Monday, 22 December 2008

Spare us the Christmas specials

Well, the Christmas specials are certainly starting to come in thick and fast this week.
And all we can say is... make it stop. Please.
For One Night Only (ITV1, Sat) with Tom Jones, The Charlotte Church Nutcracking Christmas Special (C4, Sun), All Star Mr and Mrs Christmas Special (ITV1, Sat) and the awful Clash of the Santas (ITV1, Sun)... fun isn’t the word.
In fact, the word is something we probably can’t write in this blog.
Perhaps most gruesome of all was After You’ve Gone (BBC1, Sun).
This is the embarrassingly bad comedy created by the people who bought you My Family, with Nicholas Lyndhurst playing a (deservedly) abandoned dad and Celia Imrie as his utterly dull mother in law.
We’ve only previously caught the last five minutes or so on a Friday night (usually when switching over for Have I Got News for You), but even from this fleeting glimpse you could see it was very, very bad.
Nothing could prepare us for the full half hour experience though.
The Christmas plot, if you can use such a word to describe this kind of material, involved a burglary, a house swap and a hilarious case of mistaken identity.
A teenage son, who obviously had some kind of specials needs which was never quite explained, was also involved in a sub plot about selling toy dolls.
And Tracy Beaker was around for some of the time too as a teenage daughter. She didn’t get too many lines though. Lucky her.
It was only towards the end of this dire show that it suddenly struck us.
Nicholas Lyndhurst was once a part of the must-see show of the Christmas TV schedule (Fools and Horses). Now look at him.
If you think you’ve had a bad year, what with the credit crunch and all that, at least console yourself with one thought.
You’re not Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Best thing on the telly all weekend was actually a kids' drama, Dustbin Baby (BBC1, Sun) - about troubled teen April (Dakota Blue Richards) and her foster mum (Juliet Stevenson).
Penned by Jacqueline Wilson, it had a good story (a baby abandoned at birth and shoved in a dustbin at a pizza parlour), fine acting, warmth and a real Christmassy feel - despite having nothing at all to do with the festive season.
With the afternoon darkness outside, the twinkling lights on the tree, a large tin of Quality Street on the go and a reasonably happy ending, this was indeed a perfect yuletide family drama.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sick of Christmas food programmes yet?

Well, we don't know about you but we're sick of the sight of food and Christmas hasn't even begun properly yet.
TV schedulers have gone a bit barmy with their festive food programmes this week.
First Nutty Nigella (Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, BBC2 Mon-Thurs) and her glamorous tagine feasts and deep freezers that "do all the hard work" when you're cooking. (Unfortunately, they don't trudge to Tesco in the rain and lug all the ingredients back home though, do they Nige?)
Then Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall showed us what Christmas at River Cottage (C4, Weds) was all about.
Mostly shooting perfectly harmless deer by the looks of it. Very unnecessary.
And finding out how to make Brussels sprouts palatable to someone who doesn't like Brussels sprouts. By covering them with black pudding and deep frying, allegedly.
Common to both these programmes was a major scene where the host's friends would turn up for a mind blowing Christmas meal involving delicious food and wine and merry-making.
Husbands, wives and children did not appear to have been invited.
We imagined them cold and friendless, sitting in a room next door watching EastEnders while all the fun was going on so close to them.
Wives and children were, however, present in Willie's Perfect Chocolate Christmas (C4, Weds).
The Willie in question here being ever so eccentric Willie Harcourt-Cooze, a man who cannot stop thinking about chocolate ever.
Yeah? So what's so eccentric about that?
This was one of those slightly tongue-in-cheek Channel Four jobbies where we got to see the everyday family life of our hero - including scenes with his "long suffering" wife and "adorable" kids in their rambling country home.
It was obviously supposed to come across as an endearing look at the chaotic life of this maverick cook and the people who love him.
But in reality, it just came across as one big festival of utter smugness.
And there wasn't nearly enough chocolate...

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Strictly - why are we bothering?

It's been a bad, bad few weeks for Strictly Come Dancing.
Now we know it's daft to accuse a programme that involves more fake tan than you'd find in Dale Winton's bathroom of being artificial.
But that's how it feels now. A show full of phoneys. With the exit of Christine, all the nice genuine celebs, the ones we were rooting for, have gone. As have our reasons for voting. We'd put in a few calls for Cherie (doing it for the more mature ladies, amazing legs) until she went. Also John Sergeant, because he capered around with such glee. And Jodie Kidd and Christine were nice gals who had managed to cling on to that crucial attitude - perspective.
Without them, the show's gone whistling off into La-La land. Are there even any ordinary members of the public watching in that audience now, or is it just ex-soap stars and radio hosts?
Meanwhile, Bruceh is frantically ta-ra-ra-boom-deh-ah-ing like there's no tomorrow and Tess is turning into a peroxide Cilla Black all in an attempt to distract us from the fact that most of the personality has been squeezed from the show.
And what to make of Luvvie Lisa and her hissy fits? "Our sis-taaah is going frew HELL!" stomped Lisa's siblings. "Emotionally, it's unbelievable for her" chimed in her dad. Meanwhile we get to see yet ANOTHER close-up of weepy Lisa, wiping away whole ink-cartridges of mascara because "the public don't like me!" Gee, I wonder why.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Silksy should have stayed!

So East Midlands MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk became the first to be voted out of the jungle in I'm a Celebrity last night.
And it was pretty obvious to everyone he didn't deserve to go.
He was merely the victim of an unfortunate set of circumstances.
First, having initially been cast as the villain of the piece (and getting shed loads of lovely camera attention because of it), his "crown" was somewhat stolen with the arrival of the marvellous David Van Day.
The ex-Dollar singer has done nothing but sulk, argue, and generally stir up masses of trouble. In other words, he's turned what was set to be a bit of a boring series into an instant classic.
No wonder Silksy retreated into the background and left the pint sized porker to it.
The other thing that did for Kilroy was the insane idea to introduce those awful "immunity" trials.
It was criminal that many of the boring characters - like Carly "Who?" Zucker and Thingy from Blue - were saved from the vote.
Maybe one of them would have gone instead of Robert.
We'll never know.
But let this be a lesson to the show's producers: don't muck about with the formula.
Put your celebrities in. Let the viewers vote them out. End of.
And while you're at it, do something about those bushtucker trials. They aren't half dull this year...
Oh yes and another thing. DVD to win!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Strictly - The Sergeant Scandal

