Garry Bushell
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Nov 27. WITHOUT Freddie Starr, I’m A Celebrity was beginning to look like the biggest wash-out since the Queensland floods. And then on Thursday night ITV struck gold. The Bed Bugs challenge left Mark Wright whimpering like a small girl, cowardly Cotton running scared from snakes (there’s a first) and little Willie Carson flicking away crickets. “I wish I had bloody crabs!” the Hobbit-sized jockey hollered. Hang about with Wrighty and you probably will mate.

Up until then we’d had a week of Sinitta screeching like a half-chewed hamster, and Pat Sharp pretending to be mean about Lorraine Chase’s cuddly teddy bear, Tedward. Or was he pretending to pretend? Honestly, who gives a stuffed toy? If you’re going to make out you’re the camp grump to get attention then stay in character for the whole series. And if you want to make your name by being rude to a woman, at least have the guts to take on Fatima who could probably rip your head off with one quick twist of her giant man hands.

Still, at least it made a change from Cotton’s whinging, Crissy’s persecution complex and a geezer from Essex failing to get off with some unknown birds in bikinis. Stefanie Powers was first out which came as a surprise to millions of viewers who’d forgotten she was there. There are mealworms with more personality. Granted Sinitta’s reaction to dropping a baby lobster from her mouth (“I didn’t spit him out! He slid, he slid out”) inspired a million bad-taste Simon Cowell gags. But she’s so useless in every challenge you wonder why she bothered coming. No-one here is witty or dangerous or surprising. There’s little evidence of grey matter. Luton airport’s Lorraine is harmless, Dougie’s dull, Cotton and Crissy are merely irritating. Mark looks favourite to win, even though Emily has managed to resist his subtle chat-up lines so far (“something’s poking up”). I’d rather see fiery Fatima triumph for her can-do Olympian attitude (forget the “can’t-do” boat-race). ITV need to fly in giant characters to fill the Freddie Starr vacuum. Not Peter Andre, I’m talking Buster Bloodvessel, Mrs O, or Roy “Chubby” Brown. And some strongmen dressed as giant Teddies to kidnap and terrify Sharp. Only pretending Pat...

*IMAGINE Chubby in the jungle: “I’ve just watched Fatima in a skimpy bikini having a shower in a waterfall and I thought to meself please don’t get an erection... but she did.”

DEREK Branning hit Albert Square like a Cairo riot, making Fat Pat bolt in terror and giving his “slapper” sister Carol a mouthful. The pop-eyed ex-con could well be the scariest news of the year (besides claims that Justin Bieber can reproduce.) He’s like Del-Boy’s evil twin, a cross between Bob Hoskins and Mr Toad. Naturally Derek looks nothing like his younger brothers Max (the human baked bean) and Jack (hunky male model) – any more different and they could be a Benetton ad. Which suggests that either their old mum put it about a bit or the casting director needs glasses. But Derek (played by Jamie Foreman) is as welcome as sunshine. He leches at Rainie like Herman Cain, and airs the kind of views readily heard in the East End everywhere except Walford. Odds on they’ll water him down like the Queen Vic beer by Easter.

ITV have axed Adrian Chile and the Bleakley woman from Daybreak. But why they thought the dozy duo was worth £10mill to begin with is anyone’s guess. Who wants to wake up to an over-paid WAG and a bloke with a face like a hung-over Toby jug? Ratings went down like the Lusitania. Now we’re told Christine’s future “lies in Light Entertainment”. Why? What can she do? Apart from read an autocue without stumbling. I’m sick of people without performance skills hosting LE shows, be it Kyle doing quiz shows or Knowles on the Lotto (what a come-down from Bob Monkhouse!) It’s like trying to play three-card poker with two satsumas and a Joker. Isn’t it frustrating that superb entertainers like Brian Conley are never on TV while autocue zombies dominate the schedules?

HOT on TV: Onion News Network (Sky Arts)... Jamie Foreman (EastEnders)... the Curb finale... Life’s Too Short.

ROT on TV: The Cafe – naff... Devil’s Dinner Party – speed-hating... Pip Torrens – such a ham he should be honey-baked... That’s Britain – that’s b*ll*cks... Rev – nowhere near as funny as that clown Rowan Williams.

THE Cafe is as appetising as a plate of cold, burnt chips. Laughs are so off the menu it’s more like a dull soap than a sitcom. The Royle Family was also built on the tedium of everyday life, but like Early Doors it was funny and affectionate too. The Cafe manages the affection; the funny is beyond it.

