BUSHELL ON THE BOX
Nov 27. WELCOME to my 500th column in Britain's brightest Sunday newspaper. Bushell On The Box has proudly appeared in these pages without a break for nearly ten years. People think being paid to watch TV is a dream job. Well it would be – if you could watch what you like. I have to suffer EastEnders! Not to mention dross like Red Or Black and Don't Scare The Hare. And unlike you I can't switch off.
TV has changed beyond recognition since I started this job in 1987. Who'd have thought back then that we'd end up watching must-see shows via laptops, phones, Xboxes and Play Stations? Great dramas have been herded out of prime time and onto subscription channels. Popular comedy has been driven to extinction by PC-obsessed prigs more concerned with box-ticking than belly-laughs. And "celebrity" has replaced talent. As Brian Conley told Lorraine last week, the public used to sit indoors on Saturday nights and watch entertainers, now entertainers sit indoors and watch the public. Then the Two Ronnies, now Honey G. Then Billy Connolly, now Joey Essex. You can call that progress if you like...
This column has been an ITV series and a regular segment on the Big Breakfast, Nuts TV and Virgin Radio. I like to think I've been waging a guerrilla war on your behalf. In return, TV producers have inflicted endless indignities on me. I've been set up, gunged and secretly filmed. Freddie Starr chucked knives at me. The EastEnders cast stuck my picture on their green room dartboard. Julian Clary put me on trial. ITV even threw me out of a plane! Oh and the BBC blacklisted me for opposing the licence fee "telly tax". Other campaigns have been more successful. For years I was a lone voice calling for the return of popular entertainment formats. TV execs would lecture me that talent shows were dead, variety shows were finished and I was wasting my time backing them. The likes of Bradley Walsh would never get anywhere, they said. Today's schedules suggest the opposite. In fact The Times remarked not long ago that we are "living in Garry Bushell's world". Not quite. Not yet. But hey, if Trump can do it...
THE soaps get dopier by the year. The decade's worst plot contenders include Minty and Heather's marriage on 'Enders, the Alex/Ryan mix-up on Corrie, Who Killed Lucy Beale, Ian's farcical suicide bid... But the most unintentionally funny storyline was surely when fit Aussie Nicole flew in to offer Alfie Moon this deal: she'd write off the £15,000 he owed her if he slept with her. Once. Really? £15K for a shag? With Alfie, a middle-aged man with two shirts to his name? Strewth! Let's not be too hasty, though. Perhaps Oz really is full of well-off attractive Sheilas with low standards and bad eye-sight bored with poor quality locals like Shane Warne and Hugh Jackman. If so ladies, I'm available for the bargain price of two pints of Stella and a packet of three.
PEOPLE often ask me to name the worst-ever TV show. There's no easy answer – we're spoiled for choice, although that live episode of Towie takes some beating... followed closely by Derek Acorah's farcical "live séance" with Michael Jackson. How does something as ill-conceived as Flock Stars or The Singer Takes It All even get commissioned? Who thought that a "hypno-dog" would fool us, let alone entertain anyone? Or that Splash! would get viewers without draining the pool first? (Splat! would've been a much better show) Ruth Jones and Davina did for chat shows what booze has done for Phil Mitchell's liver. The Royal Bodyguard was so rotten it nearly nobbled the nation's love for David Jason. Pitiful lows in a decade of dross must surely include: Trinny & Susannah Undress (mercifully they didn't). Party Wright Around the World. The Charlotte Church Show – live from Cardiff and dead from the neck up. And Celebrity Fit Club. As Harry Hill said they weren't celebs, they weren't fit and there was no club.
The Sauciest Goofs of the last decade. Andy Jameson on swimmer Michael Klim: "A very, very big guy, especially when he's got his kit off. The length, it's frightening".
Egghead Kevin Ashman, discussing a dish: "I went to Guernsey last year but I didn't get round to eating any local gache".
Nadiya Hussain on snake bread: "He's enormous! After doing him six times the trick is to keep him small to begin with."
James Parrack's swimming commentary: "Koch out in lane four, Koseki hanging on to it for grim death... and remember, it's only a semi".
