BUSHELL ON THE BOX
OCT 28. WHAT was the worst entertainment show ever made? Some experts cite Naked Jungle, others reckon TOWIE Live took the prize. It’s almost as if Beat The Crusher never happened. Telly bosses scraped through the bottom of the barrel years ago but that can’t stop them tunnelling ever downwards to brand new circles of TV Hell.
For Facts Sake makes Len Goodman’s Partners In Rhyme seem like a Morecambe & Wise Xmas special. It’s like a kids’ show with adult jokes; badly directed, poorly produced – a new nadir. Or so it seemed until Channel 4 unveiled Celebrity Call Centre... “Eight celebrities coming together for Stand Up To Cancer,” they said. Blimey. No wonder Kim Woodburn brought Wet Wipes. A Pro-Celebrity Orgy might’ve been more watchable. Instead we got a tedious hour of z-listers answering trite problems phoned in presumably by tittering “programme associates” in an adjourning room. Cue Louie Spence advising a caller to poke their piles back in and squeeze. Laugh? You’ll never start.
One woman rang to ask how to stop a cat from piddling on her garden gnome. (Pee on the cat?). We’ve had Caller I.D. for years, but Caller I.Q. would be more useful. One bloke called to say “When I’ve had a few pints I forget I’m married”. It didn’t sound like Jermaine Pennant... Woodburn is the gift that never stops giving. “You haven’t got the plague dear!” she told a caller worried that the menopause would kill her relationship. “I’m 76 and I’m very active,” she revealed, adding “You get my drift dear? Oh yes!” Oh gawd. Get it? She’ll probably need hypnotherapy to suppress the tsunami of unwelcome images.
Shame the producers didn’t get Coleen Nolan to ring in and ask how to cope with aggressive old battle-axes with volcanic tempers addicted to public confrontation. Or some of Joel Dommett’s exes... the comedian, best-known for his abs, told how a woman he’d met on the net had relieved herself on his carpet. I’d have sprayed the Vanish on her. In the middle of this tosh, the producers slotted in serious calls about cancer to the likes of Toff from I’m A Celebrity. Wouldn’t Dr Ranj have been better equipped to answer? It was an inane mess of a show, devoid of wit, charm and point.
*TV’s Top Ten entertainment cock-ups: 1) Naked Jungle 2) TOWIE Live 3) Flock Stars 4) Sing If You Can 5) Don’t Scare The Hare 6) The Singer Takes It All 7) Beat The Crusher 8) Touch The Truck 9) Pets Win Prizes 10) Celebrity Ding-Dong.
CHANNEL 4 pulled some terrific stars out of the bag for Celebrity First Dates – Tyra Banks, Shirley Bassey, Zach Galifianakis... just kidding. It was Sandra from Googlebox and Lady Colin Campbell. Campbell, best known for making lurid claims about the royal family, provided the show’s high point by completely blanking Joey Essex. I feel sorry for Joey. All he wants is a woman who loves him for who he pretends to be. Not sure what Lady C wants. Probably a bloke who doesn’t ask too many questions... she invited her date to come back to her castle and “see more of the architecture and features”. Bring your own battering ram... Best date: Melinda and Chris. Most deluded: Sandra Martin imagining chemistry between her and Ross Kemp.
*HOW about First Dates: Walford? Meet at McKlunky’s, chug neat vodka, and then go on a bank job.
DOCTOR Who set out to celebrate US civil rights activist Rosa Parks, but instead seemed to suggest that bigotry will always be with us. Way to depress the kids, Doc. The Tardis took our heroes to Alabama in 1955, just days before black seamstress Rosa refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white commuter. Krasko, a despicable racist from the far future, had come back in time – possibly on a Ryanair rocket – to sabotage her bold stand. He looked like the Fonz from Happy Days (making prejudice cool again?) but was about as terrifying as Tom Read Wilson with a cob on. Krasko didn’t even seem mildly determined, and his cunning plan was distinctly sub-Baldrick. Any lamer and he’d have been hosting The Last Leg. If the BBC wanted to make Doctor Who’s Guide to American History for kids’ TV, then this episode might have been passable. But as sci-fi it was dismal. Quantum Leap covered Rosa’s struggle far better simply by having a decent plot. In related news, Doctor Who has lost nearly a quarter of its opening night viewers. In truth, Parks will barely be a footnote in history by the 79th Century. And humans, should we still exist, will be cyborgs.
