BUSHELL ON THE BOX
May 31. The Britain's Got Talent semi-finals bring us the cream of our country's undiscovered performers. Real stars in the making like:
Indian-born Narinda Dhani and his tepid rendition of Eye Of The Tiger on a comb – the public gave him the brush-off.
Ireland's fat kid dancing, Dylan Byrd; he hit rock bottom but at least he'll bounce back.
And Luca Calo, an Italian git who couldn't carry a tune in a pasta pot, cavorting in high heels – just like those three French berks last year.
I'm not sure what was more irritating, that acts this naff made the final 45, or that ITV needed to import them.
At least Lorraine Bowen was scraped from the bottom of an authentically English barrel.
"Space is a marvellous place," she warbled. A soundless vacuum is also by far the best place to perform songs like this. There are still empty seats on the Mars mission, love. Jeffrey Drayton was so cringe-worthy toes all over Britain must have been curling up like Aladdin's slippers. Yet clueless Cowell said he wouldn't be surprised if Drayton made the final. Mercifully the public thought otherwise.
The Ruby Red Performers were another home-grown embarrassment, jiggling about in big pants, a term that aptly describes them.
The birdbrain female judges claimed they were about "empowerment", "women being confident", and the joy of over-eating (I might have dreamt that last bit). They still came bottom.
We've had decent turns as well, of course. IMD Legion, Revelation Avenue, and Billy & Emily England, the death-defying brother and sister roller-skaters... none of whom qualified on their nights.
Austrian magician Michael Late and his "half-sister" were endearingly bonkers. But despite Cowell's assurances, BGT is still top-heavy with singers and dancers.
And it's a cop-out. It's easy to win over an audience with a song everyone knows; it's far harder for a comedian or a mimic.
Alesha and Amanda buzzed impressionist Andrew Fleming for being old-fashioned but lapped up young kids dancing to 70s soul. The Welsh choir belted out a song from the 5th Century!
The series had no variety comedians. ITV don't understand them, Cowell can't earn from them, and why would a decent comic want to face such ignorant judges?
The process is rigged, the judging poor and too many non-singing acts are either naff or one-trick wonders with no future. Mimic Danny Posthill will get my vote tonight; he won't win but he genuinely deserves a TV career.
*EXPECT big things from Jamie Raven in tonight's final. In his big finish, the magician is planning to restore movement to Amanda's face.
*MEMO to Walliams. "Ovate" has nothing to do with ovations, it means egg-shaped. And boy, do I miss that bird with the eggs from 2013...
*ON More Talent Amanda Holden jokingly claimed Walliams had said he'd rape Alesha. What a dapper laugh. No-one could ever accuse Holden of good taste. Or good judgment.
HIGH drama on Corrie as Leanne and Kal, having grabbed Amy from the fire her twisted mother had started, stood chatting in the blazing inferno rather than dashing straight out again.
It's a wonder they didn't toast some crumpets. They stopped for another bunny on the rescue ladder.
Disaster ensued. Kal was cremated, Maddie mangled and at least one meerkat was badly singed.
Of course if Leanne had used both available fire extinguishers when she'd rescued Carla, we'd have been spared the whole fiasco. Innocent Carla will take all the blame of course. Let's hope it doesn't drive her to drink, she gets through a goldfish bowl of wine a night as it is...
Soaps rely increasingly on big stunts to cover weak writing. And the more they have, the less they deliver. This week's twists made about as much sense as Maria's fling with Tony Gordon, or the cult of Nirab.
In the frantic rush for melodrama, logic goes out the window. It's just a shame Kal didn't.
Along the way, smaller details are neglected. Close family, brothers and sons, snub weddings; while Liz's angry breakup with cheating Tony was relegated to voicemail.
How many more crashes, tram disasters and unlikely arson attacks can Corrie take before the writers resort to resurrecting Charlie Stubbs as a zombie, or having Godzilla smash up The Flying Horse?
