Garry Bushell
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Sept 29. Lady Mary spent most of Downton Abbey’s return moping around looking cold, sullen and aloof. So it was pretty much business as usual. Dressed in clothes as black as O’Brien’s heart, poor Mary was coming to terms with an awful truth - she’s a bloody jinx. Her husband Matthew died, her Turkish lover snuffed it... You couldn’t even cheer her up by saying “Worst things happen at sea” because her first fiancé went down on the Titanic. (Sadly not one of the maids.)

The Earl wanted to shield Mary from the world largely because all the time she was in mourning he could run things unhindered. His eyes were firmly on grandson George’s inheritance. “As I own the other half of everything, isn’t it more appropriate for me to manage the boy’s fortunes?” he asked indignantly. Well no, not really. As no-one reminded him, the Earl is a financial disaster area. He’d run the estate down for years and blown his wife’s dough in a reckless Canadian railways investment... The bloke is as shrewd as a sub-prime mortgage; when he sits in the bath he farts south sea bubbles.

Mercifully, thanks to Carson, Mary finally snapped out of her grief crashing through the Georgian glass ceiling to take her place on the estate’s management board. Downton expects us to swallow the unlikely idea that the upper classes treated their servants as mates; it’s almost as far-fetched as the thought of lumbering grim-faced Carson being half of a song-and-dance act. Elsewhere Evil O’Brien has left (for Benidorm?) to be briefly replaced in the boo-hiss stakes by Nasty Nanny West, grandmother of Fred. This sparked the episode’s first crisis: would Lady Grantham be expected to dress herself? An impertinent impossibility; everyone knows the upper classes can only button up emotions.

What next? Will the Earl sink George’s dough in a promising Ponzi scheme, or will he drown in his own splutter when he learns that Lady Edith’s beau is applying for German citizenship?

Downton’s appeal is largely nostalgic. It takes us back to when life was much simpler. In 1922, the world was on the brink of economic disaster, and deluded toffs, certain that they knew best, were over-seeing a period of mass unemployment and austerity. Nothing like today whatsoever...

*TEN years have passed on screen since Downton started, yet no-one looks a day older. By 1932, the portrait of Violet in the attic will look like an unshelled Dalek.

*MICHAEL told Edith that “lunacy is grounds for divorce” in Germany. Although in fairness, it also went down well in the bierkellers.

MEET The Russians was so full of OTT opulence you started to think Lenin had a point. Diamond-encrusted shotguns, silk-gold wallpaper, pet falcons... These people had everything... except taste. But Kamaliya and her billionaire husband Zahoor were from the Ukraine; so not Russian at all. Former Mrs. World 2008, Kamaliya dreams of becoming an international pop/film star. Zahoor has blown over £12million on her career so far, which suggests he’s been had over. Maybe time to send out for a man with a Ricin umbrella, mate. Their gaff was so like a naff Vegas hotel it’s a wonder Prince Harry didn’t show up naked. Naturally there is more chance of catching Vladimir Putin watching Behind the Candelabra than of Fox asking whether the mass influx of super-rich Russkies has been good for London. It’s certainly boosted sales of bullet-proof limos, and sent Kensington & Chelsea property prices through the roofski.

DAVID Wicks has returned to Albert Square. I’d rather they brought rickets back. Why this obsession with clapped-out faces from the past? They should reinvent the soap’s giant characters instead; and give us modern equivalents of the Mitchells, Den and Angie, Appalling Pauline, Tiff, and especially Frank Butcher.

*PEOPLE I’d rather see back: Grant, Minty, Dawn, Paul Truman, Lisa Fowler...

*LITTLE Dennis is quite the charmer. He has the slap-able arrogance of his Dad coupled with mum Sharon’s inexplicable sense of entitlement.

HOT on TV: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D... The Wrong Mans... Shelley Conn, By Any Means.

ROT on TV: London Irish – joyless tosh... Atlantis – sink it... Gogglebox – twaddle, cocks... The Fried Chicken Shop – proving evolution is still a work in progress... When Miranda Met Bruce – strictly brown-nosing.

ATLANTIS is a teatime adventure series aimed squarely at 10-year-old boys; so why screen it at 8.25pm? More questions for the BBC1 show’s oracle: if this is Ancient Greece why does Hercules use a Roman name? How can Pythagoras be involved when he lived 9,000 years after Atlantis is supposed to have sunk? It’s slow, dull and badly-written. It turned Hercules into a cowardly figure of fun and nicked its predictable twist from the Hunger Games.

