Garry Bushell
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Oct 27. The big Bake Off final was as flat as a subsided soufflé. Where were the large buns, stiff peaks and freshly moistened lady fingers? We only had two soggy bottoms in the whole show! Kimberley Wilson even called her raspberry balls ‘spheres’. Why? Had she been got at by BBC killjoys? Without innuendo, all we were left with was three women making cakes we couldn’t eat or even smell. Where’s the fun in that? I’d rather deep-fry my own thumb, especially with Mel and Sue reduced to making fart noises to amuse us. These two are about as funny as a strychnine strudel.

Ravishing Ruby Tandoh was promoted as the favourite all series, even though her easy tears and constant claims to be winging it annoyed some viewers (specifically women). She certainly seemed to put the twinkle in Paul Hollywood’s eyes, not to mention the rise in his bread stick. Kimberley, a better baker, was woefully short-changed for TV time in comparison. And that’s despite displaying the most energetic kneading technique this side of The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. Frances Quinn “the most creative baker ever to set foot in the tent” was painted as all-style, no-substance. Naturally she won.

There were three final contests. The Signature Challenge was to cook a savoury picnic pie. Frances used rainbow trout and smoked trout which made Mary, the old trout, wince. Ruby’s fish pie looked tastier (not for the first time), but she ran herself down as usual. Meanwhile psychologist Kim made a pig’s ear of her chicken and pig effort, and came last in the first round. The technical challenge was to make pretzels, which are no use at all unless there’s a politician around to choke on them.

Frances technically made rolls and Ruby forgot what pretzels looked like, so Kim nicked round two. Finally came the three-tier wedding cake show-stopper. All-tears Ruby moaned about weddings while filling her top layer with passion fruit curd... the cake, perhaps understandably, was insufficiently moist. Kim decorated her effort with the word ‘Love’ in 28 languages but it looked naff. Crumbs. While Frances produced a towering Midsummer Night’s Dream cake, topped with confetti made from beetroot hearts, mango, sweet potato and dried pineapple flowers. Eat your heart out, Heston! She walked it. Hurrah. Now can we all calm down? It’s only cakes.

*TOP obviously-scripted filth this series, all from Sue Perkins: 3) “Time to stop fiddling with Charlotte now.” (Discussing a Charlotte Royale.) 2) “Get those lady fingers soggy.” 1) “Think palmier, think lattice, think pin-wheel, but mainly, think massive horn.”

THE Yeti and its cousins – Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, Heather Trott - have haunted human imagination for hundreds of years. The Bigfoot Files asked if these nightmarish beasts were apes, bears, prehistoric humanoids or just elaborate hoaxes. Mark Evans jetted off to the Himalayas to looks for DNA samples, even though Professor Brian Sykes already had one to test back in Oxford. Evans gave us hearsay, moody footprints and the so-called Nazi Yeti (the Barbara Windsor of the story, as it had first been stuffed and mounted 75 years ago.) After nearly an hour of sod-all, the Prof revealed that his hair sample was a genetic match with... an ancient polar bear! Ta-da! The Yeti was a type of bear, he concluded... just as the Nepalese said centuries ago. Sheesh. And you thought X Factor had too much padding. Except how did Sykes know his hair sample was from a Yeti and not just a stray bear to begin with?

*THAT was Bigfoot. For Bigfoot-In-Mouth see Sally Bercow.

*NEXT from Mark Evans: Santa, St Nick, Father Xmas – how they are related, and could they actually be YOUR DAD? With startling DNA evidence and a tell-tale white beard found hidden in the loft.

NOTHING you’ll see on TV this Halloween is likely to be as scary as your winter gas bill. But Toast Of London came close when poor Kikini Bamalaam, the Nigerian ambassador’s dishy daughter, was transformed into a Bruce Forsyth lookalike by a rogue surgeon. I suppose you could say he chinned her. Good dame, good dame...

HOT on TV: Boardwalk Empire (SkyAt)... Arrow (Sky1)... Rob Kazinsky, True Blood... Matt Berry, Toast Of London... Person Of Interest (C5).

ROT on TV: The Bigfoot Files – definite proof? Not Yeti... Ambassadors – far from “eccellente”... Tipping Point – what’s the flipping point?