*STEVE Coogan says the papers operate like the mafia. Careful pal, you could end up with a horse’s head in your bed... just like that time you slept with Courtney.

*MARK Lawson Talks To Alice Cooper was full of unforgiving close-ups of the clichéd old ham and his lived-in countenance. Alice looked fine, though.

 *PAMELA Anderson has been cast as the Virgin Mary in a Canadian TV special. Presumably the Three Wise Men will be played by Jedward and Joey Essex.

*NOT sure who put a tracking device in Katie Price’s car but the smart money says either Charlie Sheen or Berlusconi...

*MY Transsexual Summer has men who want to be women, and women who want to be men. Shame Swap Shop isn’t on any more, really.

*ED ‘Blubber’ Balls says Antiques Roadshow makes him cry. Same here. When some greedy berk brings in an item they think is worth fortunes only to be told it’s a two-bob fake, I laugh till tears cascade down my cheeks.

*TV I’d like to see: Who Do You Think You Are – Jon Culshaw’s impressions explained.

RANDOM irritations: Xmas store adverts. Holly Willoughby hosting The Voice – why? Carol Vorderman on Loose Women inviting an audience of fifty pensioners to “give it up” for Will Young. Just give up love.

SMALL joys of TV: Jade Ewen’s Fat Pat earrings. The Pete Vs Life sport commentators. Graham Norton. John Steinbeck: Voice Of America. Watching how much greedy Gregg can pile onto his fork and shove down his gullet on Masterchef.

DOES anyone actually like Tess Daly? (That includes you, Vern). Just asking...

SEPARATED at birth: unelected Mario Monti and Blockbusters host Bob Holness. Bob gave the ‘P’, Monti’s appointment as Italian PM takes it.

Nov 20. Over on I’m A Celebrity, Freddie Starr was hospitalised after chomping on a rancid old camel toe. This came as a big surprise to those of us who didn’t realise Janet Dickinson was back in the jungle. Up until then madcap Freddie, swinging wildly between self-pity and borderline insanity, was setting the pace on the show. He’d survived an allergic reaction to be being bitten by a jungle bug, although the bug is then believed to have perished from an allergic reaction to Freddie. And he’d made mincemeat of Mark Wright, psyching him out while psychotically polishing off every bit of grub on the Bushtucker menu. Starr worked his way through some withered testicles and an entire pig’s anus – no trouble for Freddie and a typical night out for Corrie’s Antony Cotton. It’s understandable that ITV wants someone camp in camp, but couldn’t they find someone more fun than this whingeing, self-obsessed ham? Say for example, Johnny Robinson or Alan Carr? It’s easier to care about Schmeichel.

Cotton makes Paul Burrell seem manly. He’s useless; Jessica-Jane Clement beat him in a race to grip a giant snake, which was surprising as you’d have thought he’d have had much more experience of that kind of thing. “I had to hold it against my chest and squeeze,” panted Jessica-Jane; which is an image I'll treasure. The woman is hotter than Willie’s smuggled chilli. All of the male contestants (apart from Cotton) look at JJ and think “I’m a celebrity, get me into her!” She may be from an obscure BBC3 series but JJ looks mighty fine in a bikini. But what, you ask, of the more macho contenders; the burly, muscle-bound can-do types? Well, Fatima is doing very well, thanks very much even if she is getting grumpier than Len Goodman. Squeaky Willie Carson is far more feminine (although it’s heartening to know JJ “loves Little Willie”). And we didn’t hear Fatima wimping out like Mark Wright did when he had to make that jump, screaming “no, no, no” like a girl. Mark admitted he can’t stand heights. No worries mate, you’ll never attain any. You’re a celebrity? Get out of here!

*CRISSY Rock had to choose whether to go down with teeth in or teeth out, a choice which you suspect many of the game old Benidorm birds have had to make more than once...

*AMY Childs was perplexed by the jungle trials. She thought the bush-tucker was a cosmetic surgery procedure for intimate tightening.

PAN Am isn’t the “mile high Mad Men”. It may be set in the sixties, but the show is soap opera plain and simple. Pan Am loves the past as much as Downton Abbey; and has the same core message: we knew where we were back then. Optimism and confidence ruled the day, and men ruled the roost... In 1963, stewardesses (never called flight attendants) had to be under-32 and unmarried; and were required by airline bosses to squeeze into girdles. On the surface, they’re trolly dollies. But co-pilot Ted, the kind of bloke who’d happily put the bone into any woman’s corset, has hit on enough of them to know that they’re not normal females. “They’re mutations,” he says. “They just had an impulse to take flight.” The mutant madams are rebel Maggie, a closet Beatnik with a brain as big as her Mekon-sized forehead; run-away bride Laura, her sister Kate, who’s secretly a spy, and flighty French Colette. It’s worth watching for the uniforms alone, but the soar-away soap throws in espionage for good measure. “Buckle up, adventure calls.”

