BUSHELL ON THE BOX
*This is an edited version of my TV column. The real thing, plus contests, goofs, lookalike pictures and more, can be found each Sunday only in the Daily Star Sunday.
May 30. THE BBC have taken the worse battering since Rocky Balboa this month – all of it richly deserved. It isn’t just Bashir and the cover-up; their institutional smugness and biased news agenda stick in the gullet. We all know what “Auntie” got wrong. Their satire is tame, their mainstream sitcoms are as much fun as a Ryanair mystery tour, and their drama commissions miss the target more often than a blindfolded archer on a lop-sided merry-go-round. It isn’t all bad though. The best thing the BBC have got right now is Inside No 9. It’s genius! Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton specialise in fiendishly clever, darkly comic twisted tales. Classic episodes, like Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room – about variety double act Cheese & Crackers – and the bungling burglars of A Quiet Night In, tower above most TV comedies. They’re beautifully crafted, well cast and you can rarely guess what’s coming next. In fact, the only thing funnier than Inside No 9 is what allegedly goes on inside No 10.
In the latest episode, sweaty Felix hired shy lip-reader Iris to spy on his wife Brenda who he suspected was sleeping with her boss, Dmitri Novak. Except Brenda wasn’t his wife, she’d taken out a restraining order, and Iris was setting him up as the fall-guy for Novak’s assassination. They’re not too proud to recycle old gags either. Cue lipreading error “You deserve a penis... ” quickly corrected as ’appiness (originally attributed to Brigitte Bardot). Along with Gods Of Snooker, Would I Lie... and Motherland, Inside No 9 is a jewel in the BBC’s tarnished crown. Drama less so. Keeping Faith delivered but ITV’s Unforgotten and Sky Atlantic’s Mare Of Easttown hit harder. Line Of Duty was in the running until that wash-out ending. Saving the BBC would mean slashing management, ditching box-ticking, and building real talent. But delivering balanced news, popular sitcoms and must-see dramas should be their immediate priority.
FRIENDS: The Reunion was never going to be as funny as the show – they’re actors not comedians; they need scriptwriters to sparkle. This was a fix of pure, sugary nostalgia. Matt Le Blanc seemed happiest. For some of the others this could have been The One Where Cosmetic Surgery Went Wrong. Interviewer James Corden made Des O’Connor seem like Paxman. Could he BE any frothier? But at least he didn’t sing. Rumours that he’d turned up in Monica’s old fat-suit seem unnecessary. Friends was so full of sharp, snappy lines you didn’t care that the sassy six could never have afforded their plush Greenwich Village pads.
*ANYONE else worried about the Frasier revival? Why mess with perfection? You have to know when to end. Only Fools should have finished in 1996. We’d shared Del-Boy’s millionaire dream for 15 years. It was gutting when John Sullivan made him skint again in 2001. Then The Green Green Grass rubbed salt in the wound.
WHEN Obama told James Corden about unexplained objects in our skies, millions naturally assumed that the former US President meant UFOs were real. Should we worry? Probably yes. TV teaches us that aliens are likely to be hostile (the Daleks, the Borg, Kang & Kodos, Dominic Cummings... ). But optimists dream of making first contact with other-worldly wonders. Especially, in no particular order, Vina the Orion (Star Trek), Lexx’s Xev Bellringer and triple-breasted Eccentrica from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Or is that just me?
*WHY are the aliens waiting to make First Contact? Simple. The only human woman visible from space with the naked eye is Gemma Collins... the horror! The horror!
HOT on TV: City On A Hill (SkyAt)... Jimmy White, World Of Snooker... Motherland... Long Lost Family... Army Of The Dead (the Netflix zombie film, not the House Of Lords).
ROT on TV: The Masked Dancer – foxtrot Oscar... Amanda Holden on Eurovision, and the outcome – as predictable as a Prince Harry whinge... The Nevers – whatevers.
OUR screens are awash with new detectives. Best is Kate Winslet as scowling, vape-sucking Mare Sheehan – she’s tough, tenacious and utterly believable. But doesn’t Rakie Ayola’s grouchy DS Holland on The Pact deserve a spin-off series of her own? She’s the most interesting character in this soppy show – smart, wily and forever grumbling about life’s small irritations, like crazy new-fangled crisp flavours. I share her pain, but have one question: would Holland go Dutch on the pork scratchings she loves?
