Garry Bushell
On The Box On The Blog Shop Features Archive Biography Books Booking Details Homepage


Nov 28. The message of BBC1’s Accused was a simple one: the British Army, they’re bastards aren’t they? The show, about bullied Tommies in Afghanistan, was about as realistic as Pingu. MacKenzie Crook gave a stunning performance as sadistic Lance-Corporal Buckley. But Jimmy McGovern’s version of military life made Turkish prisons look like Sandy Lane. Tormented soldiers were called ‘bitches’ and bombarded with buckets of excrement by the psychotic Buckley or his henchmen. One was driven to suicide, the other to murder. The sergeant condoned it, and there wasn’t a senior officer in sight to turn to. It was hell.

Military bullying does happen, but to suggest that the whole army runs like this is a sickening insult to our brave troops on the front-line and grossly insensitive to their families.

Accused was riddled with laughable errors – from the absence of a coroner to the unlikely presence of joke berets and goatees. BBC weasels defended it in the name of drama. Yet their notion of what makes good drama is as well-balanced as Ann Widdecombe on a tightrope in a force nine gale. They’re happy to portray Deepcut Barracks as the norm, but you won’t see a BBC drama about, say, Muslim perverts preying on teenage girls, or corrupt EU officials, or the culture of bullying that powered Gordon Brown’s government. They refused to broadcast The Falklands Play by Ian Curteis for two decades because they only want drama that reinforces their own prejudices.

Jana Bennett, the Beeb’s ‘Director of Vision’, swore on her bleeding heart that this episode of Accused should be judged purely as a work of fiction. Yet after the show, the channel ran a helpline suggesting that they really do believe the army runs on bullying and sadistic brutality. In contrast most actual soldiers talk about the camaraderie and trust that binds men together, along with black humour and selfless bravery.

The BBC’s ‘vision’ involves seeing the world entirely through right-on specs. Featherbedded by the public purse, but recruited largely via the Guardian, they share an ingrained hatred for values most people hold dear. If the Corporation is impartial, then Gillian McKeith is calm and rational and Wagner is a world class tenor.

*GILLIAN McKeith claimed she was pregnant last week - one bushtucker trial I’m glad I missed. This woman is the worst possible advert for nutritionists. She looks like a re-animated corpse, or a banshee that’s been hit by a death ray. McKeith started the week by pretending to faint. It was so badly faked even Francis Jeffers protested about her taking a dive. “We get twelve meals and Gillian gets an Academy Award,” said Shaun. If she was any more transparent we’d see her spleen.

McGrief also coughed to smuggling herbs into camp. That disappointed me. I’d assumed the mystery powder she was sprinkling into her food was an alien drug designed to keep her in human form. She hid the contraband in the one place she knew it’d never be discovered: her knickers. But horrible, po-faced, selfish and cowardly though she is, McKeith has taken over this series, which probably means we’ll never see the back of her. Ditto Wagner and Widdy. Lord forgive the nitwits voting for them for they know not what they do.

*GILLIAN took salt into camp. Everything she says requires you to take a pinch of it...

*SHAUN was bitten. Shame. The one who’d really appreciate some big snake action is Kayla.

*KATIE Waissel sang ‘My Sex Is On Fire’ last night. Her grandmother knows a place they can clear that up. Yes, Gran Sheila, 81, is a working whore. Insert your own Wayne Rooney punch-line here. “How can she embarrass me like this?” asked the distraught Sheila.

*SIMON congratulated Katie for “taking it on the chin”. (It’s big enough). Where Sheila takes it depends entirely on your credit card limit.

*IF Katie pronounced her Ws like Wagner, could we say empty Vaissels make the most noise?

* “FOR a short time I actually felt happy,” moaned Mrs Masood on EastEnders. Don’t worry, love, this is Walford. It won’t happen again. The soap’s first big storyline for 2011 involves a dead baby. Happy New Year! Even by their standards of grief addiction, this is utterly, wretchedly depressing. Incredibly lazy, too. It’s very easy to make people cry – there’s nothing sadder than infant death. It’s much harder to raise a smile. And judging by last week’s ridiculous antics – Ian hiding in a cupboard, Ryan locked in a fridge - harder still for the writers to come anywhere near reflecting reality.

