Garry Bushell
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Oct 30. They were flogging ice-cream on Young Apprentice. But Lord Sugar warned, “You’re going to find that I’m no Mr. Softee.” His jokes haven’t got get any better, then. Who writes this stuff, Bruce Forsyth? Just as well it isn’t Jonathan Ross or there’d be inappropriate references to raspberry ripples and taking Karren Brady up the Häagen-Dazs.

The teenage boys called themselves “Atomic”, because nothing says yum like radioactive poisoning. They flogged pirate-themed ice creams at Southend. But girls team Kinetic had all the rigging. They might have been rubbish at maths - “Three times four is 28,” announced project manager Hayley with confidence – but they knew how to rip people off. Kinetic pressurised small children into unwanted extras, and charged 20p more for cones... only Ryan Air has more hidden costs. Parents at Chessington were completely jolly-rogered.

Being sixteen doesn’t make the contenders any more likeable, as bolshy buck-passer Gbemi and big-headed James proved. James, from Northern Ireland (catchphrase “I completely disagree”), is already being lined up as the show’s answer to Baggs The Brand. I’m all for encouraging kids to start businesses. Down my way, the only thing they know how to start is someone else’s car without keys. It’s just a shame the only message the show promotes is the gobbier and more unpleasant you are the more screen time you’ll get.

Stroppy-chops Mahamed was my favourite. The tiny, trainee tycoon wore a gold watch that was half his body weight. It was a miracle he could even stand up. Unsurprisingly he was first out. Back in the boardroom, Sugar was waiting with more pre-scripted quips. “Never mind Ben & Jerry’s, it’s more like bloody Tom and Jerry,” he moaned. But the Sweet Lord didn’t tear into them like he would adults. The show needs a Minipops version of Sugar to chew them out. And maybe some pint-sized protestors camped outside the boardroom in Fisher Price tents.

*JUMPED-up amateurs wrestling with economics they can’t quite grasp... was this Young Apprentice or the Eurozone summit?

*SUGAR is “no Mr Softee.” For Mr Whippy see Max Mosley.

*REJECTED pirate ice cream brands: Parrot, Bilge Rat, Scurvy, Poop Deck, Arrrs...

HAS Downton Abbey “jumped the shark” – TV speak for losing the plot? Or is it soaring over Loch Ness on a souped-up Jet Ski? The show mixes melodrama with historical asides like David Starkey on piece-rate. You wouldn’t be surprised if the Earl’s next house guest were Vladimir Lenin taking a break from the travails of running a revolution. Or if Mrs Patmore saw off the Spanish flu pandemic with a hot toddy. Last week a conveniently disfigured wretch with a Canadian accent turned up claiming to be Patrick, Downton’s lost and very English heir. Bates is suspected of bumping off his nasty missus, Carlisle is blackmailing Lady Mary into marriage, and her true love, paralysed Matthew is finally getting stirrings down below. This whole second series is like Soap, the hilarious ’70s spoof soap opera, in fancy dress. I genuinely love it.

IN Spooks, Harry Pearce lost the two loves of his life - a rotten trick to play on a decent man who’d served his country loyally for ten nail-biting series. H’s ‘son’ Sasha ended Ruth’s Escape To The Country dream of a cottage by the sea by renovating her guts with a shard of glass, thus leaving him Ruth-less as well as ruthless (when necessary). While Elena, his Russian lover, turned out to have been a Soviet spy all along; she’d recruited him when he thought he was recruiting her – a move known in technical terms as the old double-reverse ferret. Harry still did okay, though, considering that most of MI5’s Section D perished horribly - most memorably Helen Flynn who copped a facial in a deep fat fryer. Talk about battered to death...At least H got his job back.

*AS Harry Hill is retiring, why don’t ITV try out a pilot episode of Harry Pearce’s TV Burp? He wouldn’t so much review as terminate with extreme prejudice. For you, Vernon Kay, the career is over.

HOT on TV: Strike Back Project Dawn finale... The Walking Dead... The Slap (BBC4)... Pete Vs Life... Jinsy’s ‘Soup of the Gods’ anthem.

ROT on TV: Music Hall Meltdown – a great big shame... John Stape (Corrie) – putting the nap in kidnap... James May – last man snoring.

