BUSHELL ON THE BOX
May 29. IS it over yet? Britain's Got Talent went on longer than Alesha's legs but was far less pleasurable to behold. Last night's over-blown final redeemed things to a degree, with some stunning performances. But we have to be honest about the show's flaws.
1) Three of the judges can't judge. Asking these gushing clowns to weigh up talent is like sending Norris Cole to break up a riot. If any old codswallop is "brilliant" the whole process is devalued.
2) It's too samey. The biggest laugh came on Wednesday when Simon Cowell described BGT as "a variety show". Some variety! That night featured four dance acts, four singing acts and an irritating magician. And that was typical. The semis were like a Venn diagram of Sinatra's conquests – top-heavy with hoofers and chirpers. 80% of the 45 contenders danced or sang. Granted some dancers dressed as polar bears or came kitted out as Star Wars stormtroopers but that's still as unbalanced as the Togni Brothers' stumble.
3) Only one act who performed in the first half-hour of any of the semis reached the final, while seven turns that appeared in the last half-hour did. If your slot makes such a difference, the running order should be decided by chance in advance – to eliminate any temptation to fix the results.
4) BGT is comedy-phobic. Previous talent shows unearthed major stars: Les Dawson, Lenny Henry, Jim Davidson, Victoria Wood... But Cowell shares ITV's disdain for gag-telling comics and the nearest he got was mimic Darren Altman whose second spot bombed like Arthur Harris. The bloke's a voice-over artist, not a performer. He hasn't honed an act over years of live shows; he had to speed-write a new routine on the back of a fag packet.
Darren wasn't the weakest contender though. "Davros" was. "Beyond bad," huffed Cowell. So why put him through? Ditto accordion-botherer Vitaly ("one of the worst acts I'd ever seen," Simon claimed.) Other irritations included nitwits booing Cowell for being honest about average turns. Cowell pretending to be a naïve fairground rube who believes magicians really are "magic". And Alesha pressing other judges' buzzers, which was as tiresome as Walliams acting gay (Duncan Norvelle should sue). This ad-bloated series was over-reliant on imported talent and acts recycled from other shows. There were some superb performers last night. But if these issues aren't addressed viewing figures will plummet like Amanda's necklines.
*ALESHA'S dress on Thursday looked like a deckchair crossed with police barricade tape. Subliminal advertising for Broadchurch 3?
*I LOVE Trip the dog, but when Lucy brought him in on a tray the poor mutt looked like the starter course in a Korean restaurant.
*WAYNE described Amanda as a "MILF" and few would disagree. Here, as a service, are my current Top 5 TV MILFs: 1) Emma Willis 2) Julie Bowen 3) Sofia Vergara 4) Amanda Holden 5) Tracy Barlow (though in her case that's Monster I'd Like To Fillet)
*AMANDA was praising a singer's high notes when she said: "Momma when you let rip you blew the roof off." No wonder Walliams wrinkled his nose.
I WAS stunned when Carla ran Cathy down on Corrie, largely because Cath was running into Dev's shop at the time and yet Carla still managed to hit her face on. Either Cathy is flexible enough to join Tumar TR or Carla should be stunt-driving on Top Gear. The plot had more holes than Amanda Holden's dresses. I can't work out why Carla confessed. Tracy is a malignant scumbag who lies like Osborne. Who'd have believed her? BGT final week has never been good for Carla. Think about it. 2014, she found out Peter was a cheater; 2015: Tracy burnt down her flat; 2016: her wedding gets wrecked... Simon Cowell has jinxed her entire life.
*RANDOM thoughts: Doesn't Dev stay open late? Which of us hasn't gone shopping for a wedding dress in a conveniently heavy tow-truck? How did Ty accelerate fast enough in under seven yards to plough through a brick wall?
