31. THE misery junkies of EastEnders went to town last week: A
two-day funeral, a near-suicide, a snatched baby and a car trapped
perilously on a train track. Was this the award-worthy drama BBC1
imagined it to be, or just more contrived old cobblers churned
out with all the finesse of a drunken navvy let loose with a sledgehammer?
The funniest moment came when the red hankie gang turned up for
the funeral on BMX bikes looking like the Cher Lloyd Fan Club.
Enders does teenagers like Dads dance at weddings. I still shudder
at the memory of Peggy's short-lived gwime obsession. Besides,
Billie was in his 20s, how come none of his mates drive a car?
More unintentional hilarity included Whitney's ridiculous
Action Man shrine, and Carol Jackson banning all of her friends
and most of her family from the funeral service. We all cope
with grief in different ways of course; mine would be to throttle
Carol, a cheerless, moaning nuisance of a woman perpetually
twinned with a small rain cloud. Ask not why all of Carol's
fellas cheated on her but rather how any of them ever stuck
with her beyond the first date without being strung out on gin
and morphine or forced into it by a pressgang. This sourpuss
puts the cow in scowling. She makes the soothsayer from Up Pompeii
looks like Charlie Chuckles. The biggest mystery in this soap's
history is why they put down Wellard and let Carol live. Others
include why Billie's brother, sister and Aunt all swerved his
funeral, when did wide-boy Alfie become such an 18-carat mug,
and would a Cockney mum like Peggy really have walked out on
her fam-lee in their darkest hour? No-one has even asked how
The truth is the writers' know Londoners even less than they
know life. They paint the East End as some kind of quaint shouting
community so isolated that the idiot peasants are forced to
open illegal drinking dens and inter-breed like European royalty.
It's a right-on social worker's view of the working class. They
can load on misery - there's nothing sadder than a mother's
tears. But happiness, aspiration, loyalty and logic are constantly
beyond them. The BBC's message is simple but relentless: Life
sucks and so do you.
*BILLIE'S pal Connor saved Carol from suicide by giving her
one in the kitchen. So that's what BMX stands for: bad man xxxxing.
The technical term for having sex with Carol? Grumpy-pumpy.
*Bereavement sex is the sweetest kind of all, according to
Jerry Seinfeld, trumping make-up sex and the conjugal visit;
although I think I'd plump for being shagged to death by Vanessa
Gold over a short period. Say, thirty years.
MOUTHY Melissa was the latest loser to get fired on The Apprentice,
although sadly not with a blow-torch. I'll miss her. The shameless
harpy may have come over like a cross between Gok Wan and a
bleached blonde Exocet missile, but no one has mangled the language
like this since the golden days of John Prescott. Explaining
her epic failure as a saleswoman, Hell's Mel insisted "There
was no room for manoeuvrement"; adding later "I've always maintained
my professionality." Imagine the chaos she'd bring to Dictionary
Corner. The woman is Nellie Pledge with a business degree. Not
to mention the worst pitcher this side of a stoned baseball
team in a zero gravity simulator. The only downside of Mel going
is that Stuart Baggs (Of Sh*te) is still with us. He's rude,
useless and deeply deluded; the sort of bloke who can't pass
a mirror without taking a bow. Baggs makes George Osborne seem
warm and likeable. He couldn't be more full of himself if he
learnt to self-fellate.
*THEY were pitching shower heads and a garden tool. What better
for a useless shower who dig 'emselves into a deep hole every
BBC1's Comedy Roadshow petered out with a lacklustre turn
from over-exposed, under-performing Jack Whitehall. The week
before featured Noel Fielding's feeble routine about a house-fly.
I love The Mighty Boosh but this guy's no stand-up. We're deep
in Emperor's New Clothes territory here. Why won't the Beeb
ever use older, mainstream comedians? What are they scared of?
HOT on TV: Getting On (BBC4) - a darkly comic masterpiece...
The Middle (Sky1)... Modern Families (Sky1)... Colditz (Yesterday).
ROT on TV: The Stephen K. Amos Show - excruciating... Million
Pound Drop - two bob concept... Piers Morgan's Life Stories
- more like a life sentence... Cheryl Cole - how can she judge
live singers when she won't sing live herself?
