says fitness like an emotional fat bloke with the cholesterol level of a three-egg omelette. Yet Corden was sensational as Smiffy poking fun at sporting greats like Sir Steve Redgrave (“What do you need a knighthood for? You row around in a little boat!”) Moral? Puffed-up presenters, piss-poor pop ‘stars’ and endurance challenges aren’t a patch on comics being funny. Gene Hunt scored too. Real telly legends trump dreary dragons every time.

*HELEN Skelton kayaked the entire length of the Amazon. Impressive. I’ve been there and that’s a ruddy big warehouse.

*TV cleaner Kim Woodburn has seen more crap than a BBC3 viewer. “My whole life has been faeces, faeces, faeces, dear,” the vodka-blitzed Mrs. Mop informed fellow has-beens on Celebrity Come Dine With Me. When she wasn’t banging on about the soiled knickers of Hollywood legends, deluded Kim was flirting with Darren Day who must have been thinking “Not even with Tom O’Connor’s.” Every wink, every saucy aside came with a side order of desperation. But odds-on C4 are already commissioning Kim’s new series: Skidmarks Of The Rich & Famous, also known as Have I Got Poos For You. PS. Kim’s cooking? That was shit too.

HOT on TV: Flying Squad: The Real Sweeney (Nat Geo)...Wonders of the Solar System (BBC2) – out of this world... Smiffy (Sport Relief)... Michelle Kegan (Corrie) – Tina turn-on.

ROT on TV: Life Of Riley – makes My Family look like Steptoe & Son... Invisible World – Richard Hammond was far too visible... Walford’s dismal fun-run... and Loose Women – like Cruft’s without the prizes.

WALFORD mysteries: why is Phil on crutches? Did he trip over a hole in the plot? Roxy said half her staff was “snowed in”? How? They all live on the Square. Who gardens in the snow anyway? And what’s happened to the bookies? It was Cheltenham week and no-one put a bet on! Either the betting shop has vanished into the same parallel dimension Jay is hiding in, or the local gambling fraternity all cleaned up with a sneaky ‘snowfall in March’ forecast.

*SOAPS can be very educational. Drunk, Phil Mitchell pulled Dawn, the dishiest woman in Walford. Sober, he’s hopelessly devoted to hatchet-faced Shirley. Moral: always drink before you date.

*KATIE Price wed in Las Vegas. Tacky, OTT, built on illusions – that’s Katie. Vegas looked fab.

*SALLY Morgan is billed as a medium by Living TV. Utter cobblers. Look in her drawers, she’s definitely an XL.

*I MISSED that Tourette’s show this week. F***it. W*nker.

*OLD people sex – encouraged by This Morning, discouraged by Gillian Taylforth pictures. (Only joking Gillian, funnily enough I’d been meaning to call you as I’ve been suffering with pancreatitis... cont Fantasy Island)

*SEPARATED at birth: Alan Carr and Business Inspector Hilary Devey. One forceful, feisty but feminine, the other a business inspector...

ON Women, middle class couples were grilled about their lifestyles by demented director Vanessa Engle. Pussy-whipped males squirmed as she demanded to know who did the household chores. The roundheads asked “When did you last see your father?”, with the femi-nazis it’s “When did you last clean the bath?” I’d have loved some wag to have told her about Apple’s new woman-only gadget, the iRon.

*Does the glass ceiling still exist? If it did blokes would be underneath it trying to look up some skirts.

*RANDOM irritations: Ant & Dec taking ten minutes to get to the first game on Push The Button. Newsnight covering the Jedward axing. ITV splitting movies either side of the news. The shock absence of Vanessa Perroncel from Sport Relief – no woman has relieved more sportsmen... She’d have been perfect for The Million Pound Bike Ride.

*SMALL joys of TV: Rachel Johnson, editor of The Lady, saying of it: “In the real world this is a piddling magazine that no-one cares about or buys.” You said it, love.