BBC2 spotted a gap in the market - there just aren’t enough chefs on TV. Enter Tom Kerridge promising meals that are “quick and easy to knock up.” Much like Walford women... Likeable Tom claimed: “We’re all noshers.” Speak for yourself, duck. But he lost me with wild talk of cutting his plums in half and rubbing sea-salt on his pollocks.

*EILEEN on Jason dating Eva on Corrie: “Are you collecting the set?” Ignore her sick jibes about Gloria though, Jase. It’s Leanne for the hat-trick...

*I FEEL for Catherine Tyldesley bombarded with Twitter todger snaps. Norris Cole should know better.

*C4 exposed a Chinese brothel on Sex: My British Job. Business apparently booms at night, because who doesn’t fancy a Chinese after the pub shuts? The documentary had a happy ending - £20 a go.

OF course the Trotters and Eric & Ernie are our ultimate TV favourites – they were funny, warm and entirely down-to-earth. Too much of today’s comedy is smart-arse, self-amusing, and aimed squarely at minority tastes. We’ve come a long way since the days of Dad’s Army and Steptoe, most of it downhill.

*MIRANDA met Bruce last weekend. Fine, but why involve us?

*WHY does Nick Knowles always look like he's spent the night sleeping rough in a cardboard box?

Random Irritations: Grown men crying over buns (Bake Off) ITV wheeling out John Sergeant to talk about Spike Milligan – why? It’s like asking David Blunkett to describe the Mona Lisa. Things spoiling Peaky Blinders - most of the accents, all of the music.

Small Joys Of TV: Ruby’s buns (Bake Off) – officially the tastiest, as I’ve long suspected. The bbq donut (Gadget Man). Matt Berry’s Secret Millionaire spoof (The I.T. Crowd). Kristen Bell’s smile. Northern Soul: Keeping The Faith.

TV maths: Nicky Campbell + Colin Compton = Cillian Murphy on Peaky Blinders.

JENNY was talking about dessert on Come Dine With Me when she said: “It’ll be interesting to know if any guests have come across a chocolate starfish before.” Depends if you’ve invited XXXX (name of senior politician removed by lawyers) I suppose.

Sept 22. The problem with Channel 4’s 80s Night was it reminded us how much better they used to be. It was a bit like Ed Miliband reminiscing about the 1945 Labour government. “Remember when we stood for something? When we had a point... ” The channel was inventive back then; it had attitude, and proper belly-laughs - a little bit more than property porn and clapped-out cookery shows.

Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out and The Comic Strip Presents delighted a generation. Jonathan Ross was at his irreverent best on The Last Resort, a chat-show full of wits, freaks and wild cards. They had decent drama in Prospects; a brilliant earthy, risk-taking soap in Brookside. Quiz show Fifteen To One made Tipping Point look like chimpanzee bingo.

And of course there was The Tube with its heady mix of edgy bands, right-on politics and Paula Yates’s outrageous – some might say desperate - fawning and flirting. This would peak years later with her Michael Hutchence Big Breakfast interview which had more explosive chemistry than you’d find in a Syrian weapons dump.

The show was often shambolic, but as Rewind The Tube recalled its live booking stretched from The Toydolls to Gregory Isaacs via the Redskins, ZZ Top and The Jam’s last ever TV appearance. It broke Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and found space for Big Country, punk and some new bird called Madonna. It was about as daring as TV could be at the time, although The Word, which was cockier, pushed things further in the 90s.

For years, C4 kept delivering: Father Ted, Harry Hill, Ali G, Crystal Maze, Phoenix Nights, Derren Brown, Trigger Happy TV and the Big Breakfast, which was unmissable with Johnny and Denise.

So where did it all go wrong? Probably when they lost Big Brother; after that the channel became a byword for gypsy weddings, embarrassing bodies and falling ratings. They’ve had decent recent hits of course - The Inbetweeners, Educating Essex, Misfits, Top Boy. But since the Paralympics C4 has shed more viewers than a Lisa Dingle pole-dancing display. As Jools might have said: it’s no longer groovy, ****ers.

*PO-faced Muriel Grey was missing from Rewind The Tube. On behalf of a million viewers, thank you.

YOU don't half get some nitwits on The Chase. Like Neil, who thought that Corrie was set on Southfork ranch, the home of Dallas. Tsk. I blame Eva’s ten gallon bras. One bloke decided that the explorer whose last words were “I’m going outside, I may be some time” was Columbus. Makes sense; step off the Santa Maria mid-Atlantic and you’d have a devil of a job to get back on. The funniest moment this year was when Brad asked Maureen what name is given to the sound hole on a violin. The choice was between z-hole, f-hole and a-hole. He cracked up just reading “a-hole”. She'd never say that, would she? But she did. “You don’t look that type of woman,” Brad giggled. Only the name of alpine skier Fanny Chmelar (pronounced Smeller) tickled him even more.