*ANN Widdecombe is said by some to be the nation's sweetheart.
Strewth! The nation had better get itself straight to Specsavers.
Gavin Henson is actually a worse dancer than Widdy. He moves
like his legs haven't fully defrosted from 71 Degrees North.
I'm not saying he's wooden, but that isn't spray tan, it's furniture
*WIDDY the nation's sweetheart? Sweetmeat, surely?
*MEMO to Holly Willoughby: please tell your boobs to stop
staring at my eyes. My wife finds it irritating.
*THE Discovery Channel brought us Tyrannosaurus Sex about
dinosaur mating habits. Insert your own Bruce Forsyth 'jurassic
pork' gag here.
*DAYBREAK's figures have dipped again. Whoever could've guessed
that people wouldn't want to wake up to grumpy Adrian Chiles?
They should replace their 'something cool before school' item
with one called 'the show don't work, you miserable berk.'
SMALL joys of TV: the unintentional laugh-out-loud moments
on Pillars Of The Earth. Keef's Culture Show special. And eccentric
nut-jobs like Dan on Freak Like Me, who obsessively corrects
misspelt graffiti (but probably not Annie who still sucks a
dummy at 18.)
RANDOM irritations: Waffling art-tart Matthew Collings. Ashley
and Claire (Corrie). The stupid questions Gregg Wallace asks.
"Have you got what it takes to advance on Masterchef?" he slobbers.
What does he expect them to reply? "No, fatty, I'm just in here
to get out of the rain."
* AFTER The Ripper and The Krays, whose crimes should Whitechapel
revisit next? How about Spring-heeled Jack, the legendary terror
of Victorian London?
SEPARATED at birth, Wagner Carrilho and ringmaster Amos in
Big Fish - one associated with a barking mad circus full of
weird creatures, the other a character played by Danny DeVito.
(Spotted by reader Rianna Hughes, 15.)
OCT 24. GEORGE Osborne wielded his axe on state spending last
week. A lot of our TV could do with a good trim too, and if
I were Chancellor of the Telly, here are the cuts I'd make:
1) Slash all soaps by 50% and place a cap on storylines involving
unplanned pregnancies, unlikely psycho-killers and long-lost
but never-previously-mentioned relatives. I'd also make EastEnders
60% less miserable, reversing 24 years of relentless gloom.
This might have a negative effect on sales of razor blades,
but it wouldn't half take pressure off the Samaritans.
2) X Factor is a ratings sensation, but 135 minutes? Jeez!
Lindsay Lohan has served shorter jail sentences. I'd chop half
an hour off Saturday night's episode, axe one judge (Louis)
and cut the number of live shows by ejecting four losers per
week. This would have the added benefit of ending the series
in November and saving the Xmas Number One slot from dreary
saccharine pop dross.
3) Replace Anne Robinson on Watchdog with an actual dog; not
only cheaper but easier on the eye.
4) Make Newsnight self-funding by merging it with QVC; during
in-depth report on Middle East, Paxman would turn to camera
and talk us into buying properly supportive gentlemen's pants.
5) Daytime dross involving cooking, slimming and/or makeovers
would be subject to a hefty Man Tax if shown after 7pm, liberating
huge chunks of the evening from the pox of Gok Wan, Gregg Wallace
and Jamie Bloody Oliver.
6) Daybreak is day-broken. The 'dream-team' of Chiles and
Bleakley has produced nightmare ratings. Why not replace these
over-paid duds with cheaper, more cheerful folk who have genuine
chemistry? We could call it GMTV.
7) I love The Apprentice, but Karen Brady isn't working. BBC1
would save fortunes by replacing her with a waxwork dummy of
Margaret Mountford. As long as the eyebrows were mobile it'd
be every bit as good as the real thing.
8) Axe S4C. If Welsh-speakers want their own channel, let
it pay its way.
9) Ditto BBC3 - the young and dumb have enough channels already
without us having to fork out for a state-run one.
10) Pay-per-view executions on Jeremy Kyle Show.