HOT on TV: Raising Hope (Sky1)... Sharon Horgan... Peep Show – despite it having more awards than viewers.

ROT on TV: Any Human Heart – little human interest... Konnie Huq – pox factor... Garrow’s Law – as dull as the Mandelson doc... Film 2010 – Claudia Woeful, man; she bombs like North Korea.

*SARAH Beeny: Restoration Nightmare. Or is that just gynaecologists’ gossip?

*GOING by the number of kids Sarah’s had it’s a wonder she doesn’t live in a shoe.

*ANTON wiped the floor with Widdecombe last weekend. Let’s all write in suggesting things we wouldn’t wipe with her...

RANDOM irritations: Bruce Forsyth’s script – as lazy as Tess’s left eye. Strictly: Take Two hiring a “dance psychologist.” Charity telethon ‘entertainment’ – wouldn’t you pay more not to endure Loose Women singing and dancing newsreaders?

SMALL joys of TV: Caroline Flack’s legs. Len Goodman claiming to be “as confused as a baby in a topless bar” by Kara Tointon’s dancing. Ex-Cockney Reject Vince Riordan on Buzzcocks. Stacey, Shaun and Linford in the jungle. McKeith’s acting. She reminds me of a great movie star – think Gollum, with hair.

*A German cafe owner on The Apprentice described Chris’s crisps as “fanny chips.” Ahh. Must have been the sashimi flavour.

SEPARATED at birth: Harry from Wand Erection and Joanie from Happy Days? One a character in a long-running comedy... and so is the other one. Runners-up: Katie Waissel and Frodo.

RANDOM ways to improve life: 1) Come Dine With Me – Cannibals edition. 2) Harry Potter & The Quest to See Emma Watson Naked. 3) Strand Jedward, Katona, Heather Mills and Baggs The Brand on an island; then invite North Korea to shell it.

*WHY so little of Dale Winton on TV these days? Dale’s camp touch imbued many bizarre formats with a kitsch student-calming charm. No-one rioted when Sweep was on. Or woke up.

Nov 21. Gillian McKeith seemed surprised when she was expected to eat bush-tucker on I’m A Celebrity. It was a bit like Audley Harrison saying “Well I got in the ring didn’t I? No-one told me I had to fight as well!” The show is set in the Aussie bush, yet she’s startled by the presence of spiders. “I’ve got a serious phobia for insects,” Gillian protested, prompting ten million viewers to shout: “Then why go on the show, you poo-bothering witch-faced baggage?”

McGrief’s moaning and shrieking was irritating enough when it appeared genuine. But her hysteria didn’t quite add up. After she ‘fainted’, Gillian was clearly seen adjusting her top. And later, on the ITV2 spin-off show, she was shown telling fellow campers that fainting was “more entertaining” than just doing the tasks. You suspect that the only thing she has a true phobia of is the obscurity she richly deserves.

If you really are what you eat no-one in the world is better qualified to live on a diet of wizened dingo anus.

Nearly as annoying as McKeith is the uninspired casting. Havers, Britt and Shaun are good calls (on paper), and I can’t help liking Stacey and Linford. But Aggro Santos? Strewth! More people have seen the Argos Santa. And how many had heard of Kayla Collins? How lazy was that booking? If all they wanted was a generic blonde to fill out a bikini, they could have dragged someone cheaper off of a pole in Stringfellows. Footballer’s ex-wife Sheryl Gascoigne is no more riveting than Alex Best was. While ex-MP and failed comedian Limp-dick ’Opeless only qualifies as a celeb because he dated a Cheeky Girl.