*ON SAS: Who Dares Wins Ant said of lawyer Hannah, “As long as she doesn’t go down, I’ll be happy.” Either he was talking about her mood, or we’ve finally found his weakness.
*THE Eurovision winner denied snorting cocaine on screen. But how many of us needed pharmaceutical assistance to get through this marathon ordeal? Russia’s entry was like all the Loose Women talking at once, while Serbia’s was more like a nervous breakdown set to music. Next year, send Lady Parts.
*TOWIE’S James ‘Lockie’ Lock dreams of a future in Hollywood. Why not? There’s always work for a good waiter.
*DANNY Dyer asks “if walls could talk... ” while answering the question, “if tools could walk”.
*CUT the padding on Pointless and it’d last half an hour. Scale back the chat on House Of Games and they could squeeze in an extra round: ‘Anyone recognise the comedian taking part this week... ’
Small Joys of TV: The Kolminsky Method. Joanna Lumley as Felicity on Motherland – so monstrous she made you feel sorry for snobby Amanda. Fawlty Towers. Clips of Paul Ritter’s irascible Martin on C4’s Friday Night Dinner special.
Random Irritations: Matthew Wright’s teeny-weeny ponytail. Anyone saying food is “to die for”. Bake Off trailing collapsing cake disasters that never happened. The UK’s Eurovision bids – as disastrous as virtual Glastonbury.
SEPARATED at birth: Hannah, Before You Die and Zelda? One scary, morally compromised and facing a world of evil, the other’s a Terrahawk.
*THE Pursuit Of Happiness was the third time TV has dramatized Nancy Mitford’s novel about her oddball aristocratic family. Heaven forbid the BBC should remake a working-class saga like When The Boat Comes In.
May 23. IT’S easier to believe in Boris’ roadmap than the plot of The Pact. It’s basically 9 To 5 meets Big Little Lies. Four women brewery workers take revenge on Jack, their coked-up dick of a boss, only for him to be mysteriously murdered. We’re supposed to be on their side, yet “nice” Anna – a sensible middle-aged mum married to cop – enthusiastically keyed his flash new car. And Nancy, their older, entirely sober designated driver, went along with the others bundling Jack into her boot, tying him up in the woods, pulling down his strides and taking pictures of him in his pants. As did his own aunt, Louie. Yes, Jack was a rotter. He had a piss-up at the brewery and charged staff for their drinks. But he also openly groped female employees. They could have ruined him just by filming him in action…
Feeling bad, Anna and Nancy returned to the scene to find sad-sack Jack brown bread. They left his corpse covered in their DNA but, don’t fret, forensics haven’t turned up yet. Neither noticed that a third party had pulled his trousers back up… Instead of confessing, the women disposed of evidence, deleted the photos, and Louie apparently planted a colleague’s credit card nearby. At work they looked more furtive than BBC management when Martin Bashir’s name comes up…and inevitably someone started blackmailing them by text. Someone old I reckon as the messages were all correctly spelt with no emojis and the sender didn’t know how to turn off the caps. It was so daft I started wondering how the south Wales brewery could pay their workers enough for Anna to afford her lovely detached house. The real killer? Adrian Edmondson or Eddie Marsan probably. Why else are they here?
*ANYONE else think Eddie’s Arwel looked like a Bob Hoskins waxwork left by a radiator?
BRIAN Conley rocked up on EastEnders as Terry “Rocky” Cant, although considering the local crime rate it would’ve made more sense for him to have come as Dangerous Brian. He’s a likeable rogue but they’ve already got him lying. “A pleasure to meet you, Sonia,” he said. Eh? Yes, the soppy Cant is the “farver” of charmless Sonia Fowler (daughter of Carol, sister of Wellard), but had the foresight to leg it before she picked up the trumpet. Rocky claims to be a former U2 roadie. He’s full of tall stories and even tells jokes – you don’t hear many of those in Walford. Let’s hope he’s more Frank Butcher than Vinnie Monks.