My reforms would halt the slow decline towards TV hell and
free up time and resources for culturally enriching programming
like: Variety shows featuring professional entertainers! Fools
& Horses style sitcoms! A UK equivalent of the Sopranos starring
Ray Winstone! A proper rock show! And the Live From Studio 5
girls wrestling half-naked in jelly. I commend these measures
to the house.
*WE now have aircraft carriers without aircraft. Well done
Osborne, Cameron and Alexander, the men who put the 'N' in cuts.
*SHIBBY deserved to go on The Apprentice. Not so much for
his bread roll compensation fiasco, but because he used the
phrase "My bad" like he was twelve or Jonathan Ross. Sugar dubbed
him 'Dr Do-Little'. It would have 'Dr Strangeloaf' but according
to Wagner Louis Walsh has cornered that market with his baguette...
*I CAN'T say anything about last night's X Factor, I'm still
laughing at Louis's idea of a rocker - Storm in a fedora hat
slaughtering Born To Run. Wash-out Walsh has no judgement, insight,
clue or shame. But he's still got more chance of having a singer
in the final than Simon, and that's the funniest thing of all.
*WOW. That Cheryl Cole waxwork is just like the real thing.
It can't sing a note either. Cheryl's waxwork is so true to
life they have to chain it up at night in case it leaps down
and wallops the toilet cleaner.
LIKE all fans of glossy, high-concept US conspiracy cobblers
I want to love The Event. But I'm worried. Will it deliver,
like Lost ultimately did (sort of), or frustrate like FlashForward?
It's mighty tempting. 1944, and a plane carrying mysterious
alien passengers crashes in Alaska. The CIA promptly bang 'em
all up Gitmo style, keeping them secret for 66 years. It's the
biggest conspiracy since Bilderberg. Even the US President doesn't
know. And just as the detainees are about to be freed Bad Things
start happening (killings, kidnapping, hi-jacks). Step forward
reluctant hero Sean (Jason Ritter) to save the world. He's an
ordinary Joe whose girlfriend vanishes on a cruise. (If Jane
McDonald was the cabaret, it'd explain everything). Even more
worrying, there's no record of them ever being aboard. Gulp.
Eight days on, Sean's trying to stop her pilot Dad from landing
his plane on the Pres when it vanishes... Damn you, America.
*C4's The Event. Not to be confused with Katy Perry singing
on X Factor, that was a complete and utter non-event.
HOT on TV: The Event... Spooks... Greg Davies (Inbetweeners)
... Whitechapel - plain Krayzy.
ROT on TV: Harry & Paul - as repetitive and tiresome as a
depressed drunk reciting Little Britain sketches... and "serious
BBC drama" Lip Service - these ladies-who-munch are as randy
as a Confessions film but nowhere near as realistic.
*THEY played Texas Hold Em Fold Em on EastEnders. It must
have been the first river in Walford without a body floating
in it. Alfie had a run of bad luck, but didn't lose his shirt.
Shame. He's been wearing that tat for eight years. He's come
back in the same clothes he left in, in '95. Let's hope he's
changed his pants.
*THE Taking Of Prince Harry was everything you'd expect from
C4: badly-made, treacherous old codswallop. It was distressing
for our forces, for the Prince himself and for his long-suffering
father, James Hewitt.
*THE make-up lady on Downton Abbey is called Annie 'Nosh'
Oldham. I don't know this woman, but I'd certainly like to meet
*I HEAR that the BBC wardrobe department refer to Anton Du
Berk as the vajazzle, cos every week they ask: "How the hell
are we gonna dress up this ****?"
RANDOM irritations: Jack Whitehall popping up everywhere like
an arcade Whac-A-Mole. Chloe Madeley apparently qualifying as
a celebrity. The fuss about Cheryl Cole singing live - isn't
that what singers do? Alan Sugar talking about résumés when
he means CVs.
SMALL Joys of TV: Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey). The Specials
on EastEnders, although with the Jacksons shouldn't the song
have been Too Much Too Young or Stereotype?
Oct 17. MODERN TV is littered with shame and scandal. Cheryl
picking Katie Weasel over Gamu and that girl who moves like
she has cerebral palsy over Anastasia; Wagner making the X Factor
live shows, the very existence of Diva Fever... All of it stinks
like McCririck’s pants. And now we must add another name to
this list of outrages: Joy Stefanicki.