Sam Faiers, ghost-hunting: "Something definitely poked me in the tunnels. It was lots of soldiers. I want it to happen again".
Nick Fellows on weightlifting: "Michael promises the fireworks will come out at the end of this Polish woman's snatch".
THE Yanks set the pace in drama these days, making TV series that are better than the movies. Here are my Top Ten dramas since 2000. US: The Sopranos. Game Of Thrones. Fargo. House Of Cards. The Wire. 24. Homeland. Sons Of Anarchy. Boston Legal. Daredevil (with at least ten series other strongly competing for a place).
UK: Life On Mars. Line Of Duty. Broadchurch (first series). Peaky Blinders. Spooks. Luther. Downton Abbey. Ripper Street. Dr Foster. Martina Cole's The Runaway.
Top Fantasy & Sci-Fi: Game Of Thrones. Battlestar Galactica. Heroes (first season). Humans. Westworld. True Blood (first season). Orphan Black.
THE competition was fierce, but the winner of Irritant of the Decade must surely be the obnoxious, attention-seeking creep Perez Hilton. He looks like Tyrion Lannister's idiot cousin but deserves so much more to be put to the sword. Honourable mentions to Heather Mills, Jedward, Gemma Collins, Jamaica Inn mumbling and the Go Compare ad...
*THE biggest TV mystery concerns Howard Jacobson. He has a nose like a penis. It makes you wonder if he also has a penis like a nose. And if so, how does he blow it?
TEN women who have brightened up our screens with their talent since 2000: Evangeline Lily – Lost's greatest find. Rachel Riley. January Jones. Joan Holloway. Kara Tointon. Halle Berry. Anna Paquin. Hannah Spearitt. Bhavna Limbachia. Julie Benz (I'm sure she does).
Funniest TV Names: Colon specialist Anil Ram. Rachel Fuchs, sex therapist. Olympian: Destinee Hooker. Tiny Kox, election observer. Kum Sok, weightlifter. Samuel Kumm (My Phone Sex Secrets). And Anita Rani, whose name sounds like something women might ask for in a waxing salon.
Top Lookalikes: Micky Flanagan/Billy The Fish Ray Quinn/Eddie Munster Volke Finke/Ian Beale Ruth Langsford/Les Coker Alex Mills (The Apprentice)/Frank Sidebottom Graham Norton/Dr Crippen And my favourite: Walford hooker Marissa (2009) and Feargal Sharkey. One sang teenage kicks the other charged for them...
And here is this week's column:
WHEN the news broke that Mick Carter star Danny Dyer had royal connections, I assumed he'd been conceived around the back of the Canning Town Burger King. But, would you Adam and Eve it, it turns out the EastEnders geezer really is descended from Edward III. Strewth. Dyer's Who Do You Think You Are was 'king tasty, and not just coz real-life Danny is virtually identical to the Queen Vic's Mick. He hoped one ancestor would be "Cake-o bake-o" – Cockney slang for extremely rich. He called a stately home "a gaff". (Tsk. That's wrong, son, technically that's "a gaff of a gaff".) And, visiting a distant relative's country pile, an astonished Dyer remarked "Geezer's got a drawbridge!" That was Lord Tollemache but it got better. The first forebears the show uncovered were dirt poor and had spent years in the Victorian workhouse. But Danny's ten-times great grandfather had been landed gentry, a Cavalier – in Dyer speak "a proper geezer, as game as you like" – who'd lost his fortune fighting the Roundheads. His 15-times great-grandfather was Thomas Cromwell, once the most powerful man in Henry VIII's court – until he got his loaf sliced. "I've got the Cromwell jowls" Danny exclaimed, possibly rhyming slang for an unfortunate buttock complaint. Tom's son had married Elizabeth Seymour, the Queen's sister, and through her the Dyer line connects to Edward III. Beyond him it stretches back to William Conqueror (no relation to Billy Mitchell, he's William the Conked-Out). When his illustrious royal bloodline sank in, Danny beamed and announced "I think I'm gonna treat myself to a ruff". That's a fancy collar, not a bird like screen mum Shirley.