*MICHAEL Grade’s History Of The Music Hall had Jo Brand and Alexei Sayle as ‘expert’ talking heads. The same Alexei Sayle who once said, “I'll tell you why Music Hall died, it was shit!” All Brand had to say was “I would like to have seen Marie Lloyd.” Licence-payers’ money well spent.

*MUSIC Hall was a glorious, colourful, bawdy world that gave working people a well-earned break from their tough lives. So why get public school bores (Brigstocke, Jupitus) to recreate it badly on BBC4’s Music Hall Meltdown? What next, Caggie Dunlop compering darts matches?

WHAT was the appeal of Carri-Ann on the Bachelor? The woman talked like Orville! In fairness, she also gave the impression that a duck was never out of the question.

*PLEASE note: Winter’s Bone is a film showing on Sky Movies Indie, not Katie Price’s code-name for her next fella.

*C4 transported a Torquay cabbie to the afterlife on Mummifying Alan. I do hope he left the meter running. His widow said “I’m the only woman in Britain who’s got a mummy for a husband.” And Roy Cropper was the first to have a daddy as a wife.

*THAT’S Alan sorted. For what happened to Gaddafi’s corpse see Libyan Masterchef...

*TV I’d Like To See: Mummifying Alan – Lord Sugar’s Skincare Regime Revealed; The World’s Biggest Bomb – the inside track on ITV’s Red Or Black; Would I Lie To You – political leaders’ EU referendum edition.

RANDOM irritations: the lack of rock on TV (including X Factor’s ‘rock’ week); who’d have thought from our music shows that British rock stars are revered the world over? EastEnders - dull, joyless, oppressive; forget Capitalism, campers, occupy Albert Square!

SMALL Joys of TV: Frozen Planet. Sid Field clips (BBC4). Larry David, baguette vigilante (Curb). Andrew Marr and opera singer Angela Gheorghlu – as surreal as anything on Jinsy.

SEPARATED at birth: Pete Burns and Jigsaw; one plied his trade in deforming the human body. And so did Jigsaw...

*WAKEFIELD is the “home of the forced rhubarb”, according to Gregg Wallace. And not French politicians’ hotel rooms, as previously thought.

*COMIC Tucker on Clarkson un-gagging his ex-wife: “She’s gone from nought to £75grand in six seconds.”

Oct 23. MOVING scenes last weekend as lovely Tulisa spoke eloquently about Rhythmix to X Factor’s watching, but dwindling, millions. “They are real people,” she announced, as opposed presumably to demented android Kitty Brucknell. “Real women, standing up there saying ‘We are women, let’s unite and stand strong’.” Wow. All I saw were four average girls styled by a partially-sighted lunatic belting out an inane version of ‘I’m Like A Bird’ (And by bird, we’re talking dodos; squawking seagulls; four dead ducks.) Tulisa heard Harriet Harman & the All-Singing Suffragettes. What a farce. Trust me, there is more chance of Jim Davidson marrying Minty Chalice than of Rhythmix winning this competition.

The X Factor is shedding viewers for obvious reasons. It’s far too long and bombastic, most of the singers are mediocre at best, and the judges either have cloth ears or the lie like a convention of TV mediums. Frankie Cocozza killed Coldplay’s The Scientist as dead as Gaddafi. The kid was flatter than a transvestite’s chest and yet not one of the puffed-up panellists seemed to notice. They criticised the song choice and the “stagnant” performance but made no comment on Frankie’s staggering inability to carry a note in a bucket.

Louis ‘Tintin’ Walsh remains the most irritating, with his poor judgement and endlessly repeated clichés: “Tonight you nailed it”, “You owned that stage”, “You made that song your own”, “I want everyone in Wales/Liverpool/Upper Dicker to vote for you...” How many times will he tell Janet Devlin she has “a Celtic soul”? (Translation: she’s Irish). Sandy, the Sandy’s Choice dog on Jinsy, is a better judge of talent than wittering Walsh – and less barking, too.