Poor Joy was fired from The Apprentice for no apparent reason.
She didn’t come up with the girls’ dumb product idea – that
was Joanna. She didn’t turn down an exclusive deal with Boots
– that was Laura’s daft decision. But Laura is double gorgeous
and stroppy Joanna is “good telly.” Whereas Joy, well, she’s
plain and polite with a schnozz like a strap-hanger’s elbow.
So she had to go, proving Sugar’s show is just as cynical as
Cowell’s. The only business going on here is ‘show’. Not that
this detracts from the joys of watching puffed-up nitwits self-destruct...
‘Britain’s brightest business prospects’ had to design a new
and useful beach accessory. Many ideas spring readily to mind:
heat-resistant ice cream, sand-proof cossies or padded gentleman’s
trunks to turn the saddest smuggled budgie into a proud cockerel.
Liz’s first thought was the foot-glove, to protect your feet
from burning hot sand... much like beach shoes, plimsols and
sandals do. Joanna came up a kind of mini-deckchair for books
- because reading a book while sun-bathing is such a difficult
ordeal, isn’t it? Erh, no. No-one was the slightest bit impressed,
but in the absence of anything better Book-Eeze was born. The
finished product was actually worse than this sounds – naff,
flimsy and about as simple to assemble as an MFI wardrobe in
a power cut. Incredibly Boots liked it, but Laura rejected their
offer (d’oh!) resulting in a nice round sales figure. Zero.
Synergy’s big idea wasn’t much better – a beach-towel with a
built-in drinks cooler, which Alex called a coolie (spelt cuuli,
cos basically he’s a tuul.) Somehow, despite Chris’s lousy pitch,
they nailed some orders leaving the losing girls to tear into
one another like demented Jeremy Kyle guests. Business prospects?
This lot couldn’t rent deckchairs in Benidorm.
*THE boys talked Stella into a bikini. I found that shocking
and childish. The one I want to see half-naked is Paloma...
*SMALL Apprentice joy: their ridiculous jargon. “We haven’t
solidified our product choice,” chirped Paloma. And if Melissa’s
“comfortability” is a word then wobbly Widdy is the next world
*WAS Dave’s One Night Stand the best vehicle for Ben Elton’s
TV come-back? Wouldn’t it have been funnier to see this clapped-out
hypocrite writhing in agony on Embarrassing Bodies with his
genitals covered in suppurating boils?
*THE word of the week is vajazzle, folks. Once Essex girls
were happy with a ruby and a pearl necklace, now they have their
pubes waxed and decorated with stick-on crystals. Everyone who
is anyone is doing it. Even Jo Brand, although I hear she uses
a strimmer and glues on pork pies for when she gets peckish.
Sexy Sam had hers done on The Only Way Is Essex, ITV2’s low-rent
answer to The Hills. On one level it’s hypnotically awful. The
real-life cast play themselves so badly they make Simon Amstell
look like Olivier. But keep an eye on Jessica, she’s bright,
talented, and going places. And I don’t mean the local tanning
booth. That’s obviously full. Please note: the Sugar Hut is
a Brentwood nightclub, it’s not Sam’s nickname for her vuvuzula.
*YOU know what Lady GaGa uses for her vajazzle? Bacon bits.
Corrie’s Betty opts for Werthers Originals. We can only guess
at what Katie Waissel has got going on down there. But get too
close and it’ll have your eye out.
HOT on TV: Thorne (Sky1)... Whitechapel... new Mentalist (Five)...
Harry Hill... Patricia Heaton (The Middle).
ROT on TV: Seven Days – bored now... Film 2010... Reggie Perrin
– this dead horse has been flogged enough... Ann Widdecombe’s
dancing – so bad Chilean miners saw it and threatened to go
*24-hour news came into its own as the Chilean miners were
finally rescued. The world shared their joy. Except for Fabio
Capello – the hole he’s stuck in is even deeper. What a nightmare.
No-one has been trapped for so long in such a confined space
since eight Slaters shared one three-bedroom house on EastEnders.
*SKY News should have kept the cameras rolling. After the
miners, the next three up were Silurians from Doctor Who. Then
they dug up Simon Fanshawe’s career.