EAST London has seen more change than the Kray Twins' tip jar: the Blitz, the dock closures, gentrification... Mass immigration has been a game-changer, though. According to The Last Whites Of The East End, Cockneys now make up fewer than 1 in 5 Newham residents. And with schools coping with up to 147 languages, few would blame locals for moving out. Waves of immigrants have settled here and blended in, from the Huguenots on. But these newcomers have been encouraged to keep separate. Hammers-loving Londoner Usmaan Hussain reckons that in ten years time there'll be no trace of traditional Cockney culture left. That old strength of community – the humour, customs and the sense of collective identity few middle commentators understand – will be deader than Ben Tillett. You don't need to be Alf Garnett to feel a tremendous sense of loss.
HOT on TV: Maggie Siff, Billions (Sky At)... Vikings (History)... Beau Dermott... Alison King – tara, chuck.
ROT on TV: BGT's dancing dinosaur – Craposaurus Rex... slow, dreary Wallander – why bother?...The Secret Life Of Human Pups – pedigree chumps.
THE Secret Life Of Human Pups brought us blokes who get their kicks from dressing as puppies. (How do they like it? Ruff!) It raised a number of questions, like: where were all the female dogs? (EastEnders) Do they go dogging? Do they chase after Catwoman? Do they drink out of toilet bowls and bite postmen? Do they give or receive bones? Should they be spayed or neutered? Are their women friends called wags? And more importantly why did C4 think the dull lives of these barking mad berks would be of interest? I daren't watch BBC4's Addicted To Sheep now.
*HUMAN Pups could benefit from therapy but, quipped Richard Osman, unfortunately they're not allowed on the couch.
STACEY and Martin's marriage is so obviously doomed even their relatives blanked it. His sister, her Mum and "Nan" Big Mo stayed away on their big day, which was overshadowed by Bobby hospitalising Jane and Peggy's big advert for suicide. Can't wait for the funeral: "Get outta my 'earse!"
*MEDICAL update: Jane has damage to her spine, Ian still ain't got one.
*THE background music swells constantly on The Musketeers, much like Piers Morgan's head. Still it's fun to watch. Sewing Bee had saggy gussets. These hunky heroes leave a trail of soggy ones. It's a shame they'll soon be unbuckling their swash.
SMALL Joys of TV: World Cup 1966 – Alfie's Boys (although no-one called Alf Ramsay "Alfie"). Tormund's crush on Brienne on Game Of Thrones. Queen Of The Baboons (National Geographic) – sadly not a Peggy Mitchell tribute.
RANDOM irritations: BGT's over-effusive judges; they have the critical faculties of hyped-up toddlers. Fraudsters on Council House Crackdown. Sky's lack of subtitles. People who say "I'm not going to lie," suggesting that they normally do.
SEPARATED at birth: Ralf Little and Spice-head Barry. One's once-lucrative career seems to have run out of steam, the other puffed spice on The Last Days Of Legal Highs. Tsk, I can remember when "spice head" was something Geri fans could only dream of.
*MY new book The Power & The Glory is out now, packed with memories of my life and laughs on the road with bands like the Ruts, Slade, The Jam, Blondie, Quo & many more. Including the great Butlin's Festival Of The Sixties that wasn't. All for £7.90.
May 22. The ghost of Fat Pat returned to EastEnders to help Peggy Mitchell “off” herself, as her son Grant so charmingly put it. Heaven must have one hell of a running buffet. She’s even Fatter Pat now. What are they feeding her, angel cake? In her lurid pink satin jacket, Pat Butcher (Deceased) looked like she’d turned up to murder Showaddywaddy at the Queen Vic karaoke. Was she supposed to be a phantom or a hallucination? So many people return from the grave in this dismal soap it’s hard to know. Or care. Kathy is bowling around alive and well 15 years after her fatal car crash and Peggy never batted an eyelid.
Pat’s return was an echo of dying Jack Duckworth’s vision of Vera on Corrie, although not as poignant. Jack loved Vera. The idea that Pat was Peg’s best pal was imposed by the writers much later. For years she hated her. Pat stole her “Fwank”, remember?
Pat was a former brothel madam too, another massive no-no for Peggy who led the protest against the mucky massage partner. (I still miss unhappy hooker Marissa who looked like Feargal Sharkey in drag; one sang Teenage Kicks, the other charged for them.)