The real problem is we’re a bit bored with X Factor now. We know how it works, and how the producers fix it. We know that Janet will make the final, along with mighty Misha (please stop dressing her like a Quality Street sweet) and probably Craig and The Risk. The format, like Frankie’s leggings, needs changing. ITV should trim it, widen the musical field – more rock voices would be a start – give viewers more power and put under-performing judges out to grass. Yes, bin-bin Tintin. For Louis! Especially! It’s time! To face! The music!

AND now for something completely disappointing... Holy Flying Circus re-imagined the small-minded uproar that greeted Monty Python’s brilliantly funny Life Of Brian film back in 1979. Rather than tell the story straight, writer Tony Roche used the 90-minute drama as a vehicle for his own half-baked take on Python humour. So in place of surreal invention we got fart gags, in-jokes and buckets of unimaginative swearing. The cast looked the part, but the content was as dead as the Pythons’ fabled Norwegian blue. It was like booking an Elvis impersonator from his publicity shot to discover that he sings like Wagner with laryngitis. Roche blurred the lines between reality and the team’s old sketches to suggest that Michael Palin was married to a dragged-up Terry Jones. Darren Boyd’s Cleese looked great but lacked John’s screen presence, edge and authority. Bizarrely Boyd played him as if he was Basil Fawlty. Terry Gilliam looked more like Terry Scott. Every character was reduced to a caricature. It was contrived and forced; a wasted opportunity.

*CLEESE on claims the film could provoke violence: “Ah yes, copycat crucifixions...I hadn’t thought of that.”

BOBBY Davro’s back-to-school theme on Celebrity Come Dine With Me brought us the delight of It-girl Tamara Beckwith in a schoolgirl’s kit. Cue Bobby’s inevitable “head-girl” jokes hitting the cutting room floor. And me wondering if former coke-head Tamara still does her lines. The downside? Headmaster Davro caning schoolboy Wayne Sleep. An unsettling sight. Did he give him six of the best? No, just the cane as far as I could tell.

POSH Tamara dressed as a schoolgirl. Never have I felt more like rising up against the upper class.

HOT on TV: The Walking Dead (FX)... Mesrine (FX)... Laura Mennell (Alphas, 5*)... Danny Baker on Have I Got News For You... Boardwalk Empire... Pete Vs Life... Romanzo Criminale.

ROT on TV: DI Keith Allen (Body Farm) – not much cop... Signed By Katie Price – The Pox Factor... Raef’s cooking (Come Dine With Me) – talk about Little Chop Of Horrors. The chef’s special? No he’s not.

SOME familiar super-powers on Alphas: there’s the FBI guy who becomes super-strong in high-adrenalin moments (The Hulk), a babe with supersenses (Supergirl) and a hot brunette who can bend any man’s will by looking into his eyes (Carla Bruni). The exception is the autistic kid who sees electromagnetic waves. He can trace phone calls, plug his brain into SatNav and even watch TV in an empty room – a perfect power for a teenage boy. You look like you’re daydreaming; you’re actually surfing the adult channels.

*THE Alphas are run by eccentric boffin keen on 1970s British glam rock. Hmm. Why not bring in actual glam rock super-heroes? Noddy Holder has super lungs, that camp guy from the Sweet can kill you with a wink of his eye... Gary Glitter has the power to repulse anyone.

*THERE’S a “huge question mark” over Carri-Ann on The Bachelor, said Gavin. I’ll say there is. For starters, why is Joe Pasquale doing her voice? Get her in bed and it’d be “I know a song that’ll get on yer nerves” all ruddy night.

*CHLOE is considering having her bottom “done” on TOWIE, and not in the way Harry might enjoy. Even if she goes through with butt implants, the biggest enhanced arse here will still be Joey Essex.

*NICK Knowles Original Features? Who cares? Joan Rivers’ Original Features? Now you’re talking. To find them, we’d need the Tardis.

*BLIMEY, hefty Heather has been axed from EastEnders. Who’d have thought that they’d run out of storylines for a dim, dumpy cheese-obsessed, Wham-fixated moron?

*VERNON Kay will host Play Your Cards Right. He’s the obvious choice. Charisma, presence, versatility... are just three of the words this gormless berk can't spell.

Random Irritations: John McCririck’s revolting ‘pick & mix’ bogey breakfasts. The newspaper headline ‘Cowell Explodes’ – misleading and frankly disappointing. Dr Alice Roberts’s inability to pronounce an “o” sound: ground is gre-ound, how is he-ow...hey, De-oc, se-od e-off to a ve-oice ce-oach.