*LADY Mary enjoyed some Turkish Delight in bed on Downton
Abbey – sadly the young Turk promptly dropped dead. There hadn’t
been a scandal like this in Downton since someone used a steak
knife to eat plaice. Stick to English aristos, Mary love. Only
their upper lips are stiff.
*THE creepiest thing on Mark Gatiss’s A History Of Horror?
* GATISS is all over the BBC these days - writing, presenting,
acting... he’s like Alan Yentob with talent.
*MIKE Gunn on Gok Wan: “Gok’s gay! He fancies blokes. If Gok
thinks you look good naked you look like a lorry-driver.”
*APT scheduling: What Katie Did Next (ITV2) followed by The
Bride Of Frankenstein (BBC4). If only...
*EASIEST job in TV? Writing Dermot’s X Factor script; you
just type “We'll be back after the break” thirty-seven times.
* LUSTY lesbian Frankie seduced a funeral parlour receptionist
next to a corpse on Lip Service. It might have been my imagination
but I’d swear the shroud started to levitate...
*JOAN Collins reckons modern actresses lack glamour. Yeah?
Tell it to January Jones, Christina Hendricks and Eva Langoria...
*SMALL joys of TV: Harry & Paul’s van drivers’ lament – shame
the show’s so patchy. Ruta Gedmintas (Lip Service); judging
by her TV conquests, that’s probably pronounced Rudely Bed-munters.
Tommy Tiernan on economics: “Every country in the world owes
money, but who to? Why don’t we just kill the bastard and relax?”
RANDOM irritations: C4’s charmless, witless Roasts. Those
bickering Apprentice birds – they make ITV’s Loose Women seem
almost rational. The X Factor judges’ avalanche of clichés –
diva, 110 per cent, “You owned the stage”, “This is your time”,
“You made that song your own”. Yikes. Either be original or
hire some bloody writers.
SEPARATED at birth Wagner (X Factor) and Dougal from the Magic
Roundabout – one a dozy, hairy creature who’s good for a laugh,
the other a puppet dog...
10/10/10. COCKY Dan Harris was the first contender fired from
a job he never had on The Apprentice. He had it coming. As Synergy
team leader, Dan opted for a style of man management more generally
associated with the Gestapo, Somali pirates and 1980s newspaper
editors. He swore, he shouted, he spat out orders, and let everyone
else do all the work... so he went down like Cheryl Cole in
The teams’ first task was to make their own sausages over-night
and then flog them. It was like the Generation Game with a till.
The women, Team Apollo, plumped for meaty gourmet offerings.
The fellas went with cheap, pork-flavoured stodge that resembled
something you’d scrape off the hind-legs of a particularly mucky
mongrel. Their bargain bangers went well in Portobello market,
but then Dan hit on the disastrous idea of door-to-door selling.
Cos who could resist a surly stranger barking “Want sausages?”
over their home entry tannoy?
The Apprentice is TV’s top reality show because it delivers
what viewers crave most – a procession of hateful, deluded egomaniacs.
Take Stuart Baggs, who looks like the lovechild of Peter Jones
and a malignant circus dwarf, thinks he’s a “first class salesman”
and sees himself as “Stuart Baggs, The Brand.” Or as you or
I might put it Stuart Baggs, The Cock. Or Stuart Baggs O’Shite.
Other A1 losers include bungling “maverick” Alex, boastful
Chris and surgeon Shibby who couldn’t negotiate his way out
of a revolving door. Hark at his forceful patter: “The entire
box for £60, take it or leave it... ” Customer: £50.” Shibby:
“55, meet me halfway. 53? 50 it is... smacked it boys!” Shibs
says his first spoken word was “Money not Mummy.” Shouldn’t
that read phony or dummy? I also loved Melissa – the one who
looks like a bleached Gok Wan - loudly rowing with Joanna about
professionalism in front of a crowd of customers. “On paper
you all look very good,” Sugar told them. “But then so does
fish and chips.” And as a good East End boy, his Lordship knows
a fish supper works best when served with wallies.
*LIZ described herself: “I’m young, I’m adaptable, I’m agile...
” Was she auditioning for the boardroom, or illicitencounters.com?
