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March 29. New York's meanest Mob families couldn't track down supergrass Mikey Scars, but Trevor McDonald did. Trev even talked the nervous rat into driving around Little Italy, sporting an electric-blue suit. It could have been a TV "hit"... all Mikey needed was a target on his back. The Mafia With Trevor McDonald was fascinating but unsurprising. Watching real-life wise guys like John "The Sheriff" Alite, a one-time associate of John "the Teflon Don" Gotti, made you realise how spot-on The Sopranos had been. Alite, also known as "Gotti's Rat", even sported Paulie Walnuts-style leisure wear. Like Tony Soprano, the one-timer Gambino family enforcer oozed rough charm and casual menace. He'd clearly had a sense of shame bypass. Alite showed Trev around the mean streets of Queens, pointing out places where he'd "whacked" rivals. It was a bit like Death-Wish You Were Here.


Real danger lurked beneath those easy smiles. Mikey Scars (Michael DiLeonardo) lives in permanent fear of being "iced". "It's not if, it's when," he said, sweating like an unbriefed political party leader facing a disgruntled Paxman. "If they kick my door in and kill everyone in the house, that's my biggest fear." And there's me worrying about the plumbing...


Michael Franzese was a bigger fish. A former capo in the Colombo family, he'd once trousered nearly £7million a week while living a double life as a respectable movie mogul. Franzese cut a deal with the Feds and still looks pretty comfortable now. Does motivational speaking really buy you a house like that? Sir Trev, who's rarely troubled by curiosity, or indeed emotion, didn't ask. How many palms did ITV have to grease to get these guys to spill their guts? Will they have the smarts to interview Wilf Pine, the only Englishman ever to be a Mafia made man? And why can't British TV drama capture the reality of modern organised crime like HBO did? ITV's The Family had no depth or sense of place. BBC2's The Long Firm was set decades ago. Still, Trevor has certainly taught the Mafia an important lesson. To catch a grass, just set up a fake production company, make out you're shooting a British TV series and Bob's your consigliore... Bada bing, bada boom.


THE Royals is a trashy US soap about imaginary British royalty. Think The Only Way Is Windsor, Monarchs Behaving Badly or HM & Away. It's definitely more Dallas than palace. Elizabeth 1st had wooden teeth; this has wooden actors... and a few cheeky nods at reality. There's a pretend Beatrice and Eugenie. Wet King Simon is Charles. And who's that playboy Prince Liam who merrily puts the bucking in Buckingham, bedding hot commoners between games of darts? Harry? Ridiculous! He goes to Vegas for that sort of caper. Liz Hurley plays the Queen, we know this because she keeps telling us "I am the Queen of England". Her daughter is wild child Eleanor who snorts coke – talk about your royal Highness – and flashes her fanny at nightclubs, inspiring the lame newspaper headline Royal Beaver. Tsk. Princess Pussy or Your Vag-esty would've been better. Creepy sex pest Uncle Cyrus can't be based on anyone we know, can he? Shall we ask Jeffrey Epstein. Things change tragically when older brother Prince Robert dies, rebooting the pecking order. It's a load of old monarchs of course, and it'll never be as wild as Princess Margaret on Mustique. But are they watching it in Buck House?


HOT on TV: Persons Of Interest, and Sarah Shahi (C5)... Inside Number 9... Vikings (Lifetime)... Joanna Vanderham (Banished).


ROT on TV: The Royals (E!) – lame of thrones... Burger Bar To Gourmet Star – Faking It reheated... Fortitude – Sky's folly... Bloodline (Netflix) – interest flat-lines.


WAS that Jabba The Hut making a shock appearance on TOWIE in a blonde wig? Nope, it was the not-at-all annoying Gemma Collins who chose to share her most intimate secrets with us. "I've paid £2,000 and my vagina is perfect," she insisted. (Makes sense, every time she opens her mouth I think that's one perfect twat.) Revealing all, in both senses, Gem was naked from the waist down with her legs akimbo as if about to give birth to a baby... hippo. "I'm single, desperate and dry at the moment," she confided, feeding us set-ups for gags so lewd that only Jim Jefferies could supply punch-lines to them. Is this entertainment, ITVbe?