SUN Trap is BBC1's new gift to rhyming slang. The show does for laughter what Ben Cohen's still doing to Kristina. (Lucky Ben)
Victims of this multiple crime against comedy include Bradley Walsh, Kayvan Novak and Jack Dee, talented guys betrayed by their agents and a script as funny as a weekend being water-boarded.
Brad plays Brutus a former newspaper editor running a Spanish bar. Woody (Novak) is his old colleague, an undercover reporter who is hiding out on the island by being loud, cocky and annoying.
The plot revolved around a crooked pension thief, his purloined parrot and the local vet (Dee). If I tell you the entire cast was upstaged by a vulture it still can't convey the horror of it all.
HOT on TV: Gotham finale... Stephen Mulhern, Britain's Got More Talent... Emma Pierson – wasted in Sun Trap.
ROT on TV: Sun Trap – more Beni-dumb than Benidorm... the Corrie fire script... Jade Lynch, Big Brother... Bank Holiday TV schedules – there's more creative imagination in a BBC exec's expenses claim.
*THE Pope hasn't watched TV since 1990. The list of classic shows His Holiness has missed out on goes on longer than Taylor Swift's legs.
There's The Sopranos, Game Of Thrones, House Of Cards, Life On Mars, Breaking Bad, The Shield... hmm, it's probably for the best.
*"STOATS don't like exposing themselves", according to Springwatch. The Night Bus suggests otherwise.
SMALL Joys of TV: Cersei's arrest (Game Of Thrones). Bald, naked witches on Penny Dreadful, talk about putting the willies up. Jonathan Strange's sand horses. The Batcave reveal on Gotham. Bonnie Langford, EastEnders. Classic clips on Carry On Forever.
RANDOM irritations: Nitwits moaning that stage magicians aren't really magic. The vast egos of the useless BGT judges. The BBC serving up carpet-chewing extremists blandly billed as "political activists"; I'm all for open debate but don't try and pull the wool over our eyes.
SEPARATED at birth: Simon Cowell and the Dolmio puppet? One a synthetic family guy out to flog us cheap, unappetising wares, the other sells sauces.
SOAP mysteries: when exactly are the visiting hours at Walford General? How come Leanne, Amy and Kal were impervious to smoke inhalation? And why didn't Amy just stay with grandad Ken?
*SIR Winston Churchill was a bastard, according to BBC4. Yeah? Well thank God he was OUR bastard.
May 24. It was EastEnders all the way at the British Soap Awards.
BBC1's mock Cockneys pretty much swept the board, blagging Best Soap, Best Storyline, Best Actor, Best Actress and more. But how much of this lavish praise does Enders actually deserve? As Mick Carter would say, we need a serious bunny abhart this.
For starters, they won Best Storyline for Who Killed Lucy, their unimaginative retread of Who Shot Phil, as half-inched from the original Who Shot JR on Dallas. (See also Who Clumped Archie, Who Shagged Kat, Who Mangled Max, Who Knocked Up Heather etc, etc.)
After ten tedious months it turned out Lucy, an unlikable character no-one cared about, was topped by the unlikeliest assassin, her 11-year-old brother Bobby... Leave it aht!
It was the biggest come-down since Phil Mitchell kicked crack.
They nicked Best Single Episode for the live show, chiefly remembered (even by the Soap Awards) for Jo "Tanya" Joyner asking Jane Beale "How's Adam?" rather than "How's Ian?"
Adam "Ian Beale" Woodyatt won Best Actor. Really?
Woodyatt deserves something, probably our sympathy, for playing Walford's human urinal, piddled on by the writers for decades for daring to run small businesses and aspire. But Timothy West as Stan Carter stole every scene, was never less than magnificent and wasn't even in the running. West was robbed.
It's said that show boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins has re-energised EastEnders, and that's true to a degree, but he's done it largely by recycling the same old plots faster. Alfie Moon torching his drum unaware Kat was inside was just a re-run of Fat Barry, Grant and Phil doing exactly the same. Ian was blackmailed by prostitute Rainie, just like he was blackmailed by his previous whores Janine and Mandy... Even innocent, much-loved female character jailed has been done twice by Corrie.
