Garry Bushell
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March 25. You’d think more TV talent shows would be as welcome as George Osborne in an old folks’ home. Especially when last night’s wannabes included Dennis Egel who performed ‘Wake Me Up Inside’ while dressed like a tacky superhero promotion for a small high street fried chicken outlet. Under his cloak, he wore a golden dressing gown and matching shower cap. He was also concealing home-made wings, one of which fell off. Welcome to Britain’s Got Talent, the natural home of the golden shower, Cowell’s colourful cascade of the dim, deluded and deranged. Acts like gay ballroom dancers the Sugar Dandies, gladiator Maximus (talent, minimus), and Bradley & Barbara – she recited poetry, which he interpreted with bizarre dance moves.

No wonder cynics claim the show’s title should come with a question mark... and yet just when you’re starting to agree, Cowell conjures up another SuBo moment to bludgeon our emotions. Shy scruffy Jonathan, 17 (stone), the boy least likely to feature in Tulisa’s next sex tape, looked a state in his Hendrix t-shirt but he belted it out like Pavarotti.

This show ain’t over while fat kids sing like that.

Simon wanted him to ditch his singing partner, Charlotte, 16, but loyal Jonathan refused, saying they’d come as a duo, and would stay one. Even the hardest hearts melted.

Incredibly, BGT hasn’t lost its magic or its mojo. It’s family fun, event TV. Simon’s return has beefed it up and he works well with the new judges. David Walliams is surprisingly good value, teasing Cowell and lapping up the crap acts (although a lot of his jibes naturally hit the cutting room floor...). The problems with the format remain unchanged. Simon is blind to the appeal of comedians, allergic to rock, and uncomfortable with professional variety. He’ll never find the sort of turns New Faces did. Singers and dancers will always dominate Cowell’s final. But for millions of viewers, that seems to be enough.

*WORD-mangling German Dennis Egel said: “I want to impress the judges with my weally performance.” He was trying to say “really” - I hope. His costume was pure cock, though.

ON The Apprentice, feisty Bilyana was pleading to stay. “You shouldn’t fire me,” she told Lord Sugar. “Because I was head girl.” Really? I thought that was Linda Lovelace, but no matter. Sugar gave the Bulgarian beauty the boot anyway. A shame, she had gumption. The other women took against her for “not taking it in turn to sell.” Hello! Where do they think they are, a commune? You didn’t hear Steve Jobs tell the CEO of Samsung “Hey man, our sales were good yesterday, so you help yourself today.” This is a make-believe business show, god dammit, and Bilyana sold because she was good at it. My early favourite is Ricky Martin, a professional wrestler, now living la vida Sugar. Alan says he’s looking for the Lennon to his McCartney. If he aimed more realistically for the Bernard Bresslaw to his Sid James, Ricky could be the man. It’s too early to call the winner, although it won’t be Gabrielle (irritating voice), stealth blonde Katie or whinging Janet. But if this were The Love Machine, Laura would get the holiday.

ONE thing TV doesn’t need is another MOR singing contest. But if it does, why spend £20million on a format with just one innovation: the judges/coaches turn their backs on the performer? That’s a lot of dough to blow on what looks like four chairs from an Alton Towers amusement park ride. The Voice has nothing you don’t get from Cowell. BGT already judges on vocal talent alone. Susan Boyle had a face that rang alarm bells and a voice that rang cash registers. Cowell turns his back on the acts too, normally after the second single flops...

*DON’T Stop Me Now has one thing Simon won’t tolerate - comedians. Paul Eastwood from Torquay won over the audience with gags like: “My water bill was £165. I’ve seen an ad on telly, where Oxfam can supply a whole village for £2. I think it’s time to change my supplier.” Comic kiss-and-tell girl Chenille Steele’s football slapper song impressed too. Shame Sky made her change the saucy up-the-bum chorus.

HOT on TV: The Falklands Most Daring Raid... Spartacus... Ant & Dec (BGT) – they’ve still got it.

ROT on TV: Hit The Road Jack – I’d rather hit Jack... Dan ‘Lazy’ Lobb (Daybreak)... John Bercow turning into the duke of drivel at the Queen’s Jubilee.