THE new Fargo series seems unfocused, but give it time. We’re in 1950s Kansas City where black and Italian crime families have an uneasy truce. Chris Rock plays smart black hood Loy Cannon whose peace deal with Italian mobster Josto Fadda is tested by Josto’s hot-headed brother Gaetano (Gomorrah’s Salvatore Esposito) fresh off the boat from “the boot”. The key character is Ethelrida, a bright, black schoolgirl in a racist town, whose parents are in hock to mobsters. Her aunt Zelmare just broke out of chokey with her pal Swanee (hope she doesn’t sell her down the river…) There’s also an angel-of-death nurse who bakes Eth’s family a pie laced with enough ipecac to curdle Paul Hollywood’s smile. Expect surprises, style and gallons of unsightly vomiting…
HOT on TV: Allison Becker’s header… Chris Rock, Fargo… Emily Beecham… the Mare Of Easttown twist.
ROT on TV: Eurovision – nul points… This Time with Alan Partridge – make it the last time.
SAM and Karen had sex on the stairs on Innocent – talk about stairway to heaven. Carpet burns have never been such fun. Don’t try sex on moving stairways though. It escalates too quickly. Don’t mention Roger Bannister either. They might think it’s an instruction.
*SO many beautiful views on Innocent. If ITV had cut all the scenic shots, the four-night saga would have been over by Tuesday. Moral? To avoid cops on a TV drama, live in a grotty inner-city backstreet.
*MORE magic moments on World Of Snooker, where Dennis Taylor’s glasses had him described as “looking like a cross between Elton John and the front end of a Ford Cortina”.
*NO more Sharon and Tracey then. Birds Of A Feather? F***ed together.
*THE primary school on the Mr Men doc had an LGBTQ week. I was shocked. Surely they’d have been taught this stuff at nursery school. The Mr Men themselves are behind the times, though. No sign of Mr Grindr yet…although Little Miss Woke may well be headmistress.
*YOU can tell they like Irish dancer Connor on SAS Who Dares Wins. Hard-faced Melvyn almost smiled when he told him, “All right John Travolta, f*** off.”
*THE Psychedelic Drug Trial? Wasn’t that a Happy Mondays tour?
*BUILDER Garry on Motherland spells his name with 2Rs. Diana Morgan’s Liz sniffed, “I didn’t think you could make the name Gary any worse.” Ouch. Serves me right for slating Mandy, her manky ‘comedy’.
*GARY Delaney: “I went on a barging holiday. I haven’t got a boat, I just kept pushing people into canals.”
Small Joys of TV: Rakie Ayola as The Pact’s foul-mouthed DS Holland. Inside No. 9. Rick Stein’s Long Weekends. Cavani’s wonder strike vs Fulham.
Random Irritations: Linda Radlett on The Pursuit Of Love. Historical dramas making little effort to reflect the era they’re set in. Sob stories on SAS Who Dares Wins.
CLASSIC CLANGER. Jack Burnicle was talking about a type of tyre on World Superbikes when he said: “Colin had a hard on in practice earlier, and I bet he wishes he had a hard on now.”
May 20. After Savile, news bias and the hounding of Sir Cliff comes the BBC latest scandal – the Dyson review reveals the extent of the lies told by Martin Bashir to hoodwink Princess Di into that infamous and inflammatory Panorama interview. If the deceit wasn’t bad enough, Lord Dyson confirms that the Corporation’s top brass actively conspired to hide the truth about the chicanery Bashir employed to pull off his sting. They suppressed internal investigators, gave whistle blowers the cold shoulder and actually re-employed their “rogue reporter” five years ago. They regret it now – of course they do, they’ve been found out. But the damage to the BBC’s once rock-solid reputation for rigorous and impartial journalism is immense. Trust is broken yet again. Former director generals Lord Birt and Lord Hall should face a public inquiry. The cover-ups happened on their watch.
PS. While we’re on the subject of the BBC, why did they not report the massive anti-lockdown demo in London last weekend? You may not agree with protests like these but that’s immaterial – they exist. So why are they not shown? The Beeb’s job is to report, not to censor or take sides. Yet time after they decide what demos we should hear about and which we shouldn’t. And time after time, the language of their reports is designed to influence the viewers’ opinions of those protesting. Very often BBC priorities echo those of the government, just like a state broadcaster in a totalitarian regime. Cowed by psychologists and platoons of unquestioned fear mongers, it seems we give up our freedoms far too readily. We will regret that.