March 14. DAVID Cameron turned down an interview with Piers Morgan, saying he wanted something “a bit more substantial.” Good as his word, last week the Tory leader faced ITV’s toughest inquisitor, Alan Titchmarsh. Yeah, the gardener. Titchy wasn’t afraid to put big questions to him either: was Dave, he asked, for EastEnders or Corrie? Strictly or X Factor? Lady GaGa or Lily Allen...? The bombardment was merciless. It made Frost/Nixon look like Des and Mel. The only thing Titchmarsh didn’t bring up was Dave’s startling resemblance to PC Plum from Balamory - one an unbelievable, lightweight character made up for TV, the other PC Plum... But we did learn that Dave prefers gardening to football (why choose, Phil Brown has been fielding cabbages all season at Hull) And that he likes to put his feet up in front of Lark Rise To Candleford. The studio audience loved this. Why?

To be honest, I wouldn’t vote for Dave if he was on Strictly and his only opponent was Stephen Hawking with flat tyres. He is Plastic Man to Brown’s Shrek, as substantial as a ghost’s fart. But his answer either means that our would-be PM gets off on mawkish, girlie costume dramas. Or, more likely, that he’d just said what he thought tea-time viewers wanted to hear, raising the possibility that had he been on Top Gear he might have had a bit more to say on the subject of Evangeline Lilly’s vests.

The only TV character I want my PM to look to for inspiration is Gene Hunt because a wrecked economy and a country buried in debt needs a no-nonsense fix.

Titchmarsh saved the tough stuff for last, though. Having loosened Cameron up with some playful jabs, he unleashed the big one: Cheryl and Ashley. “It seems trivial to ask you if they should stay together,” Titchy admitted, before adding: “Do you think they should stay together?” Challenging, searching, revealing... Alan Titchmarsh is none of those things. In that respect, he is very much ITV’s answer to Andrew Marr. But if a politician aspires to lead us, wouldn’t you rather they were asked what they intend to do about jobs and immigration rather than their thoughts on M&S versus Primark?

*IMAGINE this happening forty years ago: “Now, Mr Powell, you’ve made this ‘rivers of blood’ speech, but first let’s discuss who’d win a punch-up between The Hulk and Desperate Dan...”

*FACT. Most of Titchy’s questions were planted.

*BBC1 should have used genuine out of work celebrities on Famous Rich & Jobless. At least the likes of Peter Dean, Steve Brookstein and Alistair Duvall from Keynotes would have shared dole queue Britain’s pain. Instead their f-list team included Noel Gallagher’s ex-wife, another bloody gardener and an unknown model with a relative. Hmm. Push the boat out why don’t cha? Still the show had lessons for the unemployed. Chiefly that, when applying for a job, it helps to bring your own film crew. Larry Lamb was good value, dismissing the Beeb’s lame experts and their “patronising bullshit”. While Diarmuid challenged a couple who kept knocking out sprogs at the tax-payers’ expense. But everyone was too nice. We don’t want nice on reality TV. We can meet nice people on the bus. TV needs bastards. Brian Woods’s Jobless documentary made this trivial two-parter redundant.

*DIARMUID Gavin: name, or Countdown conundrum?

*SIMON Cowell’s love-life inspires unwelcome thoughts, chiefly involving his bedroom manner. If he likes a girl, he presumably tells her “You are what this bed is all about.” And “You have the lick-ability factor.” If not, does he snort: “That was distinctly average... As a lover you’re a brilliant chambermaid”? To prevent unwanted pregnancy, does Si use JLS condoms or just ask his girlfriend to wear a SuBo face mask?

HOT on TV: new Fringe (Sky1)... magical Maryann (True Blood, FX)... and A League Of Their Own (Sky1).

ROT on TV: Married Single Other – drippier than a runny nose...A Band For Britain – Sue Perkins bores your brass off... Chris Moyles’s Quiz Show - Are You Smarter Than A Two-Ton Troll.

*THE groans and gasps on Ian Beale’s DVD made it sound like Marie from the caff (Who?) had also filmed the conception. I’d have laughed if she’d taped something over it - like the John Hurst stomach-burst scene from Alien. And I’d laugh a whole lot more if someone taped over Adam’s gob.

*ROXY couldn’t be a cowgirl like Peggy. She could never keep her calves together. Talk about quick off the drawers.

*MEMO to Lucy: having kids is a huge commitment. For Shirley it was eighteen months of her life.