KITTY and Frankie have both exited the X Factor, so now the only deluded nitwits left are the judges. Thanks to their poor decision making, this series had become so dull that even the BT Tower refused to broadcast it. Now gifted Amelia Lily has been brought back to save the show. But if Amelia wins what does it say about Kelly who dumbly got shot of her weeks ago? Her credibility is as compromised as Louis’s. Some suspect this was all pre-planned. Surely not! Syco are clearly as beyond corruption as FIFA or Berlusconi. Maybe Cowell simply blew a gasket when he saw what flakes were still in the running. Frankie sang like a frog with emphysema and Kitty like a demented banshee; if Janet’s voice were a person it’d be languishing in a hospice.

HOT on TV: Margot Robbie (Pan Am) – up, up and whey hey... new Mentalist (C5)... Modern Family (Sky1)... American Horror Story (FX) – scarier than a Carol McGiffin close-up.

ROT on TV: Children In Need – how about Viewers In Need, of better telly... Russell Grant (Strictly) – more ham than a hog farm... Casualty (Watch) – nurse, the scripts!

GEMMA Merna from Hollyoaks says she has often been caught having conversations with her dog. When asked what it was like to chat to such a dumb creature, the dog replied “OK as long as you keep picturing her in her underwear.”

*GENUINE doctors’ names discovered by Jay Leno: Dr Elizabeth Puscheck. Cosmetic surgeon: Dr Rak. Gynaecologist Ramin Jamm.

*SHANE Richie is hosting a new version of Jim’ll Fix It. Could he fix it for Alfie Moon to get some new shirts and a decent storyline?

*FAT Pat is to die at Christmas; that’s cheery. Still it’ll be a welcome relief from suffering... for millions of viewers.

*FROM the Radio Times: ‘The cast of EastEnders rocks Albert Square in a tribute to Queen, and the Muppets are joined by some celebrity TV fans...’ Harsh but fair.

*HELL Boy 2 was on ITV, for Hell Boy 3 see Ben Mitchell.

RANDOM irritations: suspender tights, BBC2 axing Shooting Stars, adverts for household product inviting us to follow them on Twitter. Crissy Rock: rein it in love. Signed By Katie Price repeats – bad enough the first time. Lazy arts strand Imagine; always a cue for the song: “Imagine there’s no Yentob/It’s easy if you try...”

SMALL Joys of TV: Rodney Dangerfield (Caddyshack). Lotto draw mistress Julie Morrisey, what man wouldn’t want her releasing his Thunderballs? The grub on Man Vs Food: you know your hamburger is too large if the biggest obvious health risk is a back injury from lifting the bloody thing up.

SEPARATED at birth: Fatima Whitbread and Colonel Gaddafi. One terrifying and unpredictable. The other a dead dictator. Runner-up: TOWIE’s Frankie Essex and Tubbs, from The League of Gentlemen. One part of a terrifying clique of small town eccentrics, and so is the other one.

Nov 13. THE first big surprise about American Horror Story is that it doesn’t involve Lehman Brothers and sub-prime mortgages. Instead it shamelessly nicks scream themes from every scary movie you’ve ever seen. There’s the spooky old gothic mansion, the daughter who doesn’t fit in, a kid who sees the future, the gnarled old codger with eerie hair who thinks he’s funny... or was that a Strictly flashback? When Vivien catches her psychiatrist husband Ben probing a female student (shrinks do it on the couch), the troubled Harmon family up sticks from Boston to LA. They’re in a bad place after her miscarriage but it’s not as bad as the place they move to. The house is dead cheap on account of having been a murder scene for most of the past forty years. Naturally it’s haunted.

Classic horror films build up the suspense slowly until the tension becomes unbearable. This show, from the makers of Glee is more like a Ghost Train; everything comes at you in a non-stop barrage of shock and carnage. There are fiendish flashbacks, dead babies, demons in the basement and plenty of paranormal shagging. Their misfit teenage daughter Violet self-harms and is bullied at school... it’s less Glee, more Flee. The creaky old house gets broken into by crackpot Adelaide (Down’s syndrome neighbour who has premonitions of death) and her nosy mum, Constance, a fading Southern belle who’s just cracked... Which may well be God’s way of telling them to change the locks and buy a flipping burglar alarm.