May 16. THERE was more rock’n’roll spirit in Gods Of Snooker than a whole night at The Brits. Alex “Hurricane” Higgins had the wildness of Jerry Lee Lewis – a mix of hunger, arrogance and raw charisma. He played snooker like his life depended on it, and to an extent it did. Pot Black was on TV before him, but Higgins galvanised the sport with his talent and lightning speed. Richard Osman called him snooker’s “gateway drug”. Vintage footage showed the Ulster boy setting the baize ablaze with his skill. He delivered drama – and viewers by the million. When the cocky upstart beat pillar of respectability Ray “Dracula” Reardon in 1982, the whole country went snooker loopy. Higgins won the last frame of the final with a breath-taking 135 clearance, and then tearfully embraced wife Lynn and their baby daughter. The wheel-tapper’s son had gone from teenage snooker hustler to World Champion.
Reardon won that title more often, but Higgins brought the pizzazz. He was the maverick rebel to ex-cop Ray’s saloon bar conservatism. This excellent three-part BBC2 documentary roped in the giants of the game, including Steve “The Nugget” Davis and Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White, another hell-raiser. Like that other Belfast-born sporting god, George Best, Higgins succumbed to multiple temptations – booze, cocaine, women – and died too young. Snooker officials moaned about his drunken hijinks. Ex-pro Rex Williams called him “a complete loose cannon” who “could cause a riot in thirty seconds.” Yet, as player turned commentator John Virgo argued, Higgins kept the game in the headlines. And as Gary Lineker acknowledged snooker became as popular as football, providing another route out of poverty for talented working-class kids. Barry Hearn put it bluntly. “Alex was dangerous,” he said. “But that’s what made him exciting.”
*SNOOKER was on TV before colour, leading to the classic Ted Lowe comment: “For those watching in black-and-white, the pink is next to the green.”
JACK Whitehall’s gag-writers worked hard to pump laughs into The Brits script. He introduced Olivia Rodrigo’s song saying, “In the words of Tiger Woods, ‘Drivers Licence – take it away’.” And quipped that Korupt FM “was more corrupt than the feng shui at Number Ten”. The funniest moment? Little Mix winning Best Group. With Covid restrictions, the floor of the O2 looked sparser than a Jonathan King fan rally. The speeches were grim – long lists of thanks with bucketloads of the tiresome group-think virtue signalling that passes for rebellion these days. At least Headie One brought it back to the old bump and grind... The real losers were London’s drug dealers. It’s usually their best night of the year.
*COLDPLAY performed on a barge in front of coloured smoke bursts. It looked like an explosion in Gwyneth’s vagina-candle factory.
DO we need another costume drama about posh berks with stately homes and shaky morals? Yes, if it means Dominic West thundering around as domestic tyrant Lord Matthew Alconleigh. In The Pursuit Of Love, he slagged off “the Hun”, told niece Fanny she had “thighs like goalposts” and dismissed the very notion of female education. The feudal throwback frequently recalled using his entrenching tool to kill eight Germans during WWI. Daughter Linda shared baths and beds with cousin Fanny, hid in cupboards, and married unwisely. That entrenching tool could still come in handy.
*AT one point, Linda said “Don’t pity me, Fanny” – just one comma away from a Davina McCall documentary.
HOT on TV: Dua Lipa, The Brits – hotter than a scotch bonnet bikini... Gods Of Snooker... Domina (SkyAt)... mean machine Melvyn Downes.
ROT on TV: Alastair Campbell, Good Morning Britain – bad mornings for viewers... Danny Boy painting discredited creep Phil Shiner as a crusader.
INSIDE No 9 had more old jokes than a Xmas cracker – antique groaners like “Chicago?” “No, she was a passenger”. “Get me a cheese sandwich” “Caerphilly?” “Yes, use the blunt knife.” The always inventive show crossed an old-school heist with an older school Italian masked comedy. It worked best sending up TV cliches. Ticked off for speaking directly to viewers, Collie protested, “I wasn’t Fleabagging, I was Miranda-ing.”