HOT on TV: new Daredevil (Netflix)... Celebrity Hunted... Peter Dinklage, My Dinner With Hervé (SkyAt)... Goliath (AmPrime).
ROT on TV: For Facts Sake – Shooting Stars lobotomised... Celebrity Call Centre – The Twilight Phone-Zone... Naked Attraction – Embarrassing Nobodies.
WHY is Only Connect so addictive? It can’t just be Victoria Coren’s tendency to wear what my grandad would have called “bingo dresses” (eyes down for a full house). TV’s toughest quiz isn’t about knowledge alone. This is quizzing for people who crack cryptic crosswords and decode enigma machines. It’s 3-2-1 with A-levels.
*I OWE Most Haunted an apology. Turns out the ghosts are far easier to believe in than the people.
WHY exactly is Ed Stafford marooned with no clothes on? In what circumstances could this happen – was he on a naturist holiday cruise and the ship sank? Or in the shower when an asteroid struck? Has he come back through time like Arnie? There has to be an explanation otherwise you might suspect it’s mere titillation.
*PRUE Leith was getting seeds out of a pomegranate on This Morning when she told Phil and Holly: “You bang them and then you get nothing but juice all over your dress.” The story of Roxy Mitchell’s life.
*THIS week in Walford, for Halloween Sharon Mitchell appears in public without her slap. The horror!
*THERE’S not much I can say about Sally4Ever in a family newspaper, but if Lil-lets ever want a late night adult advert, Julia Davis’ China In Your Hands scene takes some licking.
SMALL joys of TV: Kem on Celebrity Hunted claiming he’s getting older and wiser moments before fondling bras in Tesco’s. Sugar telling Apprentice Rick “You couldn’t give away Prosecco on a hen night”. Chas & Dave: Last Orders (iPlayer).
RANDOM irritations: Vick Hope getting unfairly booted off Strictly – not the first time this show has been accused of dancing the con-con. The unbearable smugness of Nish Kumar. The missing apostrophe in For Facts Sake.
SEPARATED at birth: Mary Portas and He-Man in the Money Supermarket ad. One a super-powered crusader with bobbed hair and a manly chin, the other fights Skeletor.
TV Maths. Robbie Jackson + steroids = Jamie Alderton, You’re Fired.
*WHEN will Hannah Fry’s Mysterious World Of Maths get around to Jimmy Carr’s tax returns or the EU's accounts?
*TINY Kox was Jane Moore’s undoing on The Chase Celebrity Special... nope, damned if I can see a punch-line to that...
OCT 21. CALL me old-fashioned but I can’t help thinking Celebs Go Dating would work better with actual celebrities. Sam Craske got off to a worse start than Spain did. You know him from Diversity, don’t you? Me neither. “I met Diversity,” said the first hot woman he tried to charm. “I met the cast. I met Perri... I don’t remember seeing you.” Awks. Vas J Morgan (no idea) is apparently a fashion guru. He’s such a div – sorry, so stylish – he wears a towel around his neck in the bath. If Vas were any more laid back he’d be laid-out in a shroud. Then there’s Alik Altus from Made In Chelsea. The show has Sophie Hermann and Olivia Bentley and E4 recruit a whining, squinty-eyed Yank? That’s like having your pick of the Slater women and going for Big Mo.
Ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena is better known. Don’t let the barbecue skewers through her cheeks put you off like they did Jordan who turned her down for a date. Mutz has standards. “I like a man who looks like he washes,” she said, setting the bar for modern romance high. Love Island’s Olivia Attwood plays by different rules. “I need to find someone I’d actually, like, f***... ” she confided. Olivia, whose pins now look thinner of Theresa May’s chances of survival, got pie-eyed on her first date. She burped, gagged and turned the air bluer than Dot Cotton’s varicose veins. And her shallow would-be suitor Tobias still gave her ten... in the obvious hope of giving her one.