*THE Top Five Apprentice contenders shallow men would like
to discuss sausage with: Liz, Laura, Sandeesh, Paloma, Stella...
* SUGAR’S top line: “I keep hearing a lot of hot air coming
out of your mouth, so in the interests of climate change shut
*I’M prepared to believe that the X Factor isn’t racist and
that the decision to axe talented black singers in favour of
fragile Cher, flaky Katie and three forgettable white boys was
pure coincidence. But does anyone still believe the show isn’t
fixed? No honest judge would have put through these divs after
their disastrous performances last weekend. The choices were
clearly made in advance – a real kick in the guts for Annastacia,
Paige, Keri, Gamu and TreyC which no wild card reprieve fully
makes up for. X Factor is rigged more heavily than Master &
Commander. All in all, it’s a great advert for Rage Against
*POOR Gamu. Simon should fix up an all-singing edition of
UK Border Force for her last day here. She could belt out something
appropriate (Get Back?), before Marcus Bentley says: “Gamu you
have been evicted, please leave the Big Brother state.”
*COMING soon from ITV: Judge Cheryl Cole – move over John
Deed as rule-breaking maverick Cheryl takes a stand against
petty, old-fashioned values like fair-play and talent.
*CHERYL looks a lot like Cher. They could be a double act:
Cher and Cher-alike.
STOP PRESS. Last night’s show confirmed how wrong the joke-judges
were to over-look TreyC and Paige. Back from the dead, the two
wild card warblers comprehensively out-sung and out-performed
Flaky Katie (aka Lady TaTa) and Cheryl’s dead-eyed mini-me.
They and Tesco Mary were the stand-out singers of the night.
Belle Amie were the worst, followed closely by FYD which you
suspect is short for Forget it, You’re Doomed (and I cleaned
that up). But Aidan will probably win, despite looking like
a psychotic choirboy planning his first murder (make it Louis).
The weirdest sight of the night was Cheryl’s skin. The dozy
mare has clearly reacted to the ‘racism’ row by changing colour
via an all carrot diet and a quick dip in Ronseal. Chezza is
now so orange she makes Dale Winton look as pale as Michael
Jackson. Not sure who were the biggest joke the judges, Diva
Fever or Wagner (were those dancers groping their boobs entirely
appropriate on a family show?) But I’m guessing Diva Fever will
be the ones who land an ITV2 series.
*HOW can you spot the mad woman in Walford? Trick question,
they’re all nuts. But at least Jean Slater had something to
smile about on Monday when Billy delivered a sausage surprise
of his own. Stone me, you’d have to be bonkers to sleep with
that loser. Billy’s last girlfriend was inflatable. He’s one
up from a tramp in a skip. Bill’s life is so dismal that the
scriptwriters dozed off during his last big storyline (the stolen
post) and forget to finish it.
*WHAT’S Jean like in bed? CRAZY! And very loud because all
her split personalities climax simultaneously.
HOT on TV: The Apprentice... TV Burp... Downton Abbey... Sarah
Vezmar (Doctors)... Human Target (Fiver)... Spooks... Modern
ROT on TV: Brucie (Strictly) – he’s ruined more gags than
a platoon of hecklers... The Story Of Lunch – pretentious dog’s
dinner... George Gently – sloppier than a blindfolded housepainter.
*RIP Norman Wisdom. His warm underdog-friendly slapstick was
a world away from the sneering elitism that passes for humour
today. We’ve lost the art of simple fun. BBC1’s Tuesday night
could have been scheduled by the Samaritans: Holby, Kids In
Care, hellhole survivors, a bleak movie... strewth. Halfway
through I turned off the telly and played Leonard Cohen for
RANDOM irritations: Richard ‘Goebbels’ Curtis. EastEnders
slapstick. Piss-poor panel shows. Samantha’s habit of talking
out of the side of her mouth (Seven Days). X Factor judging
– more baffling than the Mock The Week scoring system. X Factor
deportations – why can’t we start with Louis? And Paul O’Grady
dropping his opening monologue to do ten minutes on a micro
pig called Gussy. Lazy, badly advised children’s hour dross.