Small Joys Of TV: Meerkats (Sky 3D). ‘Cross transfer beard exchange’ (Jinsy). Jacob Rees-Mogg (Question Time), surely a time traveller from Victorian England? Filthy sitcom Threesome; Hillary Clinton famously “misspoke”, these degenerates “missf***ed.” Curb carrying on a fine Seinfeld tradition with social faux-pas like “pig-parking” and the buffet queue “chat and cut”.

Separated at death: Gaddafi and Jackie Stallone...

*A TIDAL wave of TV innuendo as Larry Hagman revealed: “Desperate Housewives – I’ve done some of those.” Lesley Joseph was talking champagne when she indicated an inch and asked Davro to “Give me this much in the bottom.” Probably.

IF BRUCIE can be knighted, why not Doddy? Why not Jim Davidson? Controversial you say? Well maybe, but no-one has done more for forces’ charities than Jim. It’s not like his views or his disastrous marriages would shock the Royals.

Oct 16. CELEBRITY TV is not yet dead, but Channel 4 is merrily digging its grave. The dismal line-up on Celebrity Coach Trip included Katie Price’s Satsuma-faced make-up man, an unknown ITV producer, two Big Brother bozos and Lizzie Cundy. Bookings that didn’t so much scrape the bottom of the barrel as completely vaporise it.

Lizzie of course appears on the much-watched, cough, Wedding Channel. Her odd, post-surgery features make her look like she should be playing an alien hooker on Babylon 5. Mercifully her classy banter about not wearing knickers allayed any such unsavoury suspicions. Liz, famous for marrying a footballer she’s since divorced, turned up with haggard former model Emma B. “I don’t know who they are,” confessed tour guide Brendan. He didn’t know Spencer Smith or “TV builder Phil Turner” either. Nor Lembit Opik, the former MP best known for his Cheeky ex and other pitiful ‘reality’ TV appearances where his lack of wit earned him the nickname ’Opeless Limp-Dick.

Alex Best, widow of Georgie, was spectacularly dull on 2004’s I’m A Celebrity (the year they divorced). Nothing about her performance in the jungle or on the subsequent Weakest Link WAGS special suggested she’d bring anything to this party. And she didn’t. Alex and Limpet were the first out, replaced by John McCririck and the Booby. (Was I alone in hoping for Liam Fox and Adam Werritty?)

McCririck may be a nose-picking self-parodying joke but at least we know who he is. The only other genuine household name here was Michael Barrymore, desperately mugging for laughs that never came. Until the horse threw him. I had to explain his fame as a (fallen) national comic treasure to my daughters. “But he’s not funny,” said one. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...

What is the point making these shows if a) no-one knows the so-called celebs and b) they’re less fun than everyday Coach Trip folk? Maybe it’s time TV concentrated less on pseudo-celebrities snow-boarding and more on Actual Stars performing. Genuine entertainers, Longthorne, Conley, Pasquale and the like, might not tick boxes with TV execs but they would light up our screens with their talent.

*BRIAN Belo looked up at a giant, fifty-foot wide plastic octopus and asked: “Is this octopus real?” Shish. You’d find more intelligent life in a fish-shop fryer. Brian Belo: his name sounds like an unnecessary script instruction for Brian Blessed.

SIGNED By Katie Price disappointed. But then I’d read it as Singed and was hoping for friction burns. Katie sat between two camp judges, one looking unfortunately like a gay Nazi, eyeing up would-be models largely hairdressers and scaffolders who gave as good as they got. “Your entrance was a bit creepy,” bitched Bayo Furlong. “What, like your haircut?” came the instant reply. Katie was impressed by twins Michelle and Danielle Godfrey. “I can visualise different things I can definitely do with you two,” she said. So could every straight bloke watching.

*KATIE will teach her winner the great secrets of her success: Breast Implants.