*ODD. That WPC searching for Simon in Blackpool on Friday’s Corrie is normally seen 70 miles away on the Street. That’s one hell of a beat. I suppose we should be grateful Peter didn’t get rat-arsed and rump one of the Funny Girls.

*SOME amazing sights on BBC2’s Vegas documentary; principally Wayne Newton’s face; it’s stretched so tight it’s made his eyes wonky.

*KATIE Price’s new nickname: Married, Single Brain-cell.

*WELL done Kathryn Bigelow at the Oscars. Deuce must be so proud.

*OLIVIA Lee: Dirty Sexy Funny? Hmm. Two out of three is bad.

*CHRISTINE Bleakley’s bid to ski across the Channel was initially postponed due to gales... caused by yawns of indifference.

*THE most exciting thing about 3D telly? The thought of watching Joan Holloway walk towards you in slo-mo. One guy lost a foot on Tuesday’s Mad Men. Most fellas seeing Joan gain six inches.

RANDOM irritations: John Barrowman’s phony laugh. Yentob on Vegas. Heroes going round in circles. Claudia Winkleman’s infantile prattling during Sky’s Oscar coverage. Claud, 38, said of horse-faced Sarah Jessica Parker “if I met the woman I’d be licking her forehead” – grow up, you daft bitch.

SMALL joys of TV: The Shameless séance. Sian Williams (Egg-heads) – swotty totty. Simon Cowell telling Jay Leno: “I have at least three touch-ups a night.” No wonder he’s marrying her.

March 12. MARK Owen’s ten lovers: not so much Take That as have-summa-this.

March 7. Heavy Metal is one of Britain’s proudest exports, along with convicts and Mad Cow Disease. But the BBC has always treated it like a hunch-backed step-child. They’ve either ignored the music, or ridiculed it (see the 1989 Arena special). Heavy Metal Britannia was more respectful, but way too solemn. Instead of mocking the rock, they did something worse – they imposed sociology on it. HM was working class, they said (largely true) and “rooted in the industrial Midlands before the steel mills fell silent” (partially true). But nothing was mentioned about Ritchie Blackmore’s roots in the mean streets of Weston-super-Mare: “his bleak vision forged by the unforgiving tea shops of North Somerset... his swooping guitar breaks inspired by the relentless jingles of seaside ice cream vans...”

Cockney Steve Harris, the former dustman behind Iron Maiden, was not interviewed. There was no new Ozzy footage either, so the doc featured far more of Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler than was strictly necessary. This was disconcerting. Tatler has aged so badly that he now looks like an alien lizard-being whose man-mask had started to melt. Only Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward has fared worse; he’s got a conk you could land a plane by. Girlschool, a much bigger band, were snubbed because one of the show’s arguments was that metal was for geezers.

So is it just for men? Only if you’re talking hair dye... The likes of Lemmy and Tony Iommi might be mainlining Werthers Originals these days but at least the obituaries will read: They died with their roots done.

Also missing were AC/DC (half Glaswegian, Geordie singer), top expert Geoff Barton, and UFO’s Pete Way - the only man alive banned by Sharon Osbourne for being a bad influence on Ozzy. Lemmy was good value, describing Motorhead as “great driving music if you’re in to driving into the side of bridges.” But rock DJ Neal Kay disappointed those who remember him from 20th Century Box explaining how much he despised the term ‘heavy metal’ while his t-shirt proclaimed: Heavy Metal Soundhouse. Kay used to resemble a sawn-off Catweazle. Now he looks like he’s eaten Chris Moyles. I wish someone would. HM is more than din and dandruff, sin and occasional handcuffs. When the Beeb deign to cover these bus pass barbarians again they should try hiring a researcher who knows the scene. And remember the golden rule: less talk, more rock.

*METAL was called “thick, dense and intense.” Isn’t that June Sarpong?

*FACT: Tommy Lee has rock’s biggest cock; David Coverdale IS rock’s biggest cock.

*NO-ONE will be allowed to boo or clap when the party leaders debate. Nothing has been said about the use of stun-guns. They should charge voters to bring in rotting fruit. Who wouldn’t watch? Maybe non-dom fat-cats (Ashcroft, Lakshi Mittal) could donate cash prizes for the wittiest heckle.