An absolute scandal. That’s what it is.
“Dancing pig”. “A dancing dis-arse-ter”. How are you supposed to carry on blithely with such comments ringing in your ears?
The fact beaming John Sergeant has managed to appear onscreen each Saturday sporting a smile above the spangles – and, in the process, brought a national feelgood factor unseen since Jonathan Ross took three months’ leave - is testament alone to his strength of personality.
The four Strictly judges should hang their heads in shame. They’ve driven the people’s choice out of the competition.
Their tactless championing of fancy footwork over feelgood frippery has cast a huge cloud over what is – no matter what anybody says – an ENTERTAINMENT show.
John says he feels forced to step down because there’s now a real danger he might win the show. So what? His performances are often more entertaining than some of his self-regarding rivals’ combined.
Besides, no matter what the judges said John COULD dance and we could see it. Perhaps he wasn’t so technically brilliant as Luvvie Lisa Snowdon and co but the vicious criticism and lowly marks he received were wholly unjust and prompted his massive popularity.
For the past few series, Strictly’s voting viewers and po-faced judges (who decide, between them, who goes) have been locked in an arm wrestle. There have even been rule changes to suit Craig, Arlene, Len and Bruno, with rumours of more next year.
Matters came to a head in the case of John. The meaner they were, the more we loved him. He was even blamed for good dancers falling by the wayside… but surely his continued presence only gave them a week’s grace, at best?
It’s purely the presence of ordinary Joe dancers like John that keep millions tuning in – and voting - week after week. In fact, could the BBC please offer us a refund on the cash we spent supporting him?
If Strictly were just about the “darnce”… like its predecessor Come Dancing, most of us would waltz off to the X Factor. Now John’s gone… well, we may do just that.

Kilroy the Cheat...

So, it was Robert Kilroy-Silk’s first bushtucker trial in the I’m a Celeb jungle - and what a cheating rat bag he turned out to be.
In a frankly rubbish task, he claimed some of the keys for the padlocks holding him in chains in the scary dark chamber “weren’t working” properly.
So when he popped open the lid and announced:"I've won!"- Ant and Dec had to point out that the reason he couldn’t get out was because he hadn’t opened the final lock correctly.
And he had to go back inside until he’d undone it properly.
Course, by this time, rival Joe Swash had won the posh nosh for his team mates in “Camp Camp.”
Kilroy wasn’t happy.
But then how can you hope to compete with someone who has “protected and loved from above” written on his bum?
The trial was actually far less interesting than the other stuff happening on the show - especially now the two teams have become one and two new celebs are set to come in.
So far, George looks like he’s having a ball, Brian and Dani have both turned out to be proper stirrers and Esther is just lovely.
Joe is emerging as the life and soul of the party, while Martina seems to be sinking fast - she’ll have to get her act together if she’s going to make any kind of impact.
Can't really remember the others, they're so dull. And as for our resident villain Kilroy, he’ll have the chance to prove himself again as the public has chosen him to do the silly “Travolting” dance thing.
Unfortunately, some dimwit at ITV has decided we won’t see this spectacle tonight because the football is on instead. Grrr.
Still, we can always entertain ourselves by singing songs, like the ones Joe loves.
Altogether now: “Olly, olly, olly...”

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Joe's a true gag man...

It looks like Joe Swash is in danger of becoming this year’s serial bushtucker trial taker out in the I’m a Celeb jungle.
After many years of playing dull old Mickey Miller in Easties, who knew the squeaky voiced cockney could be so brilliantly entertaining under duress?
If he keeps this up, none of the other contestants are going to get a look in.
Last night, it was the familiar old “bug eating” trial - coming surprisingly early in this year’s series.
And Joe vs world famous internationally renowned, honest, glamour model Nicola did not disappoint.
Surely she’d been practicing beforehand though? How else do you explain the confident way she ate those live crickets?
Joe on the other hand was a total wreck. Loved the way he kept apologising for his “gagging reflex.” Ant and Dec nearly wet themselves.
Elsewhere, gay police chief Brian Paddick clashed briefly with East Midlands MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk.
The former had “won” a visit to see what life was like in grotty old Away Camp.
Kilroy welcomed him by telling him to "clear off"- although the big smirk on his face hinted he might have been, you know, joshing.
Poor Brian was not amused though - arriving back in his own camp to tell his mates how horrid the nasty orange man was to him and how he nearly cried he was so scared. Bless.
The sooner they dispense with the silly “split teams” and get these two together permanently, the better.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Strictly blog - Cherie departs

Well, what an absolute blimmin' scandal!

No, not John Sergeant's continued survival, against all odds.

But the judges' shocking decision to part with the balletic grande dame of ballroom Cherie in the dance-off.

Instead, three of the four plumped for Lisa "George Clooney's girlfriend? REALLY?" Snowdon and her dance partner Brendan "petulant twit" Cole.

And those four claim to know about dancing. Last night, it was only the normally mad-as-cheese Bruno who made any sense, voting to keep Cherie.

It's insipid performances of the kind Lisa churns out week after week that are responsible for John's popularity. At least he has charm and a bit of personality. There's not a glimpse of the prima donna about him.

Likewise Cherie whose cha-cha may not have been up to the pristine standard of her ballroom but was, nevertheless, jaw-droppingly age-defying. She WAS our favourite to win.

Who are we supposed to support now, we'd like to know? Smug Tom? Automaton Austin? Can the lovely Jodie and Christine improve enough? Or, perish the thought, will it be Lisa? A drama queen for a dancing queen? No, ta. We'd opt for John "stamper" Sergeant any day.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

And they're off...

Oonagh Robinson on the first episode of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here 2008...

So here we go then. The battle to find out which z-list celebrity will emerge victorious in the jungle (and, more importantly, go on to appear in the next set of Iceland adverts) is on.
Good news on one front, at least. I'd actually heard of fully seven out of the ten stars selected to appear this year - which must be something of a record with this kind of show.
I'm never that happy when they do the old "splitting the camp in two" routine as I just think it's a shame that potential sparring partners are separated.
Still, it is rather amusing when the same team keeps losing all the time.
Yes, the red team were focused, chatty and had obviously bonded before they'd even jumped out of that aeroplane.
The yellow team, on the other hand, had Robert Kilroy-Silk in it.
Great to know that our own dear old MEP will at last be doing something worthwhile for his constituents - making a complete pillock of himself for our entertainment for the next three weeks. Probably less, thinking about it. We give it about 24 hours before one of his team mates punches him for his constant bitchy comments.
Can't say I'm particularly looking forward to the boring glamour model vs Micky Miller from EastEnders in tomorrow's trial. Who votes in these things? Own up.
But here's my take on the characters so far:

Yellow Team:

Robert Kilroy-Silk - He wants to show the world he is kind, loving and compassionate. He is failing.
Esther Rantzen - The TV presenter will need to show a feistier side if she wants to avoid the "little old lady" label.
Carly Zucker - She's the fiancee of Joe Cole. I'd never heard of him either. Kilroy thinks she's a control freak, but she just seems very dull to me.
Simon Webbe - He's worried his shyness could be taken as arrogance, but he seems nice. Boringly nice.
Nicola Mclean - The glamour model did precisely nothing in the first episode, so I'm very bemused as to why she is up for the first trial. Fix, fix, fix.