THE X Factor had a big twist last weekend – they twisted Amelia Lily out of her chance in this contest. If it was down to viewers, this talented teenager would have reached the finals. So was ITV’s stunt designed to make sure the producer’s obvious favourite has an easy ride? Or to keep nitwits like Kitty Brucknell in the running? Both, I’d say. It was hard to tell if plain pain Kitty was singing ‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ or auditioning for The Fades. Johnny Robinson in a tinfoil cape wasn’t much better. He seems a nice enough fella but he’s more Charles Hawtrey than Ray Charles. The only ITV show he should be on is Benidorm.

HOT on TV: Harry Hill... Comic Strip: The Hunt For Tony Blair... Southland (More4)... Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back Project Dawn)

ROT on TV: Tess Daly – tosh weekly... Louis Walsh - wetter than Pavlopetri... Harry’s Law – Kathy Bates looks as bored as I felt watching it... All Roads Lead Home – if only they led to Midsomer.

AH Greece, famous for its ruins: the temples, the amphitheatres, the economy... Shame Joanna Lumley went on her Greek Odyssey when the country has come acropolis. Spending too much, working too little... it’s like the whole nation decided to base itself on Sarah Ferguson. Maybe all great civilisations are destined to end up as tourist destinations, but Greece’s Euro disaster deserves proper journalism, not a prime time travelogue.

*CHINA’S economy is struggling too. Half their 12-year-olds are on the dole.

ME, My Sex & I, about inter-sex people made uncomfortable viewing. Especially for (name of celebrity deleted by lawyer) sitting thinking “There but for half an inch go I...” The show had important messages to get across, though: about tolerance, understanding and the realisation that not everyone you see at the British Beard Club is necessarily a man.

LOUISE dumped Jay on Big Brother. Why? Was it their lack of conversation, or did she catch him shaving his buttocks in the mirror? It was a footballer’s trim (Arshavin.) A horrible sight, for one dreadful moment I thought James Whale had entered the house. Jay used the same razor on Aaron’s neck. From one bum to another...

NEW quiz High Stakes has the catchphrases “Raise the stakes!” Okay, but only if we can plunge them deep into Jeremy Kyle’s un-dead heart. What made ITV think charmless Kyle could do entertainment? You expected him to say, “You’ve won £1,000, but first, take this DNA test and admit to fathering your sister’s two-headed baby...”

*RAB C. Nesbitt was ticked off for dodging work. “I don’t have your advantages,” he told the blind, black Muslim lady in the wheelchair.

*SWEARING loudly helped Brian Blessed dull the pain of ice. Stephen Fry discovered. The same technique allows you to endure Paddy McGuinness on 71 Degrees North.

*MARCUS Bigshot hosted The Crime Writers’ Award – apt, Mucus has been getting away with murder for years. Oddly, Brucie’s gag-writers weren’t mentioned.

SMALL joys of TV: Carol Kirkwood using the phrase “wetter than an otter’s pocket” on BBC Breakfast, blissfully unaware of its alternative meaning. Russell Grant (Strictly); if you ever wondered what became of HIGNFY’s tub of lard...

RANDOM irritations: Pete Burns, a joyless, clown-faced sourpuss. Squinting horror Claudia Winkleman. BA using Concorde – the plane they axed! - as the finale for their latest TV ad. Unsuitable light entertainment hosts: Jeremy Kyle, Nick Knowles... who next, Ahmedinajad?

SEPARATED at birth: Peter Gabriel and David Essex? Enders should recruit Peter as Eddie Moon’s lost twin. Forget Solsbury Hill, wait till he tries climbing up on Heather Trott...

Oct 10. THE BBC’s David Croft ‘tribute’ was laughably half-hearted: a ten minute “will-this-do?” obit plus three sitcom repeats. They didn’t even show an episode of Croft’s own favourite It Ain’t Half Hot Mum for the usual gutless PC reasons. The man half responsible for such timeless classics as Dad’s Army and Are You Being Served was rightly described as a comedy writing genius, yet in his later years Croft became so fed up with BBC commissioners turning down his ideas that he paid for a pilot of his last sitcom creation to be made at his own expense. Here Comes The Queen (which Croft co-wrote with his Dad’s Army writing partner Jeremy Lloyd) was filmed in Bury St Edmunds four years ago, and told the story of a brother and sister who discover that that are the heirs to the throne of Russia. It starred Les Dennis and Wendy Richard (who told me at the time it was “hysterical” and “as good as anything David and Jeremy had written before”) along with the likes of Burt Kwouk and Philip Madoc. Even when presented with the show as a fiat accompli the BBC rejected it as “too old-fashioned” – or funny, as normal folk would say. Would it not be a better tribute to David Croft’s memory if the BBC now screened that pilot? And said sorry?

