Garry Bushell
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Sept 25. THE BBC hit Spooks with a sneaky left-right combo worthy of Mayweather. BIFF! They axe it. BLAM! They bury the final series up against Downton Abbey. It’s a poor reward for ten years of loyal service to BBC1’s equivalent of Queen and Country (queens and... can’t quite recall the next word). But Harry Pearce is the Rocky Bilboa of MI5, and he’s not giving up without a fight.

Despite looking like Charlie Drake or a shagged-out version of Mr Tumble, Harry is the glue that holds this show together. Last series, to save Ruth’s life, H gave the Chinese ‘Albany’ – a lethal device that targets victims by their ethnicity (also known as the Starkey). But our government needs him as they’re getting cosy with the Russians. Although not as cosy, it turns out, as Harry had been with Elena – the wife of an old KGB rival. He turned her in ’81; many times by all accounts.

“We had Gavrik’s wife?” gasped one spook. Well H certainly did, she had his kid, Sasha, now a fully grown FSB agent who naturally wants to top him. Raising the stakes, Elena is played by Alice Krige – Star Trek’s Borg queen. Harry had been gorging on the Borg, accessing his asset’s assets, enjoying perhaps a Borgy... talk about Tinker Tailor Shagger Spy.

Things have changed at MI5 though. Section D has been taken over by Erin, a woman who scales Louise Cliffe levels of lusciousness. In fact, the whole fresh-faced team could have waltzed in from Cold Feet. New boy techie Callum has a new toy, too, a “motion-analysis filter” that identifies people by how they move (“your walk is like your fingerprint.”) Really? I don’t want to sound negative but how hard would this be fool? Adopt a limp or a Monty Python silly walk and you’d get away scot free. Already there’s been a breach at the highest level (and breeches as low as they can go). We’ve had a Chechen assassin, finally answering the age-old question: why did the Chechen cross the road? And our screens are full of stern-faced nutters muttering into their sleeves. But, hey, enough about the Lib Dem conference. It’s not enough to dent Downton’s ratings, but Spooks is going out in style.

SOME big revelations on The X Factor USA: Steve Jones is now apparently working as a truck driver, Cheryl Cole did surprisingly well, and Paula Abdul vomits at the sight of a penis. So for god’s sake keep her away from the England rugby squad. LA Reid is the new-boy judge. He moves like a Thunderbird puppet and said he’s been “looking for Bobby Brown”. But obviously not too hard. How many crack-houses can there be out there?

IF This Is Jinsy were a person, it’d be auditioning for X Factor. That’s how barking mad it is. The show is Balamory meets the Mighty Boosh, or The Prisoner crossed with the Chuckle Brothers and a half-digested Goons script. Jinsy is a remote island (population, 971) full of oddballs and perverse customs. Harry Hill as Joon Boolay (imagine Stanley Baxter dragged up as Katie Boyle) presents ‘Punishment Round-Up’ where offenders are blitzed with electric shocks in their own homes: Big Brother is zapping you. Much of it is hilarious, from the gloriously daft theme tune to David Tennant channelling the spirit of Dale Winton to present the Wedding Lottery: “forcing complete strangers to marry” (like Asian elders). Sometimes flimsy, but full of whimsy, Jinsy is addictively bonkers, especially when tipsy on gin, see. Nightly bye.

NICE to see ex-EastEnder Shobu ‘Gita’ Kapoor on Celebrity Masterchef. Could she reinvent herself as a TV chef? Sadly no. The hapless actress tried to seal ravioli with a knob of butter (wasn’t that Roy Evans’s nickname?). It disintegrated as quickly and completely as a soap marriage.

*DARREN Miller jilted Jodie on Enders. “I wanted to show you things you only read about in books,” he told her. Dirty boy! I’ve read those books. Brother Mickey returned for the wedding. Has he been on the witless protection scheme? Darren’s Mum, Dad and sister couldn’t be arsed. (Unlike Ben, it appears).

HOT on TV: Downton Abbey... The Fades... Spooks... Jinsy... Sandhurst – good lads’ army...Sons Of Anarchy... New Two & A Half Men.

ROT on TV: 71 Degrees North – I’d rather watch a fridge defrost... Fresh Meat – truly offal...Jo Brand’s Big Splash...Holding Out For A Hero – we’re holding out for a watchable ITV quiz.