ALL human life is in The Fried Chicken Shop, according to C4; although so far there’s no sign of a David Starkey or an Oscar Wilde. Instead the heavily set-up ‘reality’ show relies on the likes of geriatric Jessie a badly-dressed transvestite. “When are you going to wear something interesting?” he asked one poor girl rudely - odd considering Jessie looked as much a tramp as he did a tranny. Sadly the obvious answer – when are you going to mind your own business and buy some bloody mirrors – was not forthcoming. The brave new deep-fried world featured drunken posh boys, young lovers, bickering counter staff and a lot of boring drunks. In other words, standard docu-soap dross, as appetising as overcooked chicken scraps. It’s lazy, clichéd TV without a single redeeming quality, not to mention the perfect diet if you want bad skin and a fat arse. The real fun was thinking of Jamie Oliver watching in despair, going “What are you doing to me?”

HOT on TV: Floyd Mayweather... Under The Dome (C5)... Peaky Blinders... Orphan Black (BBC3)... Naked & Afraid (Discovery)

ROT on TV: Father Figure – Dad boring... Surprise Surprise – a lorra lorra schmaltz... The Fried Chicken Shop – drumsticks and dumb hicks (and I cleaned that up).

WE saw a succession of revolting bums on Celebrity Super Spa, but enough about the contestants. I quite liked spa boss Herbert with his veneers so big that he could barely talk. But the only other highlights of this derivative dross were Helen Flanagan jiggling and grumpy John Burton-Smith offering rivals “a chef’s handshake.”

*WHAT was that on Yvette ‘Most Haunted’ Fielding’s upper lip? It looked suspiciously like the ghost of a moustache...

*TV Maths: Mike Smith + Joe Longthorne = Herbert from Celebrity Super Spa.

PEGGY Mitchell made a welcome but demented return to EastEnders, flying in from Portugal for a five minute hospital visit. Odd, in previous episodes they said was living in Cornwall, with all the other piskies. Peg reminded Phil she was his “muvva” and set him up with a nurse. She didn’t even mention Gwant; and he didn’t ask her how she got to be Queen of Bingo... or who wrote her awful come-back dialogue.

*PEGGY’S first-ever words to Phil? “Get outta my womb!”

ON Naked & Afraid two strangers – a man and a woman – are dumped in a proper jungle without food, clothes or water. What a series of First Dates that would make! For 21 days, they fall out of trees, get food poisoning and generally look about as happy as a vegan in a fried chicken shop. On the plus side, the diet works.

*WORST place to be naked & afraid? Big Mo’s bedroom.

*THEY had a faceless corpse on Whitechapel, just as you’d find in most government departments. His actual kisser had been placed on an art exhibition plinth. The killer chose the face rather than the backside as there are already enough arseholes on plinths all over the country.

Random Irritations: ITV1 persisting with one-joke Keith Lemon. Kerry Katona’s house on Keyhole – so much for double bankruptcy. Cliché tennis on X Factor: “You nailed it,” “You owned it”, “You knocked it out the park.”

Small Joys Of TV: Brenda Blethyn’s Tom Baker-style hat and scarf combo on Vera. Dave Gorman’s Modern Life Is Goodish. Souli Roots (until she sings). The life-affirming Fabulous Fashionistas – shame we can’t find TV time for fabulous funny-men over sixty.

MYSTERIES even Brian Cox can’t explain: why do the people with the least to say always talk the longest on mobile phones? Why is the first person in the traffic lights queue the last to see they’ve changed? And where exactly is Big Mo living on EastEnders?

Sept 15. VANESSA Feltz hit Celebrity Big Brother like an XXL avenging angel to ask why the housemates were “such a bunch of whinging moaners.” Staging a fake radio show, Vanessa read out viewers’ verdicts, denouncing Carol as “nasty... bitter and self-centred... sulky” and a “farting drunk from Hell.” Childish bed-wetter Charlotte, 23, was “an idiot” and “a fake”; Mario “a game-playing slime-ball”; while Vicky was “a moaner”, who seemed constantly “f***ed-off”. Although in fairness Vic did improve when she unleashed her inner Janice Battersby.

The miserable shower had it coming. Celebs get paid bundles to doss around for three weeks. The least they could do is put some effort in. Oddly, producers’ favourite Lauren wasn’t told that she is a needy, attention-seeking nightmare. But Vanessa did grill Courtney about her lacklustre reaction to her husband’s surprise visit. Some reckon their marriage is in trouble. Well, it was never a meeting of minds. But I doubt it. Without that ring, she’s just another fake-boobed bimbo and Hollywood has more of them than it has palm trees.