Oct 9. TV TOOK us back to the dim and distant past last week, a time of lumbering dinosaurs and scary prehistoric views. And as well as the Tory conference, there was Terra Nova... This new Steven Spielberg sci-fi series is basically a mash-up of Primeval and Lost, with a large dollop of Green Party doom-mongering. In 2149, Earth is slowly dying from pollution and over-population (“Told you so!” – Al Gore). Mercifully boffins discover a (one-way) escape route to 85million years BC. They establish the Terra Nova colony as humanity’s last chance saloon - inconveniently forgetting the coming asteroid strike which wiped out the dinosaurs. D’oh!

The show starts with Chicago cop Jim Shannon getting banged up by the Population Plod for breaking the strict two-kids-per-family rule and fathering a third child. Wife Elizabeth, a medical wiz recruited for Terra Nova, helps spring him so they can nip back to the future with pain-in-the-arse son Josh, 17, brain-box Maddy, 15, and cute little Zoe. (It’s Swiss Family Dinosaur!) Far-fetched? Of course. But the biggest stretch of the imagination is that newly liberated Jim makes no effort at all to make love to Liz, played by Shelley Conn, a woman who is officially hotter than the Cretaceous period. That’s taking suspension of disbelief too far.

The past is no Garden of Eden though. As well as the expected monster predators, there’s a break-away bunch of hostile humans called The Sixers who dress like refugees from Mad Max. Tough-guy Commander Taylor runs the settlement. The outlaw renegades are lead by rebel Mira, the cheese to Taylor’s chalk. There’s family trauma, aplenty. Josh resents his dad and falls for dishy delinquent Skye (a Jurassic perk). Liz worries about her hot-headed hubby; Maddy frets about her geekiness. So, domestic tosh, cardboard characters and tepid dialogue...yet strong action sequences and hints of a decent story arc make this much more watchable than Primeval. There are mysteries, sub-plots, Taylor’s missing son, and a mission agenda (“control the past, control the future”). So far no-one has complained about how hot it was back then, though. No-one’s even said “Yabba-dabba-doo!” But on the plus side, if they survive the K-T extinction, they’ve only got the Ice Age to worry about.

EDWINA Currie had a man between her legs on Strictly, it was like being back in the Cabinet. Former Minister Currie once told pensioners who couldn’t afford heating to “wrap up warm” in winter, and suggested that Northerners die “of ignorance and chips.” Who will the BBC turn into a ‘celebrity’ next? It’s just as well Crippen’s gone. Perhaps they could balance it out with a Bob Crow fandango. He could use Edwina’s big red pants as a flag.

*BRUCIE has stopped walking down the stairs on Strictly. Damn those BBC cut-backs. The budget won’t stretch to his Stannah stair-lift any more.

*LOVE Rory Bremner’s new impression: of a man desperate for the fame that has eluded him for decades on C4.

THE X Factor isn’t ‘cruel’ to youngsters. It’s not forcing kids up chimneys. But a layer of sadism does underpin the whole show. The only reason they take so many to boot camp, and then on to the judges’ (hired) houses is so we can watch people break down on TV. Cue the latest twist which sadly doesn’t involve Louis’s neck. It’s nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with ritual humiliation; taking joy in the sorrows of others. It’s as suspect as the producers cynically inviting back wannabes who aren’t the full bag of shopping. If ITV were honest they’d call this Loonies & Losers. The winners aren’t important. TV isn’t designed to build lasting stars anymore; Leona is the exception. The rest are chewed up and spat out. As it stands Amelia and Janet are this year’s clear favourites. All they have to do is get through the long dull live show phase. Wake me up when the naff ‘theme’ weeks are over.

*JADE out, Terry out, Kitty in... the judges’ mistakes stand out like J-Lo’s backside. Is the selection process flawed, or just bent?

*THE Risk: not just a cobbled-together X Factor group, but also the England rugby team’s code-name for Mike Tindall’s ex...