MANY joys on Big Brother last week. Alex got multi-tanned and ended up two shades beyond Umpa Lumpa. Any darker and she’d have set off smoke alarms. Then Jay scoffed three whole roast chickens – only Charlie Sheen’s had more birds in one go. All this and Rebeckah got the boot too. Happy days.

*IS it me, or does Maisie need a really good plucking? Her eyebrows! Your minds...

*A GRIM week on Corrie: first Carla’s rape, then Sean breaking up with Marcus. “It’s because I push too hard,” he said. Way too much information.

*JAKE Whitehall was utterly convincing as a loathsome upper-class git with a towering sense of entitlement on Fresh Meat. Ah, the joy of type-casting.

*THEY had a severed hand in a box on The Body Farm. Was I alone in hoping it’d spring up like The Thing from The Addams Family and check out Dr Eve’s evidence bags?

*PETER Andre loves his kids. It’s surprising he doesn’t mention it more.

Small Joys of TV: An Idiot Abroad 2. Terry the scaffolding grandad (X Factor). Funkhouser (Curb). Ironman 70.3: truly challenging, and also the only time you’ll ever see the words ‘pro-men’ on Channel 4.

RANDOM Irritations: C4 burying Curb Your Enthusiasm in a More4 graveyard slot. Kate Wynslet’s gushing luvvie twaddle at the Emmys. TV exploiting confused, slow-witted and unfortunate women – Lynne Featherstone, MP, should never be seen on our screens again.

SEPARATED at birth: Darryn Lyons and Neelix, from Star Trek Voyager; one a bizarre weird-haired fatso from a distant world. And so’s the other one.

MYSTERIES: how do you make Michelle Mone? Why did The World’s Most Dangerous Roads ignore Corrie and Albert Square? Who is the World’s most dangerous Rhodes, Nick, Zandra or Gary?

*JAMES Bolam is quitting New Tricks creating a vacancy for a grumpy old curmudgeon with a tenuous grip on reality. Finally a job Vince Cable could manage.

Sept 18. BIG Brother cops stick from snooty critics, but the show scaled new peaks of cultural achievement last week. I’m talking of course about the slo-mo Baywatch beachwear challenge, the type of quality TV that freeze-frame was invented for. It’s just a shame Pamela Anderson didn’t join in, and bring Jenny Frost with her.

It’s an odd cast this year; no-one is older than thirty, and the house is awash with hormones, confessions and inappropriate chitchat. It took less than a day for Rebeckah to reveal that she’d once “wee-ed on a boyfriend”, adding perhaps unnecessarily “I’m a people pleaser.” No wonder she got a golden swimsuit. The 28-year-old screwball works as “a hostess in a gentlemen’s club” (not White’s) and led on teenage Aden (aptly pronounced “Ard-on”) before kicking him out of her bed - the poor sod was as frustrated as a eunuch at a Bon Temps orgy. She’s a needy, mixed-up nightmare, professing to hate men while craving male attention.

But Rebeckah isn’t the biggest nightmare here. That honour goes to big-headed sleaze-ball Anton who asked Pamela Anderson if she’d ever “sexually been with a woman.” What a gent. Anton’s nickname in the house is ‘SP’, short for Sexual Predator. He seems like the sort of bloke whose dream date is to take a girl dogging. He’d be drummed out of the Inbetweeners for lacking subtlety.

The ones who aren’t annoying are plain deluded. Tearful Tashie thought Pamela was her bestest friend, and was first out. Alex thinks she looks like a human Barbie, failing to add “that has been jogging behind a council gritter”. I don’t believe that Mark is as dim as he pretends to be, or that Tom is as quirky as he thinks he is. But it’s clear that Heaven is barking and that alpha-male Geordie Jay is here for the duration. Jay’s Wolf Pack already look stronger than the Jungle Cats ever did. They’ll baste those Ducklings in orange sauce before long. Aaron and Harry, who weren’t in either gang, both found themselves nominated and won’t last. I worry for sweet Maisie. Her best chances of survival are nightly pillow fights with the lovely Louise. Those Prison Break-style shower scenes are disturbing too. With the amount of testosterone sloshing around the house, if the girls won’t play anything could happen.