HOW will “crisis meetings” save the X Factor’s nose-diving ratings? This series is more thrown away than Tesco salad. It’s dull, full of bad ideas (the Flash Vote, the Tweet Wheel) and they’ve put the wrong people through. Fake judging ‘drama’ is no substitute for the missing thrill of real competition. We already know Sam has the best voice and that Nicholas will have a pop career, but Tamera will probably walk it.

MARK Gatiss couldn’t work his magic on Poirot, even though he packed in more ham than Miss Piggy’s litter. The plot was convoluted, the reveal ridiculous, and despite starting with Poirot’s funeral the uptight Belgian prig is still with us. Gertcha. Come on ITV, you made The Sweeney, you’ve seen The Shield... can’t you do better than this?

*SALLY Bercow has warned tweeters to be sensible. Isn’t that like Frasier Crane advising people not to be pretentious?

*WHAT happens in Vegas... turns up on TOWIE. Gemma denies bonking Arg in Nevada, but she’s lied about that before. Maybe Mariella should ram the pair into her Sex Box... and nail it shut.

*IF The Paradise were twice as nice... I’d still hate it. High camp, fancy dress and shopping? That’s not paradise, that’s my idea of Hell.

SMALL Joys of TV: Aisling Bea. Rhys Ifans as Mycroft (Elementary). That cellar aquarium on Amazing Spaces. Bobby on TOWIE popularising the phrase “it’s no skin off your minge.” Len Goodman describing Susanna Reid as “all bounce, bum and bongos.”

RANDOM irritations: Male judges flirting with male dancers on Strictly. Get a heath! Brucie’s jokes – they’d make a Xmas cracker blush. Sharon Osbourne’s paedophile remarks. The resistible rise of Grayson Perry.

SEPARATED at birth: Andy Townsend and Jarmila Kratochvílová? One had a tactics truck, the other was built like one...

See today’s Daily Star Sunday for a chance to win American Horror Story: Asylum on DVD.

Oct 20. ITV are going to remake Blind Date. What are they now, a Xerox machine? Channel bosses have no new ideas whatsoever; they just keep on lazily regurgitating past hits: Mr. & Mrs., Through The Keyhole, Family Fortunes, Surprise Surprise... on it goes. Essentially, ITV’s entertainment strategy is: Old Favourites Ruined. Their schedules should come with the slogan We Give Up.

We can only wait in horror for the moment they resurrect 3-2-1... though they’d need to work out what it was all about first. Maybe make Joey Essex host and wait for the acorn that passes for his brain to implode. Even the X Factor is a shadow of its former self, recycling failed contestants from previous series, and chucking in more padding than Lily Savage’s bras (one character they really should revive). The show drags on and on until you find yourself wishing prison warder Sam Bailey could forget where she is and shout “Lights out” before they get to the tedious flash vote.

Oddly ITV never think of reviving anything decent - like Spitting Image in all of its raw, rude and vicious glory, to give our rulers the satirical punch up the trousers they so richly deserve. Or The Comedians, for the last few blue collar gag-tellers. Or variety shows...

TV execs scoff whenever I suggest this, and bleat that variety is “old hat” and “too expensive” (These same berks used to insist that talent shows had had their day too). But variety shows are perfect for modern viewing habits. They move along faster than Jack Branning; if you don’t like one turn there will be another one along shortly.

They offer a magic carpet ride away from grim reality. And genuine talent from differently skilled professionals: magicians, vents, mimics, acrobats, gag merchants, speciality acts, singers who have honed their craft for years...

Formats like Wednesday At Eight, Sunday Night At The London Palladium once ruled the TV roost. Why shouldn’t they work again? If we like Britain’s Got Talent why wouldn’t we like it done properly by pros? They produced family friendly stars too. Variety gave us Bradley Walsh, Shane Richie, Joe Pasquale – all scorned by TV elitists but loved by viewers. Not to mention Brian Conley. Where’s he now? Wouldn’t you rather see entertainers helming entertainment shows rather than gurning nitwits whose only skill is the ability to read an autocue?