Big Brother raised the stakes again by having Rylan stage a bitch-fest with ex-housemates. Danielle, the unknown Dubliner, dubbed Louie Spence “a pirouetting piranha.” Spence snarled back: “You’re still trying to build up your profile and nobody gives a f***.” Which was true of her, but of him as well. Louie has gone a long way for a tediously camp bloke doing leg splits. We were left with a final full of people it was hard to give a rat’s arse about.

Maybe next time Big Bro should fine contenders half their appearance fees if they don’t live up to their reputation. You’re opinionated, outrage us! You’re an Essex sex god, seduce someone. Otherwise, just threaten to send Vanessa in Miley Cyrus style on a wrecking ball – no-one wants to see that.

*ANY chance of Feltz invading X Factor next? What is the point of the double auditions? If contenders bomb in front of the crowd, judges put them through on the basis of their previous performance anyway.

*QUOTE of the series. Carol McGiffin: “I wish I had a talent.” So do we, love. So do we.

*ABZ spent hours teaching Courtney about moths. Sadly she never got to grips with a golden rod or a marbled beauty.

RONNIE Mitchell is back on EastEnders. She looks tired, listless and permanently dazed. So prison has made no difference to her whatsoever. Ludicrously Kat, whose child Ronnie stole, turned up at the prison gates to show her baby pictures. Not only is this unlike any Cockney woman you’ve ever met, it’s completely unlike Kat. Mad bird nicks your new-born son, puts you (and viewers) through months of agony... of course you’d offer her a bed for the night. If you were a nun with the world’s biggest bleeding heart... But a Slater? Gertcha. It’d be easier to believe Jack would be there for her. Yes, she hurt him but he hasn’t had a woman since April. The poor sod must be hornier than Russell Brand in a hall of mirrors. Or Cyril Smith in a boys club. Why do you think his shirts are so sweaty? It gets lonely in that office and he does have a high-speed internet connection...

*RONNIE left prison with no possessions. You know what this means? Two years in the same pair of drawers. Dirty cahw.

*JAY was reading my column in the caff. Ta. Oddly though, the page was from 2009 when I called for EastEnders to be shut down. Isn’t that like President Assad reading John Kerry’s blog? Sadly there are no plans to launch cruise missiles at Walford at present. Obama is up for it, but it turns out Putin is a big fan of Phil Mitchell.

*PAPERS from 2009? Strewth. And you thought Alfie’s shirts were out of date...

SEX: A Horizon Guide was about as stimulating as Page 3 of the Catholic Herald. You’d learn more about sexual technique from Play Your Cards Right (“higher, higher, lower... ”) They did persuade a couple to make love in an MRI scanner, though. The footage showed that the manhood bends “like a boomerang” during intercourse. Talk about a flexible friend. If nothing else it gives fellas a new angle. “I don’t want to do it here either, darling, but we must – it’s for science.”

*HORIZON covered getting AIDS from sex; not to be confused with Bill Clinton who got sex from aides. They also recalled Alfred Kinsey’s findings that 50% of women asked confessed to “an erotic experience with another woman.” We don’t know who this woman is, but the chances are she’s feeling pretty knackered.

HOT on TV: Peaky Blinders... The Wipers Times... Phil Davis (Whitechapel)... Top Boy finale.

ROT on TV: England v. Ukraine... Chickens – fowl... Big Star Little Star – big build-up, little interest... shifty Nick Knowles – looks like he should be in the dock, not hosting a TV quiz show.

BAKE Off kept up its fine innuendo quota with Ali confiding “I think I know someone who is going to have a soggy bottom” – which I believe was also Stephen Fry’s chat-up line. Elsewhere there was talk of “a cracking tart”, “a lovely ring”, and “one big explosion in the mouth” while Ali “rolled it out to two meters”, which though impressive, sadly wasn’t enough to keep him in the show.

*SELINA Scott says that once your age exceeds your bust size at the BBC you’re fired. Phew. At least Victoria Coren has a few decades left then.

*KYLIE Minogue is joining The Voice. Will she need a booster seat?

*THE real highlight of watching The X Factor? Ordering a pizza and realising a previous winner is delivering it.

*BLACKOUT asked what would happen if we lost our electricity supply. Basically it was Revolution without a plot.

*RACHEL Riley admits “I’ve always been clumsy.” She’s certainly helped spill a lot of seed.

Random Irritations: X Factor ‘double auditions’ – as pointless as San Moreno. Sky ‘comedy dramas’ which are neither. Blackout’s relentlessly bleak view of human nature. Roy Hodgson’s brand of Fantasy Football - he fantasises England have a chance in 2014.