BBC2’s Budget 2012 coverage followed In The Night Garden, a strange world of fantasy full of preposterous claims and daft characters. It was like they had a theme going on. The oddest thing? Igglepiggle was in both shows.

*STEVE McDonald had Carla, Michelle and Maria in his cab. You’d be tempted to play ‘Shag, Marry, Kill’ except in a Corrie that’s not so much a game as a likely plot development.

*COMING soon: Unfit-Mother’s Day cards – perfect for Kylie Platt and Tracy Barlow.

*ON True Blood, vampire Pam needed surgery to cover up her rotting features. They’ve removed the outside decay, but she’s still decomposing inside. Anne Robinson has the same problem.

SHOCKING scenes on EastEnders. The old Ben Mitchell would never have killed poor old Hev like that. No, he’d have tap-danced on her fat head while belting out a below average show-tune.

*HEV was killed with a photo frame just a year after actress Cheryl Fergison upset soap bosses by selling pictures of her wedding to a glossy magazine. Coincidence?

*A WOMAN sold her Gran’s steel dildo on Four Rooms. That took brass balls.

*REVERSE Missionaries? Tsk. Nothing like The Sex Education Show version.

RANDOM Irritations: TV directors with no idea how to film stand-up. C4’s unfathomable belief that we want any effing more of cheffing Gordon Ramsay (see also Sky1 and Louis Walsh). C4’s fact-free coverage of Dale Farm. EastEnders cops referring to “homicide”, where do the writers think they are? The Lower East Side, Manhattan.

SMALL Joys of TV: Prog Rock Britannia. Kym Marsh as Elsie Tanner. The Ronnie Wood Show. Razor Ruddock’s Sport Relief stand-up – move over Chubby Brown, there’s a new filth-hound in town.

TV dating shows are lamer than Hop-along Cassidy. How about creating Blind Drunk, a show where sloshed men are set loose in Benidorm clubs? Imagine the morning-after footage. He thinks he’s pulled a middle aged cracker but wakes up with the Gran from the Beverly Hillbillies.

*HAS anyone ever looked less like a love machine than lardy gut-bucket Chris Moyles?

SEPARATED at birth: the old tramp on EastEnders and Arthur Fowler, one a disgraceful old tealeaf...and so’s the other one.

March 18. AS a police procedural, Scott & Bailey isn’t much cop. It’s closer to Loose Women than Prime Suspect. The story-line – about possible paedophiles being tortured and killed – could have been tweeted by Lynda La Plante in her sleep. The crime element feels bolted on to a show that feels like a glorified soap opera. It has soapy pre-occupations – the difficult armed robber brother, the interfering Mum, the crumbling marriage. It’s cast like a soap too. Karen McDonald star Suranne Jones plays impulsive DC Rachel Bailey. Her love interest is Aidan from EastEnders; Nadia, the baddie, is played by Mandy Dingle...

Poor Rachel almost croaked when Nadia, described as “a wall with a perm”, got her sausage-like fingers around her neck. It was the biggest mismatch since Gail Platt and Eileen Grimshaw were rolling over the Corrie cobbles in their flanellette dressing gowns. This was the dramatic highpoint of the opening episode, which even the listings mags called “understated” – or as lay viewers might say, dull. It opened with the Detective Chief Inspector in the ladies loo fretting about her news statement. Really? An experienced DCI worried about facing the cameras? It seems as likely as her calling the forensics team “CSI” rather than SOCO – this is Manchester, not Las Vegas.

But then the show isn’t really about crime, like most modern British drama it’s about smart women ruling the roost over dumb men – useless husbands, sniggering cops, and clueless brothers.

The biggest mystery (sarcasm alert) was why Sarah Millican wasn’t in the cast. They can’t have asked her; “no” is not in her agent’s vocabulary. Sarah would surely have been perfect as a cake-and-cats obsessed Quincy-style expert with a quirky sense of humour. Instead, ITV opted for a cut-price Victoria Wood clone instead. “I am lying next to a hot steaming body,” she quipped, which ruled out DC Janet Scott, the Lassie to Rachel’s Cagney. As female crime-busters go, Janet isn’t going to give Sarah Lund sleepless nights. Scott & Bailey? I’ll need an awful lot of Scotch and Baileys to get through much more of this.