Peggy’s exit recalled Hayley Cropper’s right-to-die storyline too. If you suspended disbelief it was a touching send-off, albeit a bloody quick one. Grunt came and went faster than a Walford Town FC season. Roxy has kept her knickers on longer. At least he could’ve have knocked up Whitney Dean on the pub carpet in passing, as tradition demands. Enders didn’t even give Peggy an hour; they just padded out the episode with some Carry On At Your Convenience cobblers about stolen bogs which made no sense. Why cart them up and down stairs when they could’ve just passed ’em over at the top? It was sad to see Peg peg it, of course, but she hasn’t been a cornerstone of the soap for years. The best thing about her going was it set up the prospect of another all-mighty Mitchells feud, which might allow Ross Kemp to equal his finest piece of acting – the great Kelloggs Fruit ’N’ Fibre ad of 1990.
*ODD. Mix up “Peggy Mitchell” and you get City Gel Phlegm which I believe was also one of the services on offer at the massage parlour...
*GHOSTS that should haunt Walford: Angie, Pete, Dr Legg – it’s been years since Dot’s had a Legg over.
*FAT Pat Showaddywaddy karaoke. She doesn’t sing The Moon Of Love, she eats it.
THAT TV drama revival went pear-shaped quicker than Liverpool v Seville. What the hell happened on Undercover and Marcella? Both had more loose ends than Dr Who’s Oods in a spaghetti eating race, and more red herrings than a North Korean seafood diner. I have no idea how or why Michael murdered the mayor of Baton Rouge on Undercover (if he did), how Rudy knew about it, or why British agents were bumping off people to cover it up. Marcella was even madder. She was more vigilante than cop. She broke into places, half-inched data and came close to topping a suspect during one of her blackouts. Marcella didn’t kill her husband’s mistress Grace, but she did move her body for no apparent reason. The only person crazier than her was Horrible Henry who became a copy-cat serial killer to get away with throttling his sister. Probably. I don’t know who topped the taxi driver. Possibly a hit-man for Uber. It was so barmy and convoluted half the audience probably blacked out in sympathy. At least Anna Friel looked hot in a parka.
“SEWING means everything to me” claimed one Great British Sewing Bee contestant, who clearly should have been told there and then to sod off and get a life. But no. We’re supposed to be thrilled by Claudia Bloody Winkleman shouting at people altering hem-lines... Claude tries to stir things up with wild talk of binding bias and unstable fabric (it’s not plutonium, love). But even the language of sewing is flat. Where’s the innuendo? A bit of “easing in” won’t leave us in stitches. And “you need that length” is hardly in the moist crack league. Nothing can stop the deadly spread of dull day-time dross. It’s like Game Of Thrones greyscale, choking the life out of the evening schedules.
*WHAT next from BBC2? The Great Washing Up Challenge? My Life In Queues? How about The Art Of Ironing, with its own hot babe in a hijab – a must-have addition to any “factual” commission? I’m holding out for Ready Steady Take-Away.
HOT on TV: Gaite Janson, Peaky Blinders... The Americans (ITV Encore)... Banshee (SkyAt)... Going Forward.
ROT on TV: Undercover finale – underwhelming... The Great British Sewing Bee – sew-sew... Upstart Crow – slack-adder.
THAT Halifax ad baffles me. It’s not so much that Top Cat lives in a bin –in Kensington a bijou residence like that would set you back at least half a mill – more that he’s a jobless foreign national living abroad. Lloyds should hit back with Fred Flintstone taking a prehistoric loan to get his cave done up to George Clarke’s standards. PS How long has Rachel Jordache worked for the Halifax?
*EDDIE Izzard has multiple super-powers on Powers. Shame super-funny continues to evade him.
*A RUSSIAN will receive the first head transplant according to news reports. Bah. Ben Mitchell has beaten him twice.
SMALL Joys of TV: Daenerys in flames on Game Of Thrones – that’s one hot woman. Holly Willoughby expressing her preference for a “nicely shaped bush” on This Morning. Jimmy Hill: A Man For All Seasons. BBC4’s Eddie Chapman doc. Paxman In Brussels – at last some honesty.