*KAT? Splat! To celebrate Mental Health Week on EastEnders, Whitney ran over Kat Slater and left her for dead. Along with anger management, Valium and couples therapy, what Walford needs most is CCTV and speed bumps.
*JOHN Barrowman has been cut from an interactive Doctor Who experience for alleged flashing. In a related story the Barrowman pay-per-view booth at Pride is expected to clean up.
*ALASTAIR Campbell on GMB made BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker look like he has a personality. By the time Campbell had finished, AC12 stood for the number of viewers still watching.
RANDOM questions: If Holly wins SAS Who Dares Wins, will she change her name to Mandy McNab? If Beyonce married Andrew Castle would she hire herself out for children’s parties? And logically, shouldn't the BBC schedule The Pursuit Of Love run before Call The Midwife?
Small Joys of TV: Dominic West as Uncle Matthew, The Pursuit Of Love. Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix). Secrets Of The Krays (BritBox). Billy Connolly’s Route 66 (Blaze).
Random Irritations: The depressing dimness of Celebrity Mastermind contestants. C4 deliberately sabotaging SAS: Who Dares Wins on the altar of wokeness.
May 9. SCENE: The AC-12 interview room, a claustrophobic glass box. Ted Hastings, Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming face a suspect and his brief. Hastings: “For the tape, I am Superintendent Ted Hastings. Will the suspect please state their name?” Suspect: “Jed Mercurio.”
Hastings: “Mr Mercurio, as the so-called writer of Line Of Duty, how can you justify letting down our viewers?” Lawyer: “He didn’t.” Hastings: “Listen here fella, this man turned ‘AC’ into Anti-Climax and made mugs of millions by unmasking H as Bungling Ian Buckells. It was the biggest let-down since Rapunzel’s hair!”
Lawyer: “Mr Mercurio promised to reveal the identity of a fourth corrupt officer. There was never any suggestion that H was a criminal kingpin.” Hastings: “Don’t give me that, son, you’ve wasted nearly forty hours of the nation’s valuable time.”
Lawyer: “Mr Mercurio made a very valid point about the way people are promoted beyond their capabilities – especially in inefficient organisations like, say, the BBC.” Hastings: “Mother of God! The man has perpetrated a criminal act, a crime against drama! Steve!”
Arnott: “So who was running the OCGs after Tommy Hunter’s murder?” Mercurio: “No comment.” Arnott: “The villains are still at large. Where’s the money from their crime empire? Is Chief Commander Osborne involved? And why tease us with Jimmy Nesbitt?” Mercurio: “No comment.”
Hastings: “Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the satanic Gadarene swine! Kate.” Fleming: “You’ve painted a pessimistic picture of a police force where corruption is swept under the carpet and honest coppers lose. How can you justify that?” Lawyer: “By revealing that Marcus Thurwell faked his death, and having Ted save his job?” Arnott: “Which would mean?” Lawyer: “Series seven!” All three: “ARRGHHHHHH!!!!!” Mercurio: “Ker-ching!”
*RELATED questions: How the F can Buckells be H? Who sucked the diesel out of the plot? And how great is Britain’s Witness Protection programme? Jo Davidson’s new gaffe looked like an Escape To The Country dream house.
YOU could accuse ITV of flogging The Chase like Miss Whiplash with a cob on, except Beat The Chasers is arguably more gripping that the original. Retired Sue from Kent was the first big winner, thrashing all five eggheads to scoop £50,000 with just three seconds left on her clock. Get in! They were running neck and neck for the last twenty seconds too. Malcolm, another pensioner, challenged the quiz quintet for £100K but sadly lost by one question. Biggest nitwit? Tania who thought the language of ancient Rome was Greek.
*I LIKED Claire who worked as “a volunteer at a beer festival”. Where do you sign up for that?
*CAN anyone handle five chasers at once? asked ITV. Blimey. Even Roxy Mitchell would have balked at that. In a day, maybe, but at once? That’s like something out of I, Claudius.