CAN James Corden make a success of his late night US show? It's a tough gig but Craig Ferguson and John Oliver both cracked it over there. So how must Jonathan Ross feel? He's been doing Letterman's show his entire career and never once had the call from CBS...


*THE Beeb sacked Clarkson, buggering up their biggest export money-spinner... the worst business decision since Dragons' Den turned down the Trunki.


*WHAT about Poldark and Demelza? We haven't seen sexual chemistry like that since Suzanna Reid interviewed David Cameron.


*NO review of Cameron/Miliband, sorry. I empty-chaired them... More people care about Richard III.


*HILLARY Clinton: "The history of women is a history of silence." Yeah? Tell it to Janet Street-Porter.


*SOME of the poor sods Louis Theroux met in that US psychiatric hospital were crazy enough for The X Factor. With his permanently furrowed brow and 1000-yard stare Louis blended in so perfectly it's a wonder they let him out...


*ON EastEnders, Tina told Sonia "You're the fittest bird in Walford" – was that a SpecSavers ad or did she mispronounce fickest? It was comfortably the daftest romantic interlude since a smitten Minty gazed at Heather Trott and thought "She'll do."


*POXY Roxy righteously punched a mum for non-PC views and we're all supposed to shout "You go, girl!" Mixed messages, BBC?


*ANY truth in the rumour Stallone is making a film about Richard III called Ricky 3? Or that Oisin Tymon is Gaelic for "good luck getting another TV job you sopping great wuss"?


SMALL Joys of TV: Original Poldark star Robin Ellis fetching up as the judge in the new series. Phil 'Steptoe' Davis as Jud. Rick's bloody brawl with Paul on The Walking Dead, even Clarkson was going "Too rough."


RANDOM irritations: ITV clearly rigging the celebrity version of The Chase. The Quizium, pure tedium. The use of the Stones' sublime Gimme Shelter as background music on utter trash like The Royals.


TV Maths. Michael Caine + Jerry Springer = Masterchef's Peter Bayless.


MICHAEL Portillo cleared up some mysteries on State Secrets. But we'll wait a long time to discover who ordered David Kelly's death, who protected Westminster's paedophile ring and who put the ram in the rama-lama ding-dong...


*RACHEL Khoos was talking about lamb on Cosmopolitan Cook when she announced: "I'm gonna get my rack out!" But we can dream...


For a chance to win a copy of the Specials' re-released debut album, see my column in today's soaraway Daily Star Sunday.



March 22. If you were on your final warning at work for persistent lateness, what would you do? Buy an alarm clock or pretend your wife had just dropped dead? Car salesman Marty McLean blurted out that wicked porky to save his job on Ordinary Lies. But it wasn't an ordinary lie, was it? It was a metallic-painted, leather-seated, fuel-injected whopper with cruise control and sports suspension. And once Marty (Jason Manford) had dropped his demented bombshell you knew it was a matter of time before he was rumbled. Not that he seemed the slightest bit concerned about that...


Along the way Marty got to test-drive caring co-worker Grace between the sheets... leaving her feeling as used as half the cars on the lot. But wouldn't a fast-talking salesman have come up with smarter porkies? Would his sour-faced missus, knowing his career could crash and burn, really let him sleep in because she hated his boozing? The words nose, spite and face come skidding to mind. As do the letters HP, as in Hopeless Pillock.


Warrington folk seem refreshingly randy, though. JS Motors harbours more scandalous secrets than Broadchurch. And in car terms most are a little Corsa. Boss Mike is banging Beth whose husband has gone missing and may well be testing the horn with another employee Marianne. It brings a whole new meaning to popping it in for a service. Yet no-one appears to fancy Michelle Keegan's Tracy – a racy little number with terrific acceleration, if her work on Corrie is to be believed. What we have here is a Ferrari of a cast lumbered with a white van script.