Luckily, the format is so strong and Ant & Dec work so well that the show still delivers like Amazon. It’s basically televised torture, with viewers persecuting anyone we choose to humiliate. The sight of Stacey Solomon swallowing crocodile dick will stay with me for some time. Just as well it wasn’t Linford’s or she’d still be choking. ITV upped the ante on Thursday by sending in Jenny Eclair and Dom Joly. She’s sparky enough, but Dom could be this year’s Vic Reeves – an expensive under-achiever. Oi, fatty: make us laugh or sod off. At least Jason Manford would have flirted a bit. He’s had more web sex than Spiderman.

*KAYLA said her Mum advised her: “Just put it in your mouth, don’t chew it and swallow like a pill.” That’s how you become a Playboy model. No idea if it works with bush-tucker.

*HOW does Lembit keep a straight face?

*IMAGINE sex with McKeith. It’d be like riding a really noisy broomstick.

*JUNGLE joys: Alison Hammond arriving, Shaun immediately wanting to go. Stacey comparing croc cock sizes. Russell Kane claiming that the sight of Nigel showering had reversed his Nan’s menopause.

*THERE weren’t many soap kids on that Children In Need ‘East Street’ special. Basically because most soap brats are Children In Need... of a good hard slap.

*MY Sex Robot looked at the race to create ‘Fembots’ – bed partners for lonely men. And fellas, if you want to know what it’s like to sleep with a cold, mechanical female-looking machine just ask Anne Robinson’s ex husband. Seriously, guys, would you put percy into a robot woman? Have you seen what machines on the wrong setting can do to toast?

*HMM. A custom-made passive woman who can’t talk and is always available for sex? Nope, I can’t see the appeal either, darling.

*WAYS to tell if you’re a loser? 1) You’re Audley Harrison. 2) Your Fembot has a headache.

*SEX robots seem harmless now, but just wait until 2029 when they rebel and come back in time to kill John Connor by shagging him to death.

*STUART Baggs, the twerp who models his management style on Saddam Hussein, survived another task on the Apprentice. Good. I want him to last until Interview Week. Nothing would give me more pleasure than watching Sugar’s clever mates pull the cocky little weasel apart. Baggs spoke about reining in his “extreme masculinity.” Stella looked like she could rein it in for him, with a barbed wire lasso. This guy is so deluded even David Brent would notice.

HOT on TV: Pacquiao v Margarito...True Stories: Tyson (More4)... The Accused... Raising Hope (Sky1)... The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (More4).

ROT on TV: Audley Harrison – Ainsley Harriet would have put up more of a fight... the England football team – were they coached by Audley?... The Impressions Show – doesn’t make a good one.

*LEANNE cheated with Nick again on Corrie. What a terrible blow this will be for Peter. The worst blow since, well, since Leanne was on the game. Peter needs a wake-up call, though. If being sober means turning down a romp with Carla, then make mine a large one.

*THE difference between Leanne and Audley? It takes four rounds to get Leanne on her back.

*THE Andy Parsons guide to comedy: drone on like Griff Rhys-Jones reading a badly-typed auto-cue full of odd pauses and then suddenly get louder as a substitute for saying anything remotely funny. Tedious.

*ROYALIST or not, we all owe William and Kate a huge debt of gratitude - for knocking Katie Waissel off of the front pages.

*CHERYL told Katie “I know what it’s like to be knocked.” She could have add: and to be over-promoted, infuriating and not very talented.

*WAGNER is on incapacity benefits. Yeah. For his voice.

*VERNON Kay is moving in to US TV. Who knew the Yanks had a gormless buffoon shortage?

SMALL joys of TV: Cheryl Baker telling David Van Day “I really don’t like you” (Celeb Coach Trip). Iron Maiden’s Dennis Stratton on Buzzcocks. The Masoods. Jim McDonald, back on Corrie, so he is. That horrible, squawking monstrosity on Coppers. What a delicate flower. She made Kat Moon sound like a Downton deb.

RANDOM irritations: McKeith - as flakey as Greek pastry. Kathy Lette. The Kardashians. Ex-MPs being passed off as ‘celebrities’ - seeing Widdy’s paso doble made me want to pass the sick-bag.

*SEPARATED at birth: Apprentice loser Sandeesh Samra and a startled owl?