ITV celebrated Cilla Black, prompting a million viewers to scream as one: please God, don’t let her sing. I’m kidding. The clips told the story: the Beatles, the Mersey, those chipmunk cheeks and the girl-next-door Scouse charm that helped make Blind Date a smash. Cilla is such a staunch Liverpudlian that she’s lived in Middlesex for the past four decades. She speaks in a Scouse accent exceedingly rare - even to the good folk of Merseyside. (What would Cilla say to twelve bottles of Dom Perignon? “Tharrul juss gerruz thru brekkie, chuck.”) Paul O’Grady kept the proceedings down to earth, asking: “How does it feel to be 70? You don’t look it... you might have ten years ago... ” Three things struck me as odd: there was no Jimmy Tarbuck (Yewtree?), no Dale Winton (who’s he upset?) and which PC nitwit made Cilla change the words of Liverpool Lullaby? The line from the chorus, ‘You’ll gerra belt from your Da’’ became ‘You’ll get told off by your Da’’... (Why stop there? Why not: ‘Anyone who had a heart, would turn down the volume?’) Cilla looked bored occasionally but that might have been the Botox.

STEPHEN Fry is gay? Really? Well he kept that quiet. I had no idea... Fry’s Out There two-parter on gay-bashers was brave and in Uganda unexpectedly funny thanks largely to pastor Solomon Male pronouncing body-parts as “pennus” and “annus.” What a teat.

*THE Beeb flew Fry around the globe because being homosexual is no hindrance in British life. Far from it. I know straight comedians who are tempted to come out as gay just to get a chat show. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper just to drop him off at a mosque?

HOT on TV: Andros Townsend... Peaky Blinders... Inside The American Mob (NatGeo)... The Walking Dead (Fox)... Veep (SkyAt)... Sam Bailey – Sam-sational.

ROT on TV: Up All Night – C4 goes down the gurgler (again)... Father Figure – not a snigger... Hello Ladies – goodbye viewers... Man Down – cock-up... Citizen Khan – goodness gracious flee!

ARE other shows chasing Bake Off’s innuendo crown? Strictly’s Len Goodman raved about Abby Clancy’s “lovely pumping action” while Craig told Sophie Ellis-Bextor she needed more “double bounce.” Fiona Fullerton topped both when, in a clinch with Anton The Berk on It Takes Two, she gasped: “That muscle just got bigger.” I’m not surprised. She’s still got it...

*THIS David Platt mess on Corrie could all have been settled so much easier if he’d just demanded what he was rightfully owed: a revenge shag with Leanne. The real victim is baby Lily who’d be better off being raised by wolves.

*AFTER drivelling dimwits in a chicken shop, C4 now want us to ‘hang’ in a nightclub toilet. Classy. It was less fowl, more foul with extra shakes - taking the piss and watching it; cheap, dull television from a channel that has lost its point.

*THE unanswered question raised by Sex Box: what are the 37 things that Phil Hodson reckons you can do in bed? Even if you throw in ‘snore’, and for Charlotte Crosby ‘wee’, I can’t get past 15.

*TRUE Blood questions: does a dead fairy go into liquidation? Do werewolves do it doggy style? Will Alcide ever get a decent storyline?

*WHY do BBC newsreaders always say “The BBC has learned” when they mean “We’ve read in the papers”?

*WHAT was dafter in Walford this week: Jack Branning just upping and leaving or Kim, 36, in the final of Miss Teen Vic?

SMALL Joys of TV: Duck Dynasty. News that Leighton Banes’s “dead balls are dangerous” – much like Hugh Hefner’s. Tom Kerridge’s grub, it’d leave you fuller than a swear-box in Roy Hodgson’s dug-out.

RANDOM irritations: Gary Barlow moaning that X Factor “needs characters” when he didn’t put any through. The Flash vote. Un-liked and unlikable politicians reinvented as ‘celebrities’. The Brody bunch on Homeland. The Tunnel – a carbon copy of The Bridge; déjà-viewed.

SEPARATED at birth: Malcolm Tucker and Tenpole Tudor? One sang The Swords Of 1,000 Men... the other would make a filthy Divine Brown joke out of it.

VICKI Michelle helped launch my filthy new crime novel Face Down. It’s out now and I have one (worth £8.99) to give away to TEN lucky readers. For a chance to win just tell me which of these is not an ’Allo ’Allo catchphrase: a) “Good moaning” b) “They don’t like it up ’em” or c) “Flick, the Gestapo... no, I said Flick!”? Answers on a postcard by Wednesday to Garry’s Face Contest, PO Box 10220, Sutton Coldfield, B76 1ZH. Usual rules apply.