*NEXT week: Her Majesty The Queen traces her roots back to a medieval Plaistow plasterer and Dyer assembles an ICF firm and marches on Windsor Castle to win back the crown. Gertcha!
DAVID Walliams & Friend opened with a stolen Bob Monkhouse gag and went downhill. It had Jack Whitehouse in a frock, Dr Watson masturbating (not even with the Hand of the Baskervilles), and was generally wetter than Walliams was on his channel swim. Highlight? Celebrity Slammer. (Didn't C5 do this for real one year?). This show is already on course to become David Walliams & Viewers. Yet, depressingly, Walliams is one of BBC1's Xmas "treats". On the plus side, it's only a month until the Easter egg adverts start.
*THINGS funnier than David Walliams & Friend: 1) Death 2) The budget 3) Waking up next to Gail Platt covered in confetti.
HOT on TV: The Last Miners... Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge (Dave) – makes Wipeout looks like a total wimp-out... Irene Jacob, The Affair (SkyAt)... Iain Glen, Jack Taylor.
ROT on TV: Camilla Long – Camilla Wrong on Film 2016; so stilted you actually miss Claudia... Rob Mallard as Corrie's Daniel Osbourne – so wooden he'll probably grow roots.
*SHOCK scenes on I'm A Celebrity as a viper wrapped itself around Carol Vorderman's cosmetically altered face. "Watch out for all that poison," said the snake's mate.
*ODD. Eat a kangaroo's cobblers in the jungle and you're rewarded. But do it at Whipsnade...
*IS Honey G styled by Jonathan King?
SMALL Joys of TV: the Warburtons Muppets ad. Jungle Adam's spider phobia. Ant & Dec, natch. Pat Phelan getting shafted. Planet Earth's real-life fantastic beasts. Kenny Lynch, Back In Time For Brixton. Gary Numan in La La Land. Brian Packham back on Corrie.
RANDOM irritations: grown men weeping on their well-paid jungle jaunt. Moaning Martin Roberts, although at least he's created rows. The Beeb plugging Tracey Ullman's best bits as a Xmas "high-light" – lord save us from the lowlights.
Nov 20. IT'S easy to be cynical about I'm A Celebrity with its baffling bookings and trials we've seen many times before. But Larry Lamb, Carol Vorderman and Scarlett Moffatt have already made this series a joy. Scarlett's face during the Big Bush Bake Off was like an animated horror mask. The world hasn't seen so many pained expressions since Dr Jekyll first turned into Mr Hyde.
Larry is inspiring, a real action grandad starting fires, saving Scarlett,, squat-thrusting Adam... Sure he snores like an asthmatic warthog, but he seems an all-round good egg and incredibly fit for 69. Toad-whisperer Carol is smart and flirty, asking Joel, the unknown comedian, if anyone was allowed to touch his stick. "You can touch it," he replied. "It's such a sturdy shaft", adding win a cheeky whisper "Maybe like a thicker, shorter one... " I swear he had half a log on.
I was ready to suggest Joel should be on a spin-off show: You're A Celebrity? Get Out Of Here! But he seems upbeat and bright. The real problem here is they're all too nice. We've had no rows, no strops, no refusals. Who are we supposed to hate? Lisa Snowdon is supposedly the least popular but why? Who's doing the voting? George Clooney's missus? She certainly brightens up the jungle shower.
Sam Quek's an Olympian so good luck to her. Scarlett is funny and likeable. (But someone who is well-known just for bitching about TV? Tsk. Can you imagine!?!) She's game too. We've seen her on her back surrounded by rats and lowlife vermin, and then gobbling a buck's penis... which, judging by Geordie Shore, is a typical night out in the North East.
The worst trial was when they took it in turns to stand stock still and count to sixty in their heads. Riveting it wasn't. Granted they were walking the plank 300ft up, and Carol was wobbling like blancmange on an airport carousel, but they were also wearing safety harnesses strong enough to hoist a rhino up Ben Nevis. At least the producers could've stuck a hungry shark in a tank beneath them. Or Janet Street-Porter – from a distance they'd look identical. Now Danny Baker has arrived to ramp up the laughs. Hurrah. I'd be inclined to bring in puffed-up celebs and the team from SAS Who Dares Wins though. Imagine it: "Okay Mel B, Ottavio and James O'Brien, this next trial is called The Sickener... "
*FACT: "anus muffin" is also a way people at ITV can get promoted.