Only in Walford would an attractive Aussie offer Alfie £15K for a bunk-up. Only in Walford would blokes not joke about Big Mo's appearance in the nude charity calendar (Miss April – that's advice, not a description). Only in Walford would Sharon's pill addiction vanish over night, like Billy's allotment, Princess Di and her puppies, the Queen Vic's pool table and the pub's mixed sex football team.
Remember when Roxy was star striker? The producers don't... They are capable of miracles, though – resurrection (Kathy, Dirty Den), and head transplants (Martin's on his second, Ben's on his fourth... ); they found the fabled lost common of Walford... Rape, murder, and melodrama they can do, with a side order of useless men and plastic gangsters.
Hope and happiness? No chance. Alfie and Kat won a £1million and had to leave the soap immediately, with Alfie having a medical scare (a small brain was found attached to his tumour). They'll be back, as wretched and miserable as ever. Mark my words.
*1,001 Reasons Why EastEnders Is "Pony" by Garry Bushell is now available as an e-book.
THE magic happened in bed on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – unlike The Affair where it largely occurs outdoors – as gloomy Gilbert Norrell brought a woman back to life. This 19th Century Kathy Beale is Emma, a Cabinet Minister's fiancée. And if that doesn't convince him our heroes can help Britain smash Napoleon in the Peninsula War, nothing will.
Here's the deal: English sorcery, once "as much a part of this country as rain", has lain dormant for centuries. The pompous Society Of Magicians study the art, only Morrell and the genial drunkard Strange practice it.
To resurrect Emma, Morrell summons a creepy fairy called the Gentleman (Marc Warren looking like something Sting dreamt while tripping) who is anything but.
The show captures Regency England like a Hogarth painting. You can almost smell Paul Kaye as scruffy street magician Vinculus (think Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson crossed with Catweazle, only hammier).
This is a rare thing from the Beeb, a drama that isn't based on real events, and a fantasy that isn't aimed at kids.
It'd be churlish to mention that Sky did this first, and better, with their magnificent Discworld adaptations, but they did.
PLAIN-speaking DI Deering has a unique approach to policing on the coarsely comic cop drama No Offence. She told one wrong'un she was "two seconds away from shoving a Taser up your arse and filling you so full of volts, you'll feel like you've been fisted by a pylon". Jack Regan would have loved her. Writer Paul Abbott should have researched police procedure more, but the show crackles with energy and confidence.
Some critics moan that murder is a serious business so wise-cracking detectives aren't appropriate. In reality, black humour sustains anyone dealing with death on a regular basis. How else would they cope?
HOT on TV: Charlotte Riley (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)... Nymeria and her bullwhip, Game Of Thrones (SkyAt)... Mick Miller, Peter Kay's Car Share.
ROT on TV: Benefits Street – it benefits no-one... Adjoa (Big Brother) – had to go-a... Evan Davis – creepier than Gollum... High-Class Hookers – low rent documentary.
GAME Of Thrones caused an outcry after Ramsay Bolton raped Sansa Stark on their wedding night, forcing Theon Greyjoy to watch.
Ramsay is a psychotic sadist who cut off Theon's most prized possession and pretended to eat it.
Wouldn't it have been more surprising if he'd wooed his teenage bride with tender kisses, candles and a scented bath?
*A WW2 bomb has disrupted Britain's Got Talent. Out of habit David Walliams put it through to the final.
*JEREMY Clarkson says leaving the Beeb has left a big hole that needs filling. On the other hand, Kat leaving EastEnders...
*GEORGE Gently took on a vicious skinhead gang. These guys were incredible. Not only did they rob banks, they also played reggae hits from two years in their future.
*DO young Cockneys still use "Russell" as rhyming slang for a party as Danny Dyer's Mick Carter did? Russell Harty popped his clogs 27 years ago. A Todd Carty is more likely but awkward as he was in the show.
See also Patsies for haemorrhoids (Patsy Palmer = farmer, Farmer Giles = piles), and a Big Mo 'Arris for backside. ('Arris = Aristotle = bottle of glass = arse).
