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.
Nov 27. WHAT is it about Gino D’Acampo that makes grown women slobber over him like dogs over a dropped pork chop at a barbecue? The funny, flirty Italian chef is an aphrodisiac in short-arse human form. When the Family Fortunes host asked contestant Mel Lewis, “You’ve got a bit of Italian in you?”, she famously replied: “Yes – and I'm hoping to have a bit more by the end of the night!” On Sunday, Margaret Lloyd wanted to cuddle him, while Jodie Cheek dropped hints about her bedroom “superhero” antics with hubby Tony.
I don’t recall a woman ever giving former host Les Dennis the kind of reply that Kash Popat once did. Asked to “name something you put in your mouth but don’t swallow”, Kash replied “a d*ck”. But filth-hound Gino is cooking on Carry On sauce, which of course is part of the show’s charm. Last week, he asked the teams to “name something longer than it was wide”. The top answer was “sausage”; naturally Gino couldn’t resist mentioning that Italian ones are thicker. Talking of thicker, though, have you ever wondered who the “100 people” ITV survey for the answers are? I’m told it’s the audience, but it wouldn’t surprise you if half of them were the Joey Essex fan club and the other half were smoking Big Narstie’s roll-ups.
Answers to “name a popular TV theme people can sing”, included Match Of The Day – an instrumental. EastEnders was there because Anita Dobson sang a version with lyrics 36years ago... But the Corrie theme wasn’t. Maybe ITV should give that words too: “Oh Coronation Street, it used to be a treat, those days have passed, it’s now a farce, Hilda and Stan, would want it banned... ”
*ANOTHER classic – Kayleigh, asked to “name something you give your partner as a gift”, replied, “I’m so sorry Dad... sex!” Merry Xmas!
THE right people made I’m A Celeb’s final four. Mike has been solid from the off, Jill is a joy and Owen is more hilariously grub-obsessed than Homer Simpson. He’s half-man, half-Hungry Hippo. Granted the kid’s a bit dim – before this show, he probably thought the bushtucker was the resident gynaecologist – but he’s also likeable, like Joey Essex. Then there’s Matt whose can-do attitudes have made him that rare thing, a popular Tory. And boy do they need one. The useless gits have as much chance of surviving wipe-out as the pig-footed bandicoot. I don’t buy any of the “ism” claims. Charlene was a bossy fun-vacuum, smiley Scarlette lacked a fan base, and Sue whinged for Weatherfield. Moyles was wet, jealous George back-stabbed. If Seann had wheeled out the McIntyre impressions sooner, he might’ve made it.
AGONY and ecstasy. That’s the World Cup for England fans. We can dream but after Friday’s dismal showing there seems more chance of Qatar getting a Queer Eye make-over than of English glory. Thank God for Maguire. Why do we cling on to Southgate? The bloke is like herpes in human form, there’s no getting rid of him. With Argentina and Germany stumbling and Portugal struggling against Ghana there are no safe bets this year. Even Brazil look so-so.
*ROY Keane fascinates me. He seems constantly on the verge of fury. Sign him for next year’s jungle, ITV. Imagine the roasting he’d give anyone coming back with one star. And how hard it’d be to comb the bull-ants out of that Santa Claus beard.
*CHINA’s treatment of the Uyghurs is worse than Qatar’s human rights record. So why didn’t the BBC take them on too? Too big? Too risky?
HOT on TV: England 6, Iran 2... Fleur East, Strictly... Upright (SkyCom)...Leo Woodall, The White Lotus.
ROT on TV: Gianni Infanto & FIFA’s stinking hypocrisy... The Last Leg – entirely self-amusing.
WHAT a sound track on SAS Rogue Heroes! AC/DC, Motorhead, the Cockney Rejects, Johnny Thunders, The Damned, the Stranglers... all wrong for the period, granted, but you can’t blow up Messerschmitts to Glenn Miller.
*KATIE Price’s boobs have gone from C to D to F to G, which are pretty much the chords to Stop In The Name Of Love. Take the hint, luv!
*LUCY Worsley made a show about Agatha Christie. Presumably cos she can’t pwonounce Ruth Rendall.
*SINCE Hancock did so well, why not launch a jungle spin-off – I’m A Politician... Keep Me In Here (Indefinitely)?
*WHITE Lotus jack-the-lad Jack is played by Lee Woodall. Not just a surname, but randy Jack’s life-long mission.