Harpo Marx lookalike Eyal Booker divides opinion – is he dishy or drippy or both? “I’m looking for someone with a heavy flow,” Eyal said. He meant of conversation but insert your own gag here. I like Chloe Sims, she’s the third best-looking Chloe on Towie. But her heart wasn’t in this. Simsy sulked around the mixer event under a personal rain cloud. She turned her date with Aussie spark Harry into a job interview, grilling him about whether he wants kids and how many Sheilas he’d slept with... then got the hump when he asked her the same. “I’m looking for my soul mate,” she moaned. “Anything else is a waste of time.” Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place, babes.
*CHLOE says she just likes people who are funny. Shame she never met Doddy. With her lips and his teeth they could have bred Ghoulies.
HOW does Kurran get away with it on The Apprentice? The unemployed extra can’t pitch, can’t sell and it turns out he’s pretty dismal at arm wrestling too, turning up in the boardroom with his arm in a sling... “You finally got into a cast,” Sugar teased. “You got your big break – and from what I heard, you appeared in Casualty also.” Ouch. A proper snap judgement. It was designer doughnut week – that’s the fried food, not the contenders. A doughnut is very different from poor weepy Frank. One is an unappetising dollop of wasted space that Sugar ate for breakfast... the other is a delicious snack. Or should be. Theirs were a messy, over-priced disaster with biscuits stuck on them or drenched in chilli for £5 a pop. You can buy a dozen Krispy Kreme Halloween doughnuts for £13.45 although in fairness theirs were scarier. It was Sugar’s take on Bake Off (Berk Off?). No-one asked what cooking has to do with business skills. Or if Jackie’s bespoke B-shaped doughnuts stood for bollocks. Best performer: Kayode. Worst: dough-brained team-leader Tom who could give May a run for her money in the weak and indecisive stakes.
CAN the famous really disappear, asked Celebrity Hunted? Bobby Davro seems to have managed it. Not sure Dom Joly and Vicky Pattison’s ploy – pretending to be Dutch tourist Kurt and his peculiar Aussie wife – will work though. It’s a new experience for Dom. He hasn’t been hunted for anything since ITV’s Splash in 2013. Kay Burley is struggling. After getting a fire boat to motor her and MP Johnny Mercer out of London, the intrepid newshound headed straight for her own Cotswolds holiday home. D’oh! Funniest? Vicky, who claimed “When I take my make-up off, the facial recognition in me phone doesn’t recognise us. I’ll just hide in plain sight when me slap’s off.” Most likely to survive: can-do ex-commando Johnny. Least likely: Love Island lame-brains Chris and Kem.
HOT on TV: There She Goes... Kerry Condon, Women On The Verge... Nabhaan Rizwan, Informer.
ROT on TV: The Bisexual – bye viewers... Most Haunted – 16years and still no ghosts... Gordon, Gino & Fred – Flop Gear... Family Cooking Showdown – half-baked.
BARNEYS, Books & Bust-Ups celebrated the Man Booker Prize – an invaluable guide to new novels that aren’t worth reading. Winners include badly-written dross like The Famished Road, deadly dull Offshore and McEwan’s Amsterdam which stank like rotting herring. What possibly attracted the BBC to this self-serving elitist bubble?
I PREDICT a happy ending for Hayley on EastEnders – she goes into labour but doesn’t give birth. Instead John Hurt’s alien bursts out of her Derby and devours Jean whole. Picture the terrifying look on Shirley’s face! (She won’t be there, I just mean her normal expression. When Shirl dresses up for Halloween how can you tell?)
*SHOPS in Jodie Whittaker’s home village are flogging Tardis-shaped pizzas. Hope they come with Dalek bread.
*FACT: Vibe 5 are 10/1 to win X Factor. By coincidence, it’s also a setting on the new Doctor’s sonic screwdriver...