With Mackenzie Crook, Max Beasley, Jo Joyner, and Sally Lindsay on board it's possible Ordinary Lies might move up a gear. At the moment it's decent enough soapy fare, but not up to writer Danny Brocklehurst's work on Clocking Off. And with so many great international shows on the market, you have to wonder when BBC popular drama output will ever aspire to rise above "This'll do" melodrama and aim for something more substantial. Where is our Sopranos, where's our Game Of Thrones? The Corporation is struggling to justify its £4billion public funding. Its inbuilt bias and arrogant, over-paid bosses insult the intelligence. It lacks vision, business know-how and judging by its Xmas schedule (and 99% of Comic Relief), any discernible sense of humour.


HE might be the most fancied man on telly, but Ross Poldark still paid a whore for sex. "May I be of service me Lord," she asked. "One service is all I require," he replied grumpily. Very Ian Beale. Oddly Poldark turned down posh Ruth's attentions and she looked smitten enough to pay him. Her mother even told Ross: "One only has to taste her syllabubs to appreciate their succulence." That's a sweet English dish curdled by wine. I don't know about the food. There was erotically charged chat between randy naval Captain Blamey and Verity Poldark too. "Are you interested in rigging, ma'am?" he asked, thinking rigging with a silent F. Blimey, Blamey. No seaman for her, though. He'd barely mentioned his spanker boom before her brother, Wet Francis, was challenging him to a duel. Think Elton vs Dolce & Gabanna but with pistols. Elsewhere Elizabeth is knocked up and Demelza got worked up watching Ross skinny-dip. As love triangles go, hers will be on the receiving end soon enough.


RAISED By Wolves struggled to raise a titter. The alleged sitcom concerned a single mum with six kids so poor they have to forage for food, apparently unaware of child benefits. This was supposed to be modern Wolverhampton, but the teenage girls use phrases like "last chopper out of 'Nam", one's called Yoko, and the soundtrack never moved past the 80s. Black Velvet, Duran Duran, Pete Frampton's 1975 smash Show Me The Way... the cultural references are all over the shop. Love-sick teen irritant Germaine getting her hand stuck in a letterbox was Terry & June on a bad day. None of the jokes rose above basics – a horse's "whanger", periods, and grandad's sex-life which of course is a source of horror, for god forbid men over sixty might have a libido. The show lacked pace and, unlike Yoko, flow. It's been called "exuberant" which I'm guessing is code for self-indulgent and unfunny.


HOT on TV: Morena Baccarin, Gotham... Chloe L (Towie)... Total Combat (BT Sport)... Jack Farthing, Poldark – as creepy as Nicola Sturgeon's near-smile.


ROT on TV: Raised By Wolves – written by gibbons... Pompidou – Pompidoze... Keith Barry, You're Back In The Room – nowhere near as mesmerising as Victoria Coren's cleavage.


IF you could live to 150 but could just eat wholegrain bread, barley and berries would you go for it? Or like me would you head straight for the nearest kebab shop? Giles Coren tried three wacky diets on Eat To Live Forever. The 50s grub on Back In Time For Dinner looked far more tempting. Bread & dripping - yum. We had that in the 60s too, along with bubble 'n' squeak which Coren's guinea pig housewife Rochelle wasn't capable of making. My grandad refused to eat anything that wasn't hot and shiny and he still looked healthy on the day he died. Aged 37...


*I TRIED that diet where you eat nothing but grapefruit all day. Every time I went to the gents I squirted myself in the eye.


*YOU couldn't look directly at the solar eclipse, you had to cover your eyes or wear special glasses to blot out the harmful side effects. It was a lot like Stan and Cora's love-life on EastEnders...


*MORE misery in Walford. I reckon they urine test the writers for cheerfulness and if it comes back positive they're "ahhttt".


*HAD to laugh when Nancy shouted "I'm coming" in Tamwar's lug-hole. He'll wait a bloody long time to hear that again.


*BUZZ Aldrin wore so much bling on Stargazing Live he could've been auditioning to be Sandra's stand-in on Googlebox. They kept mentioning the "lunar terminator". Does Arnie know about this?


*ZZ TOP, Free, Clapton, Oasis, the Stones... how was that Pop Gold, ITV? The show was pure classic rock with a sprinkling of indie, and all the better for it.