Oct 13. For years men have dreamt of entering Mariella’s Sex Box. Who knew it would be such a dry, unsatisfying experience? Sex Box was the biggest let-down since Rapunzel’s hair. Billed as frank and honest, it was just dumb and shallow; a cheap gimmick.

Volunteer couples shagged in a shed off-camera, and then talked about it awkwardly with Ms. Frostrup and “sex experts” including Tracey Cox and Dan Savage. She promised the chat would be “vivid and truthful”, but all we got was giggles and platitudes. Des and Lynette refused to say what their foreplay involved. (Tsk. There’s such a stigma about rubber chickens in this country.) Gay Matt and John were more open, but even they didn’t explain how John appeared to have got pregnant.

Hopes were raised and then dashed. At one point Mariella claimed the couples would “discuss what they got up to with me and panel.” Come again? Now that would be a show - send Frosty in with the lovers and have her call for back-up: “Savage! Cox! Now!”

Battery-powered sex aids might improve things – a torch, some cameras... Maybe chuck in a few crabs and soldier ants when the going gets dull. Better still why not commission Reality Sex Box? Imagine that, a cast of glittering nobodies from The Valleys, TOWIE and Geordie Shore paired up at random with a wildly inappropriate voice-over from Dave Lamb. Charlotte Crossby: “He’s going where no man has gone before”, Lamb: “He’s in her ear... ” Think of the bitching afterwards. Her: “You couldn’t make me orgasm!” Him: “Neither could you, I had to think about Chloe Simms... ”

Mismatched Celebrity Sex Box could thrill us too: “Jo Brand, meet your ride for tonight... John McCrirrick... ” Or perhaps not. Okay, I accept these ideas are horrible. But at least they’re livelier than the tawdry, prurient bore C4 has become. Sex Box was as uplifting as fake V-iagra. You’d have had more fun watching Charlton vs. Blackpool – and that match redefined dull. (More fumbles, fewer shots on target, same amount of dribbling... ) Don’t get me wrong, if I wanted to hear random nitwits talk about their sex lives I’d watch Loose Women. But as that’s the central premise of this show, the least C4 could do is find articulate show-offs willing to cough up.

*DAN Savage wants all sorts of love acts to be considered as sex. I suppose that’s thinking outside the box.

*THE real reason this show flopped? Everyone knows that only women want to talk after sex.

*SEX Fact: newly-weds make love 2.9 times a week – and that .9 is bloody frustrating...

CRAZY Carrie is off her meds on Homeland, which means the CIA’s least secret agent is back at her whacko best, doodling conspiracy theories and picking up random blokes in liquor stores... That’s her take on CIA: Casual Intercourse Available. How can Carrie do undercover work? She’s about as stable as nitrogen tri-iodide (ask Brian Cox) and has the opposite of a poker face; it’s more like the Joker’s face, as reactive as fluorine (ask Coxy again). Yet this gripping spy thriller centres on her and Nicholas Brody, the US war hero turned traitor. Last series ended with the CIA HQ getting blown sky high – the greatest Yank intelligence failure since they elected Warren Harding. Brody didn’t do it, but he’s on the run as the prime suspect. At the start only Carrie thought Brody was a wrong’un. Now, only she believes he’s innocent. They became lovers... a fact that Saul, her boss and mentor, happily let slip to protect the Agency at a hostile Senate inquiry. We’re now back with basic questions like: is Brody innocent? Can Carrie cope? How will she get out from the bus Saul just threw her under... and where can a guy buy her a Tequila?

POOR Downton. People moan when it’s dull, and they moan even more when anything happens. Yes, Anna’s rape was horrible. But was it more shocking than the Titanic sinking, Sybil dying, Cora’s miscarriage, innocent Bates facing the gallows or The Somme? There is a temptation to pretend the past was as rosy as Cheryl Cole’s chuff. It wasn’t. Life was far tougher then. Although judging by Downton, it was a damn sight easier to get your GP to home visit.