DARREN Campbell got a raw deal on Celebrity Masterchef. Michelle Mone’s scampi, chips and mayonnaise dish came with neither scampi nor mayo. Yet she lasted longer than the champion sprinter. It was a travesty. My old pal Linda Lusardi, famous for her dumplings, didn’t let us down, though. I had a nasty shock when my wife shouted “Linda’s burnt her puddings.” Mercifully she was just talking about her dessert – an unorthodox ‘blackened’ pineapple sponge. “I just hope I can stay in,” Linda confided. No doubt echoing the thoughts of every one of her ex-boyfriends.

THE TOWIE gang went ghost-hunting on ITV2. It was late, it was dark, there was moaning and screaming, Amy Childs got touched was just like any other night out in Essex. I can understand the producer’s desire to put the willies up Sam Faiers but NOTHING happened. The biggest laugh was Joey Essex saying: “If you like us, whistle”. Did he think the ghosts were all building workers? Amy’s leg got wet; I don’t think it was ectoplasm.

*SHAME a saucy spirit didn’t give Amy a flash of a pre-Brazilian Tudor vajazzle, or to give it its technical name: diamonds in the rough.

HOT on TV: The Bomb Squad – real heroes... Entourage finale... Jenny Frost (Ok!TV)... Billy Connolly’s Route 66.

ROT on TV: Torchwood – Rex came back from the dead; the plot never recovered... The Fun Police – a crime against comedy... DCI Banks – rhyming slang... EastEnders – only Brian Cox knows more inert Moons.

*POOR Brenda suffered with “labial fusion” on Embarrassing Bodies, her privates had sealed over - a rare complaint usually associated with women who’ve dated John McCririck. Dr Pixie (is she National Elf? sorry) couldn’t help. So why not call Des O’Connor? He knows all about “take the money, open the box”.

*Medical note: a labial fusion is a bit like jazz fusion, but without the horn section.

*RICHARD Dawkins was very assured on Newsnight, but surely that tie he was wearing could never be explained by natural selection?

IS Russell T. Davies a genius or a great festering polyp on the backside of small screen sci-fi? Torchwood suggests the latter. Over-blown, illogical and full of holes, his plot had more red herrings than a North Korean trawler. Many switched off after the long, gratuitous gay sex scene mid series, but Barrowman fans were left confused. They didn’t know whether to keep Captain Jack on, or Jack off.

*THE Leper King Baldwin IV featured on Crusaders: Back From The Dead. Incredibly, he was married. Experts say that the sex was good to start with, but then it dropped off.

*71Degrees North is unusual for celebrity TV - most of the contenders are actually recognisable. Brave of bra-hating Charlie Dimmock to take on Arctic challenges. It brings new meaning to freezing your tits off.

*MISSING from Alan Carr’s Who Do You Think You Are: his long-lost twin brother Bingo from the Banana Splits. (Oddly Alan’s footballing Dad Graham looked the spit of Martin Platt in his prime).

*NEXT week: Peaches Geldof, Where Do You Think You Are? Followed by Nancy Dell'Olio, What Do You Think You Are? Followed by Paddy Doherty: Who Are You, Do You Think?

RANDOM irritations: fat birds in jeggings. The standard of ‘analysis’ on Match Of The Day. Simon Cowell reportedly bringing back Cheryl for The X-Factor live shows – why? She’s indecisive and weak. We don’t need her.

SMALL Joys of TV: Susan Bullock’s Britannia helmet sliding off her head during the Last Night Of The Proms. Planet Dinosaur escapee John McCririck getting billed as “Mr Lover Man” (Big Bro). Gory old nonsense Body Farm inspiring a million viewers to burst into a chorus of “Woah, Body Farm, Body Farm for you...”

Separated at birth: Angelos Epithimou and Fabio Capello? One an unconvincing joke figure relying on lame, lacklustre routines, the other a character on Shooting Stars.

MYSTERIES: when will ITV’s Missing Millions investigate Red Or Black’s viewing figures? Is Doc Martin appointment TV? Did David Walliams really push himself or was he just going through the motions?

*WALLIAMS felt sick after swimming through sewerage. Now he knows what it was like watching Little Britain.