Red Team:

Joe Swash - He was rather amusing in a kind of Dean Gaffney manner in that first trial. Could be a stayer.
Martina Navratilova - She thinks she's the greatest tennis player that ever was and appears to be having a great time so far. I find her irritating.
Brian Paddick - The gay policeman wants to show his butch side - but he looks like he's going to faint at virtually every moment.
Dani Behr - The bird from The Word comes across as one of those girls at school who always wins at sport. Grrr.
George Takei - If the marvellous Sulu doesn't win, I'll demand a public inquiry.
And finally:
Ant and Dec - On top form, as ever. No-one would watch it if it wasn't for them would they?

So... what did you reckon? Have your say on the Telly Talk blog!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Strictly - why Serge should stay

WELL the British public may be receiving a collective nul points from the Strictly judges for their propensity for Sergeant-voting.But we ask you – who else are we meant to vote for?A lot of the other dancers might be very nice people (Jodie and Christine, in particular) and, without exception, are better dancers than the dashing white Sergeant.But they’re all much-of-a-muchness, really. They’re all “doing their best”. They’re all on a “rollercoaster ride”. None of them want to leave yet.Don’t get us wrong – we’d like one of them to win. We’re just not sure which one. Will it be the balletic Cherie who is immaculately graceful but, if she’s forced to go quicker than a foxtrot, forgets all the steps? Or Rachel Stevens who remembers the steps but performs them all with a slightly pained expression on her face? (Incidentally, is it just us, or are Rachel’s brothers, in fact, the Mitchell brothers?) Austin or Tom, who have the dancing flair but seem just a tad too pleased with themselves? (Austin’s chest-flashing for points on Saturday was shameless!) Or luvvie Lisa with her air-kisses, twirling to Brendan’s soft-rock routines? We hope not!John may be more ha-ha-ha than cha cha cha but at least he has a distinct presence and connects with voting viewers. Enough to make you pick up your phone and keep him for another week. Even this week’s evictee Heather wants to see him in the final.Saturday was a stroll in the park for John. We don’t mean he found it easy. We mean it actually looked like he was just strolling around. There were hardly any dance steps in the thing.But it’s hilarious to watch. Strictly may be a “darnce” competition, as Craig calls it. But it’s also Saturday night entertainment. Until John’s rivals cotton on to that, he’s going to continue to skirt above the dance-off and, potentially, a place in the final awaits.

Monday, 10 November 2008


More surprises on EASTENDERS this week as it was revealed Ian’s cafe actually has a toilet.
Are we alone in never having noticed these facilities in the entire 23-year history of this soap?
And yet suddenly, there they were plain as day. They even have dual male/female usage. Fancy that.
Ian was cross because his loos were being used by the zillions of police that have descended on Albert Square because of that hit and run accident with dear old Max.
We were quite surprised about that too.
Not Ian being cross. Or the hit and run. But all the police that turned up just for a boring old "attempted murder."
We all know that Walford has played host to much worse crimes than Max’s hit and run over the years. And yet we never saw such vast numbers of police show up to investigate those, did we?
Perhaps after all these decades, the filth have finally started wondering about why such a teeny tiny section of London should be at the centre of so many murders, deaths, rapes, brutal attacks, explosions, arsons, fairground accidents (can’t forget that one, tee hee) and blackmail attempts.
Maybe there will now be an "Operation Queen Vic" to sort out this suspicious vicinity once and for all.
And some of the leading "culprits" could be hauled in for a thorough grilling.
You know the reprobates we mean... Dot... Pat... Peggy... Winston the Market Trader...
Let’s clean up this area once and for all.

Now we know Roy’s Rolls in Corrie does have a toilet because he’s so insistent about keeping it clean. You could probably eat your bacon butties off that seat, although we don’t imagine Sally Webster would relish the attempt. In fact, Sally probably never allows the words "bacon butties" to cross her lips at all. Pancetta sandwiches, if you please.
So Sally would be devastated to see the state her Rawsie’s been reduced to, in the attic at John Stape’s gran’s house. Rawsie, however, has managed to rise above five weeks of unwashed hair and severe lipgloss shortages to become a cool, chairleg-wielding type with Tombraider heavy-breathing. For the first time in years, we quite liked her.
We also finally started to take to Stape, in his final throes with his hilarious explanations to his gobsmacked girlfriend about why he had an obnoxious 16-year-old locked upstairs, very much against her will.
"It’s very comfortable up there," he protested to Fiz who, very reasonably, wanted to know why he hadn’t mentioned something before.
The whole explanation took hours, making us feel very sorry for that elderly couple outside, locked in a taxi on their anniversary.
"It’s not easy," he said, "when you’ve got someone locked in your gran’s attic."

Most confusing greeting of the week:

Good evening and welcome to Have I Got News For You. I used to be John Pertwee – Former "Doctor" Tom Baker delivers his greetings on Have I Got News For You (BBC1, Fri).

Strictly - Castle falls

It seemed a shame Andrew Castle had to leave Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, Sun)– particularly since Bumgate had finally been sorted.
"The bum is better. Obviously there are a few lumps and bumps but, overall, very nice," Craig Revel Horwood informed him with his usual diplomacy.
We were just starting to warm to the orange breakfast host with the immovable bouffant when he got evicted.
If it had been up to us to pick an evictee, we’d have chosen Tom and his ridiculous Desperate Dan chin-thrusts during the Paso. Well, that’s Holby City acting for you.
How could the judges prefer that cheesy rubbish to Jodie and Ian’s serene Pride and Prejudice waltz?

Rock on
Say what you like about Northern Rock. They had customers queuing around the block – Rory Bremner on Silly Money (Channel 4, Sunday).

Top Gear? It never gets out of first gear

We tuned into Top Gear (BBC2, Sun) for the first time ever this week.
Talk about perfect timing!
Jeremy Clarkson’s joke about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes has become the latest must-have thing for viewers to be very offended about, apparently.
Although, we have to confess, when we watched the show we weren’t outraged or offended in the slightest.
Baffled, yes. At what the heck the aging buffoon was on about.
But not offended.
And certainly not moved enough to go finding the number for the BBC... or is it Ofcom?... or Crimewatch? Indeed, how does everyone in the world seem to know who to ring in such circumstances? We wouldn’t have a blinking clue.
Anyway, back to our review.
Everyone has been telling us how great Top Gear is and how you don’t need to be interested in cars and you don’t even need to be a bloke to watch it these days.
So we tuned in eagerly expecting our sides to split with mirth. Didn’t quite work out, unfortunately.
Most of the show is filmed in some disused aircraft hangar in the middle of nowhere.
And an audience of fans is evidently shipped in every week to stand around looking like plonkers staring at Clarkson and his mates talking about cars.
You can tell Clarkson knows a lot about cars because he pronounces Volkswagen "Vokes Vaggon." Impressive.
And he tests drives Lamborghinis that cost half a million quid. So he must be good.
Trouble is, most of this particular episode was spent watching Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May mucking about with lorries.
Racing them. Crashing them into walls. Seeing if they could set them on fire. You know, really important things like that.
For a minute, we thought we’d tuned into the wrong show and were actually watching the three old geezers in Last of the Summer Wine getting up to their usual comic capers.
Is that all they do in this show then? Is that what all the fuss is about?
To be honest, we found the whole pathetic routine very embarrassing.
Maybe we should ring someone up to complain on the presenters’ behalf...