*A GHOST investigates his own murder on The Red Door. It’s pretty much the plot of DC’s Deadman with a side order of Patrick Swayze’s Ghost, but worth a watch.
SMALL joys of TV: The Ghost Of Richard Harris (Sky Arts). Hustle re-runs (Drama). Tom Hollander, White Lotus. Natalie Mitson as The Larkins barmaid Pauline.
RANDOM Irritations: SAS Rogue Heroes’ array of unconvincing beards. The ITV Hub app – it conks out like crypto. Laughable box-ticking casting (all channels).
TV MATHS. Mr Blobby + beard = Boy George.
7 great show elements: Norton’s red chair. McIntyre’s Send To All. Mock The Week’s Scenes We’d Like To See. Bill Maher’s New Rules. Only Connect’s Connecting Wall. Ant & Dec’s I’m A Celeb... Get Out Of Me Ear (channelling Noel’s Gotchas). Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.
Nov 20. I WAS ready to turn off I’m A Celebrity on Tuesday. Bore George’s attention-seeking chanting had rapidly become the biggest wind-up since Gulliver’s fob watch. Then blundering Baba dropped more stars than Gareth Southgate. He was so useless in the Angel Of Agony trial, he, Geo and Chris Moyles only won a miserable three meals. The Three Stooges would have done better. The next night, Moyles managed one. In fairness, self-absorbed George was pretty good beavering away at the bottom, but his real skills are stirring, panting and nicking his campmates’ towels. Let’s hope his inner bitch goes supernova soon.
If ITV were hoping to turn Matt Hancock into a laughing stock, it hasn’t worked. Nothing can stop the can-do ex-Health Minister. But cynics might say we knew that already – the bloke had thousands die on his watch and was still up for a crafty grope. He even outlasted Ant & Dec’s Daily Star inspired lettuce – just. But this show thrives on fear, terror, and weak over-promoted plums (like Paul Burrell) losing it. Without that, all that’s left is people getting tormented with offal, insects and assorted critters.
Things perked up with the more imaginative Unfair Funfair and the Disgusting Derby, and new leader Mike Tindall is good value. He’s smart, solid, and up for anything. He also drops small nuggets of gold into every conversation. Like the time his trousers split asunder as he demonstrated the “slut-drop” while dancing with his mother-in-law... AKA Princess Anne... Seeing “nibble my nuts” emblazoned on his pants, the Princess Royal quipped, “I’d rather not.” Tindall could win this.
*FIRST-OUT Charlene flopped on “Terrible Tea Cups”. If they’d sacked her there and then, could she have sued for funfair dismissal?
*MATT Hancock ate camel’s dick, sheep’s fanny and cow’s arse... isn’t that the initiation ceremony for the Bullingdon Club? He also got stung by a scorpion. Mercifully the poor tiddly creature recovered. Matt too.
DWIGHT “The General” Manfredi is a New York mobster who spent 25years behind bars rather than rat out his mafia mates. “I married this life, I’m gonna see if it married me back,” says Dwight. If it did, he should file for divorce. The wise guys immediately exile him to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to front a new operation. Ex-hitman Dwight, aka Tulsa King, shrugs and gets on with it. He recruits driver Tyson, starts a protection racket and cops off with a divorcee who turns out to be a fed. Modern manners are proving more of a challenge than rival local gangster Armand, though. Dwight is baffled by phone apps, takeaway coffee, cannabis being legal and “all these goddamn pronouns”. Sly Stallone is likeable and funny as the sly fish out of water, yet also convincingly brutal. He’s 76 but you still wouldn’t fancy being on the receiving end of a Rocky right-hander.
*THE difference between getting fleeced by the Mob or by our own government? The Mob provide you with a degree of protection.
THE Di Grasso clan clashed on The White Lotus, as wet irritant Albie blasted film classic The Godfather as “the salad days of the patriarchy”. Gender “is a construct”, he bleated. Grandad Bert told Albie’s dad, “You spend all that money sending him to Sanford and he comes back brainwashed.” He added wistfully, “They used to respect the old, now we’re just reminders of an offensive past”. Yep, but in forty years, Albie’s generation will be too.
HOT on TV: Ben Stokes... Sly Stallone, Tulsa King (Paramount+)... Aubrey Plaza, The White Lotus.