*ON Antiques Road-trip experts Thomas Plant and Anita Manning travelled from Somerset to Dorset, to "learn about the life of prehistoric people". Ouch! I know the population is getting on a bit but steady on.
*THE Following? Unfollowing.
SMALL Joys of TV: The odd-looking dish, possibly a spotty dick, hanging over Dean's head on EastEnders in his Cindy's Café scene. Porunn skinny-dipping on Vikings (she's not a poor 'un) and the English finally routing the Danes.
RANDOM irritations: Scripted "spontaneity" on Britain's Got Singers, sorry, Talent. Soap stag-dos. The standard of judging at the Soap Awards, as honest and above board as FIFA. Tearful face-to-face nominations on Big Brother – you know what you've signed up for! Gits.
SEPARATED at birth: Tracy Barlow and the Child Catcher, one a terrifying monster who tricks victims with treats... the other a character from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
*ANY chance British TV could screen the last-ever Letterman show? We've nicked enough of his ideas.
May 17. Here's a scandal Prince Charles should write a letter about – how the flamin' Nora did Coronation Street win a Bafta? The soap has been on the ropes ever since it won the same tarnished gong last year. Sharif's chickens, Sally's sofa saga, fake-Gavin versus real-Gavin, Andrea stuck on a roof... it's cobblers on the cobbles and they must know it. Even butcher Fred ("I say, Fred") Elliott didn't serve up this much tripe.
Hand on heart, I've loved Corrie since Ena and Elsie's first slanging match. The Ogdens, Blanche Hunt, the Ken-Deidre-Mike love triangle, Raquel Watts "the walking Wonderbra"... all wonderful, all believable.
The soap had warmth and humour, and its comedy sprang naturally from beautifully crafted characters.
Now, the writers rely on soppy slapstick (Beth's bath bomb) or tedious dross like Steve and Lloyd rowing over the cab office chair.
So what persuaded the highly-educated British Academy bigwigs to bung them an award? It's as puzzling as Bethany's accent.
It won't have been the recycled plots – another underage Mum, more stolen identities, yet more corpses (18 in four years, with Fire Week to come) – or the unimaginative casting (Old Soap Faces R Us).
Even the melodrama has a hollow ring. Why did Rob kill Tina rather than just hide his stolen stock? Why would David Platt leg it with his kids just ahead of Max's custody hearing?
I accept that social services are as much use as Percy Sugden at an orgy but would even they let unstable single parent nut-job David bring up a child who isn't his?
What happened to his epilepsy by the way? That's as forgotten as the Square Dealers, Gail's gay Dad and Steve's sports car.
And don't get me started on burglar turned saintly wet blanket Michael Rodwell, or reverend Billy's forbidden love for camp cliché Sean.
So what could possibly have won over the Bafta judges? A few possible explanations spring to mind:
1) They don't actually watch the show 2) The head judge is Lutfur Rahman 3) Tracy Barlow and/or Sean Tully promised them a knee-trembler. 4) The cast are deserting, ratings have plummeted like Tina from that balcony... someone had to give 'em something!
Or was it simply option 5) For Bafta luvvies, the soap's tiresomely heavy-handed LGBT agenda trumps everything?
*I FEEL for Emmerdale. The last time they won a Bafta the cast picture was an oil painting.
JOHN Bishop reckoned Bafta host Graham Norton looked "like the love-child of Father Christmas and Louis Walsh".
I'd have said more Mike Leigh meets Ian Beale in his tramp phase.
It's hard to knock awards for Matt Berry, Marvellous and Happy Valley. And well done to Ant & Dec for keeping Noel's House Party alive.
Some wins were baffling, though. Even the beautiful and talented Georgina Campbell looked stunned when she beat Keeley Hawes, Sheridan Smith and Sarah Lancashire to win Leading Actress.
The academy chose Jessica Hynes over Olivia Colman – really? And snubbed Benedict Cumberbatch yet again... Political bias often trumped talent. Why else would poppy-hating Jon Snow be honoured with a Bafta Fellowship? It surely can't have been for services to skunk?