NOT much happens on Johnny Vegas: Carry On Clamping. It’s like On The Buses meets Waiting For Godot – Waiting For Buses. It’s a bloody long wait too. Johnny’s plan is to turn a collection of clapped-out coaches into an upmarket glamping site. It was his ambition, he said, “to do something independent of TV”, while, um, filming it for TV. He bought his first bus on eBay for £5,500. It cost £7K to bring it over from Malta, and he faces an eye-watering £45K bill to restore and convert it. He hadn’t thought of pricing it up before it started. Looks like Monkey was the brains in their double act.
*JOHNNY’S late mum Patricia was the star of the show. She begged him not to do his stand-up “because it’s filthy... people like it, but these days people like stupid things”. As the ITV2 schedules prove.
HOT on TV: Beat The Chasers... Shalome Brune-Franklin, Line Of Duty... Ian Wright: Home Truths.
ROT on TV: Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over – not worth waking up for... The Battle For Britney – surrendered without a fight.
BEAT The Chefs is the most one-sided contest since Mongolia Vs Japan. Amateur cook Becca had to make a crab tortellini with nduja butter and sweetcorn. Try knocking that up from scratch with no practice run. And with Andi Oliver firing questions at you while you’re trying to concentrate. She’d bring a saint to a quick boil. No wonder Chris burnt his plaice, thereby cooking his goose.
*BEAT The Chasers, Beat The Chef... such a shame my butcher-themed pitch, Beat The Meat was totally misunderstood. On the plus side, C5 seemed keen.
*KATIE Price has got engaged for the 8th time. How many toasters and food-mixers does one woman need? She’s clocked up more rings than a Line Of Duty complaints hot-line.
*KIRSTEN on Second Hand For 50 Grand said getting a new handbag was “like the best climax you ever had”. Take her round TK Maxx and she’d scream the place down.
*WATCHING The World’s Greatest Hotels on the New York’s impossibly plus Plaza, I remembered I’d stayed there once with Ozzy Osbourne. My question? Why the hell did I quit that job?
Small Joys of TV: Buster Keaton’s life story (Sky Arts). Minnie Driver, Starstruck. Bloods. Motherland reruns (BBC4). Emmylou Harris: From A Deeper Well. Richard Madeley.
Random Irritations: The traditional dreary and uninspired Bank Holiday Monday TV schedules. Alan Carr’s voice. Hitler’s Secret Sex Life – a limp affair that totally failed to invade the Fuhrer’s hinterland.
Separated at birth: Ted Hastings and Odo from Deep Space Nine. One a shape-shifter who’s never entirely what he seems... the other’s a Star Trek alien.
Classic clanger: DAVID Barby was talking about vases on Flog It when he told a startled woman: “You’ve got a lovely pair, but unfortunately one of them looks it’s got a crack in it.”
May 2. IT WAS a perfect “Teddism” and a classic Line Of Duty moment. Superintendent Ted Hastings, exasperated beyond belief by Jo Davidson, let rip with a mighty “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the wee donkey... ” He looked ready to chew glass. We’ll all feel exactly the same tonight if we don’t finally find out the identity of H – the corrupt senior copper in league with organised crime. I’ll bet good money it’s not DCS Patricia Bloody Carmichael, even though she has been deliberately thwarting AC-12 at every turn. And my gut tells me there’s more chance of H being Harry Hill, H from Steps or the late Harry H. Corbett than turning out to be our Ted.Sure, he’s had wobbly moments, but the gaffer has been the moral core of this great show from the start.
The prime suspect is surely Chief Constable Osborne. It can’t be Buckells – he seems barely qualified to cut it as a traffic warden. (Unless that blundering buffoon persona is misdirection... ) And it can’t be ex-DI Marcus Thurwell because he’s dead... isn’t he? Come to think of it, we didn’t actually see the corpse’s kisser. (Or even that distinctive Axminster thatch). Is Osborne too obvious, though? He could be being manipulated by someone smarter. Say DCC Andrea Wise... I can’t pretend to know. But then I’m still waiting to find out what role Darren Hunter (Jo’s cousin-brother) has in the OCG; whether cute DC Chloe is all she seems, and whether Gill Biggeloe ever sunbathes topless near her seaside bolt-hole. Line Of Duty can be maddening – why did Kate go on the run with Jo? Why not just nick her and call for back-up? But boy I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
*WHAT about Kate driving that Mazda MX5? One a formidable machine that’s still a great ride, I’d imagine; the other is a car.