RANDOM irritations: Love, Nina being stripped of all the book’s high-class, name-dropping gossip. Utterly feeble Walford Gazette frontpages. The BBC’s transparent recipe charade. Corrie’s cannabis cobblers – what are the writers smoking?
SEPARATED at birth: Grant Mitchell and Nookie Bear? It’s the pop-eyes that do it. Let’s open a book on who he’ll bed first. Sharon, Kathy, Jane again... Foreplay for Ian is three days of begging, all Grant has to do is holler “Oi, Renee! I’m home!”
For a chance to win CSI’s last-ever series and the feature length finale, buy today’s Daily Star Sunday.
May 15. The Baftas ought to carry more weight than Kim Kardashian's control pants, so it's a shame the wrong people always win. Self-serving luvvies turned the event into a partly political broadcast on behalf of the BBC. But where were the shows to back up the hot air? Did Wolf Hall deserve its Best Drama series gong? Unlike Doctor Foster which gripped the nation, Wolf Hall lost more than a third of its viewers. The acting was superb, the script less so. Three of last year's hottest dramas – Fargo, Homeland and Mr Robot – weren't in the running although awful, plodding London Spy was. That was so exciting during one episode a viewer accidentally woke up. The idea BBC Drama is some unique font of quality is arrogant tosh. Sure they've had a terrific 2016, but they're far better at recycling the past than confronting the present. And we still haven't forgotten Bonekickers or last year's swiftly-axed Partners In Crime and The Ark.
Like the EU, people value the concept of the Corporation above the reality. "It's your BBC" director Peter Kosminsky told the watching millions. Yeah? Then why is BBC comedy such a closed shop? Why does diversity matter more to it than funny? Why doesn't it celebrate St George's Day? And when exactly does it "speak truth to power"? Compare and contrast the stale, toothless "satire" of Have I Got News To You with John Oliver's genuinely acerbic bite. EastEnders won "Best Soap", but not for its tedious Lucy Beale bore-in or Ian's feeble suicide bid. It won because its laughable vision of Londoners suits the luvvies' rose-tinted spectacles. Speaking truth? 'Enders is as far removed from reality as anything Lord Haw-Haw broadcast during World War II. It's drama as propaganda. If the Beeb cared less about social engineering and more about quality, the smug Bafta bigwigs might have more of a case.
*GOOD calls: Suranne Jones bagging a Best Actress gong for her charismatic turn as Gemma Foster, GP (although in real life she'd have been struck off.) Peter Kay's Car Share winning Scripted Comedy. Bad calls: Bafta snubbing the brilliantly funny Catastrophe. Michaela Coel beating the more deserving Sharon Horgan and Sian Gibson for the Female Comedy Performance gong. Baffling calls: Strictly winning. I loved Anita Rani's bolero too, but what was it about this series that set it apart from the previous 12? I guess Bafta must really hate Bruce Forsyth.
*GRAHAM Norton joking about The Jump's many casualties: "Poor Sid Owen is looking at two years off work, and he wasn't even injured".
THERE have been some shock scenes on EastEnders but Tuesday night proper took the biscuit. What kind of Cockney geezer sits in a hot-tub with a naked optic (optic nerve = perv) when he could have been lobbing bottles at Upton Park? What a melt. Belinda's husband Neville tried to blackmail Mick Carter into a spot of light wife-swapping. They were a pair of Jarvises (West Ham wingers = swingers). Nev claimed he had CCTV footage of Mick returning the Koi carp Buster had nicked, and gave him the old "J'accuse" in the Jacuzzi. Except any film would've showed Mick preventing a crime rather than committing one, so where was the problem? Mick should have chinned him right there. Natch the Carters didn't oblige (a case of Koi carp interruptus?) but let's hope Mick bangs Belinda anyway. What a minx. Elsewhere Peggy returned to play hide and seek at Ronnie's. Her scenes with Aunt Sal were genuinely moving, and all the better for being largely silent. But someone really ought to check the Walford water: Peg, Pat, Carol, Tanya, Stan, Ethel, Frank, Irene Holloway, Cedric, Siobhan, Cyril, Evie Allen, Sharon's mum, Roy's mistress... only Chernobyl has a higher cancer rate.