*THE Truth About Race? No, sh*t, Sherlock.


SMALL Joys of TV: The Walking Dead having a producer called Caleb Womble – see there is life after Wimbledon Common. The word "varmint" resurrected on Poldark. Wild Things (Sky1) Dropkick Murphys on Towie.


RANDOM irritations: Caitlin Moran, no-one will ever find her as fascinating as she finds herself. Giles Coren's beard. Self-important Robert Peston. Davina and comedy, going together like bacon and E. coli.


TV Maths. Ben Kingsley + Masterchef's Mat Follas = Ming the Merciless.



March 15. IT was the great Clive James who first spotted that Poldark was an anagram of Old Krap. But sometimes old crap is all a Sunday night viewer needs. The revived drama felt like being force-fed Mills and Boon with a side order of Jethro. We got love, lust, heartbreak, and more intense brooding than a battery farm full of hens. Throw in dodgy accents, the beautiful Cornish coast and bodices just begging to be ripped and the show has smash written right through it.


Aidan Turner plays romantic hero Ross Poldark, a good man back from a bad war to find his sweetheart is engaged to his sopping wet cousin. That's not all. His dad's dead, his mines have gone tits up and his house would have to be done up before it could be condemned... As family servant Jud observed: "T'int right, t'int fair, t'int fit... " (Tintagel). No wonder Ross spent most of the episode glowering. With luck like this he could be in EastEnders. All he's got are ruddy-faced Jud, maid Prudie, some barren land, and a mighty steed. The great steaming beast with the fine flowing mane won't give up without a fight, though, and neither will the horse.


Ross has principles. He saves a scruffy street urchin from a good hiding at the market, where he was flogging the family heirlooms. The kid turns out to be runaway redhead Demelza, "seething with crawlers" (lice), who scrubs up well and seems a much better bet than his intended. Horsey brunette Elizabeth looks like a flat-chested Ferne McCann. (Neither West Country lass exactly screams Bristols... my advice? Pole dark, wed red, dream of Anghared Rees). Naturally Liz still fancies the breeches off him, but her mum puts the bubble in, asking "What can he offer you but poverty, uncertainty, and a dubious reputation?" A better shag, obviously. No wonder, Ross's dodgy uncle Charles (Warren Clarke) tries to bribe him to do one. But Poldark is stubborn, and harder than a month old pasty. After hiring dishy Demelza as his scullery maid, her bully-boy Dad, six brothers and all the blokes from her village turn up to reclaim her. Dad gives Ross a proper kicking, but he comes back like Rocky Balboa to batter the bum. Unlikely yes, but no more so than his shape-changing cheekbone scar, or the mangled dialects... I particularly liked how podgy Prudie managed to run to Charles' house quicker than Ross got there on horseback.


*DODGY wars, iffy bankers, trouble brewing in Europe... nothing much has changed in 300 years has it?


DIDN'T Masterchef contenders used to have basic cooking skills? Derek's pigeon was so under-done that given a bit of mouth to mouth, it might have flapped back to life and crapped on Gregg's shiny dome. The only remarkable thing about Hannah was her make-up. Was that bronzer on her forehead or Bisto gravy? Maybe she was going for the Adam Ant look to intimidate Torode. She certainly managed to channel Ant's pretentiousness, grandly declaring "I've put my soul on a plate." Really? Looked like badly cooked scallops to me. At least KFC comes with a bucket. Tony with his comedy 'tache is a strong contender. How does he keep it so rigid in a hot kitchen? Viagra gel? Too many dishes sound revolting – vanilla mayo, avocado cheesecake. Anything "garnished with rocket" is poncy nonsense of the worst kind. India Fisher's voice-over continues to irritate. Though it's possible that any woman who sounds this posh might turn out to be filthier than the pans at the end of a day's filming. Or so I like to imagine.