*FICTIONAL characters who’d make great TV dramas: 1) Conman-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn (created by Steve Cavanagh) 2) Dublin cop Bunny McGarry (Caimh McDonnell) 3) Victorian magician-turned-detective Michael Magister (Colin Edmonds).
THEY had the Oscars in an LA train station. You half-expected Best Supporting Actor to go to the platform announcer. God, it was dull. True, Regina King nearly fell arse over tit at the start. “Live TV, here we go,” she joked. But the dreariness set in quickly. “We are mourning the loss of so many... ” she began, forgetting that Hollywood’s job is to enchant, enthral and entertain us – not to rub our noses in reality. There’s enough misery on the news. The films were uniformly grim. No wonder ratings sank to an all-time low. “How can something so woke put so many people to sleep?”, asked comic Jimmy Kimmel. It was awful, with rambling speeches and cringeworthy moments like Daniel Kaluuya exclaiming “My mum met my dad, they had sex!” What is he, 12? His poor mother looked mortified.
POLICE surveillance officer is the perfect job for a Peeping Tom. You’re not perving, you’re working! On Viewpoint, DC Martin Young was watching Greg – controlling boyfriend of missing teacher Gemma – but got drawn to two-faced Kate next door. Either because she liked shagging on her settee (sofa, so hot)... or because he recognised her from Corrie. It seemed unlikely he’d trust boozy blabbermouth Zoe (whose flat he’d commandeered), let alone bed her. Just keeping on top of the asset I suppose.
*ITV’S Viewpoint could be the last time we see Noel Clarke on telly – if the seedy allegations (which he denies) turn out to be true. ITV pulled the final episode but you didn’t miss much. Viewpoint had affairs, money-laundering and deceit; but the most important thing this casserole-slow potboiler taught us was: 1) Buy curtains. 2) Fit them. 3) Keep ’em closed.
HOT on TV: Kelly Macdonald, Line Of Duty... Susannah Fielding, This Time with Alan Partridge.
ROT on TV: Oscars 2021 – and the winner is, anyone who didn’t watch... Viewpoint – less Rear Window, more rear end.
THEY had one good gag on This Time with Alan Partridge. Co-host Jennie said of a kid who’d written in to their TV show, “He’ll be running the BBC one day.” Alan, looking at his notes, replied, “Oh no, no, no, he attends state school.” Ain’t that the truth! Partridge was always a great character, a deluded has-been so unlikeable he couldn’t get a lift in a driverless car. But he made more sense as a falling star on local radio than on this hit-and-miss One Show spoof. Partridge wouldn’t last a week on TV now. Besides, he’s trumped constantly by reality – Madeley on GMB, Piers doing The Great British Walk Off etc. Sadly the laughs dried up when Armando quit.
*THERE was talk of “a drink” on Bent Coppers, but that barely scratched the surface. As Arthur Daley knew, there are six orders of drinks (bribes) ranging inside from “a little drink” to a handsome one. For corrupt cops in seventies Soho, it wasn’t so much a large drink as an entire Olympic swimming pool.
*AFTER Bent Coppers should the Sweeney be renamed the Lying Squad?
*NANCY Carter wants to be sterile on EastEnders. Like the scripts. Yeah, she looked at all of Walford’s psychos and losers and realised the world doesn’t need more of these.
*RE Detective Mare Sheehan on Mare Of Easttown: is that the first known example of arresting bitch face?
Small Joys of TV: Glenn Close doing Da Butt (Oscars). Suzanne Stokes as a dream plumber on Frasier. Starstruck. Fred Buckle. Leona Mayor, ITV Racing – giddy up!
Random Irritations: the terminal decline of Have I Got News For You – the box-ticking, unfunny guests, the laziness, predictability and bias... it has all the satirical bite of a toothless Care Bear.
*RANDOM questions: when exactly did Martin sleep on Viewpoint? Was Corrie gossip Hilda Ogden the original chatty rat? And why didn’t Boris just call in Nick Knowles? Downing Street SOS.
Separated at birth: Mastermind winner Jonathan Gibson and Flanders & Swan star Donald Swann? The Music Hall pair were Jon’s specialist subject. Stick Brian Blessed in a wheelchair and they could start a tribute act.