HOT on TV: Romanzo Criminale (Sky Arts)... TV Burp... new Boardwalk Empire (Sky Atlantic)... Mr Drew (Educating Essex)... Californication (5*).

ROT on TV: Merlin – utter warlocks... Body Farm – the corpses out-perform the cast... Fresh Meat – largely rissoles... All Roads Lead - to the remote control.

TO The Great British Bake-Off final, where the air was thick with cries of “That’s a good stiffy” and “great lamination on the puff.” Tsk. In less enlightened times some wag would have used that as an excuse to work in a tasteless Julian Clary reference. (For “I’m using a rough puff” see Ben Mitchell.) We’re in the grip of an innuendo epidemic, folks. On Downton, the Earl claimed “I never stop touching wood” while Ethel boasted “No-one tucks better than I do.” On Masterchef John Torode praised Sharon Maughan’s “very nice rack.”

SUE Perkins is a real multi-tasker: cooking, walking, eating, smart-arse remarks... she does it all. Only comedy eludes her. You wouldn’t be too surprised if Sue also turned out to be The Stig.

*DAMN. I missed Superior Interiors. Am I right in assuming it’s one up from the vajazzle?

*BILL Webster had a heart attack on Corrie. Is it any wonder? He’s read the scripts! Marc’s a what? Amber fancies who...?

 *RUGBY legend Phil Vickery was on Celebrity Masterchef. Shouldn’t his signature dish have been Cauliflower Ear?

SMALL joys of TV: Larry’s PLO incident – Palestinian Leg-Over (Curb Your Enthusiasm). Nanny Pat (TOWIE). The Downton credits including Annie ‘Nosh’ Oldham. And if you’re wondering what her specialist skill is, it’ and make-up. Your minds!

RANDOM irritations: Katy Brand’s laugh-free red button Strictly commentary. Feminised TV – all frocks, Gok, and suicidal soaps. People on ‘celebrity’ shows you have to Google. Paul Mason’s apparent delight in impending economic disaster (Newsnight). Party Political Conference, the Tory one was dull and completely out of touch with reality - just like the others. Conferences now are about politicians playing to the media, voters and their concerns don’t come into it.

SEPARATED at birth: Spooks anarchist Johnny Grier and top comedian Mark Steel. One a nutcase frothing with seditious views, the other a character in Spooks. (See also Harry Pearce and former X Factor adviser Gary ‘Fat Boy’ Farrow.)

Oct 2. SOME say reality shows have done for TV what the Euro has done for global economic stability. Or what Ashton Kutcher may have been doing to Sara Leal. But what soap has given us characters as addictive as the lovable nitwits on The Only Way Is Essex? Joey Essex is the dumbest man ever seen on screen outside of the Jeremy Kyle show. This kid is so stupid, if you prised open his skull you’d probably find a sponge inside with the word ‘brain’ written on it, but spelt wrong. Joey seemed to genuinely believe Kirk’s suggestion that a car’s horse-power meant it had “little horses under the bonnet.” He thinks a cuticle is a well-groomed testicle.

Great new characters this series include Georgio and Dino, two muscle-bound twins who’d tower over anyone...on C4’s Seven Dwarves. They’re the only men alive who know Peggy Mitchell as “that big bird.” “You could stand on top of him and then you’d be perfect,” Daffy Duck (Chloe) told Dino when he tried to chat her up. Tsk. Should have offered her a pygmy back.

Much has changed since April, most of it off camera. Lauren and Mark Wright have split; as have Popey and Kirk, who’s bought himself a £74K Ferrari to cheer himself up, as you do. (Dad Mick wasn’t impressed “an ’air-dresser’s car, mate, everyone’s got ’em.”) Incredibly, Lydia is still with Arg and his moobs, although there’s no sign of my favourite, Mr Darcy, the pig – maybe Debbie the witch has turned him into a bacon sandwich. Gemma has gone brunette and trimmed down to a size 18 (14, you say? How would I know?) Harry’s brother Ronnie has got him selling pansies (shu’up!). New stud in town Mario is dating Lucy. And there hasn’t been nearly enough of the Faiers sisters. Meanwhile old star Mark’s still tearful over Lauren; well it’s a big split to get over, by all accounts.