Wonderment of the week:
How many bars of Fruit and Nut would fit into the boot of a Skoda Fabia?
Maybe Clarkson and co should try that one. Norris keeps us entertained with his musings on Coronation Street.

Oddest explanation:
"The teacher in me just took over..."
John Stape from Coronation Street struggles with a plausible explanation for kidnapping Rosie Webster and holding her hostage in his granny’s attic for five weeks.

D'oh of the week:
"Stop sending me messages about the weather, I’m trying to work."
An irritable wireless operator onboard The Titanic annoys counterparts on nearby ship The Californian with a rude message. So much so, the other ship - which was just two hours away - turned its equipment off for the night. Oops.
The Unsinkable Titanic (C4, Mon)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ze Restaurant - the final

Well, what an utter travesty. Put-upon Russell and the inane smiley woman? You want to “urpen a restaurant wiz them” Raymond? REALLY?
The whole of last night’s programme – nay the whole series – seemed edited to get us onside with James and Alastair as everything on their Orient Express task went tickety-boo, apart from some exceptional fusspots objecting to being served an overcooked lobster thermidor (look, at least they spelled it right!)
We’ve been with them on the lows (various hospital emergencies, scaloops) and the highs (impeccable Orient Express service). Only for Raymond to inform us at the last they’d lost out to the Not Terribly Cheerful Souls.
As we’d thought, we spent most of last night wanting to smack Michele. Murder on the Orient Express? We wish!
Michele: “Russell, Russell. I’ve bought these gifts and I’m not sure which paper to wrap them in. Should I choose black-and-white or tissue paper? I just don’t want it to look too girly!”
Russell (through gritted teeth, up to his eyeballs in grapefruit): “Haven’t really got time for this now dear”.
Michele (on board the train): “Russell, Russell, I seem to have left the musicians at Victoria Station.”
Russell: (through gritted teeth, smashing biscuits against walls) “You’ve done WHAT love?”
Russell, meanwhile, seemed to have designed his menu especially so Michele could fling it over passengers. Champagne? Soup? Melted sorbet? Coming right at you! The only thing that didn’t fly in the poor diners’ direction was red wine, for the simple reason Michele hadn’t thought it necessary to bring any. Perhaps she’d thought the musicians could enjoy it on the station platform.
Yes, James and Alastair’s food probably wasn’t up to its normal standards. But they did, at least, work as a team.
Was it just our imagination or were they holding hands under the table as Raymond announced his verdict on who would be his new business partners?
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. We give Russell and Michele’s restaurant five months. Five months, that is, before he snaps and goes for her with a roll of wrapping paper. Or tissue paper. Something not too girly.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Russell said, in conclusion. A rollercoaster ride? On a reality show? Oh, you don’t say!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Corrie - death of Liam

IT was dress-down-Monday in CORONATION STREET as the whole cast popped on a dressing gown so they could contemplate Liam’s death.
And, in fairness, there was a lot to come to terms with. Such as the fact Tony’s never-ending stag do had finally, well, ended.
At one stage, it looked as if it was going to rumble on and on, with Deeeeev, Steve and all these other people Tony’s never spoken to in his life stumbling up and down Dean Street for eternity. As for Liam’s Top Gear death stunt – well, it was all a bit daft, wasn’t it? Corrie’s attempts to portray Liam and Carla as star-cross’d lovers, complete with their own Italian operatic soundtrack, were equally risible. We’ve seen more heat generated by Rita and Norris.
Just as ridiculous is teen kidnapper John Stape’s new status as the Websters’ trusted friend and confidante. Seriously, Sally and Kevin – you need to ask Gail Platt about parenting courses. After having watched Stape get it away with one teenage daughter, now missing, Sally’s brainwave was send him to collect other one up from school. We’re not surprised Sawphie’s sending postcards as a cry for help. She should be sending them to social services.
And, of course, Stape has Rawsie locked up in his nan’s attic. Such a useless character is he, he’s even making a hash of that. We were expecting to see Rawsie gagged and bound – instead he’s trying to engage her in little chit-chats about Jaffa Cakes. Quite rightly, Rawsie doesn’t seem particularly worried by her predicament. Instead of screaming for help, the only thing Corrie’s answer to Veruca Salt has wailed so far is: "I WANT HEAT MAGAZINE".

Do we like Gok? Not a lot

There are many things in this life we do not really understand...
Quantum physics... the lyrics to Whiter Shade of Pale... the strange layout of Debenhams in Nottingham...
But possibly the thing we understand least of all at the moment is the nation’s love of Gok Wan.
Maybe it’s the silly glasses, or that annoying uppy downy voice. Or possibly it’s just his obsession with getting women to take all their clothes off.
But while everyone else we meet seems to think he is some kind of fabulous force for empowering women, we are obviously alone in considering him a total idiot.
He was up to his old tricks again this week in Miss Naked Beauty (C4, Tues) - a contest to find a real "natural" beauty queen.
The eventual winner will, hopes Gok, become a role model to show Britain that you can be beautiful whatever you look like. Hmm.
Because Saint Gok was involved, obviously millions of women of all ages, shapes and sizes queued up to audition.
In the end, they were whittled down to about 25 - who were promptly herded into a disused swimming pool and drenched with a fire hose. Charming.
It was all to get the contestants to stop wearing make up or something, we’re not quite sure.
Anyway, inevitably, this ridiculous show was co-hosted by the ubiquitous Myleene Klass.
"What you’ve just done is amazing," she told one tearful woman who was not surprisingly very upset after the humiliating dousing. "You’re incredible."
Later Myleene dragged another woman to a mirror.
"It’s been years since you’ve seen yourself without make-up hasn’t it?" she counseled.
What really? What about before she puts her make-up on in the morning? Surely she sees herself with no make-up on then? Myleene, you’re an idiot aren’t you?
And now you mention it, why was Myleene allowed to wear make-up for this show ? And the women on the judging panel? And Gok?
It’s double standards, we tell you.
Perhaps the most telling thing about this supposed "revolution" for the UK beauty world was the 12 finalists who were picked to go on to the next round.
All were very young, very slim and very pretty.