Small Joys Of TV: Sarah Millican. Sound Of Cinema. Stand-up Mick Ferry. Karl’s downfall (Corrie). Louie Spence describing Danielle Marr as “an extra trying to over-egg it.”

SEPARATED at birth: Big Brother’s Vicky Entwistle and Chucky from Child’s Play – one a scowling red-haired horror, the other a puppet.

IS the human race still evolving? No, says David Attenborough. The evidence against? Geordie Shore...

Other TV questions: Vanessa Feltz, is she any relation to Fuzzy? Why aren’t those hammy Masterchef hosts known as Torode and Tirade?

Sept 8. HIGH drama on EastEnders as Phil Mitchell was involved in a near-fatal car crash. Yeah, another one... The £1million stunt resulted in at least two bobs’ worth of on-screen excitement. For reasons that were never fully explained, Carl White – the Square’s latest unconvincing gangster – raced behind the Blackwall Tunnel like The Stig with a death wish, or Maureen Rees on crank. Talk about reckless. There were joy-riders going “Oi mate, calm yerself down.”

Carl finally careened into a breakers’ yard where potato-headed Phil was thrown through the windscreen – a scene that Harry Hill would have probably recreated with a dinky car and a King Edward. The air-bag didn’t kick in – they’d left Shirley behind. But Phil’s seat-belt apparently disintegrated on impact.

So what was the point? Carl risked his own life to frame Max for attempted manslaughter, and win back Kirsty. It’s a demented plan, although more believable than Phil trusting Jay and Dexter to transport £10K in cash back from the New Forest for him. Or Denise’s unaccountable love for Ian, a rat-faced Muppet who is tighter than Sharon Osbourne’s face in a wind tunnel.

In fairness Kirsty is extremely desirable – she and Max spend so much time ripping each others’ clothes off it’s a wonder they don’t replace every zip and button with Velcro tear strips. No idea why Phil needed an air ambulance though; Queen Elizabeth’s hospital is just down the road, with many fine paramedics on stand-by. Or why the big lug suddenly decided to work with Carl, who he’d hated the week before. Or how anyone would think this would kill him. Phil is soap’s answer to Captain Scarlet. He’s survived fires, heart attacks, crack cocaine addiction, sex with a Terrahawk and at least three road traffic accidents. EastEnders constantly repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce; and now tedium. It’s trapped in the past; as out as touch with modern East London as the Kray Twins appreciation society or the ghost of Ben Tillett.

*I’D have enjoyed the crash a lot more if Carl’s boot had sprung open on impact to reveal stowaway Cindy inside counting stolen cash, or if he’d collided into another chemi-khazi that Tamwar had got hilariously locked inside.

“HOW can so much horror be visited on such a small area?” asked Ed Buchan on Whitechapel, although he could just as easily have been speaking about The X Factor audition room. Whitechapel has suffered Jack The Ripper, the Krays, and now... witchcraft! But at least so far no Jedward... The series returned with a dosser (possibly a rogue Bulgarian hitman) being crushed to death with paving slabs, a murdered rat and an old dear burnt at the stake. Evil was afoot; a demon was mentioned - he must have been responsible for the lighting. This place is as dim as Robbie Jackson and twice as creepy. It was noir before the Scandinavians.

WE’RE told that Carol McGiffin is “a great housemate” on CBB, which translates as a hard-faced, back-stabbing old lush. We have found her hidden quality in here, though. Extreme flatulence. If Big Brother had fitted her backside with a wind chime everyone would be complaining of tinnitus. She’s produced more ill wind than Hurricane Sandy. ‘Reality TV’ always turns actual reality on its head. Poor old Bruce Jones was portrayed as a bad-tempered grump for complaining when screeching juveniles woke up the entire bedroom. While the bookies’ favourites include bedwetting Charlotte and self-centred train wreck Lauren, who forgets to flush the toilet after using it. There’s classy. When Mario looks like being the only half-decent person left in the final, you know the world’s gone crazy.

*CHARLOTTE screamed her head off in the diary room. What got into her? Just wine and vodka as usual...

*DID you see Sophie and Courtney behind bars? Not so much Wentworth Prison as W*nkworth, writes Keith Lemon.

HOT on TV: Daisy Beaumont, Whitechapel... Top Boy... Ray Donovan (Sky Atlantic)... Suranne Jones, Sky1’s A Touch Of Cloth 11.

ROT on TV: House Of Lies (Sky Atlantic) – crock of crap... Harrow (Sky1) – goodbye... Pat & Cabbage – written by vegetables... Doc Martin – give it the boot... Ade In Adland – as pointless as Bruno Tonioli.