*HOW many more pop stars have to screw up before Question Time stops booking them? Paul Heaton, Jarvis Cocker and now Jamelia have all been tongue-tied embarrassments with sod-all to say. And if we want that we’ve already got John Prescott. Call me bonkers, but why not try real opinions and open debate about big issues?

*ANOTHER week, another funeral on EastEnders. Who needs Dignitas? If you’re fed up with life, just move to Walford. Owen’s Mum insisted that “deep down he’s a good man.” Is a foot of top soil deep enough?

*JANE and Lucy discussed abortion. Tsk. Sixteen years too late.

*THOSE Balham yobs had better steer well clear of the Walford Massive, or Heather as she’s known.

*IS the Masood kid called Kamel cos Mum’s always got the hump?

HOT on TV: True Blood (FX) – hits like Naomi Campbell... Eddie Izzard: Marathon Man... Courtney Cox (Scrubs)... and hilarious Harry Hill.

ROT on TV: This Is Jinsy – that was poxy... Five Days – felt like five weeks... Bruce on Vegas – stank like a shallow Mob grave... Kathy Lette – Aussie Aus-bore... ‘yoof’ Question Time - duller than curling.

CORRIE needs the soap equivalent of the PS3 bug to reset the last two years. Steve and Becky have never felt right. The miscarriage twist was ridiculous. No wonder Steve goes through life with the look of a man who’s just found out he’s been sucking on a used rectal thermometer. Can’t we get Karen back?

*GAIL’S husband is dead, she’s been arrested, misery awaits... the woman should have competed at the Winter Olympics. No-one goes downhill faster.

*BBC boss Mark Thompson claimed he was making big cuts by axing a couple of fringe radio stations. It was like a fat bloke saying he’ll lose weight by picking his nose.

*ANNA the Being Human ghost has passed over. She has to wait in a room until her name is called then move to another room and wait some more. Is this purgatory, or an NHS hospital?

*HOW much longer can they drag out Two & A Half Man? The ‘half’ man is now taller than Uncle Charlie.

*BRUCIE reckons he has something in common with Sinatra. Yeah, the wig, the rigor mortis...

*DID Cooking Make Us Human? asked Horizon. Judging by Michael Winner, no.

*ANGULA smashed wood with her bare hand on How To Get What You Want. She told us to visualise the things we most desire. I visualised an encounter with Angula and woops, more wood to dispose of...

SMALL joys of TV: Jay Leno back (CNBC). The way Bill says “Sookie” (True Blood). Virtual world New Cap City (Caprica). Suranne Jones in WPC kit (Five Days). Billy Mitchell – he couldn’t look fishier if he was wearing Lady GaGa’s lobster hat.

*IF X Factor judge Cheryl Cole takes Ashley back, what would that say about her judgement?

RANDOM TV spin-off ideas: 1) Louie Spence, Ice Road Trucker. 2) Inside The Actors Studio – Dean Gaffney. 3) Married Single Otter – love on the river bank. (Married Single Beaver is an entirely different show). 4) Looser Women with Vanessa Perroncel. 5) Michael Winner’s Death Wish Dining Stars – meals to die for; literally.

March 2. Why would BBC boss Mark Thompson scrap cheap user-friendly radio station 6 Music, but keep BBC3, a cash-gobbling embarrassment? BBC3 assumes all teenagers are lobotomised morons. It blows £140m a year on rotten sitcoms and woeful sketch shows, and has single-handedly set out to bury Britain’s reputation for quality comedy. (The exception, Gavin & Stacey, was so warm and mainstream it should never have been on this channel in the first place). Of course, the BBC’s real agenda is to announce ‘cuts’ while orchestrating campaigns against them.

Thompson also says he’ll spend less on great imported shows like Damages and Mad Men and more on home-grown series. Like Bonekickers and The Persuasionists. Gee, thanks. The Corporation will pocket a cool £5billion this year – a high price to pay for bad soap, cooking shows, liberal brainwashing and Snog, Marry, Avoid..