*THE Grand Tour is sensational; it's bold, exciting, flash and funny. In car terms it makes Top Gear seem like a milk float.
THEY were selling boating gear down at Poole harbour on The Apprentice. But it would've taken more than a fancy life-jacket to keep Karthik afloat. Under the leadership of this mono-browed egomaniac, Team Titans went down like Michael Rodwell. They sold a pitiful £188.90 worth of products against Nebula's £40,480.68. The Big K lost by £40K... Karthik was nose deep in a sea of denial when Sugar sacked him, calling him "as useful as a trap door on a canoe". He didn't even get to defend himself in the boardroom. Samuel went too. It wasn't as funny as last week's soap and tagine/soup and tahini mix-up, but it was brutal. Who's next, Dillon or Alana?
PLANET Earth II is the most beautiful, captivating and cruel show on TV. The second episode featured pole-dancing bears, duelling eagles, and baby ibex tottering precariously on steep cliffs. When pink flamingos walked on thin ice and fell through it looked like an exotic Zoo Time version of You've Been Framed. We also saw a fertile female snow leopard "driven by an urge she cannot control" to let males know her rampant availability. It was like Cindy Beale all over again... except that before rutting she got herself badly mauled by the stronger of her two suitors to save the life of her cub. Nature's lesson is "Only the most competitive will survive," said Attenborough. They don't teach that at schools any more, apart from maybe Trump High.
*SIR David is a magnificent broadcaster but can we fully trust a man who pronounces sloth to rhyme with growth rather than toff?
HOT on TV: The Grand Tour (AmPrime)... Moses, SAS Who Dares Win... Katherine Mills, The Next Great Magician... Matt Smith, The Crown (Netflix).
ROT on TV: Children In Need – the Beeb's annual yawnfest, predictably patchy... NW – Not Worth watching... Artsnight on the Turner Prize – Bunch of arse.
HOT not on TV: Bobby Davro, who turned the funeral of much[loved warm-up comic Bobby Bragg into a riot of laughter, and Joe Pasquale putting in a storming spot at the London Comedy Store. Why does TV still discriminate against older entertainers when they generate so much joy?
*JOSH Widdicombe hosted Live At The Apollo; his act consisted largely of petulant whingeing. Women might want to mother him; I'd happily smother the bum.
*TV shows I'd like to see: evil Mary Ann Cotton holidaying in Poldark country in Murder At The Gallop. Holmes Under The Hummer: can Eamonn cut it in his new career as an SUV mechanic?
*THE news story about Sarah Orange and Themba Banana recalled the real-life wedding announcements Jay Leno used to find on The Tonight Show. Craig Golden married Marbeth Showers, announced as the Golden-Showers; Therese Kumon genuinely wed Frankie Topomi. My favourites? Mrs & Mrs Wendt-Adaway.
SMALL Joys of TV: Celia Pacquola's filthy "finger ring" routine, Live At The Apollo. The big Bernard revelation on Westworld. Bradley Walsh's accent bringing new meaning to a pub in Hitchin – it became "the 'itchin Cock". The Undiscovered Peter Cook. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (Sky Arts).
RANDOM irritations: ITV's Aussie voice-over woman. Andi Peters described as a "TV legend" rather than the more accurate TV nuisance. Honey G rapping about her "big brown beaver", her act is bad enough having to visualise that! The SCS Xmas ad: "It's YES from SCS" it's a big eff off from me.
SEPARATED at birth: Kirk Sutherland and this proboscis monkey? One a simple-minded creature often filmed in its natural habitat, the other a monkey. Runners-up: Matthew, First Dates, and Morrissey?
*I DREAMT I was on First Date meeting a beautiful Welsh woman with 36DDs, hardest name I ever tried to pronounce.