*CORRIE women who should have been cops: 1) Mavis Wilton 2) Annie Walker 3) Janice Battersby, worrying enough normally; but in a dawn raid, absolutely terrifying. Blanche Hunt would have been better as a hanging judge, reaching for her black cap while playing the Death March on an SS bugle.

*OF all of Steve McDonald’s mentalist lovers – Vicky, Ronnie, Becky, Tracy – Karen was always the feistiest. What they saw in Frankenstein’s Monster look-alike Steve is anyone’s guess. But with women like that in his life, is it any wonder his barnet recedes by the week?

PHONE sex is big business. Possibly because it’s the one place you can have sex these days in the certain knowledge that Bill Roache won’t be involved. My Phone Sex Secrets introduced us to Jenny from Carlisle who spoke fluent Carry On, asking her butcher: “Can I have some of your Cumberland sausage? A nice big ring. That’ll keep me satisfied...” The largely flaccid show must have shattered a few illusions, as the women didn’t exactly match their voices. They talked dirty while painting (Jenny), or in ASDA (Anneka). More reasons to shop at Morrison’s... The callers didn’t seem to mind. “They’re clients,” said Jen. “But some of them are w*nking.” Only some?

PLEASE NOTE: no premiership footballer’s phone sex secret was included in the making of this programme. Frankly I’m amazed they can still get reception up there.

LOSS of face was a terrible thing for a gladiator. But not quite as shocking as having your features literally sliced off. German giant Sedullus tried it on with Naevia on Spartacus, sparking a vicious brawl. He was poised to kill Agron when Sparty ended it. With one brutal upward sweep of his sword, the rebel leader cut off Sed’s entire face, so that his brain slid out – jaw-dropping even by this show’s gore-blimey standards.

*COULD the Spartacus facial catch on with TOWIE? Unlikely. Imagine Joey Essex having one. There’d be no grey matter to slide, just a small, solitary pickled walnut.

BEN Mitchell kills poor old Heather tomorrow as two of the worst characters in EastEnders history clash. The real tragedy is, he survives. Hev doesn’t deserve to die. Diet, yes; die, no. But at least we won’t have to picture her honeymoon night – her and Andrew going at it like two tons of condemned veal colliding on a ghost-train. Talk about grab flab and stab. In her wedding dress, Hev looked like one of the Alps. Out of it, we’re scaling new levels of horror. Like giving Dot a peck on the lips and her slipping you the tongue. Still at least it distracts us from cobblers like Phil confessing to manslaughter when the CCTV footage clears him completely. The nits in Amy’s hair are nothing compared to the nits who write these scripts. Next? Bianca: “My Mansion Tax Fears.”

*SO when Ben kills Hev, is he technically a mass murderer?

*SEPARATED at birth: Tanya’s Mum Cora and Ursula the Sea Witch, one an untrustworthy old schemer...the other’s a Disney character.

HOT on TV: the England rugby squad... Ted Danson (CSI)... Alcatraz (Watch) – great escapism... Jo Joyner (Enders).

ROT on TV: The Love Machine – bland date... Dirk Gently – holistic detective, wholly defective... White Heat – cliché city, mannn... Love Life - hate lame ITV rom-coms.

KEN Barlow star Bill Roache admits to sleeping with a thousand women. It sounds extreme, but he had to do something to get the taste of Deirdre out of his mouth.

*BILL is 79 now, so if you bed him girls remember to dust him down first.

*HE claims it’s 1,000 women but I say it’s 999 if one of them was Hayley Cropper.

*ACCORDING to 10 O’Clock Live – “Viewers will be turning off in their hundreds of thousands” (David Mitchell); “I’ve got nothing” (Jimmy Carr); “We’re finishing on dog sh*t” (Lauren Laverne). It kind of makes my job redundant.

RANDOM irritations: Paxman getting Gordon at Khartoum completely wrong. India Fisher’s snooty Masterchef voice-over. Judges finding time to play food critics on BBC1 when they can’t be asked to bang up villains. ITV repeating Lewis to destruction. Roy Hattersley banging on about Corrie, claiming “they’ve killed the show I love” – funnily enough I feel the same way about the Labour Party.