ROT on TV: Bake Off finale – stale end to a half-baked series... 1899 – like watching ice melt on a cold day.
BEAR Grylls told Louis Theroux that he only eats “steaks, liver and eggs” and consequently no longer farts. Farting is “a sign your gut isn’t very happy”, said Bear. (I bet his butcher is). Amanda Holden, in contrast, swerves meat these days. You couldn’t get her, Lizzo and Paul McCartney together in one place without a reinforced windbreaker.
*BEAR showed us how to bite the head off a snake. What a feast he’d have in Westminster.
*MAD Masha secretly micro-dosed guests with LSD at her wellness resort on Nine Perfect Strangers. And if you ever see Frankie Boyle on Songs Of Praise, you’ll know some evil swine has done exactly the same to you...
*RANDOM thoughts on Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement: He’d look loads better in a shower of cockroaches... at least Dick Turpin wore a mask... This mob are more over than Weinstein’s career.
*COMING soon: austerity TV! Coronation Shed. MasterChef: The Soup Kitchen. Death In Parracombe. The Martin Lewis No Money Show.
*BRITISH TV can do sex, swearing and gore – the violence on Gangs Of London would make John Wick wince – but we can’t create popular sitcoms. Progress?
*MIRIAM and Alan steered clear of Loch Ness on Lost In Scotland. Just as well. Throw in Nessie and it would have looked like Long Lost Family.
SMALL joys of TV: Hurst: The First & Only. Dave Chappelle’s monologue, SNL. The Peripheral (Prime). House Of Cards, BBC4. Bruce Springsteen taking over Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.
RANDOM Irritations: The UK Strongest Man final having more chat than event footage. Nowt against Ireland, but why was Irishman Collein Groom from Ballina in County Mayo taking part in a UK contest? No wonder he struggled raising that giant union flag.
TV MATHS. Taaj, Come Fly With Me + baseball cap = golfer Andy Johnston.
7 Great Modern TV westerns: Deadwood. Yellowstone. Justified. Into The West. Godless. Rough Riders. Quick Draw.
Classic clanger. BBC commentator Stuart Storey was talking about triple-jumper Ashia Hansen’s next jump when he said: “Ashia’s a bit ring rusty, she needs a big one.”
Nov 13. WELL, we’ve seen slimy critters on I’m A Celebrity before, but none quite as memorable as Matt Hancock. Within minutes of arriving in ITV’s jungle, Matt was in the dark, clueless, and scrabbling around on his hands and knees, covered in muck, maggots and cockroaches. A perfect metaphor for his time as health minister – and indeed current politicians in general. Hancock showed up on Wednesday and immediately slipped on the suspension bridge. Possibly an omen. Within minutes he was plunged into the confected hell of the Beastly Burrows trial, along with fellow love rat Seann Walsh. They got six stars, which in fairness is more than ITV’s bookers have managed. On Thursday, Matt trounced the Tentacles of Terror. Litres of pulverised pig’s arse will surely follow. Great! We’re so starved of good news, the public torture of an iffy MP is a cause for national jubilation.
In fairness, Hancock isn’t shirking adversity, and his giggly bromance with Walsh has a certain charm. His biggest challenge is appeasing his fellow “celebs”. Charlene (the bossy one from Loose Women) quizzed him, but his presence unsettled Mo Gilligan’s mate and has clearly rattled Boy George. Why exactly does George think he has the high moral ground? If he’d chained a woman to a radiator and beat her with a chain, he’d never have been on TV again. Let alone paid a fortune and given an easy ride. Oddly it hasn’t been mentioned. We also have modest Chris Moyles (“the greatest broadcaster of my generation”). Berk. Plus likeable lioness Jill Scott, himbo Owen, Corrie’s Sue Cleaver, daytime dish Scarlette and rugby veteran (& rapper!) Mike Tindall – already my favourite. Hate Hancock all you want, but he’s saved the series.
*THE show took its inspiration from Survivor, parachute jumps from Drop The Celebrity, moles from The Mole, tasks from Big Brother and gunging from Noel Edmonds. That aside, it’s entirely original.
*GEORGE told Owen that Scarlette was from A Place In The Sun. “Whereabouts?” he replied. D’oh! The plastic mole could outwit him.