TV maths: Father Jack + Lauren Harries = Scary Berry.
JUNGLE questions: why has Ant grown that Danny Dyer beard? Is it to distract us from his vanishing hairline? How does Aunt Bessie get her fridge freezer to work in the bush? It's witchcraft I tell ya.
Nov 13. Have ITV bosses been swigging from Dark Angel's Teapot of Terror? Arsenic poisoning might explain why their costume dramas are currently crazier than Donald Trump's hair. First they turned Victoria and Albert's relationship into an eight-part will-they, won't-they? saga – gripping for anyone who'd never heard of the Albert Hall, Albert Dock, the V & A Museum etc etc. They stretched Howard Carter's world famous discovery of King Tut's tomb into four hours of telly tedium. Could he find it? Would he? Ooh the suspense. Yet for some reason they then rushed through the little-known story of real-life serial killer Mary Ann Cotton in two measly sittings.
Evil Mary topped up to 21 people with arsenic tea, including three husbands, eleven of her own children, two step-kids, one lover and her best mate... mostly for the insurance money. ITV didn't have to dream up unresolved sexual tension between her and an elderly politician or invent a fictional love interest to pad out Mary's story. Her drawers were up and down like the Dow Jones Index.
Cotton married four times, once bigamously, shagged around, lied and stole. She was a fraudster, a forger; she was nastier than Nick and as reliable as a political pollster... easily six episodes' worth of drama. Yet Dark Angel unfolded at a pace that would've knackered Usain Bolt, pelting from couplings to kids to coffins. It was almost farcical. They skipped her trial and the campaign to save her. We didn't even see her richly deserved death by hanging.
Worse, writer Gwyneth Hughes tried to turn this wicked bitch into some kind of feminist heroine. Gwyneth had Mary explain she'd wanted more from life, "more than coal dust, and child birth, and men who think saying 'I love you' is enough". Right on, sister. "Men work hard but for women it never ends," the black widow moaned. "Run your own bath, cook your own tea", she snapped at Joe Nattrass the miner who flattened her mattress (until she put the kettle on.) Cotton killed at will, yet "all men are bastards" was ITV's message. Loose Women must have loved it.
*AT one point Mary grabbed her sister-in-law by the crotch and called her "a dried-up old virgin", a move that experts now call Trumping.
RAINBOW bagels, a lengha, a bird of paradise, African black soap, a tangine and a rambutan (didn't he play for Real Zaragoza?)... these were the items Alan Sugar's saps had to buy overnight on The Apprentice. Although it's quite possible that they were also ingredients on MasterChef: The Professionals, along with nasturtium leaves and powdered yeast. This dull show with its poncy grub and gurning judges hasn't even got the innuendo rate to make it bearable; just Marcus Wareing insisting that creaming must be "done by hand".
*WAREING had them cook a Steak Diane. Hey Marcus, the 50s called, they want their recipes back.
WHAT a shame. Rylan Clark was on The Next Great Magician and no-one made him disappear. Turns are competing to win a TV special. First up was Jonathan Goodwin who's already had one. Bizarrely, Goodwin is a daredevil escapologist, not a magician at all. The show is co-hosted by Steven Mulhern – a great master of illusion according to cruel graffiti at ITV Centre – and was all a bit so-what: A coffin escape that wouldn't have fooled Will Mellor let alone Penn & Teller... two young magicians with a cute dog – Siegfried and Roy had tigers! Clever Xavier Mortimer, already a Vegas hit, deserved to win the heat.
HOT on TV: Planet Earth II... Poldark finale... Thandie Newton, Westworld... Gemma Chan, Humans... The Supervet.
ROT on TV: Citizen Khan – sitcom with a silent "h", as welcome as foxes on your trampoline... The Last Leg US Election Special – about as funny as Aleppo... EastEnders – never duller.
THE US election did for political commentators what Dark Angel did for tea sales. Nothing on telly was funnier than the stunned disbelief of all those pro-Hillary pundits, except maybe the celebrity hissy fits that followed. In their own way, British TV bosses see viewers like Clinton saw half of the US electorate, as "deplorable" people with dodgy views and tastes. They genuinely don't get why we spurn their useless comedies and no-talent "celebrities". Unfortunately we can't vote them out at the ballot box. They're even harder to get shot of than Ed Balls.