BILLIONS is a battle between two alpha males – the human equivalent of those musth-crazed bull elephants on Nature's Epic Journey. Bobby "The Axe" Axelrod is a charismatic self-made hedge-fund titan. Chuck Rhoades is the merciless prosecutor out to blunt his blade for insider dealing. Cue blackmail, spying and more double-crosses than Mr Magoo in a voting booth. Chuck's wife Wendy works for Axelrod and is a real pain for her old man. Literally... He gets his kicks from her walking on him in stilettos, stubbing out fags on his chest and piddling on him – what Christian Grey might call a light starter. Some experts believe this is exactly what happened when Cameron set out to renegotiate EU membership terms with Angela Merkel.
HOT on TV: Sarah Gadon, 11.22.63 (Fox)... Gomorrah (SkyAt)... Carli Norris, EastEnders... Hillsborough... Maggie Siff, Billions.
ROT on TV: The Windsors – orff with their heads... Upstart Crow – alas, poor bollocks... Very British Problems – very lazy telly.
BAFTA took decades to honour Galton & Simpson. "If you'd waited much longer you'd have missed us", joked Alan Simpson, 86. The working class Londoners wrote Britain's best ever sitcoms, Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe & Son. Most of our cherished comedies were also penned by blokes from down-to-earth backgrounds. So why keep modern comedy so elitist?
*BEN Miles was as slippery as Gwyneth Paltrow's sweet potato lube on The Hollow Crown, but the production failed to explain the history let alone bring it alive. No wonder Henry VI looked confused.
*PIERS Morgan is interviewing Killer Women on ITV. Great! If just one of them smuggles in a shank...
*TV name of the week: Burrell Durrant Hifle, a designer on Bargain Hunt. Say it quickly and it sounds like someone stifling a sneeze.
*LOVED that foot puppet on Britain's Got Talent last weekend. The blonde one looked like Audrey Robert with Gary Busey's hair.
*THE Bafta-nominated Last Panthers dubbed Marseilles "the arsehole of France". Ridiculous, that's François Hollande.
SMALL Joys of TV: Grant Mitchell! Elle Mulvaney as Amy Barlow on Corrie. Peter Kay's near-silent Bafta acceptance speech. Vic & Bob. Harry Enfield, the best thing in The Windsors. Fierce. Attenborough At 90. Marooned with Ed Stafford – nearly as hazardous as being cocooned with Ed Balls.
RANDOM irritations: BBC1 making us wait a fortnight for the Undercover finale. Eurovision – hours wasted on pap when hot new bands like All The King's Men can't get a look in. Sloppiness – ITN calling a British soldier a "green beret", mouth-to-mouth on Home Fires years too early.
SEPARATED at birth: Max Wall and Nick Cave? One a grim, put-upon clown with bad hair and a dodgy walk; the other's a comedy legend.
TV Maths. Janine Butcher + Blues Brothers suit = Elle King at the Baftas.
May 8. Veep does for Yank politicians what Ryan Giggs does to his favourite PR girl, allegedly, but probably harder. It's savage, funny and the real US Presidential race makes it seem like a documentary. Veep is inspired by The Thick Of It but there's more chance of seeing Red Ken in a skullcap than of British TV making a comedy this hard-hitting ever again. So it's a shame it has fewer viewers here than Labour has voters in Scotland.
Series five kicked off with President Selina Meyer coping with an Electoral College tie. "Didn't those founding f***ers hear of an odd number?" she moaned. The foul-mouthed dialogue comes at you twice as fast as most people think. Selina slags off her own staff – "They've got a Secretary of State, and what do I have? Harpo, Chico and Shit-o". She sacks PR man Dan who's "as toxic as a urinal cake in Chernobyl", claims a rival "would volunteer for a beheading video to get national air-time". And declares "a state of go-f***-yourself" in Idaho after a mudslide, simply because they voted against her. She even has a pop at her own dead mother: "Thomas f***ing Kinkade couldn't paint her in a good light".