He’s gone celibate (for a fortnight), and to take his mind off sex he went to yoga class full of lovelies in leotards - like dieting in a chip-shop. Talk about putting the ‘ard’ in Ardha Chandrasanda. Trite? Maybe. But it beats the hell out of EastEnders’ endless bombardment of killer vicars and dastardly docs.

TV BOSSES tell us that telly has never been better. Yet the schedules are full of recycled ideas. We regurgitate The Sweeney as Life On Mars, revamp Dr Who and reinvent Upstairs Downstairs (or possibly You Rang, M’Lord?) as Downton Abbey. Strictly is just Come Dancing with bad jokes and flat-footed celebs. X Factor and BGT are Op Knock revisited - Cowell’s real genius was remembering that viewers love talent shows. (Stuff cookery, let him remember variety next.) And what’s Jonathan Ross doing but a watered down version of Des O’Connor Tonight? Wossy is supposed to be edgy. Yet compare his weak, weekly waffling to Des tackling Stan Boardman, Ollie Reid and Freddie Starr. Des did that live! In one show! It makes Jonathan chatting to some mates from his manager’s agency look tame.

*CARSON the butler bangs on about maintaining standards on Downton, to “show the Germans they will not beat us.” Does he think the crafty Krauts are spying on aristo table manners? “Look, Fritz, his Lordship just used ze wrong dessert spoon, ze Britisher pigs are doomed.”

I LIKE the grip Lorraine Pascale gets on a pepper pot, but do you believe for one minute she eats the grub she prepares on Home Cooking Made Easy? Brown sugar fudge? Swiss roll bowl cake? With a figure like that? She clearly exists entirely on couscous and a daily bowl of steam. Gertcha.

HOT on TV: Ruth Negga (Shirley)... Fringe (Sky1)... Gettysburg (Military History)... Dame Maggie (Downton).

ROT on TV: The Body Farm – gore blimey... That Sunday Night Show – a topical comedy low... Fry’s Planet Word – provokes two words, we’ll pretend that they’re “Turn Over!”

STEPHEN Fry flew to Africa, Germany and the USA at our expense to make Fry’s Planet Word, and here’s what he discovered: humans use lots of languages, monkeys can’t speak, mice can’t speak, deaf people use sign language. Thanks, Einstein.

*HOW about studying TOWIE lingo next? Imagine a Joey Essex dictionary. It’d be condensed. Well, okay, dense.

*RECENTLY on Masterchef: Colin & Justin, Danny Goffey, that posh bird from the Gold Blend adverts... Just a thought: how about trying a celebrity version?

*DUNCAN is enjoying a gay fling with Ben on Enders. The technical name for this? Cocking a deaf’un.

*WHY the fuss about Aaron on Big Brother? A hot blonde slips into your bed... who’d say no to a crafty smooch (writes Mike Tindall)? The only wrong’un was Anton who grassed them up.

*HEAVILY pregnant D’Elanna complained about her baby on Voyager. “I want this thing out of me now,” she moaned. If she’d said that nine months earlier...

*THE veil between our world and the spirit realm was torn on TV last night, allowing viewers to hear the agonising screams of the dead. And as well as X Factor, I understand that Merlin came back.

SMALL Joys of TV: The BB gorilla – hairiest thing seen in that garden since Kinga went commando. Robbie’s entry (X Factor). That great Doctor Who twist. Catherine Tate as the beard-nibbler (Jinsy). Mount Pleasant. The Bachelor. Narrow Escapes of World War II (Yesterday). Spooks star Lara Pulver – oh to be Pulver-ised on a daily basis. An anagram of Lara Pulver? ‘Pull A Raver’.

RANDOM irritations: weeping men on The X Factor. Evan Davies telling us things we’ve just seen on Dragons’ Den. Politicians of all parties promising to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

SEPARATED at birth: Downton’s Violet and Quentin Crisp? One a grand old dame who makes us laugh...and so is the other one.

MYSTERIES: those slippery fast-buck merchants Miliband hates, do they extend to ex-PMs (#Dispatches)? Why aren’t the judges’ houses on X Factor their actual homes? “Tulisa takes the groups back to her London pad; mmm, dig the crazy aroma of her fella’s dog-ends...”