Other characters include Ben’s teen psycho patient Tate who fantasizes about violating Violet; and housekeeper Moira, who appears to Viv as a bedraggled old boot and to Ben as a young randy red-head. Poor old Viv gets knocked up by a ghoul in a rubber gimp suit (Throbbing Hood) who she mistakes for Ben. Talk about bouncing back into the sack. It’s the best sex of her life; moral: always use a rubber. Stocking-clad saucepot Moira offers Ben more than a little light dusting. But when she changes back to her true age, and is still tackled-up, she looks more like American History Sex. Think Corrie’s Rita in Carry On Emmanuelle mode. Now hold that thought and tremble. Sweet dreams, children.

*A WOMAN who looks hot and sexy one minute and old and haggard the next? Isn’t that Lisa Kudrow with or without make-up?

“HAVE we all stepped through the looking glass?” asked an aghast Violet, Downton Abbey’s dowager countess. I’ll say. Lewis Carroll could have written most of this second series, while hooked on crystal meth. Matthew’s miracle recovery from a broken spine was almost as amazing as his ability to pop back from the Western front whenever he felt like it. Storylines came and went like a Kardashian marriage. Some, like that fake heir (Badly Bandaged Boy) seemed as unfinished as the randy Earl when he chose not to get laid by Jane the maid. Poor Lavinia died not from Spanish flu but from a broken heart, after watching fiancé Matthew snog Lady Mary. Lawks a mercy! Let’s hope they get it on at Xmas and incur the wrath of dodgy press baron Sir Richard, that Bates escapes the gallows. And that Fellowes keeps sweeping us along with demented twists and Vi’s ripe one-liners.

LOVING the new superpowers on Misfits. Newcomer Rudy self clones, dimbo Kelly is now a rocket scientist, while Curtis can change sex at will – making him a dream date for the bi-curious... and the first male-female athlete since Caster Semenya. Back track training as ‘Melissa’, Curtis sleeps with Emma, who he’d disappointed as himself the night before. Maybe the athlete’s foot wasn’t quite what it sounded. Naturally, he’s still more ASBO than lesbo. Shame the preachy script jarred with the show’s usual irreverence.

*THE worst ever superheroes? 3) Ant-Man, who could shrink to insect size, 2) Tar Baby, whose skin secreted a

tar-like substance, 1) Rock Boy, who turned into a rock and just kinda sat there.

HOT on TV: American Horror Story (FX)... Bomber Boys (C5)... Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short)... Mongrels (BBC3) - barking.

ROT on TV: Bruce Forsyth on Sunday’s Strictly – ‘Young & Foolish’ sung by someone old and useless... Jennifer Grey (Strictly) – from dirty dancing to dodgy judging... The Jury – GUILTY! Of wasting our time.

*AT the height of his fame Ross Kemp was propositioned by two hot women, one of whom told him “I’m black, she’s white, let’s spend the night.” The original BOGOF offer: bonk one, get one free. Rhyming chat-up lines could brighten up EastEnders no end: “I’m mad Shirley Carter, you’ll do for a starter.” “She’s Hev, I’m stroppy, let’s christen your jalopy.” Or Syed’s “Hi I’m bi, wanna try it with a guy?”

*ON My Transsexual Summer, an ex-cop had his nuts removed to become Karen. “We’ve gone irretrievable,” said the surgeon. “You can’t sew those back on.” Although the same effect can be achieved much less expensively simply by dating Liz Hurley.

*BBC1 will launch The Voice next spring. Great. It’s about time this country had a talent contest for singers. It’s long over-due.

*AS Big Bro ends in style, do you think Aaron is now enjoying “wrestler love” with Faye? No holes barred...

*IRANIAN strongman Behdad Salimkordasiabi will be “a big name at London 2012,” according to ESPN. In fairness, that’s a pretty big name anywhere.

*TV I’d Like To See: Joanna Lumley’s ‘Greek’ Odyssey (television X – the fantasy channel). Keepy-Up With The Kardashians – Kim’s soccer tips. Masterchef: The Professionals with Bodie and Doyle.

RANDOM irritations: Claudia Winkleman, (literally) blinking hopeless. Louis Walsh. Janet Devlin ruined by Tulisa’s rotten song choices (X Factor). The dimness of British students on Sorority Girls. Brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm still wasted on late night More4.