WHERE do they park their cars on Corrie? It's one of the soap's many mysteries. Like how-come no-one noticed when Hayley star Julie Hesmondhalg was pregnant (a real medical miracle)? And how wonky must the stitching in the gussets get when those factory women stagger back from a dinnertime session in the Rovers? Gail's appeal is even more baffling. She just missed her sixth wedding. How?!? Are some blokes actually turned on by simpering? Or does she hypnotise them with all that blinking blinking? Her victims include a deranged serial killer, a burglar, and a fraudster who died while trying to fake his own death, sadly failing to drown Gail while he was at it. The woman's a jinx. Her love-life is like a cross between Blind Date and Crimewatch. It's Take Me Out... With A Cosh. And her kids are so hateful you almost warm to drug-dealer Callum.


*OWEN apparently met first wife Linda when Queen's Somebody To Love was out. So 1976, when he was 18 and she was... eleven. Creepy. Linda was Mad Joe's Mum on EastEnders. Could Joe be running the show? That's the real mystery: how did ITV let Corrie get this bad?


HOT on TV: Darts lord Lee Mack – cocky at the oche... Last Week Tonight (SkyAt)... Reginald D. Hunter.


ROT on TV: DCI Banks – detection by numbers... You're Back In The Room – I'm back in the pub... Masterchef – over-cooked and half-baked... In & Out Of The Kitchen – on and off of the telly.


THE BBC need Clarkson more than he needs them. He IS Top Gear. Millions love him precisely because he doesn't share their dull PC worldview. He may be a dinosaur, but like Jurassic Park he's big box office. This whole "fracas" row is politically motivated. The pygmies who run the Corporation want him out. But the excuse is a smoke screen. A BBC editor once bit a junior and they made him Director General.


*SOME BBC execs deserve to be punched, starting with whoever commissioned that patronising Great European Disaster Movie...


*WHAT about Carol snogging Billy on EastEnders? He was one round away from a one night gran... Their combined ages are 107, by coincidence the exact number of fags Dot Cotton smokes a day and the yawns Thursday's double episode inspired.


*DID you see Amanda Holden's dental assistant look on This Morning? Finally a job she might eventually be qualified for. Insert your own open wide/drilling and filling Neil Morrison gag here.


SMALL Joys of TV: Keith Allen in Uncle. Keith Lemon's hairy lairy bikers. Paul Whitehouse. Troy. Sam Bailey's teenage Ska song Too Late getting an airing on Family Fortunes. Chef Shelina Permaloo – crazy name, saucy smile.


RANDOM irritations: Comic Relief never being funny enough. Marvin Humes on The Voice – he makes shop window dummies seem animated. Middle class rent-a-gob Owen Jones's man-of-the-people act.


SEPARATED at birth: Kim Kardashian and Kira from The Dark Crystal, one a creation of plastic and padding who lives a fantasy life with horrible creatures... the other's a character in a film.


ELLIE was talking about rival Sal's dinner on Come Dine With Me when she said: "It will be interesting to see how hard his sausage is." All possible reaction shots can be found in the Carry On film of your choice.



March 8. CHANNEL 4 made a proper hash of Drugs Live – Cannabis On Trial. God, it was dull; not a patch on their ecstasy trial or Cocaine Night (the British Comedy Awards). In truth, they could have all done with some speed. The big drama was newsreader Jon Snow having a panic attack in an MRI machine after smoking skunk. “I felt that my soul had been wrenched from my body”, he testified, which by an eerie coincidence is how most people feel when watching C4. It was a far cry from the 70s when the only skunk we got on TV was Pepé Le Pew. There was also wild talk of “taking a look at Jennie Bond’s pleasure centres” but I must have dozed off for that.


The celebrity puffers, Snow, Bond and ex-MP Matthew Parris, were pre-recorded; Dr Chris van Tulleken was the only one smoking live. Host Dr. Christian divided cannabis crudely into skunk and hash. Hash, the show decided, is virtually harmless, but due to its chemical composition, skunk will fry your brains like breakfast bacon. Skunk is low on cannabis’s beneficial compound CBD and high on the bad stuff, THC. It also accounts for 80per cent of UK sales. Conclusion? Decriminalising hash would beat back skunk, undermine drug dealers and boost the economy... which explains Sir Richard Branson’s presence; Virgin Mellow could be just years away. Is it safe though? I’m not a cannabis fan, but I once ate a hash cake in Amsterdam so strong I actually found myself laughing at Hale & Pace. The stuff completely buggers your critical faculties.