SMALL joys of TV: Phil Mitchell looking increasingly like a resentful King Edward. That female cop on Corrie, she has the sternest face this side of the Stasi. The ghostly Peeping Tom on Being Human, told his showering prey was a female werewolf, replying “Explains the growler.”

TV questions: why was Phil Mitchell done for cold case, when Albert Square’s biggest cold case is Janine? If scrap metal thieves raid the BBC will the next series of Merlin feature the Nudes of the Round Table?

CELEB Maths: Boadicea + Princess Merida from Brave = Rebekah Brooks.

MASTERCHEF quote of the week, John Torode on Shelina’s cooking: “That explodes in your mouth and just keeps coming.”

March 11. The mean streets of Weatherfield claimed another victim last week – Frank Foster was battered to death with a whisky bottle. Neat. Cue another great soap whodunit: Who Spanked Frank? In Corrie terms, Foster had it coming. He was a double rapist (bad), and a businessman (worse) who’d cheated the fragrant Carla Connor out of her factory. All he was short of was a splash of brimstone aftershave and a moustache to twirl.

Plod have narrowed the suspects down to Carla and Peter, two alkies with a motive. The murder weapon had her dabs on. Of course it did! What empty bottle in Weatherfield hasn’t? There were three people in their relationship, the third being Jim Beam. If they’d really wanted to kill Frank, they’d have just invited him round their place (the Drunk Tank) for a night on the lash. Very few livers could survive that sort of punishment.

So whodunit? Pete had been lurching around the wine bar threatening to do Foster in. So we know it wasn’t him. Soppy Sally was found leaning over the body with blood on her hands so that’s her out. And I don’t buy angry gerbil Kev or Two-Sons Michelle as cold-blooded killers. No it’ll be someone less obvious, like Frank’s mother or his lover. Or how about Maria? The gullible nitwit has a motive and is bafflingly loyal to Carla the woman who stole her Liam. Granted it’s unlikely; but no more so than when she got engaged to Tyrone, the human pot-plant.

Ice-queen Carla is not so much a killer as a jinx. Her first husband died in a car crash, her lover was murdered and her previous fiancé was flambé-ed. Now another ex has hit the dust. But that dirty cackle is like a Siren’s song to the passing alpha-male. Soaps have a strange morality. The middle class are always wrong’uns. Corrie’s biggest villains have been a teacher, two entrepreneurs, and a financial adviser. Killings began here in 1968 with Steve Tanner, and continued at a manageable one-per-decade until the Noughties which saw more stiffs than a hot night at Cheryl’s lap-dancing bar. Ten cast members were brutally slaughtered – a rate of toppings matched only by the Midsomer branch of Pizza Hut. The death rate is so high here, emigrating to Syria is probably a safer option.

*ODDS on Peter Barlow being the killer are 5/1. His blood alcohol level is higher than that!

*FACT. Despite Corrie having more piss-heads than the Commons bar, the only one of the 141 deceased characters to die of liver disease was Schmeichel, a teetotal Great Dane.

ON Upstairs Downstairs, Blanche and the married Lady Portia re-ignited their lesbian lurve in front of ancient Egyptian relics in a London museum, full of artefacts. “Nefertiti’s?” you ask. I couldn’t say; they kept their vests on. But they did join the Nile High Club later on. The Daily Express exposed the pair, calling Portia’s novel based on their secret affair “a torrid tale of unnatural female passions”. In my experience, unnatural female passions are generally confined to Costa coffee and shopping malls. These two were even less exciting. They weren’t so much Tipping The Velvet as Darning The Socks. And that’s despite Emilia Fox’s Portia looking like she’d go from nought to sexy in ten seconds flat. Elsewhere the Downstairs staff fought for their rights, provoking Pritchard to bluster “This is Belgravia, not Leningrad”, but it’s still hard to care about any of the upstairs mob. Sir Hallam is frequently out-acted by his desk. Lady Agnes is less interesting than her wardrobe. The sooner the wooden Hallam gets his log over with her sister Persie the better.

CAMERA-SHY Sarah Millican has come a long way on likeability. She’s warm and down-to-earth, a squeaky Tyneside version of Mrs. Merton. Unfortunately her lazily thrown-together TV show isn’t anywhere near funny enough. That in itself is as surprising as a Russian election result. Few modern comedy shows are. But weren’t you hoping for more than this?