ON Bake Off celebrity lesbian Sue Perkins implored the bakers to “get those lady fingers soggy.” Thank god they’ve resisted the temptation to litter this cosy format with unseemly innuendos... . Elsewhere Becca was accused of having tiny macaroons, one poor bloke learnt “it just wasn’t as firm as it should be.” And orange financiers were topped with kumquat... which sounds like a scene from a Belfast brothel. Oh and Deborah accidentally used Howard’s custard. Such excitement! At least Becs had a lovely shine on her ganache.

OUR reactions to Strictly Come Dancing are generally split along gender lines. With women, it’s ‘Mmm, sequins’. With men, ‘Mmm, Kristina.’ The show makes national treasures of the strangest people – John Sergeant! Widdecombe! Even President Assad could do well with the right partner. Come on down gorgeous George Galloway.

*OUR weekends are full of karaoke, ballroom dancing and rotten game-shows. It’s like being trapped at Pontins. You daren’t go out though. If you do there’s every chance Keith Lemon will break in and rifle through your smalls.

*BBC now: Strictly Come Dancing. BBC then: strictly come groping.

*WHY aren’t those Viking Cruise people ever taken in for questioning? They’re at every ruddy ITV crime scene...

*ON Celebrity Masterchef contenders had to tackle a ‘rabbit three-ways’. Hmm. Sounds like a quiet night in for Geri Halliwell... PS. Didn’t I tell you Ade would win?

*KEVIN McCloud advised a couple that “concrete can be luxurious.” Must be why you see so many homeless people in underpasses.

*CORRECTION: Sharon Osbourne’s face is not full of Botox, as previously reported. It’s all plaster of Paris.

*SAD about Hayley on Corrie (are they sure it’s not prostate cancer?) but I’m more disturbed by the thought of Audrey’s damp patch...

Random Irritations: Robert Peston’s Dalek voice. Mel and Sue’s Bake Off ‘banter’. Peter Jones’s ‘trademark one-liners’ - as old as the hills. BBC News’s relentless pro-war coverage of Syria.

Small Joys Of TV: Irish stand-up Aisling Bea. Paul Chowdhry. A League Of Their Own.

SEPARATED at birth: Corrie’s Robert Vaughn and Jake Hamilton-Jones? One worked with modern-day Muppets... the other’s a character on That Puppet Show. Runners-up: bearded Jeremy Paxman and a Meet The Monkeys macaque.

*TV Maths: Michael Jackson + Harpo Marx = Lauren Harries

*AISLING Bea on joggers: “Why would you go running if you’re not being chased?”

I wrote this for the Daily Star website on 2nd Sept: Strictly is back - hurrah! And the big question is: how many minutes will go by in show one before Brucie trots out some lame Murder on the Dance Floor joke for Sophie Ellis-Bextor? Ditto, a rib-tickling “enter the dragon” remark for Deborah Meaden... Those of us hoping for real dance floor murders will probably be pinning our hopes on Hairy Biker Dave Myers. But I reckon Dave will move just like Travolta in that film. Not Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction when he gets machine-gunned. Seriously he’s the contestant most likely to make Anne Widdecombe look graceful.

BBC1 have recruited Julien Macdonald too. Great. Hey next year why not try booking some celebrities? At least we know who Deborah Meaden is. But I won’t be investing in Deborah to win. If she’s anything like she is in the den, she’ll drop out of everything they ask her to get involved in saying “I’ll tell you where I am – on the Green Room settee with my feet up”. What is she even in this for? She can’t need the money. Hilary Devey would have been a better booking. Deborah looks like she could be storing her entire appearance fee in her cheeks. Talk about Hamsters R Us.

Then there’s Mark Benton, you know the fat bloke out of Waterloo Road. Blimey. I hope BBC1 has reinforced their dance floor. Whatever he’ll be tripping, it won’t be light... or fantastic. If there are any termites under the boards he’ll deafen ’em. Although in fairness Mark has been hoofing his way through Hairspray for a while, so he won’t be the worst.

Nor will Natalie Gumede. And even if she was, would anyone dare say so? We’ve seen her in action as Kirsty on Corrie. One smart remark from Craig Revel Horwood and she could start dancing on his head... in my dreams, daah-ling. Shallow men will be excited by the presence of the radiant Rachel Riley. I’m told her fandango is mouth-watering. Vanessa Feltz may surprise a few people. She is a determined woman and has had lots of experience with bands, most of them gastric.

Susana Reid, known to Daybreak viewers as “Who?”, is definitely one to watch too. A game girl, Susana gets up with the cock to present BBC Breakfast news and the idiots had the cheek to tell her to cover up. Will they try and get her waltzing in a duffle-coat? Don’t do it Su! Give us the full Miley Cyrus instead.