C4 also found that smoking a spliff can make you unmotivated. (No shit!) That people enjoy listening to music while getting stoned (you don’t say). Your short term memory goes to pot. And skunk users hear voices... almost certainly not the drug squad. The show lasted for ninety minutes but felt much longer. It was almost as if, like cannabis itself, they’d made time seem slower. Still if seeing Jon Snow and sopping wet Parris getting stoned didn’t put people off smoking the stuff, nothing will.


*DRUGS Live questions: Why were they smoking from balloons? Was it cos News At Ten has all the bongs? Why no mention of TV pioneers Bill & Ben? You always found them with a Little Weed. And why no munchie recipes? Roll on Delia Spliff’s Cookbook...


*ODDLY C4 didn’t mention the clear links between skunk and psychotic violence. The Charlie Hebdo killers were big puffers, as were the scumbags who murdered Lee Rigby. See also the Boston bombers...  


LET’S Play Darts For Comic Relief combined celebrities with genuine legends of the “arrers” like Bobby George and Andy “The Viking” Fordham, who counts as three-in-a-bed even when he sleeps alone. Ted Hankey was partnered with Sean Lock, who claimed to be “worried about the Strictly curse” - an image so horrible it successfully distracted us from his lousy dart-play. Sean couldn’t hit double top with a porcupine. Tim Vine was dazzling though, outplaying his pro partner Darryl “The Dazzler” Fitton. Some celebs took it more seriously than others. Martin “Chariots” Offiah said he’d been “practising really intensely... for a week.” Lee Mack was blinding. Big Frimley giant Richard Osman went to pieces. While Lisa Tarbuck had a traditional dart-player’s build and hit 180 twice... on her bathroom scales. Barking mad Bobby “Carpets” Mortimer got the crowd chanting “We hate laminate!” Likable Roisin Conaty was a bit like a Skoda. She only went over fifty once, and that was downhill. But her double top was splendid. Could pro-celeb darts find a permanent place in BBC2’s evening schedules? It’d certainly delight more viewers than sewing. But then in fairness, so would shove ha’penny.


RYAN Hardy was smiling as The Following returned last night... and you knew that’d last about as long as Lara Stone at a drag queen convention. The long-suffering FBI agent was chuffed because twisted serial killer Joe Carroll was finally behind bars, and he was dating Ilana from Lost. But there’s no show without misery and before long Ryan had blood chucked at him at a wedding. Cue a new spate of pointless murders... Carroll’s disciples have to be the biggest death cult this side of an EastEnders scriptwriters’ conference. Credibility died after series one but the show won’t. Fox are milking it like a herd of prize Frisians.


HOT on TV: MyAnna Buring, Banished... Moone Boy (Sky1)... Let’s Play Darts For Comic Relief.


ROT on TV: Drugs Live – no highs... Pompidou – pompi-don’t... The Great European Disaster Movie – euro-trash... The Casual Vacancy – like being lectured by a patronising social worker.


NOT quite sure how The Nation’s Favourite 70s Number 1s worked, as it managed to leave out the two best-selling singles of the decade – Mull of Kintyre and Boney M’s Rivers Of Babylon. It also drew a discreet veil over Gary Glitter’s I Love You Love Me Love which shifted a staggering 1,140,000 copies here back in 1973. Not to mention The Floral Dance (which was arguably more disturbing.) I’m not complaining, though. Slade, Sweet, Rod, Elton, Ian Dury, Blondie, Bolan, the Bee Gees... what a glorious pop era! I barely grimaced for the whole 90minutes. And how gorgeous was Freda Payne? No mention of those seminal 70s bands The Jam or The Clash of course as they didn’t top the charts till the 80s.


*THE worst thing about 70s pop? The clothes! Male jumpsuits, ankle-length maxi-dresses, belted sweaters... it was the time fashion forgot.


*EX-nurse Jill told Farage Fans & UKIP Lovers that she wants to be “head of bondage” in any Nigel Farage government. She reckons UKIP members have a natural bent towards S&M, which brings whole new meaning to being chief whip.