Fern Britton

Good sport of the week:
In the middle of our worst financial crisis for 80 years, we’re going to have to tighten our belts. Not a problem for me of course! – delectable host Fern Britton on Have I Got News For You (BBC1, Fri)

Most welcome put-down of the week:
– I always think it makes you feel like a princess, eating flowers
– That’s funny, because when I eat flowers, it makes me feel like a really hungry tramp
The fantabulous Harry Hill sticks a welcome pin in the bubbles of twee spouted by Cheerful Soul Michelle in The Restaurant (ITV, Sat).

Enough with the travelogues

Can we just say that thanks very much and everything, but we have now seen quite enough travel shows involving middle aged men going on fabulous extended holidays abroad on our behalf.
Paul Merton, Stephen Fry, Griff Rhys Jones, that bloke who does the Amazon thing - we’re talking about YOU.

Ze Restaurant - who will win?

So who’s going to win ze grand final of Ze Restaurant tomorrow night? Will it be Fawlty Towers duo James and Ally with their catalogue of “catastrophes” and their scal-oops?

Or will it be Cheerful Soul Michelle with her not terribly cheerful flouncing (“tell ‘im to stuff it!”) and poor put-upon Russell?

We actually have a sneaky feeling that, against all odds, it might be James and Alasdair.

After surviving restaurant “clur-sure” so many times, we’re starting to think old Raymond has a soft spot for them.

It’s true they never make the same mistake twice (although they manage to find a whole new array of idiocies to explore each week). And yes, they urgently need training in management, business and spelling.

But we’d go and eat there, just for the spectacle (background shouts of “DON’T TOUCH THAT” and “GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN” plus the constant worry of whether we’d actually get cutlery would make it quite an experience).

On the other hand, you’d have to drag us kicking and screaming by the hair to a table at the Cheerful Soul. We don’t care how tasty Russell’s risottos are. We’d be overwhelmed by the urge to biff his glassy-eyed grinning loon of a wife.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Peter Kay on Britain's Got the Pop Factor...

Sunday was Peter Kay night on Channel 4.
This involved a pointless hour of all the jokes you’ve already seen on the DVDs and some sub-standard behind-the-scenes malarkeying.
Luckily, the rest of the evening consisted of a giant all-night spoof of the X Factor called Britain’s Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice.
We sat down to watch this with slight trepidation – despite the all-star cast Kay had assembled (Sir Paul McCartney, "Dr" Neil Fox, Nicki Chapman, Pete Waterman, Cat Deeley, Shelley off Corrie...)
After all, the X Factor practically spoofs itself now. How funny could this be?
The answer, we soon found, was oh rather.
The only tedious bit was the singing, which meant the jokes had to stop (although we did love Kay’s Home And Away duet).
First we saw the auditionees who included a pensioners version of the Sugababes who got rather narked when they weren’t picked to go through ("You’re looking at 200 years of talent here!"), a man who couldn’t get a dog to jump through a hoop (after looking at it closely, he revealed: "I’ve brought the wrong dog") and, best of all, a man who was dressed as Freddie Mercury down one side and Monserrat Caballe down the other swivelling from side to side to perform a Barcelona "duet". Better than garlic bread, that.
Eventually they were narrowed down to three finalists:
R Wayne (the Geordie version of R Kelly) "The Lark of Tyneside" who faced being booted off because his "story" wasn’t sad enough – then, luckily, his nan died
Two Up Two Down (a husband and wife quartet, two of whom were in wheelchairs.) Yes, taste flew out the window – but doesn’t it in the X Factor?
Geraldine, an Irish transexual who eventually won.
"People have been really supportive," she said, "which is funny because before this competition, they wouldn’t have p***ed on me if I was on fire. And now I believe they would."
Sadly, she was last seen choking to death on ticker tape while performing her winning ballad. "Is there a doctor in the house?" cried a panic-stricken Pete Waterman. "I’m a doctor!" shouted Dr Fox, leapfrogging over the judges’ desk. Brilliant.
We didn’t do any American history at our school. European history, yes. British history, kind of. The industrial revolution? Only 79,000 times.
But the Americans? The most powerful nation on the earth? Nope, we’ve no idea how they came to be there.
So Simon Schama (BBC2, Friday) has a mammoth task on his hands in his new series as he educates ignorant Brits prior to the US elections which, you may have heard, are taking place next month.
We do like Schama. He’s not ubiquitous, obsessed by his own celebrity.
He only goes near the gogglebox when he has something to say.
That said, there is A LOT of history to cram into four episodes, so Schama always seemed in a bit of a rush.
There’s also a tendency on British TV to belittle the Yanks and this show does occasionally fall into that trap.
This week’s "theme", for example, was the environment and Schama tut-tutted about America’s hoovering of natural resources.
"Are the Americans good at adjusting?" Schama asked two farmers, at the end.
"Not really." they admitted, before coming right back at him with "Are you? How are the Englishmen then, Simon? Bingo!" Lots of laughter.
As Schama concluded: "While American resources are in short supply, its resourcefulness is not."
A fact you can’t help but admire them for.

Comedy high of the week:

Harry and Paul’s Royal Henley Northerner Show, 2008 (BBC1).

Comedy low of the week:

Stephen Fry on Buzzcocks (BBC2). Individually, hilarious. Together, they just didn’t work.

Soapsuds - death of Liam

Poor, poor Liam Connor.
Not only did he get bumped off at the hands of the evil boggle-eyed Tone, he had to spend his last moments dressed in head-to-toe tartan, face-paint and a Tony Gordon mask.
What a way to go.
But then, perhaps Liam deserved to suffer.
For this week’s Corrie is one of the poorest run of episodes we’ve seen in ages. The storyline dragged on for loooooonger than a Deeeeev Alahan sentence, while Carla and Liam’s big break-up scene with an Italian opera backing track, was just laughable.
Liam, meanwhile, has spent most of the past month running around topless. Not a sight we object to, let’s be clear. But we’re just surprised he didn’t finally expire of pneumonia.
We’re not sure if Corrie was just trying to distract us from their other big storyline – John Stape’s cat.
But no, we’re on to them.
Anyone else reckon that moggie might just answer to the name of Rawsie?
Elsewhere, in Emmerdale, goings-on were equally ludicrous. But then, that’s Emmerdale.
While Bob plotted how to break into prison (don’t ask, we wouldn’t know where to start), Diane was wondering "how such a lovely little boy turned into a wifebeater".
The lovely little boy in question, in case you’re wondering, was lumpy-faced Andeh who has been thwacking Jaw.
Yes, Diane was probably reflecting on Andeh’s halcyon days of setting barns on fire and accidentally torching his stepmum to death. Or shooting his dad. Or impregnating local Dingle girls. Bless ‘im.
Andeh is yet another of those Emmerdale characters whose entire personality varies according to plotline. We’re getting a bit fed-up with it now.
Any chance anyone could set Tony Gordon on to him?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Strictly Boys v Girls

What precisely does GMTV’s Andrew Castle have to do to get himself into the dance-off?