Sept 11. TWO-FISTED Paddy Doherty won Celebrity Big Brother. Good, because let’s face it, they would never have evicted him. Not without getting through Vanessa Redgrave first. In truth, the fighting traveller didn’t do much, or even say anything decipherable other than the occasional “Woman!” The big lug made Fabio Capello sound like Kenneth Branagh. But he was more down to earth than a knackered satellite and he deserved it far more than second-placed Kerry Katona. Was she doing it for her kids, do you think? She never said.

Kerry wanted to right the wrongs of her multiple past mistakes. Or as Brian Dowling put it, wrong the rights; his tie getting slightly tongued in all the excitement.

Jedward came third – okay? They were noisy, messy, childish and spectacularly irritating. If they’d been randy as well, they’d have stormed it. Unfortunately, the twins are about as sexy as a pair of pot plants. Paddy called them “the two sausages”, but (a woman viewer tells me) there was no evidence of sausage during their strip-tease. Not even chipolatas. In fairness, they kept the show’s energy levels high, and their innocence is almost endearing. Jedward are like living cartoons. Someone should turn them into an animated series on a children’s TV channel, so we never have to suffer them again.

Bobby was first out on Eviction Night. This came as a surprise, as I didn’t realise he was still in there. Next went deluded Darryn, who claimed he’d been “reborn” in the house. As a mutant turtle, judging by the abs. Womaniser’ played when Lucien, the world’s worst ladies’ man, got the boot, while Amy left to the strains of ‘Glad You Came’. Shuu’up! If she had come, she might have won. As it was, the only way was exit.

The house lacked lurve, and could have done with more confrontation. But I’ve got a feeling normal Big Brother will rectify that. What nutters! Arrogant Aaron, spotty Alex aka the Fright Night Barbie, Anton, the Fresh Prince of Bell End... Bi-sexual berk Tom boasted “I get my cock out when cameras are around”. This was very apt, because as soon as I saw him I thought ‘get this cock out’. There’s Geordie jack-the-lad Jay, posh plonker Harry, nice-but-dim Mark. Strong characters and potential tension abound. Decent totty too: luscious Louise, amazin’ Maisy. Fame junkie Tashie has more curves than a Scaletrix track and looks like Tulisa eating a banana. But will any of these lads ever get to enjoy one night (one night!) in Heaven?

*SMALL joys of the CBB finale: The Pamela Anderson reveal. The ‘Lucien Smash My Back Doors In’ banner – tsk, the aristocracy never change do they? And Bobby leaving to Snoop Dogg’s ‘Sweat’ – a bit more credible than ‘Pow’ for Darryn. Why didn’t Tara go out to ‘Bye bye, Miss American Pie’?

*PAM says she’ll leave skid marks on the other housemates. Let’s hope she’s talking tank tyres, or that’s one dirty protest too far.

DID I miss the meeting where ITV decided to merge with Crimewatch? A robber on X Factor, a wife-beating millionaire thanks to Red Or Black... what next, Gaddafi producing Coronation Street? It could only be an improvement. Talk about Red faces and Black eyes. Ant & Dec should set up a £1.50-a-call helpline. Or maybe not. Red Or Black posed a bigger question: on or off? Half the viewers quickly opted for the off button. Understandable; it’s a shambles - You Bet puffed up with typical over-the-top SyCo production values, making it feel like X Factor without the talent. It’s the biggest over-blown mess since Hurricane Irene hit the Eastern seaboard. Pointless, often dull stunts lead up to the roulette wheel finale, where some undeserving schmuck has a 50/50 chance of scooping £1million through pure dumb luck. In a real casino, there’s an element of risk – you’re betting your own cash. Here the only ones with anything to lose are ITV. It’d work better if the contenders built up a pot of prize money they then gambled on the roulette wheel. But who cares? Red Or Black? Kill or cure. Sh*t or bust.

*SIMON Cowell confessed to a 3-in-a-bed romp (an old story revived). Shame he didn’t say that the unnamed girls were Cuban and Nigerian; then headline writers could have worked in a cheeky ‘red or black’ gag. For the x-rated ‘red or brown’ spin see Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown...

*COWELL’S real 3-in-a-bed secret: two huge man-sized mirrors.