*TV Name of the week: former US news anchor Krystal Ball, though she didn't see Trump's win coming.
*LES Dennis leaves Coronation Street shortly. It hasn't been his finest hour. In fact, when we asked 100 people: what is the best thing Les has ever been in, they all replied Amanda Holden. Corrie versus Amanda... One a quality work of TV fiction, the other a sinking soap.
*THIS Time Next Year is as schmaltzy as Christmas in the Teletubbies' Superdome, but it's also strangely uplifting. Unlike the soaps it shows us that we can change our lives for the better. Maybe ITV could learn from the show's message and try booking some jungle celebrities we don't have to Google for next year.
SMALL Joys of TV: Negan, The Walking Dead – the most detestable tyrant since King Joffrey. The surprise appearance of the Tommy Cooper fan club on Tutankhamun. Dave Gorman. New-born iguanas escaping speed snakes on Planet Earth II – nature's answer to Hunted, but even more gripping.
RANDOM irritations: Joey Essex doing stand-up. 4 out of 6 panellists on 8 Out Of Ten Cats. Gregg Wallace gurning. The Sony ad, enough already. That whole "I have to save my act" schtick on The X Factor. No, you're supposed to be a judge, do your job and send the weaker singer(s) home.
SEPARATED at birth: Honey G and Poochie from The Simpsons? One an annoying cartoon character of limited comedy appeal, the other appeared with Itchy & Scratchy.
*HUMANS can't touch Westworld for scale or dramatic ambition, but at least you can follow the story. Though still very watchable, HBO's series is starting to feel pointlessly convoluted. Let's hope it's not another Lost.
TV maths: Ferne McCann + Slimfast = Elizabeth on Poldark.
TV quiz. Who said: "You know and I know that tart was too wet"? Was it a) Gregg Wallace on MasterChef or b) Masood's mates on EastEnders?
TV questions: does Ed Balls realise he's the Honey G of Strictly? Wasn't Anthony Truman the original Doctor Strange? I miss his consultations on the Walford swings. Who minds Tyrone Dobbs's kids during the day on Corrie?
Nov 6. So Halloween TV – trick, treat or tripe? I suspect you’re ahead of me. Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live was so dull it would have made a poltergeist weep. It was filmed in “Britain’s most haunted village” – Pluckley, Kent – with various shameless micro-celebs desperate for screen time. The scariest moment came when coins dropped from a barn ceiling... which would have been extremely spooky if Justin Moorhouse hadn’t been caught on camera chucking them.
Somehow the participants kept straight-faced throughout, even a certain Cold Feet star who solemnly recited “I John Thompson of Manchester call upon the spirits of Pluckley to... ” I didn’t catch the rest, but suspect it was either “give my agent a good kicking” or “ask if I really need the money this badly”.
The usual nonsensical claims of ghostly “orbs” – insects caught in TV lights – were intercut with alleged psychics, self-proclaimed witches, and a “moonologist”. Someone should have mooned her. Emma Kennedy claimed she’d felt someone with small fingers touch her knee – out of habit Donald Trump denied it. Richard Arnold was said to have had “had a few experiences” (that could explain his TV career). Even the eerie background music sounded more like a haunted ice cream van than anything vaguely blood-chilling.
The show was a pale imitation of I’m Famous & Frightened, which had bigger names and better orbs (two of them attached to Linsey Dawn McKenzie). Seriously, Crossroads was scarier. Still it must have inspired thousands of viewers to investigate “the other side” – Sky, Fox, ITV... any other side would have done.
EastEnders, where the horror never ends, had people trick or treating in broad daylight. If they’d really wanted to terrify us they’d have just had Aunt Babe do a striptease. C4 did Halloween best with Derren Brown Presents Twisted Tales, essentially a creepier Beadle’s About – Beadle’s A Bastard maybe. The victims, set up by their loved ones, were tricked into believing they were dining with a cannibal killer or had just been chatting with a ghost. It made you wonder if devious Derren has been tutoring Crackpot Caz on Corrie.