The breakfast boy with the bouffant came out, clodhopped around the floor for a bit, then nearly dropped his partner, the delectable Ola, from a great height at the climax of his American Smooth.

But instead of receiving a similarly unceremonious dumping by the viewers, Andrew was allowed a stay of execution and it was Don who got the chop. Poor Don – always a gent but he never lent the show much in terms of personality or dancing ability really, did he?

And at least John Dancer Sergeant skipped free of the drop-zone, his “promenade in the park” smiley samba displeasing the judges but not the public. We’re hoping he gets the paso next week – although we think his "bit of bully" impersonation might be a little more along these lines…

Monday, 13 October 2008

Strictly - tearful Jessie departs

WE thought it was a bit of a sneaky move by the Beeb on Saturday – showing Strictly at an unfeasibly early hour so Merlin didn’t clash with the footie on ITV1.

But, we must admit, if you were looking for fabulous footwork, Cherie Lunghi and Rachel Stevens beat Ashley Cole and Gareth Barry hands down (or should that be toes?)

Overall, we felt the standard of the girls fell a little flat this week, with the exception of Cherie and Rachel. The big build-up to when men and ladies compete together seems to have gone on for far too long.

We felt very sorry for this week’s leaver Jessie Wallace – mainly because Bruce still can’t get her name right (Jenny? Jelly? Jessie?), Grumpy Len’s tactless remarks about her bosom, and the fact somebody in the wardrobe department clearly has it in for her. What WAS that pink thing?!

And even Jessie at her most stumbling is a thousand times better than some of the boys.

However, we were glad to see Jodie stay another week. She and Ian look lovely together, don’t they? Makes you wish they were an item...

So who should have gone? Well, either Lampard or Gerrard. Sorry, you mean the dancing? Haven’t got a clue.



YOU’VE got Tony, I’ve got Maria," hissed Liam at Carla on CORRIE this week.
It’s a shame we’re not casting for West Side Story then, isn’t it?
Although probably boggle-eyed Tone and twirly airhead Maria wouldn’t be our first choice as star-cross’d leads.
Liam would probably get a look-in, though, and indeed he is set for a tragic end next week. We’re a little bit cross about this. Couldn’t they have left the door open for a Liam comeback rather than executing another Connor? Michelle must be getting worried.
Anyway, there’ll be no more Malaria (as Tony refers to the amalgamation of "Liam" and "Maria") as from next week.
Poor old Liam. If Andy Sugden, over on EMMERDALE, can survive getting impaled, surely Liam could survive whatever Tony has in store for him?



That was an odd reaction from Dot the other day when Bradley rather nicely bought her a new cooker in EASTENDERS.
Imagine it. If you came home and found one of your relatives installing a fancy new cooker to replace your broken one, wouldn’t this be something you’d be quite interested in?
Call us old-fashioned, we even think you might be pleased.
Not Dot though.
She did question what Bradley was doing, but seemed more irritated than grateful.
And after scalding him for wasting his hard earned cash on such a frivolous item (hmm, they don’t seem to be very big on modern appliances in Albert Square, which is why no-one has a washing machine either), she changed the subject and walked out of the room.
Without even staying to see what the new cooker looked like. Or what brand it was. Or whether it worked.
She was a lot more interested, though, in the replacement Moggy Minor Bradley went on to buy. And the iPod.
There was even an all too brief scene where Dot was shown walking through a leafy Albert Square as Andy Williams sang Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
We found this quite enjoyable and were rather disappointed when it ended so abruptly.
But it made us think - what was the point of that then?
Indeed, it made us think - what IS the point of Dot at all these days.
Without the marvellous Jim, she’s nothing. Not funny, not tragic, not convincing at all.
So thank goodness for the news we’ve heard on the grapevine this week.
Yep. The nation’s favourite badly acted baddie Nick Cotton is coming back. Maybe there will be a point to Dot soon after all.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

- "Because it’s live TV, I’m just hoping she can produce her breast."

- "My breast?!"
- "Best! I meant best!"

Ian Waite and celeb dance partner Jodie Kidd bare all on Strictly: It Takes Two (BBC2)

Goethe had an interesting theory...
Who’s Gertie?
Why we love Roy and Becky on Corrie (ITV1, Wed)

Ze Restaurant - life's no picnic

So can anyone explain to us why so many people want to run a restaurant when they can’t actually cook?Raymond sure doesn’t seem to know. In fact, so despairing was he about all the terrible twosomes who remain in The Restaurant (BBC2, Wed), he refused, in a fit of pique, to give anyone his “Restaurant of the Week” award. And frankly, we can’t blame him.This week’s test meant the couples had to offer a take-away menu, alongside their normal service. Between them, they offered a delicious concoction of 14-hour-old sarnies (yum), something called clangers (puff pastry containing jam and mince) and oven chips. To complete the picture, there was the Chinese bloke who can’t cook Chinese and the English woman who can’t cook English food and gets mighty offended if anyone implies otherwise.Not surprisingly, none of the regatta-goers with their caviar and champagne really fancied purchasing a box of shriveled-looking sarnies.As the Restaurant stepped up its spooky, “Harry Potter” soundtrack, we couldn’t guess who might be going in “ze shallange”. They all deserved it.In the end, Rah-mond spared Lindsie and Tim. We were glad of that. Poor old Linz had already been through the works, thanks to that shouty, sweary tool who refused to pay for his food. And he didn’t even stay to sample the delights of a clanger. He wants to count himself lucky he wasn’t dining in one of the other restaurants. They REALLY can’t cook.The only other couple to stay out of “ze shallange” were smiley, happy cuddle-bunnies Russell and Michele. Word to the wise... we reckon Raymond wouldn’t mind “urpening a restaurant” with them. If they do triumph, we’ll be steering well clear of their eatery – they’re so irritating. But then, maybe we just don’t have cheerful souls.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

It never rains, but it pours - on Sunshine

It was hardly a laugh-a-minute, Steve Coogan’s new comedy-drama Sunshine (BBC1, Tues).
In fact, after an hour of watching this tale of a feckless northern gambling addict and his long suffering family, we were just about ready to top ourselves.
Course, it had its amusing moments - well, one at least that we can think of, actually.
The scene where our hero Bob “Bing” Crosby tried to quietly eavesdrop on a punter’s supposed betting tip - while he was sitting on the loo having a rather noisy dump.
Nothing like a bit of toilet humour to lighten our mood.
But, generally speaking, you’d have more belly laughs watching an average episode of Coronation Street than you would this.
Penned by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey (who also appeared - albeit rather unconvincingly - as Bing’s binmen workmates), this opener did have some promising moments.
We particularly loved the great Bernard Hill as good old Grandad Crosby - funny, warm hearted and just generally a very nice bloke.
But even he looks like he’s in for some awful catastrophe soon. All those dizzy spells. Oh ’eck.
At the end of the programme, we left Bing a broken man having been the victim of a rather daft betting shop scam.
He’s lost the family’s “Disney” money. His wife knows he’s been at the savings tin and is probably about to chuck him out. And his lovely dad is probably going to cop it soon.
Don’t know about you, but we can’t WAIT to tune in for next week’s hilarious escapades...