*I LOVED the clip of Stewart Lee describing Paxman's chat with Russell Brand as "hardly Frost/Nixon, more like watching a monkey throwing excrement at a foghorn" – a great topical line... in 2013.
HAVE you heard Kieran's voice on Big Brother? When he's excited, he sounds like a cartoon. Squeaky Kieran thinks "everyone is lovely, everyone's happy"... and of course that will last about as long as Gemma Collins would on The Island.
"Vampire" Eileen is scarier now than when she was in horror films. Her face is stretched tighter than a trampoline. One careless poke and she could pop like a balloon.
Irish model Jade describes herself as "polyamorous", or in plain English a slapper, and dislikes Sarah who's smarter and more attractive.
"Psycho-bitch" Adjoa loves "pussy", thank you Mrs Slocombe. Likeable Pie-Face looks like a giant schoolboy.
Laddish Danny and Cristian are after the blonde twins who Dan describes as "taken but vulnerable". Who says romance is dead?
HOT on TV: Ruth Wilson, The Affair (SkyAt)... Laurianne Gillieron, Episodes... 1864 (BBC4)... Wayward Pines (Fox).
ROT on TV: Simon "Showbiz!" Gross (Big Brother) – he's no business in showbusiness... The Night Bus – request stop... Nick Helm's Heavy Entertainment – lightweight content.
THE Affair – voted hottest drama of the year by Sally Bercow, probably – is about a married bloke who falls for a sexy but troubled waitress still mourning her child's death.
Noah is a teacher/novelist whose love-life with wife Helen is constantly ruined by their four unruly brats. He meets Alison in a diner en route to a family holiday in Long Island, and the attraction is instant.
Well we've all done it, asked a waitress for a coffee and left with a Semillon... But why are the lovers now telling different versions of events to a detective? It's a mystery wrapped in a condom.
*SHOCK Walford DNA test result: Dean Not All-there.
*THE World's Most Expensive Food found a fella selling coffee at £325 a cup! Strewth. I feel mugged if I'm charged a fiver for a pint.
Apparently, he's just been snapped up by Starbucks.
The brew was made from coffee beans eaten and dumped by a Sumatran weasel. £300 for a cup of stewed poo! And to think we moaned about horse-meat in burgers...
*PRESUMABLY Scottish billionaires go for deep-fried To'ak chocolate.
APOLOGY: I have recently published two Top Tens of TV's Worst Comedians. I understand that these lists may have caused offence which I deeply regret. I'd like to solemnly and sincerely apologise to Rufus Hound, Alan Davies and Omid Djalili for leaving them out.
*WE'RE supposed to laugh at the crazy Yanks and sympathise with the Brits on Episodes. I don't. The drearily po-faced middle class British pair suck the fun out of every scene. Sadly, TV is full of people just like them.
*BBC2'S latest quiz show is called Beat The Brain. So much snappier than 'A non-descript mash-up of Catchphrase, Concentration, Cross Wits, Chain Letters, Wipeout and Every Second Counts.
*PLEASE note: Furious 7 is a movie, not a description of the warring Carter clan on EastEnders.
SMALL Joys of TV: Matt LeBlanc (Episodes). Helen Wood's cleavage (Bit On The Side). Rod Woodward on women "getting ready" (Palladium). Wild Boys (TCM). Richard Pryor: Icon (PBS America).
RANDOM irritations: Bafta, or anyone else, calling soaps 'continuing drama', it's like gilding a turd. Comedy politicians – after all that hype and media attention, the Pub Landlord got 318 votes. Pitiful.
SEPARATED at birth: Nick (Big Brother) and Butt-head, one a lazy odd-ball who lacks moral scruples, the other's a cartoon.
May 10. TV'S General Election coverage reminded me of the Mayweather fight. Weeks of hysterical hype, talk of a "once in a life-time" clash, the promise of high drama... all boiling down to a dull scrap that seemed to drag on forever. The worst aspects? News broadcasts dominated by non-stories, those awful debates and the toothless "satire". Princess Charlotte has more bite than Ballot Monkeys.
Like Mayweather, the politicians were always in charge. Paxo may have had them on the ropes a few times but like Pacquiao he never did any real damage.