*PIERS Morgan stood up to Alastair Campbell on Good Morning Britain. The arrogant, puffed-up loudmouth gets away with murder, thought both of them.
*HOW To Get A Good Night’s Sleep? Try watching this sh... seriezzz.
NEW subtitle howlers from Big Brother. Asked what he’d miss most in the house Isaac apparently replied “Wan Quing”... perhaps his Chinese chef. While Judy James seemed to say: “You know that moment when he was asked Andy Coulson cell phone misfit” (she actually said: “and he called himself a misfit”).
SMALL joys of TV: Rob Beckett’s sarky Celebs Go Dating voice-over; and Tom who’s as posh and camp as a Glastonbury yurt. The Chinese candidate’s whistling teeth on Strangers. Elvis Costello in Frasier. Nasa’s Journey To Tomorrow. Dr Legg’s return. Joe Bonamassa, Later.
RANDOM irritations: Shirley Ballas pronouncing seven as “sheven”. Eyal Booker, a grown man on a kids’ scooter. TV’s continuing war on men. Unacceptable levels of propaganda disguised as drama. EastEnders trying to interest us in “Who’s texting Sharon?” Who gives a stuff?
TV Maths. Ronnie Barker + Deirdre Barlow’s 70s hair = Beth from Eggheads?
SEPARATED at birth: TV newcomer Nabhaan Rizwan, Informer, and Jon Richardson... surely his brother from another mother?
VINCENT Simone was talking about Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice on Strictly: It Takes Two when he said: “Look at the way Giovanni takes her from behind. She reacts to that like a proper Italian... lovely hip action.”
OCT 14. JODIE Whittaker is terrific as the new Doctor Who. She’s charismatic and fun. It’s like she’s channelling the spirit of David Tennant with a side order of Victoria Wood. Did anyone else mistake her for Leanne Battersby? Wouldn’t that be a show? Time-Lady Leanne clobbering cosmic creeps on the Corrie cobbles armed only with a sonic hot-pot... in between seducing Cybermen and copping off with Kaagh the Sontaran. More exciting maybe than this opening episode...
Eight million watched it, but that figure will plummet – not quite as spectacularly as the Doc did herself – if the plots don’t improve. Talk about more pants than Calvin Klein. Chris Chibnall’s script was flatter than Cassandra. It had no proper frights, no new ideas and next to no sci-fi. Villain Tzim-Sha, a snooty “Stenza warrior”, came to Sheffield to bag a human trophy. So we’re talking a poor man’s Predator. His face looked like it had been pebble-dashed with Rice Krispies. These were his victims’ teeth. The Tooth-Scary’s target was wimpy crane driver Karl (Corrie’s Darryl Morton); hardly Predator material. If he’d gone for Kayla Westbrook he’d have bagged enough gnashers to cover Eileen Grimshaw...
When the female Doctor was announced, vile sexists asked if she’d be able to reverse the Tardis into a parking bay without scraping the sides. The first thing she did was fall out of it – plunging through the roof of a train to save passengers menaced by bio-tech tumbleweed. She’s lost her Tardis and gained new companions. Plucky nurse Grace sadly perished, but the Doc keeps her dyspraxic grandson Ryan, probationary plod Yaz, and her widowed husband Graham (Bradley Walsh). He’s a timid retired bus driver in a West Ham scarf. Nothing here will petrify him as much as Liverpool at home next February.
The Doc has a new image– she looks like she was dressed in the dark by Mork from Ork. And Chibbers has done away with Steven Moffat’s archly convoluted scripts. This makes the show easier to follow, but it needs smarter stories and better villains than this – ones that reflect contemporary fears. The Daleks were Nazis, Cybermen were Communists. It’s about time British sci-fi grew up and took on Daesh. Right now, the tone is CBBC with the death rate of a police procedural.