Monday, 6 October 2008

Alright Serge... why we want John to win

Strictly night… and the thing we were most looking forward to was John Sergeant’s (or was it Jo Brand’s?) tango – and the twinkle-toed tubster didn’t disappoint.
Sultry. Raunchy. Impassioned. John’s tango was none of those things. Instead he capered around the room with a broad Cheshire cat grin on his face. “It had all the characteristics people associate with me,” he beamed, at the end. “Passion. Rhythm. And raw sexuality!”
Well, perhaps not. But, as Bonzo Tortellini said: “Eet worked!”
I don’t know a single Strictly watcher who doesn’t adore John. He's what Strictly is all about.
In recent years, the show has focused boringly on ex-pop starlets performing "a different kind of dancing" (yeah, right) with clinical, lacklustre brilliance. But surely it's people like Serge, rotund golden oldies flinging themselves wholeheartedly into jives and rumbas, that give Strictly its entertainment value?
Never mind slinky Rachel Stevens or muscle-bound hunk Austin Healey. Surely it has to be John in that final?
As for charmless chef Gary Rhodes… well, he’s no loss, really. He had none of the charisma we’ve come to expect from a dancing dunce. The only shame is that, next week, another girl is going to have to go. Don’t suppose it could be Lisa Snowdon, could it? That way, we’d get shot of Brendan at the same time.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ze Restaurant – I’ll take that on board

It took us the usual twenty minutes to work out what on earth the contestants on The Restaurant were supposed to be doing in “ze shall-ange” this week.

Rah-mond was there, in his foxy suit, and we could pluck the odd phrase from his French burble “eef you are successfool”, for example. We’re not sure precisely what a “success-fool” is but we reckon there are some on this programme.

Anyway, we needed nice voiceover woman to inform us that, this week, the contestants had to make and serve delicious airline food to a variety of high-profile guests. And Sarah Willingham. Who? Sarah Willingham. She’s one of the judges but, apparently, quite easy to overlook. Two teams completely forgot to give her her dinner.

Tim and Lindsay, as we expected, were immense and promptly became best-buds with their cooking partners, Steve and Helen. We reckon they’ll all start going on holiday together once the series is over.

Not surprisingly, the teams that struggled were the ones that can’t really cook much. The Welsh Wok-ites struggled because Peter the Chinese bloke STILL can’t manage to cook rice.

But it was the endearing Northern Dimwits who departed. Fair enough – what they dished up in the name of “Lancashire hot-pot” looked more like it belonged in a chamber pot.

“We’ve lost out to a Chinese man who can’t cook rice,” sighed Dimwit 1 (Chris). True. But better than being an English man who can’t cook ANYTHING.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Ze Restaurant - you 'ave to leesten verray carefully

Well, we felt very sorry for Tim and Lindsay getting “poot in ze shallarnge” (that’s “put in the challenge” for those of you not attuned to Raymond Blanc-speak).
After all, once drippy Lindsay had dried her tears about missing her son, they flung their whole hearts into their Japanese theme, even going for a big karaoke finale.
And their food certainly looked a tad more appetizing than the stuff being churned out by those Northern numbskulls who were doing Mexican.
Last night Rah-mond, in his wisdom, had assigned each couple a different national theme for their restaurant dishes.
“We could do beef and horseradish in a fajita - that’d be good, wouldn’t it?” asked Dimwit Northerner (1) Chris, as the British viewing public clutched their stomachs in agony. You can put anything in a fajita, you know, and call it Mexican. Carrots. Green beans. Anything. And they did.
Not surprisingly, they too were in “ze shallarnge”.
Also in there was the hilariously named Welsh Wok which went Spanish, probably because its customers are now totally confused about what kind of cuisine they might get to eat there. (“Ahm baffurled by ze concept”, as Rah-mond might say).
Angry Man Chef and his Bungling Sidekick (James and Alastair) were lucky not to join them, having penned their menu in “French” – the kind of French where vegetable becomes “veggie-tabluh” and pears becomes “parres”.
Rah-mond was mightily offended at all this, despite the fact his English is hardly anything to write home about.
In fact, that’s one of the funniest things about this show – half the time we haven’t got a clue what he’s on about.
Whereas Alan Sugar tells his would-be colleagues straight (“You’re fired!”), Raymond beats about the bush a bit more.
Unfortunately, this tends to mean nobody really knows who’s staying or going.
“You ‘ave nurt convinced me un oeuf,” he’ll say, while the contestants stare at him blankly (“Does he mean us? What’s going on?”)
Our money’s on the Northern Dimwits to go.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


DO we think this week was the most badly-planned exit of any character EVER in the history of soap?
It certainly seemed that way to us. Last Friday, Jerry-Kebab (who we’ve only just managed to stop referring to as Sinbad) half-mentioned something about going to Spain. By Monday, he and his two youngest kids had gone. For good.
"Are you sure you’ve thought this through?" Mel asked him, echoing our own "viewer to scriptwriter" concerns.
"Yeah, it’ll be fine," breezed Jerry.
"But you don’t speak the language," pointed out Mel, reasonably.
"Ah – soon learn," said Jerry, a man who’s never even been able to speak Mancunian, never mind anything more adventurous.
"And you don’t know anybody," said Mel.
"Ah, balderdash and piffle," shrugged Jerry (or something similar) before he and his family set off for Spain with no job, no money and next to no possessions.
We don’t understand why Corrie have proved masters of the slow-burning plotline and yet can be so cack-handed with their slow-burning characters.
Anyway, following the rapid dispatching of Harry, Vernon, Jerry, Kayleigh and Finlay, Lovely Liam should be afraid, very afraid, now Tony’s in the know.
And, BTW, were you shocked at the sight of Rawsie in a revealing corset? Not us. The biggest shock is that she doesn’t walk around like that all the time.