*MATT Lucas set out to revive silent comedy with Pompidou. It worked in my house – thirty minutes and not a titter.


*LARA Stone and David Walliams have split. It’s said that Lara just had enough of his tedious camp buffoonery. Like most of us.


*IT’S Comic Relief next Friday. So if you want to enjoy a night of proper belly laughs make sure you go out to a club.


SMALL Joys of TV: The Avengers repeats (TrueEnt). Sharon Horgan. Good Vibrations. Extant. Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Sleaford Mods (Artsnight, poxy show though). First Dates. Alexa Chung (Bake Off) – smashing crumpet.


RANDOM irritations: Illiterate TV subtitles. The Voice battle rounds. Corrie’s Eileen, the world’s worst barmaid. The BBC’s bizarre reluctance to call a terrorist a terrorist. Martin Clunes’s unlikely Conan Doyle accent – alimentary, I presume.


SEPARATED at birth: Jeremy Clarkson and mobster Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, one got away with murder... and so does the other one.


ALEXA Chung stunned Bake Off viewers by announcing: “I don’t know how many holes I’m supposed to have”. Volunteers to count them, please form an orderly queue... Rumours that she was talking about her crumpets have been dismissed as far too sensible.


March 1st. IT was a bad week for fans of award ceremonies. The Oscars felt like a tribute to E.L. James – endless torture. The tedious luvvy water-boarding dragged on for four ruddy hours. I swear that by the end that young kid from Boyhood was dying the grey out of his beard. In contrast The Brits were just predictable and bland – until Madonna took a tumble. The pop goddess suffered a cape malfunction and plummeted like Rita Ora’s neckline. Not the first time she’s gone down on a dancer and come up smiling. Mercifully Madge landed on her back with her legs akimbo, surrounded by horny men, so it was pretty much condition normal. (She was helped up by a dancer and three men from Lawyers 4 U asking “Have you had an accident that wasn’t your fault?”)


The only bright spark came from Royal Blood whose thunderous riffs recall the bluesy glory of classic British rock. The rest was relentlessly bland. Ant & Dec were likeable and safe; though a welcome change from James Corden’s fawning. There were unsurprising wins for Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, equally safe and earnest; a far cry from the real passion of the late great Amy Winehouse or Adele. Even Kanye behaved. But why book him and mute him?


The old Brits were full of shocks, like Jarvis Cocker mooning Jacko or Chumbawamba soaking Two Jags Prescott. The worst we got was Paloma Faith banging on a bit. Pop awards should be dangerous, drunk and badly hosted (preferably by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood). But the industry wants them to be a puffed up PR exercise, staged and stilted... like the Oscars.


Over in La-La Land, the excruciating acceptance speeches felt like a contest to find Hollywood’s most right-on. There were pious plugs for everything from feminism to Asperger’s awareness via green cards and suicide. Remember when this business was about fun? I was praying for the kind of downpour that Paloma performed in just to shut them up. Or if no rain effects were available, one of Ozzy Osbourne’s careless urination incidents would’ve done. Only Eddie Redmayne was wetter. Neil Patrick Harris was a better host than James Franco, who’d put a speed-freak to sleep; but he lacked the comic certainty of Billy Crystal and the sting of Chris Rock. Neil’s finest moment was walking on in his y-fronts to tell us “Acting is a noble profession”. Most of the contending films seemed equally pants. It doesn’t help that creatively the movie industry is being upstaged by TV, specifically by Netflix and Sky Atlantic. If Amazon can leave footprints in the sands of TV times, why can’t today’s BBC?


*NEIL’S best quip: “Benedict Cumberbatch, the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce Ben Affleck.”


*CREEPIEST moments: Travolta slobbering over a stony-faced Scarlet Johansson and fondling Idina Menzel.


*WORST oversights: the Academy snubbing Joan Rivers and Shirley Temple in their roll-call of the dead.