The closest we came to a knock-out blow was Joe Public vs Red Ed on the Question Time leaders special.
The most talked about interview wasn't on telly but online; when Ed was grilled by Russell Brand. Yes, the rich, clueless berk who put thousands off voting agreed to be filmed with a comedian.
None of the political humorists landed a glove on Cameron.
Newzoids had the PM turning down Sam Cam because "it's the country I want to f***". Kid gloves stuff.
Nick Clegg was suffering from "electile dysfunction" and Poor Ed was in bed with Nicola Sturgeon who assured him "Don't worry dear, if you win I'll wear the troosers... "
Genuine satire should be sharper than this, and far more savage. Satire should feel like it's been typed with an angry middle finger – The Thick Of It always did.
TV writers tend to share class, education and mindset with the political elite, so inevitably their ire was largely reserved for outsider Nigel Farage.
ITV painted him as a sexist (at a time when Labour bigwigs were addressing segregated meetings... )
While BBC2 outed a make-believe UKIP worker as a closet anti-Semite, perhaps unaware of the party's long-standing support for Israel.
Charlie Brooker had some nice lines, recalling how questions about zero-hours contracts were met with "zero-content answers". But even he couldn't drum up real rage.
Nothing TV threw at politicians was as funny as Cameron eating a hotdog with a knife and fork or Miliband's baffling "mili-stone" of pledges.
Ed's Yankie phrases grated (Was he useless? Hell yes). But watching Charles Kennedy on Question Time last month was the most fun. He didn't even know he was there.
*"GOD save England" was the resistance slogan on Vikings. I felt the same watching the election results come in.
HORRIFYING scenes on The Enfield Haunting – did you see that furniture? It was almost as manky as the authentically horrible 1970s brown wallpaper and those rotten carpets.
What odds the ghost turns out to be a traumatised interior designer?
*I FEEL sorry for the estate agents. How do you sell a house like that? You can't offer it for immediate possession, it's already possessed.
SOME fine acts on Sunday Night At The Palladium, not least the Olate Dogs and Men In Coats, the world's funniest cloakroom attendants.
But why book Jo Brand? Variety is about glamour and escapism, not an over-rated frump cracking weak jokes about her weight and body hair.
Jo Brand's pubes have no place in Sunday night family entertainment (or any other night).
Jo threw in a couple of gags with more whiskers than her, and had a pop at Pamela Anderson. Very current. Adrian Walsh would have been classier, funnier and far less lazy.
Olly Murs was fine, Madness are always a pleasure and Bradley Walsh should host every week (with a better scriptwriter). But ITV continues to perversely blank Britain's biggest variety performers. Why?
They can't dismiss Conley, Pasquale and Longthorne as "old-fashioned" when they're booking Alfie Boe to sing a 42 year old song by The Who.
HOT on TV: No Offence and Elaine Cassidy... Sheridan Smith (The C Word)... Penny Dreadful (SkyAt)... Shark.
ROT on TV: Jo Brand – the other C Word... C4's Alternative Election Night – putting the balls in ballots... Home Fires – too slow a burn... Newsnight's pub edition – last orders for boss Ian Katz please.
LAST week I asked which Russell would make my second Worst TV Comics list. Trick question – it's all of them. Here are the next ten fraudulent funsters:
1) Stephen K. Amos – the antidote to laughter; his material is limper than an octogenarian vicar's handshake. 2) Phill Jupitus – Quadrophobia was as funny as a puncture on a scooter run.
3) Russell Kane. You don't like your Dad. We get it. Move on. 4) Sue Perkins and her hilarious catchphrase, "Bake!" FFS!
5) Seann Walsh. Nice hair, shame about the act. 6) Russell Howard – wonky-eyed PC berk; women want to mother him, I'd add an 's'.
7) David Walliams – vain and over-rated; the self-adoring Walliams was easily the worst thing about Little Britain. 8) Richard Ayoade – one-trick-pony actor, often mistaken for a comic by clueless TV bookers.