A waste of talent and opportunity. But on the plus side Gussy
was sooo cute.
*HUMAN Target is a magic carpet ride away from grim reality.
Mark Valley plays Christopher Chance, a steel-jawed, two-fisted
bodyguard for hire. In show one he minded Tricia Helfer – who
certainly has a body worth guarding. The show is a throwback
to the lighthearted action thrillers of the seventies. Pure
escapism. Love it.
*SOME sadist has started a facebook campaign to get me into
I’m A Celebrity. Thanks, love, but if I wanted to hang out with
rats and roaches, I’d go to the party conferences.
*RE Nigella’s “permissive” lamb recipe, is a shank entirely
out of the question?
SMALL joys of TV: Parking Pataweyo (Harry & Paul). Kara Tointon,
dominatrix (Strictly). Don Ehlert, the tight-fisted tyrannical
boss on The Middle. The way Monica Galetti’s eyes widen over
the smallest mistake on Masterchef – imagine how she’d have
reacted to the boys’ hard sausages on The Apprentice.
*SOAP quote of the week, Tyrone on Coronation Street: “Jack,
have you heard about Sophie Webster? She's Lebanese... ”
*TV puzzles: why isn’t Kat having kittens? On My Big Fat Gypsy
Wedding, why didn’t the brides buy their gowns off the peg?
OCT 3. X Factor latest: really good black singers axed for
quirky white ones who mucked up. Is this show rigged or racist?
Either way it stinks. These decisions make a mockery of all
those claims that “I’m going to judge you on your performance”
gumph. More of this next Sunday, but the truth is the finalists
are fixed long before the judges’ ‘homes’ stage.
Oct 3. THE costume drama is back - yippee! TV’s way of saying,
look how great things were when the gentry were landed, plebs
knew our place and urchins were sent up chimneys. Just don’t
mention the rickets. Downton Abbey is crawling with the sort
of pampered parasites who in my youth would have got me reaching
for a red flag and a revolver. Mind you, stone-hearted snobs
like Lady Mary would bring out the inner Miliband in Norman
Tebbit. James, milady’s intended, went down on the Titanic.
(Much like going down on Lady Mary but not quite as icy). Told
of his death, the sensitive flower responded “Must I go into
official mourning? No-one really knew he was my fiancé. I loathe
ITV recreates the period with a master forger’s attention
to detail. It’s set in 1912, a time of steam trains and vintage
Rollers where flunkeys iron newspapers, there’s kedgeree for
breakfast, and electricity is scorned - “all those vapours seeping
about.” The stately pile looks splendid (step forward Dame Maggie
Smith as inviolate Violet, Dowager Countess), and Hugh Bonneville
sparkles as the decent but troubled Earl of Grantham. The sinking
of the Titanic has holed his survival strategy below the waterline
as well. He has an army of flunkies to maintain and needs to
get his spoilt-bitch daughter hitched to the right chinless
wonder. Unfortunately the first sub, the Duke of Crowborough,
preferred the attentions of Thomas the footman (and if you knew
why he was called that... ) played by Liam out of Corrie. There
are hateful people downstairs too, of course – some even take
against Bates, the Earl’s injured Boer War batman turned inexperienced
manservant. (No ‘how green was my valet’ gags by request).
The period feel is perfect; casting and location terrific.
The only flaw is the direction – too many backs of heads...
not enough be-headed aristos... It’s daunting to think that
were it not for World War II and the 1945 Labour government,
Britain might still be a lot like this: a rigidly structured
world of toffs and deference.
Please note: the sentiments expressed above are in no way
an endorsement of the current British ‘Labour’ Party who clearly
despise England, the working class, radicalism, and free-thinking
in any form.
*THERE is a scene in the Disney film Fantasia when Hyacinth
Hippo rises gracelessly from the fountain. Last night BBC1 recreated
it in the shape of Ann Widdecombe, who made her debut in a rubber
frock the size and colour of the campest circus big top, and
waltzed herself slowly and awkwardly into the nation’s heart.
“If you think that’s bad wait till you see my salsa,” Widdy
gamely told Revel-Horrid. Oh yeah. She’s John Sergeant in drag.
Anton du Berk’s toes are really going to suffer. Good.