LORD Sugar’s apprentices had to create comic book super-heroes and succeeded... in coming across like the League of Extraordinary Plonkers. Women’s team leader Khadija morphed into Bossy Bird and wouldn’t listen to anyone. She decided on a “fun” educational comic to teach kids French, even though none of her team could speak a word of it. They couldn’t even spell patisserie. Khadija opted for a unisex rapping space monkey, MC Gogo from Planet Yoyo... a proper no-no you’d think, but the blokes were worse. Team leader Frank, from marketing, chose boy hero Benji – a mutt’s name. Apt as they produced the comic equivalent of a dog’s dinner. Preening Kurran turned into tongue-tied Mega-Berk. In the boardroom, Frank became Weepy Boy teetering on the edge of tears, but tax-nerd David added no value and took the bullet. As a business challenge this was super-dumb. Writers and artists create superheroes; tycoons are more into creative accountancy.
*THE worst-ever superheroes. 1) Rock Boy. He turned to stone and just sat there. 2) Matter Eater Lad could eat anything, like Gregg Wallace but with less gurning. 3) Doll Man could shrink to 6inches but was overshadowed by his big brother Dildo Man (probably).
FRANCE and England have been at it like Itchy & Scratchy for centuries. And Antoine de Caunes on Why Does Everyone Hate The English? is unlikely to have watered down that rivalry. Antoine’s wild claims about French ingenuity were as shaky as Patisserie Valerie's finances, as flexible as De Gaulle and as suspect as boiled horse meat. TV was invented by a Scotsman, hot air balloons were pioneered by a Portuguese priest... Even the guillotine was pre-dated by the Halifax Gibbet. French fries are Belgian, French dressing is all-American and TV’s sexiest French woman was played by the very English Vicki Michelle. They can have the can-can, sadism, and totalitarian dictatorship though. Al Murray battered away Antoine's cobblers, and reminded us of France's laughable attempts to create a ten-day week and a ten-hour day – both now as forgotten as French pop.
HOT on TV: Chris O’Dowd, Get Shorty (SkyAt)... A Dangerous Dynasty... Ted Danson, The Good Place (Netflix).
ROT on TV: Kurran, The Apprentice – as smug as Jean-Claude Juncker and just as useless... The Bisexual – “comedy drama” that’s neither... Wanderlust – even the climax was unsatisfying.
AFTER Seann and Katya, shouldn’t Strictly: It Takes Two follow Big Bro’s lead and change its name to Strictly’s Bit On The Side? Susanna Reid dismissed the fuss saying “We’ve all had a few drinks and had a kiss haven’t we?” Not yet, Suse, but I’m buying...
*THE Curse of Strictly? I thought it was one of the perks.
*SEANN’s dad has never seen him dance. “Would you trust a man who rushed home to watch Strictly?” he asked. No, nor one who can’t spell Sean.
CLEARLY it was vital for Fiona Bruce and Mark Easton to flag down a cop car to get them to Broadcasting House in time to read the news. These puffed-up media titans are far too important to take the tube like anyone else would have done, and walking the 1.9miles was clearly beyond them. No-one else could possibly have read BBC News’s usual turgid recipe of Brexit doom-mongering, trite non-stories and right-on propaganda from an autocue. Luckily the Metropolitan Police have nothing else to do, what with crime in London now being completely eradicated. But let's hope the cops involved weren't diverted too long from the important business of hunting down Twitter users with the wrong kind of opinions.
ODD, the BBC still haven’t aired a proper tribute to Ray Galton. With Alan Simpson, Ray created the most successful British sitcoms ever. It’s almost as if TV execs don’t want us to remember a time when brilliant working class writers broke through the barriers and smart, relatable, down-to-earth comedy was king.
*STILL Open All Hours. Why?
*THE Walking Dead is back. Hurrah! BBC One has its own zombie show, Question Time.
*RE The Cry and Maniac, is it possible someone ran the scripts through Banksy's shredder and then put them back together in the wrong order? It would explain a lot.
*QUIZ nitwit of the week: Joanna on The Chase. Asked which large mammals greet each other by shaking trunks, she replied “Dolphins.”
*JOE Pasquale’s latest tour crams in daft gags, duff magic and dodgy mind-reading. ITV should film it. He’s never been funnier.