IT’S beautifully filmed with a first-class cast, yet The Crown is to reality what Prince Philip was to gentle diplomacy. Artistic licence is one thing, but the Netflix saga rewrites history as casually as Joe Stalin. Worse than all the factual errors is they’ve used a child’s tragic death to suggest that Philip was romantically close to the mother. How can viewers sift the truth from fiction? It’s the same when SAS Rogue Heroes hints that Paddy Mayne was gay, presumably a shock to his fiancée. This smart, fearless soldier is played like a boorish barroom brawler rather than the courageous complicated man he was. Why, when the source material is so rich, do broadcasters feel the need to inject their own agendas?
ON his dismal New World Order, Frankie Boyle called Britain “Sh*tain” – so bold – and claimed Rishi Rich’s Tories are leading us to “fascism”. Cobblers of course. But Boyle’s whole schtick is built on shocking, swearing and student politics. It’s the TV equivalent of scrawled graffiti in a crackhead’s filth-strewn khazi. Like a teenage brat trying to rattle over-indulgent parents, millionaire Frankie, 50, had feeble pops at the Queen along with the usual trite drugs and doom references. His smug guests laughed in the right places; one joked that all black Tories are “psychos”. That’s BBC comedy, never knowingly funny and as even-handed as an unlucky shop-lifter in Iran. Where’s the opposite view?
HOT on TV: Christina Trevanion, The Travelling Auctioneers... Gangs Of London (SkyAt)... Elizabeth Debicki, The Crown.
ROT on TV: Frankie Boyle – the Putin of comedy... Saturday Night Live – I’ve had funnier Sunday morning hangovers.
BILL Treacher played Arthur Fowler back when EastEnders felt real. Arfur’s meltdown, after pinching the Xmas Club money, was one of the soap’s finest ever plots. And who can forget his fling with Hot-Lips Hewitt? With his green fingers, red face and little pink bum bobbing up and down, he was the rainbow rogerer of Walford. The sad deaths of Bill, Leslie Phillips and Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty this week remind us how much TV needs a weekly obituary show.
*BILL’S last recorded thought on DeadEnders: “it’s a load of old rubbish these days.” Yep.
*MIKE Tindall told his campmates, “Fear is a choice”. Wise words that should be written into every soap opera wedding ceremony...
*I MISSED the end of The Wheel last night, but thinking back I wish I’d missed it from the start.
*WHAT’S happened to Corrie? If the soap were a person, pals would stage an intervention.
*TV’s biggest fantasy? Doctors! You get seen in minutes.
*THE English? The Sloane Ranger meets Wokelahoma.
*I LOVE Two Doors Down but the show needs a new monster to replace Cathy as urgently as ITV need a sub for OIivia Attwood. £125K and not a single shower... Can she phone them in on Zoom or will that steam up the camera? Knowing ITV, they’ll replace her with a drag queen.
SMALL joys of TV: Lucia, bringing new meaning to “family friend” (& “room service”) on The White Lotus. Scarlette’s smile, I’m A Celeb. Two Doors Down.
RANDOM Irritations: Miriam Margolyes – she farts, she swears, she asks inappropriate questions. That’s her act, and good for her, but we’ve seen it far too often.
TV MATHS. Aidan (Secrets Of Kells) + stetson = Willie Nelson.
7 more cherished childhood memories: Top Cat. Branded. Wacky Races. F Troop. Worzel Gummidge. The Banana Splits. Hong Kong Phooey.
Nov 6. THE SAS were forged in the hellish heat of north Africa. World War II was going badly. Desert Fox Rommel was about to drive the British army out of Libya. And so in 1941, frustrated by goof-prone top brass, Lt David Sterling dreamed up a plan to liberate our besieged forces at Tobruk by attacking the enemy from the Great Sand Sea to the south. His recruits were smart, tough, courageous – borderline crazy. They were rogues, misfits, eccentrics, free-thinkers... men prepared to swerve red tape and get things done. Written by Peaky Blinders guru Steven Knight, SAS: Rogue Heroes is basically “Khaki Blinders” with a brutal AC/DC rock track and a smattering of flowery speeches.