9) Katie Brand – jollier than Jo but just as useless. 10) Russell Brand, so steeped in hypocrisy and self-importance no-one notices his legacy of flop TV shows. If he's really a pop culture Messiah, let's hope he's born-again with a funny bone.
SO Vincent on EastEnders is Kim's husband, Ronnie's ex-lover and Lisa's brother. Odds that he's also Kat's long-lost son are 2-1 on.
I'm still chuckling at her 21 Nun salute. Comic Paul Adams quipped "that put a Kat among the penguins".
*THE Moons won £1million on a scratchcard. That'll last about as long as a quart of Scotch in Max Branning's sideboard. Alfie wants to buy the Vic, the smartest investment move since Murdoch bought Myspace.
*BILLIE Piper is back as the Bride of Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful. The ex-Mrs Chris Evans has married worse.
I liked the screeching witches who morphed into respectable-looking Scottish Widow clones... a technique that I believe was pioneered by Nicola Sturgeon.
SMALL Joys of TV: Susanna Reid's smile. The incredible, back-flipping Olate Dogs at the Palladium. Harold Wilson demolishing hecklers (Unforgettable Election Moments). Chloe Crawford (BGT).
RANDOM irritations: all soaps. They're tired, predictable and dull. British TV could only be improved by resting the lot of them for as long as it takes to find new writers, smarter producers and fresh ideas.
VINTAGE clips were the saving grace of TV's blanket election coverage... Robin Day smoking a fat cigar in the studio, Vanessa Redgrave on the stump and old faces like Cliff Michelmore and Malcolm Muggeridge. What a relief dear old Malcolm managed to find new work after death as the Crypt Keeper from Tales From The Crypt.
*PLEASE Note: Phil & Kirstie's Love It Or List It has absolutely nothing in common with Tulisa's Love It & Lick It.
*IF Phill Jupitus gets much fatter will he change his name to Phull?
May 3. Is it just me who finds the judges on Britain's Got Talent increasingly irritating? It's not so much their egos and tantrums as their complete inability to judge. You might find it funny when David steals an act's limelight, or when Cowell's chortling over-paid Muppets vote through some abysmal amateur halfwit. I feel like shaking 'em and saying "It's not about you". Princess the alleged "hypno-dog" was the moment BGT completely disappeared up its own farce-hole. Jump the shark? It leapt the whole ruddy aquarium. Sure it got people talking. But we weren't asking "How did they do that?" as we did about Wendy the talking dog; we were asking "How stupid do they think we are?" It was contrived old cobblers from start to finish, with Cowell pretending to be mesmerised into "being nice" by the mutt. If she'd made him drink out of a toilet bowl or mount Walliams I might have been more inclined to believe it.
BGT is a successful format but it isn't a successful talent show. It's way too set up. The judges know sod-all about showbiz. And the balance is all wrong. The point of a talent show isn't to drag out deluded wannabes for us to laugh at, they're the side-show; the point is to produce lasting stars. Op Knocks found Les Dawson, Freddie Starr and Paul Daniels. New Faces discovered Jim Davidson, Victoria Wood and Lenny Henry. BGT finds singers and dancers who dominate the series (and last night's line-up) because that's what makes Cowell money. The only exceptions were 2010's acrobats, dancing dog Pudsey in 2012 and that Hungarian shadow act.
Simon Cowell's "genius" was to remember the public love talent shows when TV execs forgot it, but all he really understands is manufactured pop. Granted BGT does head-hunt pro magicians and half-decent variety turns (mostly "discovered" by watching old episodes of The Big Big Talent Show from the 1990s) for the sake of appearances. But in common with middle class TV bosses, Simon hates mainstream comedy. So the comics featured are generally hopeless. The bottom line is Cowell only cares about acts that will swell his coffers. Chilcot will deliver his inquiry before that ever changes. Expect a final top-heavy with singers and hoofers, as usual.
*I LIED about not knowing what part of BGT irritates me the most. It's Amanda's cackle. Which part of Eastwick is she from again?
*THOSE great dog acts in full: 1) Pudsey 2) Wendy 3) Susan Boyle. (How could Pudsey be a dancer? She had two left feet... )
AN updated version of my book 1,001 Reasons Why EastEnders Is Pony is out now as an eBook.