*IF Widdy’s dancing does improve, will that mean you can teach
an old dog new tricks? Sorry if that remark offended any aging
*NO obvious stars on X Factor, but Cowell has hit pay-dirt
with scandal this series: divorce, prostitution and a performing
moose (Chloe). How can Strictly top that? Hmm. Maybe encourage
Paul Daniels to tell Ola “My big thing is magic.”
*MICHAEL McIntyre lit up Blackpool like the illuminations.
He’d just seen Lorraine Kelly telling women “you’ve got to get
that bikini body” for their summer holidays. “Not in Blackpool
you don’t,” Mac scoffed. “Eat your chips otherwise you won’t
fit in your extra-large fleece.” John Bishop was good Roadshow
value too, and Justin Moorhouse impressed. But why book Miles
Jupp, a posh boy from Berkshire, when Blackpool is crawling
with rarely-seen top quality comics? Even Terry Alderton disappointed.
Live, he’s sensational. But instead of using this BBC1 exposure
to win over a new audience with his hottest one-liners and impressions,
Terry spent half his slot with his back to the camera conversing
with an imaginary daemon. Maybe this works in comedy clubs,
but here it made his spot feel disjointed and him appear slightly
nuts. A missed opportunity.
*FUNNIEST moment? McIntyre teasing Roy Walker, who was in
the audience, with his catchphrase “Say what you see.” Quick
as a flash Roy retorted: “Don’t tempt me.”
*THE problem with Whites is it’s nowhere near as funny as
any real-life cooking show you could name. Nothing dished up
here was as laugh-out-loud daft as Michel Roux Jnr saying: “He
has to do justice to that turbot” with the intensity of Lucas
on Spooks with half a minute to save the world. Nothing excited
the imagination like Nigella’s talk of her “inner-thigh wibble.”
In fact the only funny line was head chef Roland telling his
maître d': “If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't
have made them out of meat” – a Mick Miller gig from the 90s
that has been a t shirt slogan for years. The smug head chef
isn’t as scary/ridiculous as Gordon or Marco, the characters
aren’t as monstrous or engaging as folk on Masterchef. Whites
can’t even capture the chaotic high-pressure feel of a working
kitchen. Fresh comedy? More like unseasoned, reheated leftovers.
*IT’S hard to believe in Alan Davies as a chef. He looks like
the most nourishing thing he ever ate was that tramp’s ear he
once munched on.
*NIGELLA thought of the week: “A good grinding will do just
HOT on TV: Kara Tointon (Strictly Come)... The Middle (Sky1)...
The Inbetweeners... Michelle Forbes (True Blood)... Nigella
– stiffens the rhubarb.
ROT on TV: Daybreak... Anton du Berk – the ego has landed...
Ask Rhod Gilbert – yeah, ask him why he’s bothering with this
naff format... One Non-Blonde – not one laugh... Ann Black (Labour
Conference) – a televisual black hole, duller than a BBC2 sitcom.
*RIK Waller from Pop Idol is now a maths teacher. You know
what attracted him to that subject? The pi...
*IT’S bad form for Myleene to complain about that Hollywood
star’s indecent proposal. We’ve all seen her on the Lotto, we
know she likes releasing big money balls.
*KATE Walsh said the star “must hope Myleene’s lips remain
sealed”. Yes, but around what? See page three of his contract...
*TELLY mysteries: why would anyone pay to drink in the Vic’s
burnt-out cellar? Why does Patrick McGuinness look like a pantomime
Chinaman? Why does Victoria Wood still think she’s funny? Didn’t
she watch her last Xmas show? And what’s going on with Sharon
Osbourne’s face? There are trampolines that are less taut.
SMALL joys of TV: Matt ‘Super Hans’ King as a dodgy meat supplier
(Whites). John Bishop’s rampant rabbit routine. Pat Harkin’s
inspired idea for “Venetian trousers, powered by Venetian blind
technology” (Genius). And The Hoff getting booted off Dancing
With The Stars. Forget bad dancing, David, it’s not for you;
stick to the bad acting.
SEPARATED at birth: Peter Kay and Beth Ditto – one a feminine-looking
fattie who looks awful in women’s clothes... and so’s the other