STRICTLY’s back, posing the question: which celeb will fandango their dancer first? Robbie Savage is in it, so that’ll save on the BBC wardrobe budget. Nothing they’ve got can out-ballroom his normal clobber. Robbie dresses like David Ginola playing Maurice Gibb on Stars In Their Eyes.

HOT on TV: Back From The Dead: Nelson’s Navy... Bin Laden: Shoot To Kill... Catch Me If You Can: Armed Robbers... Rugby World Cup.

ROT on TV: Red Or Black – wheel of misfortune, The Million Pound Flop... 9/11 conspiracy claptrap... Appropriate Adult – inappropriate commissioning.

BRAVE of Corrie to tackle big social issues last week. I’m talking of course about the ever-present dangers associated with keeping a kidnapped psychopathic drug-dealer in your butcher’s fridge. They should have run a helpline at the end of the episode: If you’ve been affected by Kirk’s acting... there is no possible hope for you.

*CHINESE couple To Chan and Karen Ho failed to interest the Dragons in their London fish pedicure spa. So no-go for To-Ho’s so-so Soho toe show. What a low blow.

*LUMBERING prehistoric monsters are back on telly! Hurrah! But enough about Brucie.

*WE finally saw the Blessing on Torchwood. It looked like something Amy would vajazzle. The real blessing will come when this tosh ends.

*AMY aged decades on Doctor Who. She was grumpy, irrational and stroppy. Nice to see time won’t change her.

Random Irritations: Straight men kissing each other hello on TV. Or anywhere. The mysterious disappearance of The Bachelor. ITV attempting to make thick charmless psycho Fred West and his sick sadistic wife seem engaging.

Small Joys of TV: Nick Hewer on Would I Lie To You. Nicola McLean’s brunette look. Tough totty Colonel Eleanor (Strike Back Project Dawn). Emilia Fox’s great aunts (Who Do You Think You Are) and their verdict on their father: “He went orff with an American tart. Silly bugger.”

Separated at birth: Noel Fielding and Amy Woodman from Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model; one from the Mighty Boosh, the other? Mostly moose.

*SIMON Cowell says that when he dies he wants his body to be cryogenically frozen. Ann Robinson’s already is.

MYSTERIES: did Red Or Black’s wife-beater winner celebrate with a slap-up meal? Or casino sex (liquor at the front, poker in the back)? Is John Barrowman the face of Bo, or the face of Botox? (Not to be confused with Andrew Lloyd Webber, the face you’d boo).

Sept 4. LAST night’s Doctor Who was a terrific return to form. The story was simple, effective and (for kids) genuinely scary. Not since Michael Jackson had a child’s bedroom seemed so terrifying. In contrast, Let’s Kill Hitler was more frustrating than Klingon Kerplunk. There was a nice moment when Adolf was shoved in a cupboard (many suspect he spent most of his life in a closet). But Hitler wasn’t killed. The evil Nazis, who all conveniently spoke perfect English, were just a side-show for some tedious tosh about River Song. Why does show boss Steven Moffet insist on inflicting these long, baffling and usually unresolved story arcs on us? Moff is responsible for more loose ends than Masala Masood.

The best Who episodes are stand-alone ones with plots that you don’t need a PhD to follow. The current yarn makes a conversation with Paddy Doherty seem straightforward. River we’ve learned is not only the Doctor’s future lover but also Amy and Rory’s kid, Melody - and their never-mentioned childhood best friend Mels (Syd, from EastEnders.) Kidnapped by The Silence, Mels regenerated as a toddler in New York and somehow found her way to Scotland so she could grow up with her parents (without ever acquiring a local accent).

She regenerated again into middle-aged assassin Alex Kingston, who promptly did in the Doc with poisoned lipstick. The Silence had brain-washed her to top him, and she did; but she then used up all her future lives to resurrect him for reasons that weren’t entirely clear. Confusingly, this River has met her folks in their past and her future without giving the smallest hint she even knew them. She’s gone off to study ancient relics now (try William Hartnell’s tomb, the corpse may still be spinning). So when she’ll get to have her unlikely romance with the Doc is anyone’s guess. ‘Why’ is easy - a multi-tasking sonic screwdriver could turn any girl’s head. But what would he see in this hammy old head-case? Many men might consider Syd from EastEnders a better option (or even Mad Jean.) With time travel anything can happen, but I can’t be the only one thinking Moff keeps throwing in extra twists to distract us from the fact that this actually isn’t much of a story. Stop over-thinking, man, and send in some Daleks.