Knight has added glamour – in the sultry shape of fictional French spy Eve Mansour. And taken a few liberties with a story which needed no embellishments. But even the fibs aren’t as bad as the porky blunders that plagued later series of Peaky Blinders. The scene where hard-drinking Sterling threw a fake grenade on a snooker table was wrong – he threw a real one. And it was him who “acquired” the parachutes they assumed they’d need to get behind enemy lines, not Jock Lewes. In reality, Lewes had matinee idol looks and Paddy Mayne – the greatest of the SAS originals – was a burly poetry-reading 6ft 3 rugby-player who wrecked more enemy planes than any fighter pilot. We first see him battering three military cops who come to his cell to hang him. As the BBC drama’s disclaimer says, “The events depicted which seem most unbelievable are mostly true.” Sterling realised that the jeeps of the Long Range Desert Group were safer and more efficient than parachuting – but only after he’d broken both legs. The biggest shock is how close the fledgling SAS came to being still-born.
*MILES Jupp’s Major Knox is puffed-up, posh and mediocre – one of the flakes of the upper crust.
THE characters on The White Lotus could have wandered in from Curb Your Enthusiasm. There’s a gross 80-year-old grandad, prone to spontaneous gas leaks, who leches over nubile young women. And Cameron who thinks it’s okay to strip naked in someone else’s hotel room in full view of his friend’s uptight lawyer wife. In fairness, he might have just been auditioning his prize-winning penis for its own C4 show. Series one was a darkly comic take-down of the entailed super-rich on holiday in Hawaii – with hotel manager Armond falling off the wagon in spectacularly OTT “top-that-Charlie-Sheen” style. Now we’re in Italy with a new hotel, new staff and new guests, except for loaded loon Tanya who treats PA Portia like a serf and pushes luckless husband Greg off her mid-shag. With deaths and adultery ahead, local hooker Lucia’s 5-star servicing, and Tom Hollander still to come, things will get darker faster than a Blackpool power cut.
*THE farting grandpa is Bert Di Grasso. Di Gasso, surely?
IF aliens exist, say the BBC, we’d be like ants to them – so at least we could muck up their picnics. First Contact was an odd, dull mix of fact and fiction. News that a 120mile-long UFO was heading towards earth at nearly 2million mph was greeted first with joke tweets like “Who had alien invasion on their apocalypse bingo?” Then came panic, riots and hoarding... until the object was found to be debris from a dead planet. ETs might be attracted by our TV and radio broadcasts, (the Beeb probably have a unit working out how to collect backdated other-world licence fees). But wouldn’t that keep us safe? Any alien watching EastEnders would conclude that we’re a hostile species who communicate chiefly by shouting, arguing, and stabbing one another. Steer clear.
*FACT. The distance the debris travelled was almost as vast as the yawning gulf between everyday people’s concerns and the BBC’s news agenda.
*7 aliens I’d like to encounter: 7 of 9. Caprica-Six. The Rani. V’s Anna. Xev Bellringer. T’Pol. The Borg Queen.
HOT on TV: SAS: Rogue Heroes & Sofia Boutella... SAS: Rogue Warriors (BBC4)... The White Lotus (SkyAt).
ROT on TV: Queens For The Night – bring on the guillotine... First Contact – space balls.
JIMMY Akingbola’s Nigerian dad disowned him; his schizophrenic mum abandoned him. Actor Jimmy, who’s gone from Kate & Koji to Hollywood, met up with his white Cockney foster family to share unmentioned memories on Handle With Care. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking. Foster mum Gloria recalled a young black girl in the children’s home who was so desperate to be fostered that she asked, “What if I took my skin off?” Jimmy’s blood sister told him he’d had the better life, though, saying “You grew up in a loving family.”
PS. Even reformed hooligan Cass Pennant played a part in Jimmy’s story. His status amongst the ICF helped change attitudes.
*HOW come the celebs on “celebrity” quizzes are more obscure than some of the questions?
*THE female Doctor is no more but her multi-speed sonic screwdriver is now available from Lovehoney.
*A TV researcher just asked me what was the worst car I’d ever seen. I replied Jimmy. Not really! He’s brilliant. I meant Alan.
SMALL joys of TV: Dame Judi Dench. Italia 90. Andre Rieu (SkyArts). Charlton v Ipswich – the greatest comeback since Lazarus. Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
RANDOM Irritations: Drag queens. You’ve had a good run but it’s getting tedious now. Come back when you find another Lily Savage. The Crown rewriting history.
TV Maths. Max Splodge + Columbo’s coat = Brooklyn Beckham.
Classic clanger. Jamie OIiver, talking about removing a red pepper stalk, said, “Get your thumb, put it in the hole and push it in hard.”