HOT on TV: Knuckle: Bare Fist Fighting (BBC4)... The Walking Dead (FX)... Homeland... Michael Gambon (Luck).

ROT on TV: White Heat – tepid... wok-sucker Gok Wan’s lazy, unrevealing China doc... The Secret Policeman’s Ball – largely balls, viewers need amnesty from lousy comedians.

C5’s Nazi Titanic concerned a German war-time propaganda film which blamed the sinking of the Titanic on capitalist greed. Goebbels banned it, presumably for not being sufficiently crazy. Mein gott, they didn’t even spot that the ice-berg was Jewish. “It must have been, you dumb-kopfs! It even had a ‘berg’ in its name.”

*FUNNY how Madge on Benidorm looks like she’s wearing an all-leather cat suit even when she’s in a bikini.

* SOLAR storms? Thanks, Horizon, something new to fret about. Of course the real concern is that if the internet crashes and we lose facebook and twitter we might actually have to talk to people...

*MINOR celebrity boxing is coming back! Hurrah! Another chance to see Michelle Bass flat on her back.

*MY dream bout? Nick Knowles vs. Iron Man.

RECENT episodes of the Jonathan Ross show have included dull chat, z-list guests, and minor celebrity tablecloth yanking. The series has ten producers, four writers and three researchers. Might it work better, do you think, if they sacked the lot and found someone who knew what they were doing?

*BBC1’s trailer for The Voice is borderline creepy. Imagine it with Gary Glitter making those come-hither gestures and it’d look like the old perv was luring kids to be used and abused – a perfect metaphor for TV talent shows.

RANDOM irritations: out-of-time songs (and sirens) on White Heat. Sarah Millican’s voice – like a budgie being boiled alive. Good stand-ups getting rushed into clunky, misfiring BBC1 formats by idiot execs. And the dull predictability of ‘factual’ TV; why not make documentaries showing who makes money from the wind farm scam or exposing the lack of democracy in the European Parliament? Rock the boat, go against the grain, slaughter a few sacred cows.

SMALL joys of TV: Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil (Syfy) – very metal. Denise Van Outen recalling her greatest goof – saying “When the cock grows” instead of crows on breakfast telly. Graham Norton making Jonathan Ross look tired as he, ahem, fills his old slot with vigour.

IF Lauren Harries and Pete Burns collided would it be considered a freak accident? Just asking...

Separated at birth: the masked killer on Whitechapel and Mark E. Smith from The Fall? One responsible for endless atrocities, the other a fictional TV character...

Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong was talking about his hard-man rep on Soccer AM when he announced: “I’m soft with the ladies and hard with the men.” Dale Winton’s exactly the same...

March 4th. DO The Oscars really need to drag on for four and a half hours? That’s longer than at least one of Ian Beale’s marriages. And almost as long as a Ken Dodd live show. Extravagant costumes, relentless chutzpah, remarkable teeth...that’s Ken. The Oscars are more a celebration of high fashion, poor judgement and tedium. The big controversy for film fans was Drive getting completely blanked. But the major talking point in the TV coverage was Angelina Jolie’s cheeky leg pose. Did she nick it from Yvette in Allo Allo or a pirate flag? Uggie the dog got excited. He thought she was throwing him a bone.

After last year’s dead-eyed James Franco disaster, the Academy drafted in Billy Crystal as a safe pair of hands. Billy told the glittering audience: “Nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues.” And claimed that the ceremony causes “resentments that last a life-time.” But he was funniest ad-libbing, especially when he congratulated 18-carat dullard Tom Sherak for “whipping the crowd into a frenzy.” Note to British broadcasters: we have got professional entertainers in this country too. You don’t need to rely on Dermot.

Mind you if the Oscars took place here, the metal statuettes would be half-inched and melted down for scrap.

Brilliant stand-up Chris Rock provided the comedy gold, mocking pampered stars who moan that voicing animated films is hard work. “No, no, no,” he said. “UPS is hard work, stripping wood is hard work.” Making animations just meant repeating lines the producers fed him...“and then they give me a million dollars.”