*LADY Mary revealed “I haven’t been in the saddle for ages.” That’s why Gillingham’s arrived. Giddy up!

*“WHAT does one say to a singer?” inquired the Earl. If it’s Tulisa, you could always ask if she could get you some toot. Queen Victoria loved it.

HOT on TV: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (Sky Atlantic) – knock out... Jurnee Smollett (True Blood)... Under The Dome (C5)... Bear Grylls: Escape From Hell (Discovery).

ROT on TV: Sex Box – lacked penetration... Rubenesque – fat lot of good... Truckers – suckers... Nick Grimshaw – looks like the sort of bloke who’d go on Sex Box solo, with a mirror.

*THE real star of Masters Of Sex is Ulysses an eye-watering dildo the size of an Olympic baton. “I don’t like where this is going,” said William’s boss. But women volunteers didn’t seem to mind.

*FALLING education standards made the TV news. It’s shocking. Kids can’t read or add up. We’re living at a time when our phones are smarter than our children.

*ON Bake Off, Mary was looking for a weak rise, Paul wanted rigidity and Christine was complaining about little knobs falling out... so nothing remotely smutty this week then.

*WAS It Something I Said: is it something I’d watch again? No.

SMALL Joys of TV: Devious Maids (TLC). Sean from EastEnders turning up as a half-faerie on True Blood (insert your own jokes). Eva Price’s awesome C.V. (Cleavage Voluptuous). Mariella’s voice; she sounds like a thirty a day girl. She may also smoke.

RANDOM irritations: Winkleman’s fringe. Darcey Bussell - all the warmth of Bruce’s wig drawer. Contestants who choose minus sums on The Chase to cash in on other players’ winnings. Pompous Hugh Grant – after Divine Brown, isn’t he more Sucked-Off than Hacked Off?

SEPARATED at birth: SEPARATED at birth: Norman Bates and Michael Moon? One a heartless doomed nutcase - and so’s the other one... Runner-up: X Factor’s Hannah Barrett... and Garth Crooks.

Oct 6. They’re back! Creatures of darkness, twisted parasites, ancient bloodsuckers, irritating faeries... And as well as the Conservative Party Conference, vampire saga True Blood has returned. Both lost their bite years ago. True Blood was quite grown up when it started; with a subtext about tolerance, prejudice (‘God hates fangs!’) and the greatest opening credits since The Sopranos.

It was the simple story of Sookie, a sweet but sexy telepathic waitress who fell for the first bloke whose mind she couldn’t read. Bill was well-mannered and kind-hearted; a perfect gent. Unfortunately, the guy sucked... being a 173-year-old Confederate soldier turned vampire.

Their hot, steamy love story drove the show as vampires, liberated by synthetic blood, demanded the right to co-exist with humans. But over six series, it got progressively dafter and camper; True Blood chomped into whole new arteries of shock and gore and in the process most of the brain drained out of it.

Bill is now an indestructible super-villain with more female demons inside him than a schizophrenic transvestite. While Sookie turned out to be a fairy whose ancestors had unfortunately promised her sugar plums to wicked Warlow, the oldest being on earth this side of Bruce Forsyth.

The small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, has seen more exotic visitors than Torchwood: werewolves, witches, fairies, shape-changers, maenads, hillbilly were-panthers... Sookie’s best mate Tara, the barmaid with the attitude of a pissed-off rattle-snake, has become a lesbian vampire. And her dim, but dishy brother Jason has started to see his dead parents in those slow moments when he isn’t servicing local babes or getting gang-raped by female were-panthers. (Jase prefers sex with human girls, but sometimes settles for backseat goblin... )

Eric, once the evil, arrogant and scary vampire stud muffin is now the good guy Sookie loves... Confused? You should be. This show hasn’t jumped the shark. It’s killed it, stuffed it and mounted it on a wall in the House of Schlock. But with just 19 episodes to go, I’ll hang on to the bitter end... just in case Godzilla turns up.

*TRUE Blood has seen more terrifying changes than a Transylvanian clinic for menopausal women at Halloween... which isn’t to say it’s not educational. Who knew that werewolf pack leaders went in for naked threesomes? Two full moons to bark at... no wonder Alcide’s tail wags.