Her only strategy is to "say stuff" before her rival says stuff. A potential recount in Nevada buoys her. "I don't have to move!" she squeals. But a stress zit on her face causes a stock market crash, with the Dow "dropping lower than my balls on a hot summer day" according to Ben Cafferty, Selina's jaded Chief of Staff.
Could US politics really be this shallow, spiteful and gaffe-ridden? Almost certainly yes. Trump's eagle moment, Cruz elbowing his missus, Hillary "misremembering" getting shot at in Bosnia... this all actually happened. Veep paints the Washington elite as the desperate self-serving cynics they probably are. It also reflects widespread political disenchantment. Both Trump and Clinton have sky-high disapproval ratings: 60% and 56% respectively. Only Tracy Barlow is more hated. Yet the Yanks still may end up with a President with the speaking style of an aggrieved WWE wrestler and whose hair looks like candyfloss constructed from a moulting Labrador.
For all his faults, Trump electrified the US elections, something that couldn't be said of the dismal leading candidates for London Mayor. If dozy Zac had dropped out six weeks ago no-one would have noticed.
*ON being told the two great Greek contributions to society were democracy and anal sex (I've cleaned this up), Selina replied: "I've tried both and they're way over-rated. Like jazz."
*GENUINE names in US politics: Butch Otter, governor of Idaho; John Boehner, former speaker House of Representatives; Young Boozer, Alabama's state treasurer. Then there's businesswoman Krystal Ball (Osborne needs her help), and Democrat Dick Swett. The Canadians had a Greg Weadick.
IS it me, or is the grub on Masterchef losing its flavour? Michael O'Hare's poncy menu on Tuesday included roast prawn brain, sea urchin gonads and what appeared to be deep-fried silly string served with the blackened contents of an industrial vacuum cleaner. I was half expecting the next course to be the pork cyst from Mike Leigh's Life Is Sweet. Even Elzar's speciality dishes on Futurama – leg of salmon, human broth – wouldn't seem out of place here. On Wednesday, the final four flew to Mexico City for an Apprentice style crack at the local grub – corn and ants anyone? Poor Juanita couldn't quenelle her ganache. Well it was a long flight. "I can't quenelle," she moaned. See Gordon Ramsey, love, he can "kin'ell" all day long. One diner wanted to feel Jane's mole, pronounced mo-lay. The old goat! Mercifully the beaver was out of season. The Mexican chefs were pleasantly helpful and unpretentious, but after that all I fancied was a steak sandwich.
HOT on TV: Peaky Blinders... Marseilles (Netflix)... Penny Dreadful (SkyAt)... Kristen Renton, Anger Management.
ROT on TV: In The Club – I'm in the pub... Grayson Perry, All Man – all cock... The Code – code cack... Paul Merton's Secret Stations – about as much fun as train spotting during an eclipse.
PEGGY will be back on EastEnders soon. Hurrah. Sadly it's to peg out, but having the Mitchell matriarch centre stage will at least provide a brief relief from the soap's relentless LBGT plots. We've got transsexual traumas, transvestite blackmail, cheating lesbians, an out and proud gay murderer... (Bex's sexuality is held in a queue and will be toyed with once the writers finish reading the Guardian). There's more chance of the Vic installing "gender-neutral" bogs than of them having a St George's Day knees-up.
* GOOD old Peggy. She made Phil what he is today – a bitter, alcoholic, clapped-out loser...
SEPARATED at birth: Les Coker and Munch's The Scream? One a badly drawn creature perpetually crying out in anguish and pain, the other's a famous painting.
*DOES Babe blackmailing Les ring true? Why wouldn't he claim that "Christine" was just fancy dress? Besides, in diversity-crazed Walford who'd give a toss?
*MY mate just had a penis extension. His bungalow looks ruddy stupid now. Not quite as daft as Zipporah's house on Posh Neighbours At War, though. The red and white stripes made it look so much like an enormous Punch & Judy tent I was looking around for sausages. But what business is it of anyone else?