WE had to endure three hours of 100 Greatest Gadgets to get to Number One (the pocket lighter). Three effing hours. It made you grateful for my own favourite gizmo: the Sky+ fast-forward button. This show could have been half as long and twice as interesting simply by cutting all those inane talking heads. If Al Murray really “can’t imagine life without a toaster” it doesn’t say much for his privately-educated brain. Use the grill! Use a toasting fork! Stephen Fry, hosting this joyless slog, pointed out that these were his personal choices, which presumably explains why the humble vibrator didn’t make the list. Also missing were those great civilisation advancing inventions air-con and the electric chair, along with zips, locks, smoke detectors and the hypodermic syringe. Chip-and-pin, the device that revolutionised credit card fraud was included. Fry did time for that, of course, but his biggest crime is being in possession of life-threatening quantities of class A smugness.

*SKY+ is a modern miracle. I can set it today to record Yesterday tomorrow... and watch it next week.

IF Jessie Wallace’s real life gets any more dramatic she’ll have to hire her own drummer. Trust a Kat to catch a rat. Her fiancé texted his ex a picture of Jessie’s privates (a snatch shot?). Similar snaps of Dot Cotton are believed to be safely under lock and key at Porton Down.

HOT on TV: 9/11, The Firemen’s Story... Milf-to-be Emma Willis... Fraud Squad... Outnumbered... Strike Back Project Dawn.

ROT on TV: 100 Greatest Gadgets - 180 grating, wasted minutes... Torchwood – torture... Page Eight – much less fun than Page Three.

THE old boys on David Jason’s Greatest Escapes were what Englishmen used to be like: calm, resourceful, modest and determined. Quiet heroes. Quite a different breed to the lowlifes and losers celebrated everywhere on TV nowadays, from the Jeremy Kyle show to Shameless.

*THE male camel makes himself sexually irresistible by dribbling and spraying urine everywhere (Inside Nature’s Giants). The technique works just as well for Frank Gallagher.

*THREE weeks in, does anyone else think that Seven Dwarves could do with being a bit shorter?

*ESTHER Rantzen says she was abused as a teenager. How awful, how grim. And here’s what really hurt, the bastard did it with a comically shaped vegetable.

* GOOD to see the Little Britain guys are concentrating on what they do best. For Lucas, comedy; for Walliams, swimming.

*I LOVE the VMAs. It’s the only night in the year that MTV actually plays any music.

THE new Jonathan Ross talk-show is a poor compromise. The guests aren’t great and his heart isn’t in it. Why not give him a late night show where he can let rip? He’s not Parkinson and shouldn’t want to be.

* Have you even seen Jonathan’s Mum, Martha, and Gaddafi’s wife Safia in the same room? One’s family has got away with murder, the other is Libyan.

*AFTER a nasty mosquito bite, Kitty Brucknell required “an injection in her bottom to bring the swelling down.” Let’s hope that’s the only time those words were used in connection with an X Factor hopeful.

Random Irritations: Carianne’s voice (The Bachelor). Talking heads on TV clip-shows with nothing to say. The ‘false start’ athletics rule. Boris banning kids from watching Olympics shooting events, as if the women’s 10m air pistol qualifiers have the slightest causal effect on gun crime.

Small Joys of TV: The Twins task (CBB). Marco Pierre White. Chris Ellison in New Tricks. 3-2-1 repeats on Challenge – the clues are still as impenetrable as Ann Widdecombe’s drawers.

*PAM got booted off CBB and will return to the home she shares with 27 animals. After Jedward she could do with the peace and quiet.

* IF Kerry reminds Lucien of his Gran, why the hell was he flirting with her?

Separated at birth: Mick Hucknall and Amy Pond as a human doll – one a creepy, wooden-headed fright, the other a Doctor Who favourite.

*LOST Girl Bo (Anna Silk) is a succubus who feeds off human arousal; she’ll suck you but kill you. Like a deadlier Helen Wood.