*WHAT annoys me most about Lauren Branning isn’t her new head, or personality transplant. It’s her having the cheek to impersonate Dee Dee Ramone.

*TV should use mimic Francine Lewis more. Her Stacey Solomon impression is spot-on; and her Katie Price take-off makes Debra Stephenson’s seem amateur hour.

Nov 15. Where do I stand on water-boarding, asks a TV researcher? Hmm. Well it’d certainly kick some life into Question Time.

NOV 14. IS the Treyc Cohen fiasco the beginning of the end for The X Factor? Like Ricky Groves flashing Bianca Gascoigne, it’s opened a few eyes to the nature of the beast. TV’s Number One talent show is quite clearly as fixed as ITV wrestling used to be. They take our money but ride rough-shot over our opinions. Who do they think they are, the EU? It’s a disgrace.

Treyc went cos the producers wouldn’t let the judges go to deadlock. They wanted Katie through - despite the Weasel forgetting her words and flipping out yet again - and they weren’t going to let anything as trivial as democracy and fair-play get in the way. Simon even had the cheek to claim that the public wanted Katie back! Sure – that’s why she ended up in the bottom two weeks on the trot.

Cowell’s reputation for honesty is evaporating like Steve Brookstein’s dreams. Stung by viewers’ anger, he’s talking about bringing in a fifth judge - like we need another big-headed bag of wind on that over-paid, under-qualified panel. All this great format really needs are hard and fast rules to rein in the arrogant production team.

1) Judges should be forced to vote – or be axed themselves. 2) Acts must be judged by the standards of that night’s performance alone. 3) The viewers’ verdict should count as the fifth vote each week. 4) The performance order should be picked randomly on the night to stop the producers putting the acts they want out on first.

It’s too late to save this series which is now as tarnished as the Lib-Dems. We pretty much know the final four will be squeaky Matt, the wonderful Rebecca, Tugboat Mary and Wand Erection. But I hope we haven’t heard the last of Treyc. The Tamworth Tiger should cheer herself up by thinking of how many real stars would have failed to impress the X Factor panel: Bob Dylan (with that voice?!), Elvis Costello (bad attitude), The Boss (cack in disco week) etc. Then she should get herself a decent hard rock band and come back as Treyc/DC...

*POOR Cheryl. It’s tough having two in the bottom. Ask Jenna Jameson.

*SORRY; the Wagner joke doesn’t work for me. He can’t sing, won’t win and looks like something Matt Groening forgot to draw.

JACK Duckworth conked out on Corrie. His moving death gripped like Wagner at an Age Concern rally. Even Vera’s ghost put in an appearance. Idle Jack called her his little swamp duck one last time (not to be confused with Gail, the little swamp-thing), and shuffled off this mortal coil with a slow dance to Matt Monro. He died after a surprise party in the Rovers. What kind of moron springs a stunt like that on a sick man with a history of heart trouble? Why Tyrone of course; a bloke so dim he doesn’t realize grease-monkey Kev is the father of Molly’s son, even though the baby practically came out covered in sump oil. An emotional Jack begged Molly to “do the right thing” and leave Ty. It was like his own fling with the fragrant Dulce Froggatt had never happened. He popped his clogs after a gut-full of beer and a kiss from Carla; a fitting finale for Corrie’s second greatest work-shy hen-pecked lay-about (Number one was Stanley Ogden). Will we ever see his like again? Let’s hope it’s the last we see of charisma-free Connie.

*BARRY Chuckle naked with Chris Tarrant’s ex and Brendan Seeley in a bath full of beer... this wasn’t some mescaline-induced nightmare. It actually happened, on C4’s Celebrity Coach Trip. Talk about foam a friend. If Wagner had been there it would have been fastest finger first.

*WHAT ale was it? Something about that scene suggests Old Peculiar.

HOT on TV: Joan Rivers – machete-mouthed mistress of mirth... The Event... Coppers... The Walking Dead (FX).

ROT on TV: Edwardian Farm – not so much Downton Abbey as downright shabby... Lucy Montgomery – as funny as genital warts... Giles & Sue – the TV equivalent of water-boarding.