IF you tell someone cheap plonk is fine wine it tastes better. Is the same true about comics? TV bosses are forever trying to pass off average talent as stars. From travel shows to politics the curdled cream of modern comedy gets everywhere. I started compiling a Top Ten Worst TV Comedians, but there are so many I've had to split it in two: 1) Stephen Fry, a lazy luvvy oozing smugness; find one laugh out loud Fry joke and I'll buy you a pint. 2) Lenny Henry – terrific on Tiswas; has coasted on empty ever since. 3) McIntyre – great delivery, no jokes. 4) David Baddiel – okay with Rob Newman and Frank Skinner but as a solo performer he's never ever been funny. 5) Jo Brand – must be the Green Party favourite, she's recycled the same three gags for 25 years. 6) Marcus Brigstocke – another gratingly gobby public school rebel with a checklist of tiresome right-on opinions. 7) John Bishop – started well, but fizzled out quickly; the funniest thing about his act is that as his material gets weaker, his accent gets stranger. 8) Miles Jupp – cos TV comedy just isn't posh enough. 9) Eddie Izzard – all style, no substance. 10) Miranda – big woman falls over, repeat ad nauseum. Tune back next week to see which Russell makes the list.
HOT on TV: Katheryn Winnick, Vikings (History)... last-ever Mentalist (C5)... Taraji P. Henson, Empire (E4)... Sian Gibson (Car Share).
ROT on TV: election over-kill... Olympus – all rot, no plot... Camilla Long – snooty and wrong... The Game – clichéd and lame... 24 Hours In The Past – 2.4 minutes in, I was past caring.
HOW creepy was King Tommen's wedding night on Game Of Thrones? The kid looks twelve and wife Margaery about 33. Did the writers get the idea from Caroline Flack? Marge is running rings around Tom's mum, Cersei. "I wish we had some wine for you", she said sweetly. "It's a bit early in the day for us". Ouch.
*THE residents of that spooky House of Black & White turned out to be an order of killer priests. Shame. I was hoping for Jerry Dammers and the Specials...
*IS Michelle Keegan really the world's sexiest woman? She's pretty for sure, but sexy is something else. My vote would go to Kate Beckinsale or January Jones, although beautiful Nathalie Emmuel must be in with a shout. Nat makes more sense talking Valyrian on Game of Thrones than she ever did on Hollyoaks.
SOME lovely moments on Peter Kay's Car Share, not least when likeable Kayleigh spilt her bottle over John in his Mini. "Smells of sweet and sour, what is it?" he asked. "Just a sample," she replied. "Sample? Sample of what?" "My urine". It's not Phoenix Nights, but Car Share cruises along on warmth, natural-sounding banter and small joys like the cheesy ads on radio station Forever FM.
*SAFE House mysteries: why can't someone shoot that piano player? Why is half of it shot underwater? When Robert rang Mark in the middle of the night, why did the DCI put on a suit and tie to meet him? If a mate's worried enough to wake you up, who'd dress up?
*FEISTY Lagertha on Vikings stabbed abusive husband Sigvard in the eye for trying to expose her boobs. Thank god he didn't wolf-whistle.
*THE best thing about TV's election overkill? Knowing that most party leaders will be gone by Xmas. Hope Clegg remembers to use up all his holiday leave.
SMALL Joys of TV: Ingrid Seward's hooter, which rugby team did she play for again? Classic Minder on ITV4. Ruth Langsford declaring "We're getting our knockers out, I'm told". Ruth was talking door knockers, so put 'em away Eamonn.
RANDOM irritations: BBC News giving Keith Harris's death all of15 seconds. Panorama's pointless election prediction show. BGT judges using their golden buzzers to send acts through to the live shows who would have got there anyway.
SEPARATED at birth: Vera and the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers, one an ancient supernatural being in a preposterous hat and coat... the other a character from a horror film.
*DO you ever look at the woman in the Next ads and wish she was?
*SUPER Saturday ITV? I'll have the soup.