*IN The Club was beset with anguished screaming and yelling from the off, largely from male viewers trying to find the remote and change channel. What an ordeal. It's like a more right-on Casualty with nappies and neurotic boilers awaiting the pitter-patter of tiny problem children. You'd need gas and air to survive the series.
*I GET why Corrie are trying to make Nick Tilsley complicated and angry, but it's really not working is it? Ben Price is so wooden you keep expecting his next line to be "I am Groot".
*THE Drive final saw more over-spinning than Alastair Campbell. Prof Green was proclaimed "Drive winner 2016". Yeah, like they'll make another run of this ratings car crash.
*I'M no expert on transvestites but after watching All Man, it's pretty clear Grayson Perry needs to work on his make-up.
*WE'LL talk Baftas properly next week, but it wouldn't half restore my faith if gongs went to Suranne Jones, brilliant Chanel Cresswell, and People Just Do Nothing, BBC3's most slyly funny streetwise comedy.
SMALL Joys of TV: Jon Snow's resurrection. Fierce. Piers calling Madonna "an old fraud" on Good Morning Britain. Julia-Louise Dreyfus, Veep. Classic Dali clips, Artists In Love. Gamarjobat, Tonight At The London Palladium. Angie Tribeca. James Nesbitt's syrup on The Secret.
RANDOM irritations: Simon Cowell not bothering to show up on time on Britain's Got Talent (or ever). Brick thick contenders on The Chase Celebrity Special. John Virgo over-commentating on the snooker. The ridiculously exaggerated reaction shots on Masterchef.
May 1st. What a shocker at the end of the Game of Thrones. The Red Witch was beautiful until bedtime, but when she took off her magic necklace she turned into a withered old crone. It'd be unkind to suggest that this is what dating Joan Collins must be like, but Liz McDonald for sure. Doctors are now using that scene to cure sex addicts.
Thrones has been dubbed "tits and dragons" but it's so much more than that. It's cruel, savage, surprising and occasionally uplifting. At heart, it's a brutal power struggle between rival dynasties much of it is inspired by English history. Its bravest heroes are already dead, Jon Snow included (so far). No-one is safe.
This series has over-taken the books, but there's no sign of any drop in quality. If anything, it feels pacier – and funnier. There were echoes of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition when the Dothraki warlord asked "What's better than seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time?" and his goons replied "conquering a city... taking its people as slaves... breaking a wild horse" etc. "Seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time is one of the five best things in life," he decided.
Having captured dragon queen Daenerys, the Dothraki are obsessed by her white barnet. "You ever been with a girl with white pussy hair?" one captor asked another. "Only when I am f***ing your grandmother," his oafish pal replied. As Drogo's widow, Dae was spared rape but told she'll be sent to some widows' rest-home, the barbarian equivalent of Eastbourne.
Elsewhere Sansa and Theon were hunted down by Ramsay Bolton's soldiers but saved by Brienne of Tarth who conveniently turned up in the wilderness, perhaps using Sansa-Nav. Cersei was reunited with her brother/lover Jaime, mourning their murdered daughter, and plotting revenge on dodgy cult leader the High Sparrow. Tyrion the dwarf has ended up ruling war-torn Meereen by default. The sexy Sand Snakes are assassinating at will. And Ayra is now a blind, homeless beggar, tormented by Jaqen's sidekick who comes by every day to batter her. There's just one thing wrong with this series – only nine episodes left.
*SO a beautiful woman takes off her bling and turns into an ancient hag... Some blokes will have experienced something similar, waking up with a woman several decades older than the one they went to bed with; but for them the only "sorcery" involved flowed out of the pub optics...
*HOW much would you pay for that necklace, girls? It beats the hell out of HRT.