*THEY came up with a nifty ad slogan for Octi-Kleen on the Apprentice: “Eight hands are better than two.” Certain Newcastle United players have been saying it all season...

*MORE zombie horror on The Walking Dead - lurching creatures staggering about, hungry for fresh meat... a bit like a Blackpool hen party at closing time.

*MISFITS features super-powered delinquents, it’s Heroes meets Asbos. If only they could move the script away from the Kryptonite.

*I’M A Celebrity is back! Hurrah! Time once again to get acquainted with more weird, unpleasant creepy crawlies... but enough about the alleged celeb contestants.

TV questions: Was Jack Dee too hard on Jedward? No. He let them live. Would taking a zombie lover cost you an arm and a leg? Kara Tointon has dyslexia; how inappropriate would it be to ask her to cook my sock?

BBC TV didn’t cover the Country Music Awards. Dale Winton was there for Radio 2, possibly in the mistaken belief that ‘Hillbilly Bone’ was something other than a Blake Shelton single. But lucky Live At Studio Five viewers saw Gwyneth Paltrow sing live. Cheryl Cole, eat yer heart out.

RANDOM irritations: C4 not driving their coach-load of micro-celebrity losers straight off a cliff. Harry Hill going off the boil. Lotto draw-master Matt Chamberlain, the dullest man on TV, overseeing the excitement with all the enthusiasm of a depressed undertaker with piles - a true chip off the old block of the original dullard draw-master, John Willan.

SMALL joys of TV: the hole in Jack Duckworth’s sock. Acoustic Lemmy (Kronenbourg advert). Wogan (Buzzcocks). Octi-Kleen ad (The Apprentice). Ricky Groves flashing Bianca and Imogen (Celeb Coach Trip) and them pretending to be shocked... Why get so worked up about such a little thing?

SEPARATED at birth: Charlotte on Corrie and the Mayor of Whoville? One a barely-believable fantasy buffoon, the other a Dr Seuss creation...

WHY doesn’t the BBC do Strictly: The Professionals for ballroom dancers without ‘comedy’ amateurs and a cringe-worthy host going gaga? They could call it Come Dancing. It might catch on.

*IF you want the goof and the contest, you have to buy the paper!

NOV 7. HOW tough was that French assassin on Spooks? Ruth smacked him round the ear-hole with a hot iron, walloped him with a darts trophy and squirted bleach in his face... and it still took five rounds fired at point blank range to drop him.
The geezer hung on like Obama. Dave Legeno oozed menace as the Gallic hit-man as hard as Revel Horrid’s heart. Not quite sure why he was French when he was clearly ex Foreign Legion, but in fairness that’s one of the smaller mysteries in a series that prides itself on being as baffling as Klingon sudoku.

The latest twist is that Lucas North isn’t Lucas at all, but some bloke called John who’d been working in a Dachau casino when Vaughn (aka Michael) recruited him to do dirty deeds. This means that fake-Lucas, who operated as a brilliantly effective MI5 agent for years, has never been more than a jumped-up croupier. This doesn’t say much for UK security vetting procedures but it should make you think twice about kicking off at the roulette table... Fake-Lucas claimed he'd been duped into planting a bomb that killed seventeen in the British Embassy in Dakar fifteen years before. But dying Vaughn reckoned John knew exactly what he’d been doing and had killed the real Lucas to steal his identity.

Confused? It gets worse... Vaughn was blackmailing fake-Lucas to get hold of the Albany file for him, and had kidnapped man-melting Maya (from Footballers’ Wives) as leverage. Fake-Lucas insisted that Maya “means more to me than my job or my reputation.” Yet somehow he’d managed to marry someone else, spend eight years in a Russian jail, and be in Spooks for five years without ever mentioning her. Everything else in this series - Chinese-Russian hackers, Nigerian assassins, Khazi-stan freedom fighters, and a US President codenamed Lighthouse (Sh*tehouse surely?) – was just a side-show to the main event: the unravelling of fake-Lucas’s secrets.