SMALL Joys of TV: The Fast Show on-line. Sean Lock (Apollo). An Idiot Abroad finale. Bored To Death. Repeats of 3-2-1 (Challenge) – decades on and the clues are still as impenetrable as Widdecombe’s drawers.

*LINDSAY Lohan spent less than five hours in jail; it was all the screws could put up with. Being held against your will for five hours... that’s not a sentence, it’s a Ken Dodd audience.

SEPARATED at birth: Ex-Factor nitwit Frankie Coke-noza and his mum, Mad Jean Slater? Looks like she’s still cutting his hair... Frankie’s TV career may be over. But his haircut will get its own series any day now.

POOR Frankie, all series the judges tell him he’s a natural rock wild boy, and when he acts like one they sack him. But The X Factor bosses are adamant that they won’t tolerate drug abuse. No way. That’s why they’ve employed Whitney Houston, Robbie Williams, Paula Abdul, Ozzy Osbourne’s missus...

Nov 6. PEOPLE moan about falling educational standards but Top Boy painted a different picture. These kids were wizards at mental arithmetic, effortlessly working in kilos, ounces and eighths. They were of course, Young Apprentices of a different kind, trainee gangsters working in the drug trade.

Top Boy was a bold departure for modern British TV: a drama about life on London’s blighted inner-city council estates that ran over consecutive nights sucking you in to a claustrophobic sub-culture few of us ever experience. Written by Ronan Bennett, the show was similar in feel to HBO’s The Wire, except the Met (“the Feds”) barely got a look in – the only drugs raids here were done by rival gangs. Top Boy was more concerned with how the dog-eat-dog trade works, the ruthless people who run it and how they suck in new “soldiers.”

Set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in the East End, the action revolved around Dushane and Sully trying to carve out their turf, and 13-year-old Ra’Nell, left to fend for himself when his understandably depressed mum gets admitted to a mental hospital. Dushane, 26, had “shanked up” Ra’Nell’s old man. You don’t see many Dads on the Summerhouse. Drugs here are called “food”, “our bit of grub”, delivered in “parcels” paid for with cash “paper.” It’s bandit capitalism, supply and demand; opportunity culture of a different kind, a stark contrast to the fat-cat skyscrapers of near-by Canary Wharf.

When Dushane’s gang get robbed by gun-touting rivals, they have to prove themselves to the local Mr Big. Turf war ensues. Fingers are cut off, an innocent man is murdered, a man’s chest is ironed – all to send a message. (Whatever happened to telegrams?) Protected by reformed criminal Leon, Ra’Nell initially resists the gang who tell him “we’re your family now” but is sweet-talked into running pregnant neighbour Heather’s skunk farm (putting the high in high-rise.) It was never going to end well. The mini-series had the ring of truth about it. An authenticity echoed by gritty Euro-crime sagas like Braquo and Romanzo Criminale which sadly eludes most of BBC1’s dull-witted dramatic dross. Top Boy was the opposite of the ‘light murder’ escapism of Murder In Paradise, the antidote to Bonekickers.

WHO should win Big Brother? ABBA: anyone but bloody Aaron! We can’t be sure if the sulky joy-vacuum is playing a clever game, or whether he really is a grumpy, two-faced, back-stabbing snake with a superiority complex. The whingeing arse-ache is a perfect BB villain, of course, but this doesn’t mean we should reward him with the dosh. Especially as he was the reason we had to choose between evicting Faye or the lovely Louise. I like Jay, and enjoyed his thoughts on the Universe - when has Brian Cox ever given us a sauna guide to the solar system? But the unpleasant incident with the freezer (never go for the veggie sausage chez Jay) puts the Geordie lad beyond the pale. So we’re left with Louise, Tom or Alex, a woman so stupid she’d be hard pushed to spell Oxo backwards. Is it too late to bring back Rebeckah?

DID you clock those pumpkins on Strictly at Halloween? Chelsee’s wardrobe malfunction was well worth waiting for. Sadly Nancy Dell’Olio got the boot, so now fans of incomprehensible TV babbling have only got Brucie...

*CIAOU, Nancy. We saw your cha-cha-cha. It would have been nice to have seen your dancing.

*THOSE big Strictly questions in full: why don’t the judges' scores ever reflect their comments? When Nancy was in that coffin, why did no-one think to nail it shut? If her rumba’s so wooden, how bad is her rumpo? And if gut-bucket Russell Grant has lost ten stone, how much could he have possibly weighed before? He must have half a ton of slap on.