SMALL joys of TV: Toots Hibbert on Later – bring on Roy Ellis, Jools! Would I Lie To You. Howard Greenberg, Last Chance Lawyer. Jennifer Lawrence, Dior’s Joy ad. Chris O'Dowd sounding distinctly o'tipsy on The Last Leg. Karren Brady on Kurran: “No wonder he’s an extra, he can’t act.”
RANDOM Doctor Who irritations: Too much virtue-signalling, not enough story-telling. Too much running and driving around. Speeches in the middle of life-or-death confrontations. The new theme music. The sonic screwdriver – it’s a magic wand and a lazy cheat.
SEPARATED at birth: Lauren Goodger and Rodrigo Alves? One over-did the cosmetic surgery, the other’s a human Ken doll. One has a large arse, the other is one.
TV Maths: Paul Pogba + Marty from Madagascar = Kayode, The Apprentice.
TV questions: with a sex-change Doctor and new cast, does TARDIS now stand for trans and racial diversity in space? If Jodie’s Doc meets wife River Song would the sonic screwdriver find new uses? Who needs The Walking Dead when we have Vince Cable?
Oct 7. WE knew the women were doomed on The Apprentice as soon as we heard the words “We’re on the wrong island!” The days the show pretended to involve “Britain’s brightest business brains” are as forgotten as the Amstrad E-mailer. The contenders look like Made In Chelsea rejects now. This year’s bungling clots include a jobless extra, an actress, and an estate agent. Big-heads and braggarts abound. Camilla, the Poundland Katie Hopkins, insisted “My goal is worldwide domination”. Sian claimed to be “the Beyonce of business” (umm, isn't that Beyonce?). Nerdy Alex could have been auditioning for Blind Date when he boasted: “I’m like a cash machine; if you push the right buttons I will give you money.” While motivational speaker Kayode bragged: “I don’t just grab the bull by the horns, I get him in a headlock and then squeeze every opportunity that comes out of him.” The only thing he could squeeze out of a bull would be brown and smelly – and you’ll find more of that here than on the Anna Creek cattle station. Fakery engulfs the show like mist. Its opening credits say Canary Wharf, but it’s shot in West Acton. Sugar’s actual boardroom is in Essex. And of course real-life entrepreneurs are renowned for looking hot. Think Philip Green, Lord Lloyd-Webber, Richard Branson... hunky, eh girls?
Lord Sugar, who increasingly resembles Nookie Bear crossed with a walnut, sent them to Valletta in Malta to pick up nine local items. It was more a shopping trip than a business challenge. In real life, the blokes would’ve Googled “octopus with 40-inch hose” and found it was a scuba-diving mask rather than blowing £35 on a real octopus (“How stretchy is an octopus?” “Very stretchy”... ).
Former Shameless star Sarah Byrne was the stereotype Brit abroad. Hunting for honeycomb, when locals couldn’t understand her Sarah just got louder: “You know, ’UN-NEE-COMB? Yum, yum... ” (Also answering the age-old question: How do you make a Maltese cross?). “Does anyone know where Malta is?” was her other classic line. “I’m not getting fired today,” the gobby menace insisted minutes before Sugar gave her the old Maltese Falc-off. Little was seen of global dominator Camilla. Or David who said he might resemble “a cuddly bear, but if you cross me I’ll knock your stuffing out!” He looked like he’d struggle to knock the rice out of a stuffed zucchini. Or suck the collagen out of Sarah’s lips. The only business The Apprentice involves is showbusiness.