As a TV event, the Oscars are massive, majestic, largely boring and completely unreliable. They’re the Italian cruise ship of awards ceremonies. This year’s big winner was The Artist which scooped five gongs, perhaps proving that the French work best when they keep their traps shut. US comics joked that the movie won an Oscar for every person who saw it. But who’s complaining? Jean Dujardin sparkles like Berenice Bejo’s smile as the old-time silent movie screen idol. The stylish masterpiece was a deserving winner.

*MANY stars have a skeleton in their cupboard. Only Brad Pitt takes his out in public.

*JAY Leno on The Artist: “Before we bring back silent films let’s try to bring back silent audiences.”

GEMMA’S date finally delivered on TOWIE – not the first time last minute Charlie has cheered up an Essex party. They aren’t an obvious couple; he’s bi-curious, she’s pie-curious. Given the night’s ‘M’ theme, I half expected him to come as Mrs. Doubtfire. Instead Chas turned up dressed as Zack Mayo from An Office & A Gentleman. When they kissed, a grateful Gem gave him more tongue than Mao Tse. It was like watching a Moray eel engulfing an unsuspecting cockle. What happened next? Did she hold the Mayo? Did he discover that she vajazzles with Cherry Bakewells? We may find out next series. Most big TOWIE stories seem to happen off camera. If a small thermo-nuclear device went off in the Sugar Hut, and there’s always hope, all we’d see is Chloe a couple of days later wondering how the fall-out will affect her implants.

*MARIO’S party had an ‘M’ theme. Largely Monsters Inc. It might explain why Joey keeps playing with his Magic Sword, though... Sam Faiers came as Minnie Mouse, Billie as Marge Simpson. I wasn’t sure about Marge, but I’d like to see a lot more of Sam’s Minnie.

*TOWIE motto: a problem aired is air-time gained.

OVER at Upstairs Downstairs, the feverish madness of the script is soaring like a Charlie Adams penalty. Last week, a young JFK was throwing up in the downstairs khazi while the plot-lines were split evenly between the Nazi terror and Mrs. Thackeray’s violet macaroons. Tonight, we’ve got the lesbians and who knows what else? Maybe Joe Stalin will pop round for afternoon tea and a quick purge.

HOT on TV: Morena Baccarin (Homeland)... Empire... Friday Night Lights (Sky Atlantic).

ROT on TV: The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff – comedy gruel.. .Let’s Dance for Sport Relief - let’s not... Upstairs Downstairs – the plots are thinner than Angelina’s arms.

SKY Atlantic’s Cleverdicks is a geek quiz show hosted by former MP Ann Widdecombe, a woman who can’t say ‘clever’. Ann pronounces it “ker-lever.” Her grasp of dicks is even more uncertain. It’d be a brave one that rose for Widdy.

*MELVYN Bragg’s thoughts on class certainly make you realise how much the world has changed. Why these days, even a kid from the mean streets of Eton can somehow fight his way into Number Ten...

*WHAT next from C4 after Two Jews On A Cruise? Two Honkies On A Donkey?

*ROXY is after Max the human baked bean on EastEnders. By a handy coincidence he’ll be the 57th variety of man she’s sampled since she got here.

*ON Whitechapel a masked maniac slaughtered innocent victims. And by coincidence, straight after Watson & Oliver were doing the exact same thing to sketch comedy.

*I MISSED Pedigree Dogs Exposed, was it the Paris Hilton story?

RANDOM irritations: food critic Jay Raynor demanding that Masterchef contenders “say something through their cooking”. Yeah, like sod off you ridiculous pseud, it’s a bit of dinner, not an art gallery. The Oscars, a 300-minute snooze-athon, having the cheek to dish out an award for editing. The Iron Lady winning a gong – it wasn’t a patch on Iron Man.

SMALL joys of TV: The return of Gannicus (Spartacus). The return of Engelbert (Eurovision). Ricky turning Rocky with Joey on TOWIE. Lydia’s Mum Debbie skydiving – the first time she’s flown without a broomstick.

Separated at birth: Derek Branning and a pug dog, one a vicious, unhinged brute deserving to be put down, the other a dog... Sorry Del, didn’t mean nothing by it, just a joke, guv, honest. What’s that? Yes I know legs can break (continued Walford A&E)

JIM Davidson was cooking on This Morning. Jim’s so Tory these days, when he prepares a chicken he only uses the right wings.