HARD to know what came off worse on Broadchurch, justice or baby-sitters. In a shock twist, child-killer Joe Miller was cleared despite being guilty. His former friends and family then banished him to Sheffield, which seemed a bit harsh on Sheffield. They’ve already got Nick Clegg as an MP, they’ve suffered enough. I’d have pushed the bastard off that cliff. Scowling D.I. Hardy didn’t seem bothered about this travesty, though. Broadchurch 2 stretched credibility from the off, but the finale ended up in sci-fi territory when Ellie ordered Joe to leave the church and as he did she was also waiting in the crowd outside. At least the Sandbrook murders were solved. Creepy Ricky had accidently killed his babysitting niece Lisa, 19, after catching her banging neighbour Lee. Ricky intended to frame him, so Claire drugged his daughter Pippa with his own Rophenol and Lee suffocated the poor kid to death. Yep, law-abiding couple murder innocent child to escape prosecution for a killing they weren’t actually guilty of... Makes sense. If you’re criminally insane. Let’s hope we see more of Simone McCaullay in series three. That Ellie’s accent ceases to wander and that Hardy has surgery to remove the dark cloud he’s permanently under.


DANNY Dyer has proved a fine addition to EastEnders. What a unique and talented actor he is. To convey seriousness, Dan lowers his eye-lids. To convey desire, he lowers his eye-lids. To convey fury, he lowers his eye-lids... Pity Danny’s poor missus. She must spend hours wondering if he’s angry, randy or just falling asleep... like the viewers, and the soap’s continuity department...


MARY Berry was talking about Sarah Brown’s pork pies on Bake Off when she sniffed: “You’ve had a bit of leakage.” Although she could just as easily have been discussing Jameela Jamil’s brain. Jam-Jam’s daft questions included “What’s a quail’s egg?” and “What exactly is lard?” That stuff between your ears, love. Sarah Brown deserved to win, but the judges were star-struck by Michael Sheen. Not sure what Sheen was referring to when he said “It still feels moist” but Mary was definitely smiling.


HOT on TV: House Of Cards (Netflix)... The Walking Dead (Fox)... Veronica Echegui, Fortitude... Ayelet Zurer, Hostages.


ROT on TV: The Big Painting Challenge – artless... Get Your Act Together final – pointless... Andrew Marc (The Voice) – hopeless.


*INSIDE The Commons was an insight into how democracy works. Or doesn’t. Parliament’s gothic grandeur is all front; they’ve got mice in the canteen and vermin in the Chamber. Apt to see Jack Straw talking about shop windows, though – we all know what he was selling. The over-all effect was depressing. An MP’s chance to introduce a private member’s bill is conducted like a raffle at a village fete. Questions at PMQs are emailed in advance to toadies and the chances of getting anything changed are remote. It was a series to turn Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells into an anarchist revolutionary. Thank god then for the rebel MPs, the awkward squad like who don’t play the game and are true to their consciences.


*ROZANNE Duncan was so horribly bigoted on Meet The Ukippers she could have been auditioning for The Casual Vacancy... or Chelsea’s away firm. At least they sacked her. There are cranks and amateurs in all parties of course. In the Greens, they run the show. (For paedophiles and thieves, just use Google.) Oddly we won’t be meeting the Lib Dems any time soon.


*CRITICAL makes Casualty look like Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman. Well-written and well cast, the Sky1 trauma centre drama is the most ghoulish blood-fest this side of The Walking Dead. I’ll never watch it again.


SMALL Joys of TV: Karlie Kloss (The Brits) – 6 foot 9 and worth the climb. James Brown – Mr Dynamite (BBC4). Uncle. Brilliant Michael Gambon. Fargo re-runs. Joy Division (BBC4). The female dragons getting excited about Seacocks. Boston Legal repeats (Universal).


RANDOM Voice irritations: It’s much harder to get picked if you’re in the last two shows... unless you’re the very last auditionee, which is how got lumbered with awful Andrew Marc. Having to wait till April to know if Stevie McCrorie or Sheena McHugh wins...


SEPARATED at birth: Oscar winner Pawel Pawlikowski and Rowland Rivron, one an annoying clown who won’t shut the f*** up... and so’s the other one.










Garry Bushell