*ITV2 bosses didn’t do much for Halloween. To get their scares they just look at the viewing figures for The Xtra Factor.
*CELEB Haunted Hotel should have booked Gloria Gaynor. Imagine: how was it for you Gloria? “First I was afraid, I was petrified... ”
DARK Angel is like Catherine Cookson with added slaughter, Catherine Kill-some? It tells the story of Victorian murderess Mary Ann Cotton who topped her unemployed husbands for the insurance money – £35 a pop. Life was cheap in the North East back then. Her weapon of choice was arsenic tea poured from her Teapot of Terror. You get an “oo” with Typhoo and an “ouch” with Mary’s brew. She’s on her third husband now, with more mugs to come. The pace is frantic, the dialogue tepid, the misery relieved only by lust – she couldn’t wait to get Joe Natrass on her mattress. (He won’t last). And the morality is dodgy. We’re in Python territory: it’s a fair cop, guv, but society is to blame.
*ONE of Mary’s ill-fated lovers was Dick Quick Mann. No wonder he copped it. No woman wants that.
WHAT to make of Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back? Kevin Bishop’s impression of the on-off UKIP leader was passable, but the material was ropier than Nigel’s lime green corduroy trousers. You’ll have seen funnier party political broadcasts. Still it did raise a couple of big questions. Like, why bother attacking UKIP when they’re doing such a good job of tearing themselves apart? And aren’t there bigger targets worthy of funnier jokes? For example, Citizen Corbyn, dithering Theresa May, slippery Keith Vaz... Or even Brussels? The EU has been riddled with FIFA-level corruption for years yet I can’t recall TV comics mocking our actual ruling elite – or the judges and failed politicians still trying desperately to prop it up. But no. For the Beeb and their toothless satirists the end of the world is Nige. This feeble script said more about their prejudices than anything else; that bog-standard BBC contempt for Englishness, for folk who don’t share their assumptions, and above all for the millions who voted Leave.
HOT on TV: Humans and Emily Berrington... Donald Glover, Atlanta (Fox)... Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix).
ROT on TV: Educating Joey Essex... Dark Angel – murder most dull... Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live – the night of the living brain dead.
OUR most watched TV show ever was Only Fools & Horses, the kind of down to earth sitcom we no longer even attempt to make. Variety shows, which we only do half-heartedly, also made the all-time Top Ten. Will anyone in TV learn from this? Or will they just commission another cookery series?
*NEXT week on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces gasp as George visits the gap between Tess Daly’s ears.
*CHRIS Tarrant: Ice Train To Nowhere? More like Career Move To Nowhere, surely?
SMALL Joys of TV: Darcy Bussell in a blonde wig talking about “a beautifully smooth dismount”. Stephen Fry as Yonderland’s Cuddly Dick. Street Cat Bob. Sisters In Country. Bhavna Limbachia in Corrie. Rachel Riley, constantly. Claudette’s bouncing bombs, EastEnders – the antidote to Vogue.
RANDOM irritations: X Factor’s useless judges giving Gifty the tin tack – talk about Fix Factor. Xmas promotions starting the minute Halloween ends. Daft errors in otherwise splendid The Crown – dukes aren’t knighted. Enders killing off the Mitchell sisters but letting Sonia Bloody Fowler live.
SEPARATED at birth: Poldark’s George Warleggan and the great Roger Daltrey... one hoped he’d die before he grew old, the other can’t die soon enough.
CORRIE questions: Why did Steve McDonald dress as Uncle Fester when he looks so much like Herman Munster? Why was fulltime Underworld employee Eva working in t’Rovers on a Monday afternoon? And if Alya had blabbed about her granddad’s affair would she have sung I Shopped The Sharif at the soap’s next karaoke night? *ROBOT “synths” do everything on Humans: mining, bus-driving, even marriage counselling. So why no war-bots? And why no acknowledgement of that pioneering actress-android who played blank-faced Stella Gibson on The Fall?
TV maths: Tom Jones + Brian Blessed = Mel Gibson.