Abbey Clancy is a great booking. Even if she can’t dance she will look sensational. She says her fitness levels are low so at least that lucky bastard Peter Crouch can look forward to some heavy breathing phone calls. Ashley Taylor Dawson, better known as bad boy Darren from Hollyoaks looks pretty fit, and rugby hero Ben Cohen seems likely to do well. I’m not so sure about Tony Jacklin. Brilliant golfer, of course, but he’s 69 now and stone deaf. Let’s hope he takes it easy out there or Patrick ‘Ash’ Robinson could be breaking out his Casualty uniform. Some dancers need a choreographer, Jacklin may well need a chiropractor.

Fiona Fullerton completes the line-up. Best known as Pola Ivanova in the Bond films, the fragrant actress admits to being “trying” and will probably do for televised dancing will culls do for badgers. Only time will tell if this mix of faces will win us over, but the odds are good. At heart, Strictly is warm family viewing that makes national treasures of the strangest people – John Sergeant! Widdecombe! Even President Assad of Syria could do well on this, with the right partner. Come on down, gorgeous George Galloway! Which just leaves the big questions: will Bruce ever tell a decent joke? (No) Which of these contestants are likely to ‘do a Joe and Kristina’ and put the ball in glitter ball? (I’ve opened a book; Dave Myers isn’t in the running.) And will OIa ever cover up her midriff? I sincerely hope not.

Sept 1st. A SINGING prison warder was the break-out star of last night’s X Factor, which was apt as a few people on the show looked like they’d just escaped from one. But hey, enough about the judges. Likeable screw Sam Bailey, 35, from Leicester, delivered a sensational version of Beyoncé’s Listen which had Gary Barlow telling her “Cuff me, it’s a yes.” She has passion, power and a voice that should take her straight through to the judge’s pretend houses and beyond.

ITV’s juggernaut karaoke contest returned with cosmetic changes but no real surprises. The format is rock solid. They had the requisite rotten performances of course. Those poor microphones take more punishment than Charlotte Crosby’s liver.

If J Star’s torturous demolition of Hallelujah had gone on much longer Cameron would have been calling for military intervention. He sounded like Alexandra Burke being channelled by Mad Jean Slater. “You sang it like a ghost,” said Sharon Osbourne, and in truth J’s voice would curdle ectoplasm.

Other nitwits included waiter Christian who came out in shorts singing “Set Me Free” which unfortunately sounded like “Suck Me Free” and who impressed Sharon with his “big package.” High-pitched Dudley who Sharon claimed “sang like a dolphin” and who hit notes only Joe Pasquale could hear. And would-be rocker Fil Henley, 30 – that’s Phil with an F, as in “F off” – whose bad-boy rock image was blighted slightly by the shock revelations that he lives with his parents, his Mum packed his sandwiches, and is clearly about as wild and reckless as Cliff Richard having an afternoon nap.

Andy Muirhead, 20, had Sharon in hysterics with the line "I mess my pants". Mrs. O was on the floor! If there’s one unifying factor in this, it’s her. Sharon who has brought a real sense of playful mischief and unpredictability to the judging panel. Like the small room auditions, her return is a breath of fresh air. She’s a proper live wire, all giggles and bad language. FAAAB-ULOUS! Who cares what the others are going to say? Sharon is the straight-talking wild card. You know when Shazza loves something – unlike Gary Barlow who can say “I’m quite excited about you” while looking like an undertaker at a particularly grim wake.

Of all the women on last night’s show, Sharon’s the one most likely to start twerking. She really doesn’t give a monkey’s what she says. In many ways she’s like a more mischievous version of Simon Cowell, but with smaller boobs.

Mrs. O can relate to the contenders too, like Hannah, a troubled teen whose father had died and who had fallen out with her Mum (first sob story of the series) but who delivered a masterful version of Emile Sandé’s ‘Read All About It’. Louis told her “You have such a sad face”, which is just what a 17-year-old girl wants to hear. Sharon, who occasionally looked like his carer, reprimanded the old codger saying “You can tell you haven’t got kids” before giving the girl some tough maternal love. Also promising was Tamera, 16 from Gravesend, Kent, the better half of the duo Silver Rock, who has an amazing soul voice. Could she be the next Leona?

Of course there were plenty of decent but unexceptional singers like Luke Friend with his unwashed hair or squeaky clean Tom Mann. Maybe one of them is the Joe McElderry or Christopher Baloney of tomorrow. Woo-hoo! But all the time ITV can deliver singers of real quality, deluded loons and lively judging this show will stay at the top of the ratings. The global success of One Dimension has made the X Factor invincible. We know it’s unlikely to find the next Robert Plant, Smokey Robinson or Paul Weller, but so what? It is what it is: entertainment. And no matter how jaded we get about the format, The X Factor still has the power to tug the heart strings and make dreams come true. Just ask prison warder Sam.