*BEST shock-gore moment ever? Last series, when shape-changer Sam became a fly, shot up the nose of an evil Sharon Osbourne lookalike vampire and then turned human again inside her head, splattering her to kingdom come... now wouldn’t that spice up X Factor?

I WOULDN’T say the latest Downton Abbey series is dull but there’s more meat in Mrs. Patmore’s pea soup than the storylines Julian Fellowes has served up so far. Wills and farming, Carson and Grigg... it’s not exactly Breaking Bad is it? It’s hardly even breaking sweat. The only mildly exciting thing about Sunday’s episode was cousin Rose dressing up as a maid. Let’s hope she’s got a nurse’s kit on stand-by because the rest of the episode felt as worn-out as Brucie’s Strictly ‘jokes’. Characters are rewritten – the acid-tongued Dowager is suddenly a kind-hearted pioneer of feminism. The dialogue is as wrong for its time as a caveman on Coronation Street. And nothing much happens. There could be a spark between Mary and Tom or Rose and Jimmy... or even Carson and Mrs Hughes. But the best hope for scandal is Lady Edith going off the rails with the wrong sort in Deutschland. Perhaps some dastardly Nazi will invade her hinterland.

BRUCIE is taking a break from Strictly for medical reasons. He’s attending his annual autopsy... How much longer must we pretend this old bore is a national treasure? Rigor mortis sets in every time he starts a gag. You’d have more fun going for a Winter flu jab. For male viewers the chance of catching ravishing Rachel Riley wearing something skimpy is off-set by the ever-present danger of seeing Vanessa do the same.

*STRICTLY fans love the show for the ballroom dancing and glamour. Do naff celebs, camp judges and pop rhythms that don’t match the dances add much? Plain Come Dancing was just as popular until the BBC axed it.

*LEN’S new catchphrase is “chicken soup for the eyes.” Puzzling. But I suppose anything that helps blot out Dave Myers’s clod-hopping performance must be a plus.

HOT on TV: James Spader, The Blacklist (Sky Living)... Lawless... Anna Friel... Natalie Gumede – dazzling on Strictly; must be all the practice she had bopping on Tyrone’s skull.

ROT on TV: Atlantis – give it a myth... Citizen Khan – comedy Khan’t... This Morning’s 25th anniversary show – so amateurish and abysmal it could have been produced by Sam Fox & Mick Fleetwood.

HOT not on TV: Breaking Bad finale. Terry Alderton and Johnny Spurling as the Two Johns.

INSIDE Broadmoor brought back memories of the times I visited Ronnie Kray in there. He was a huge Kylie Minogue fan, and begged me to bring her along. I’m one of the few people alive who have heard ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ sung by Ron Kray. He had a terrible voice. But even Simon Cowell wouldn’t have dared to tell him so.

*WHY the outcry about C4’s new sex-in-a-box show? We had this years ago. What do you think Andy Pandy got up to with Looby Loo and Teddy in that picnic basket? No wonder he was so keen to wave us goodbye, the randy little scroat.

*THE best possible outcomes of David Platt’s secret DNA test on baby Lily: 3) She’s Nick’s 2) She’s Ken Barlow’s 1) She’s Sinatra’s.

*NOT mentioned on Jamie Theakston's Forbidden History: that time Jamie was caught trousers down in an S&M sex dungeon...

*MY Neighbour The Psychopath disappointed. I was hoping it’d be Tony Blair’s memories of living next door to Gordon.

Random Irritations: Dexter ending up a lumberjack rather than in dead lumber on Death Row. TLC’s daytime trailers including a woman shouting “W.T.F.” Sarah Millican’s half-arsed Television Programme. BBC2’s screening Tom Kerridge’s engaging BBQ cooking show in October.

Small Joys Of TV: The classic backwards episode of Seinfeld (Sky Atlantic). Marty Robbins’s ‘El Paso’ on brilliant Breaking Bad. Caroline Winberg. Carson’s eyebrows (Downton). Natalie Gumede’s enticing cha-cha.

Separated at birth: Alexei Sayle and Alf Garnett? One an old ranting nitwit prone to offensive and irrational outbursts, the other a popular sitcom character...

Sue Perkins was talking about puff pastry on Bake Off when she advised viewers: “Mainly think massive horn.” For her, a first...