WOW! Anyone who says British drama can't compete with the Yanks must be eating their words after Line Of Duty. What an ending! We wanted twists, turns and a nail-biting conclusion. Writer Jed Mercurio delivered like DHL. For a while it looked like good guy DS Steve Arnott would be the victim of the biggest stitch-up since the Bayeux Tapestry. DI Matthew 'Dot' Cottan – a bent cop known as The Caddy – had framed him on behalf of a corrupt paedophile crime ring with tentacles in the police. Mercifully AC-12's anti corruption boss Superintendent Ted Hastings has a cast-iron moral compass. With DC Kate Fleming's able assistance, Hastings broke Dot down until he was forced to orchestrate a violent breakout. Such was the strength of the writing and acting on this show that two interrogation scenes took up nearly half of the 90minute finale. Dot had already topped Lindsay Denton and the surprises kept coming. Double-dealing AC-12 lawyer Gill Bigelow was cautioned, Dot was shot, Arnott vindicated, while former vice cop and long-time pervert Patrick Fairbank was finally collared. Series four can't come soon enough.
FLOWERS has been dubbed a fairy tale for grown-ups, but it wasn't so much Grimm as plain grim. This odd "comedy-drama" opened with the Dad attempting to hang himself and got less cheerful. Its grotesque cast included messed-up kids, a neurotic mum and the creepy big bad wolf of a cosmetic surgeon who wants to, ahem, eat her. With Julian Barratt and Olivia Coleman as the parents, a sex-mad Japanese illustrator as a lodger and an inventive hotchpotch of a style, Flowers certainly felt different. It was bold, dark, and absurd but sadly not remotely funny. What current TV comedy is though? I Want My Wife Back? I want 30minutes of my life back. It's the same with stand-up. I accept that middle class TV execs have won the comedy battle and there's more chance of seeing Fiz Brown on the Rich List than Bobby Davro on Saturday night telly. But surely they can find better comics than Josh Widdecombe? I'm not saying the bloke's dull but he doesn't blow out his birthday candles, he just does his act and they lose the will to burn.
HOT on TV: Line Of Duty finale... Game Of Thrones (SkyAt)... The Secret... Sean Benn, Legends.
ROT on TV: Josh Widdecombe – Ann is funnier... Flowers – wilting... My Mum's Hotter Than Me – televised mental illness... Caravanner Of The Year – as dull as a Bank Holiday tailback.
DON'T know about you but after sitting through Louis Theroux's Drinking To Oblivion I didn't half need a beer. Bizarrely in the week Theroux warned us about the perils of booze, Phil Mitchell fell off the wagon and into Denise's knickers. Conflicting message or what? He was even more smashed when he nailed Dawn Swann. Philth could be swigging neat meths in a rotting allotment shed and still pull a cracker. If the EastEnders writers wanted to put us off, they'd have him wake up with Cora. Or "Christine". Or perhaps Sonia. PS. Hope Denise is up the duff.
*HEALTH update: Sonia has found a lump, Sharon just married one.
*NEW slang for sex you regret: Netflix and Phil.
MY Mum's Hotter Than Me? Maybe, but only when she's burning up with influenza. We haven't seen this level of delusion since Triple Trouble auditioned on The X Factor. Georgina and her equally dozy daughter Kayla have blown £60K to look like Barbie. Presumably the doll, and not the war criminal but it's hard to tell. Both look utterly ridiculous. Why do that to yourself? And why do cynical TV commissioners encourage it?
*WHY didn't the Beeb book Rachel Riley for their Shakespeare celebrations? I hear her Bottom is a thing of wonder.
*THINGS Amanda Holden should maybe think twice about saying, #97: "It's an easy yes from me".
CORRIE news. Jason is "acting like a zombie," according to Eva. Nick Tilsley is merely played by one.
SMALL Joys of TV: The Rack Pack. June Whitfield. Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. Steve Buckshall. Pubs That Built Britain (despite the Hairy Bikers). Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones. That spear bursting through Trystane's head – that's what I call extreme acupuncture.
RANDOM irritations: the total lack of St George's Day programmes on English telly last weekend, and the self-loathing nitwits responsible for that. Insipid bands on Later Live. ITV over-stuffing their Palladium show with musical acts, someone tell them what variety means.
TV Maths: Bill Murray + Martin Kemp = Liz's fella Chris on Corrie.
*WHAT would be your miracle, ask Emma Willis. I don't think she'd take my suggestion seriously.