It’s Harry, the world lip-pursing champion, who I feel sorry for. H has been let-down before. But this is betrayal is unforgiveable. Fake-Lucas must perish, but how? Harry’s ‘special whisky’ seems too kind, an MI6 sports bag too kinky. No, treachery of this order surely demands the return of Spooks’ ultimate deterrent: the deep fat fryer facial.

ZOMBIES aren’t as sexy as vampires. They can’t be tortured, romantic or noble. They’re dumb lumbering beasts driven by a need to feed – the Heather Trotts of horror. Yet The Walking Dead reinvents the zombie thriller as effectively as True Blood revamped bloodsuckers. The show has depth, suspense and genuine tension. It’s set in Georgia, where people have become “white meat and dark meat.” Deputy sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) surfaces from a coma to find the world crawling with the un-dead. Grimes has the quiet dignity of a Western hero. Filled in by Morgan (the great Lennie James), he sets out to find his wife and kid, zapping zombies with a heavy heart. This is proper drama rather than a shoot-’em-up splatterfest; which isn’t to say zombie innards don’t come in handy as fashion accessories (very Vivienne Westwood). The make-up is magnificent and some of these images – like the small zombie girl child – are guaranteed to stalk your nightmares.
Scariest was a vile, whining slug-like creature with no bottom. Nice to see Muriel Gray still getting the work.

I’M in the US where the run-away hit of the season is the re-make of Hawaii 5-0. But the best new show by far is HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. It’s set in the Prohibition gangster era, Scorsese directed episode one, Steve Buscemi is brilliant in it and it airs on Sky next year.

*FAME has swollen the heads of the Jersey Shore cast. The joke here is that The Situation now likes to be known as ‘The Scenario.’

HOT on TV: The Walking Dead (FX) – gore blimey... Nicola Walker (Spooks)... Mr Jelly (Psychoville)... Getting On (BBC4) – rude health.

ROT on TV: Janet Street-Porter – Just Stop-Posing... Stephen K. Amos Show – biggest bomb this side of Yeman... Anne Robinson (Watchdog) – why can’t she move her mouth properly while speaking? Has she been possessed by the spirit of Ray Alan?

*KAT and Poxy were scrapping on Enders. Technically, does that qualify as a cat-fight or a dog-fight?

*I’D like to see zombies in Walford. They’d raise the collective IQ, Archie could lurch back to eat Janine, and if they killed off Kara Tointon’s character she could return as Dawn of the dead...

*NOW BBC1 are sexing up Strictly we may apparently see Widdecombe in fishnets. Presumably the kind the Japs use to catch tuna...

*TESS Daly’s Strictly co-hosts in full: Sunday nights, Claudia Winkleman; Saturday nights, Boring Old Wrinkled Man.

*MALE viewers are warming to Alex Jones on The One Show, we’re told. I think the word is ‘warming’. It definitely starts with a ‘w’.

*NEVER mind the Wedding House, soon couples can marry in Hong Kong McDonald’s. Which begs questions like, what sort of toy do you get with that? And would the groom be happy with a thick shake?

RANDOM irritations: Gavin Henson dancing topless on Strictly, instead of Kara Tointon. Firework night becoming firework fortnight. X Factor Judges failing to mention (or notice?) when a singer is flatter than Olive Oyl’s chest. And Paul O’Grady lazily recycling his regular guests. So far we've had Jo Brand, Amanda Mealing, Dawn French, Babs - we must be due Cilla and Linda Thorsen soon.

SMALL joys of TV: TreyC Cohen’s black Halloween lippy making it look like she’d just bestowed a kindness on a passing coal-miner. Rob Zombie’s episode of CSI Miami. The fall of Paloma (Apprentice) – una Paloma blanked. The randy alt-world Olivia on Fringe – not so much Anna Torv as Haddie Torv.

SEPARATED at birth: stroppy Joanna (The Apprentice) and Leee Johns? One was in Imagination, the other has precious little of it... although in fairness her job prospects with Alan Sugar are Just An Illusion.

Previously... ..