*I’D like to complain about Strictly sleaze; there’s just not enough of it.

HOT on TV: Braquo (FX)... Ashley Walters (Top Boy)... Misfits... new 30Rock... Essie Davis (The Slap)... Frozen Planet.

ROT on TV: Janet Devlin murdering ‘Every Breath You Take’ – unchained malady... Death In Paradise – Paradise lost... That Sunday Night Show – sucks like True Blood’s Russell.

*JOEY Essex is the proud result of millions of years of evolution, according to The Origins Of Us. Which raises the question: if Joey’s forebears made that great genetic leap, why couldn’t gibbons?

*WILL our current life-style reverse evolution? We hunt nothing, grow little, make less...We’ll end up as weak-jawed, lard-arses; our brains shrunken to the size of walnuts from watching day-time TV. Although I suppose our kids may develop extra fingers to cope with all the texting.

*ROBERT Vaughn, The Man From UNCLE is joining Corrie. Hurrah. His old enemy used to be THRUSH; or as she’s now known, Tracy Barlow.

*AS Corrie gets a Nationwide cash machine, what other product placement can we expect in the soap? Maybe Carla’s liver could be sponsored by Oddbins. Deirdre’s spex are definitely Hubble Telescope.

* CORRIE’S Samia Smith divorced this week. Tsk. Talk about keeping up with the Kardashians.

*HONOR Blackman and Jenny Eclair did Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. Well done, ladies. It takes guts to admit you’re a celebrity antique.

*TOP 3 people I’d like to punch: 1) Aaron Allard-Morgan 2) Frankie ‘The Cock’ Cocozza 3) Louis Spence – enough, already.

*IN TV news, Kim Kadashian’s 72-day publicity stunt ended. Nancy Dell’Olio pledged to “keep dancing” (who knew she’d started?) And the Queen said she loves Loose Women, but not as much as Prince Harry.

*FRENCH cop show Braquo makes Gene Hunt seem like Dixon of Dock Green. It’s pretty much “Le Shield” with hardened tecs stabbing felons and skimming their takings. Cop Max tops himself rather than endure the shame of internal investigation, so his rogue colleagues seek revenge by any means necessary. Authentic, murky and riveting.

RANDOM irritations: ‘Halloween’ themed shows translating as the same old tutt with cobwebs. Seann Walsh on Live At The Apollo: seven billion people on the planet, and they can’t find someone funnier than this?

SMALL Joys of TV: Pilfering penguins (Frozen Planet). The BossHoss version of Cameo’s Word Up on the VO5 ad. Wild Billy Childish’s Ska version of the Dad’s Army theme (ASDA ad). James May’s rock bands who never made it; heart-warming to see old gits like Love Fungus reliving their teenage dream. Make it a series.

SEPARATED at birth: Jessy Nelson from Little Mix and Cartman, one a funny-faced TV character with an irritating voice, the other a cartoon.

Nov 2. PBS launched last night with a Prohibition, a sobering Ken Burns documentary series about the time when America went dry. Prohibition was a disaster – by banning alcohol the Yanks helped create organise crime. This is why Al Capone happened. The first instalment, A Nation of Drunkards, showed an America afloat on a sea of alcohol. “The hold of the Mayflower, the ship that carried the first Puritans to Massachusetts, was filled with barrels of beer,” narrator Peter Coyote informed us. Cheers! Hard-drinking immigrants with their own drinking customs helped spread the fire. After a long campaign, temperance campaigners finally banned the bottle in 1919, but a law means nothing if it can’t be enforced. And one man’s ban is another’s opportunity. No wonder Boardwalk Empire’s Nucky Thompson toasted “Those beautiful ignorant bastards.”

Prohibition is back on the agenda today, with political ‘liberals’ pushing for illiberal laws. Their campaigns are not about religious morality, but political control. Their aim is to restrict freedom and personal responsibility. These Nanny Statesmen play a long game. First they generate fear campaigns stressing the health risks of alcohol, how donuts give you cancer etc. Then they push for punitive taxation (for our own good) followed by demonization. Having driven smokers to the edges of society, they’re now targeting drinkers, with the likes of Professor David Nutt demanding that alcohol should to be categorised as being more harmful than cannabis. And of course, laws and taxes aimed at “binge drinkers” hit us all. The new prohibitionists think they know how to run our lives better than we do ourselves. But history suggests those who’d impose a Nanny State will also unwittingly open doors for something far nastier.