ITV’s tribute to This Morning included Kerry Katona’s slurring calamity, Josie Lawrence’s hair catching fire, and Gino cooking stark naked – hot sausage, stale buns from memory. We got Richard Madeley’s barking Ali G impression, the live Viagra trial – way too flaccid – and the Chippendales’ dirty dancing that aired just before Rainbow... sort of Un-Zippy & Bungle. Understandably ITV swerved paedo weatherman Fred Talbot. Here are seven other highs and lows (mostly lows) they forgot: 1. When Keith Chegwin tearfully revealed his alcoholism, Judy Finnegan told him “Well done Keith, that took a lot of bottle”. 2. Richard asking a female stalker: “So Jane, when did you first realise that you were quite clearly mad?” 3. Richard’s chair collapsing underneath him live on air. 4. Gene Pitney’s miming disaster. 5. Holly Willoughby’s gift for goofs; favourites include Holly on Gino’s food: “Once it’s in, I love it.” And asking a mind-reader: “Can you just stay behind and do me?” 6. After giggling over a couple who practised tantric sex, Phil Schofield uttered the immortal words: “Still to come... ” 7. Judy admitting “I’m no stranger to thrush.”
ROAST Battle would have been brilliant if Jimmy Carr had been roasting rather than hosting, and if they’d had the budget for harder-hitting and more recognisable comics. Imagine Frankie Boyle v Lily Savage, Jim Davidson v Ben Elton, Jerry Sadowitz v the world... viewers would sue for PTSD. The series promised a cavalcade of cruel comedy, but delivered a mere trickle of tame abuse. Phil Wang v Daniel Schloss was OK. Wang targeted Daniel’s tattoos: “You can take the boy out of Scotland but you can’t take the needle out of his arm.” Schloss hit back: “Phil is short for Phillip and Wang is short because he’s Asian.” But you suspect Carr mumbles sharper put-downs in his sleep. No-one beat Fin Taylor describing Paul Chowdhry as “What Prince would look like if all the sex he’d been singing about was non-consensual”. Roasting is claimed as a US innovation, but “Flyting” – the ancient art of trading insults – has been around for centuries. And Manning monstered every comic going. To Bernard, Ronnie Corbett was: “a comedian’s labourer, with a face even Snow White couldn’t love... managements only use him to make their drinks look bigger.” And that was one of his kinder thoughts.
HOT on TV: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Deuce... Shan, X Factor... Succession finale... Killing Eve... Trust.
ROT on TV: The Big Audition – don’t call us... The Cry – the most tedious waste of an hour this side of the Wanderlust two-hander... AHS: Apocalypse – a crock-of-p*ss now.
SUSANNAH Constantine was first off Strictly. When it came to tripping the light fantastic, she was neither light nor fantastic. Susannah went from What Not To Wear to How Not To Dance. Who coached her? Theresa May? Shame she missed Movie Week. She could’ve chosen Strictly Balls-Up, Night Of The Dancing Dead or My Two Left Feet.
*NETFLIX will let viewers decide how favourite shows end. Let’s hope the BBC follow suit, and that enough of us back the EastEnders ‘asteroid strike’ option.
*WOBBLY-gob Sharon Mitchell was shocked to realise she’s been bedding a teenager. It’s disgusting. I mean, she isn’t even Keanu’s teacher. Shazza’s 48, he’s 19. In soap terms she’s old enough to be his great-gran.
*SHARON asked Keanu: "Do I look like Snow White?" Wrong panto, luv. We're still waiting for the other sister.
*ON Blindspot a stunning brunette was found naked in a hold-all in New York’s Times Square – that’s what I call a body bag. Only tattoos preserved her modesty. All around, blokes were mentally un-inking her.
SMALL joys of TV: Tom Ledford falling off the X Factor stage like a pole-axed ox. Ivo getting the heave-ho. Brendan Murray. The genuine BBC News’ Zoe Ball headline: 'Ball Bags Breakfast'. Sandra Oh, Killing Eve. Strictly’s Oti Mabuse. The Good Place.
RANDOM irritations: Colin the pig’s wasted death on Celeb Island; I felt for that that poor dumb creature (Pete). The fake drama of X Factor’s Six Chair Challenge. The pretence that Have I Got News For You is “satire” rather than so-so light entertainment.
TV Maths: Ghandi + Rich Uncle Pennybags = Fraser Phillips, EastEnders.
SEPARATED at birth: Kevin Spacey and Brigadier General Lesage? One rarely seen; the other barely watched in Black Earth Rising.