SAM had given up singing to have a family. She didn’t rush, she didn’t dress up, she didn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t... I suppose some might call her a slow comfortable screw.

SHARON Osbourne copes well with all the painful singing, freakish antics, and shambolic dancing. For her, it’s just like being at home.

CHARLOTTE from Geordie Shore wet the bed on Celebrity Big Brother. There’s classy, pet. Some old fogeys might remember when fame demanded a little bit more than the ability to lose control of your bladder and bowels. They might also suggest that her life is as empty as the salad drawer in Beth Tinker’s fridge. But Charlotte has no regrets. She said of Geordie Snore: “I had sex on telly cos it’s what I normally do.” Well it would certainly liven up Countryfile. Carol McGiffin called her “a Geordie slag”, which is outrageous and wrong as I understand she comes from Sunderland. If she fancied anyone in the house, there’s a good chance that Charlotte would also do a ‘Michelle and Stuart’ on air too – and probably on the dining room table rather than under it. Big Ron had a lucky escape.

*WHO missed the loo with their poo? Not Charlotte. She would have owned up to it, loudly and proudly. Maybe Louie did a quick pirouette mid-poop?

*IN Big Bro’s eating contest, housemates had to consume various vile offerings. What a novel idea. What next? Maybe bury them in an avalanche of jungle bugs. I don’t think that’s been done...

*CBB producers were so horrified by Big Ron’s bomb joke that they broadcast it. This is called having your cake and eating it, or in Charlotte’s case punching it to buggery.

*TV Maths: alien + alpaca = Lauren ‘Big Bird’ Harries.

OVER on Bake Off they were looking for a “long, hard ten inches”. It was important not to be “unacceptably thick”, though. And if you use the wrong technique, experts cautioned, “the result will be soft or bendy” which is no good for anyone. And if that were in Ruby’s dressing room, I’d have been interested but they were only making bread sticks... Still we did learn that Ruby’s muffin has been “perfectly worked” (pleased to hear it). And “if you don’t put it in in the first place it’s easier to get rid of.” If only someone that told Nick and Kylie that on Corrie...

HOT on TV: A Touch Of Cloth II (Sky1)... Sam Bailey, X Factor... Lorraine Borroughs, Top Boy (C4).

ROT on TV: Chickens (Sky1) – clucking awful... Stepping Out – switching off... Break The Safe – Nick Knowles wants locking up.

SHAME Top Boy writer Ronan Bennett didn’t research police procedure as well as he did ghetto drug gangs. Michael, 12, would not have been interviewed without an appropriate adult. The interview wouldn’t have been recorded with a digital camera. The previous arrest process was also wrong. These clumsy mistakes mar a great show.

*ONLY Connect’s Victoria Coren is smart, sharp and funny, and yet all some blokes go on about is the size of her breasts. It’s childish and demeaning to a woman of her obvious intelligence. Granted, Victoria’s voice grates, but you could always blot that out by burying your head in her chest. Talk about Attack Of The Zeppelins.

*WE got oral sex and a woman wetting herself in the opening minutes of Wentworth. It’s Cell Block H for the Geordie Shore generation. New prisoner Bea looked puzzled when she stumbled on lesbian antics (it was just cons-fusing.) All she got her lips around was a portion of crystal meth; although both leave a funny taste in the mouth apparently.

*ON Masterchef, the never modest Janet Street-Porter made a fish pie inspired by herself: old trout, red snapper, over-heated hammerhead, a load of scallops...

*THE EastEnders yoof team visited the New Forest. It was difficult to tell where the trees stopped and Abi’s tree trunk legs started. That girl needs better birth control. How about sticking a picture of Cora stark naked on the headboard?

*RE Nick Hewer: Who Do You Think You Are? BBC1: Why do you think we care?

Random Irritations: Howard’s dreary voice on Bake Off. Shane Warne’s drivelling cricket commentary. Sky’s ludicrous attempt to rebrand teams outside the Premier as “FL72”. Jellied eels being included in CBB’s eating challenge – an insult to London culture. Gertcha.

Small Joys Of TV: Dara O’Briain. Richard Pryor - Omit The Logic (BBC4). Non-stop sight gags on A Touch Of Cloth II including pole dancers doing Irish jigs and John Hannah’s hard-on (not to mention Peter ‘Pete Beale’ Dean and Mrs McCluskey from Grange Hill at Todd Carty’s funeral... )