Jamie's Ministry of Food:

“If Jamie’s School Dinners was Star Wars, this is the Empire Strikes Back,” said Jamie Oliver at the start of his brand new TV mission this week.
Yep, Jamie’s Ministry of Food (C4, Tues) showed quite a lot of the celebrity chef talking utter excrement – but this certainly livened up what could have been a very dull show.
The series is a kind of follow-up to the lisping hero’s earlier efforts to persuade schools to improve their lunch time menus.
Only this time, he wants to improve an ENTIRE TOWN’S eating habits. By passing on a few simple healthy recipes and hoping his “students” go on to teach them to a couple of other people. And in the end about two million people will know how to cook. Or something.
Obviously, to do this he needed to head to a scummy-looking northern town where folk left cans of beer and boxes of crisps piled high outside their back doors.
So off we trotted to Rotherham, where the first person we met was Julie Critchlow – the gobby mum who famously passed bags of chips through to her kids when Jamie’s healthy school lunches were introduced at their school.
The chef was amazed when he met her that far from being the work-shy junk-food loving harridan she appeared to be from the news clips, Julie and her mum were actually quite keen on home cooking.
They even made Yorkshire puddings, for goodness sake.
Jamie was obviously terrified of the tough-talking matriarch.
So much so, he completely forgot to bring up the issue of why she was feeding her kids chips through the school fence then. If she was such a devoted fan of healthy home cooking.
Instead he decided that she was going to be some sort of ambassador for the new “mission.”
A couple of volunteers who hadn’t got a clue about cooking agreed to be the first to learn all of Jamie’s new recipes.
They included a well-meaning young mum who was shown giving her kids their “fourth takeaway of the week.” And it was only Tuesday.
She turned out to be quite a natural in the kitchen actually.
Other volunteers weren’t quite so successful though.
One seemed to have trouble with the concept that when a pan was bubbling, that meant it had reached boiling point.
There were also grumbles that all this cooking and teaching lark was just far too time-consuming.
And indeed, when Jamie caught up with his subjects a couple of weeks later, even the successful mum had fallen off the wagon and started buying kebabs again.
Jamie wasn’t put off though – proudly boasting to camera that he had still “enriched her life.”
We’ll see.
Entertaining though this show undoubtedly was, we can’t help being a tad put off by the “look at the thick northerners” tone.
Still, clips of future shows, where Jamie is seen at a football pitch with the crowd crying: “You fat b*****d!” look highly promising.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Kaff isn't 'avin a laff

There's only one thing this year's Strictly is missing.

And it's not the gurgling Alesha. Or the wonderful Jill Halfpenny. Or even Ramps and his swivly hips.

No, it's Kate Garraway. Without her - well, they're all a bit good, aren't they? At least, the girls are.

We felt really sorry for Jessie Wallace, being bottom of the pile. It wasn't so much her ability as that terrible dress that did for her.

But, as we predicted, it was Kaff who went, she and Jodie-the-giraffe lacking the fan-base to propel them out of the bottom two. Still, at least she got to look all stunning in flowing primrose - far more glam than she has in 20 years of Easties.

As for Brendan-watch... well, we knew the nice-guy act wouldn't last. True to form, he's already had his first stomp-off.

Next week, the boys are back. Thank the Lord. Kate Garraway may no longer be with us... but there's always Gary Rhodes!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Strictly - didn't they do well?

... as a certain chinny presenter might say?
Sure the two Easties gals let the side down a bit, bless 'em. Jessie Wallace didn't really suit the tinseled sack look, while poor Kaff (Gillian) forgot to arch her back.
Anyway, as predicted, ladies' week was much more fun than watching all those blokes clodhop around the floor last week. Bruceh was on-form too. "I don't make up this rubbish, do I?" he claimed, at one point. Although we reckon he makes up at least half of it.
Still, a few questions:
Why does Brendan Cole cram more pelvic thrusts per minute into his routines than any other dancer?
How long until Dancing With the Stars finishes and "Transatlantic Len" stops being Mr Grumpy?
Who taught Bruno the word "goofy"? And can he please stop using it?
And does anyone have a date for when he's due to be sectioned?

The "You're my favourite" Strictly award of the week:
So far, too many to choose from. We loved the effortlessly elegent Christine and Cherie (how nice to see an older lady foxtrotting the competition off the floor for once!) and want to learn how to walk just like that. Also love Heather's throaty gurgle and Jodie Kidd for being a "gorgeous surprise" (to quote the eerily pleasant Arlene). Don't know about you, but we also liked Don in the group dance.

Who's going to go? Our money's on Kaff (Gillian). Only the Easties vote can save her and we reckon Wallace is going to suction off most of it.

Until tomorrow, Strictly fans!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Lost In Austen - Bonnets and Bennets get the Life On Mars treatment

THE promise of a happy ending is one of the infectious delights of most costume dramas (except, of course, Tess of the Dreary-villes on BBC 1 where I'd cover your eyes now, if I were you).

But in the mischievous Lost In Austen (ITV1, Wednesday) we were kept guessing to the end whether we'd get our normal quota of lords and ladies dancing – simply because it had lost the plot, in the nicest possible way.

The great idea behind Lost in Austen was that it was Pride and Prejudice revisited. Sure, there were the usual share of Bennets and bonnets.

But from the start the plot had flung an unexpected spanner into the works – in the shape of 21st century Pride and Prejudice obsessive Amanda Price (played by the pouting but perfectly endearing Jemima Rooper). Amanda felt so disillusioned with her modern-girl life and boyfriend, she spent her days longing to enter the plot of her favourite novel – and, one day, had her chance when Lizzie Bennet showed up in her bathroom with a plan to swap places and times.

Alas, no matter how hard Amanda tried to hold things together, the usual smooth-running Austen plot fell apart. The first two episodes were frantic high comedy, culminating in Amanda choosing, for her solo performance at the Netherfield ball, an acapella version of Petula Clark's Downtown.

But then, things got more serious – well, in costume drama terms. Without Lizzie there to snub Collins, he ended up married to Jane. Bingley became an alcoholic and ran off with Lydia. Lizzie, meanwhile, was trapped as a text-message sending childminder in 21st century Hammersmith. Until 10 minutes from the end, we weren't sure we'd get our happy ending at all.

But, you'll be relieved to hear, all came good – particularly for Amanda, who ended up in Darcy's arms. And, if their final union lacked some emotional logic and Lady Catherine acted bizarrely out of character, at least we got to see Darcy in a wet shirt again. Phew! The script for Lost In Austen survived the curse of most ITV Drama Premiers by being largely brilliant and most of the actors appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Now – if anyone's planning on doing any more fictional time-travelling, would they mind attending to Thomas Hardy, please? I've a feeling poor old Tess is going to be in need of some help.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Oops - ITV1 has done it again!

Oonagh Robinson on the new ITV drama Place of Execution...

Oh dear. We’ve gone and done it again.
Just when we promised ourselves we would try not to fall for the three-part ITV Drama Premiere Scam - we accidentally caught the first episode of Place of Execution (ITV1, Mon).
And it was really rather good. And now we need to find out what happens next. And it’s bound to have a really rubbish ending (like The Children).
There really is no hope for us, is there?
This thriller about the disappearance of a 13-year-old girl in 1963 and the present-day investigation of the case by TV journalist Catherine Heathcoate (a fabulous Juliet Stevenson) had a more than usually authentic feel.
Okay, the girl in question actually looked at least 33 in the photo and film footage of her.
And there were cliches galore. The slimy upper class step father; the suspicious villagers; the oh-so-unnecessary “two day deadline” for Catherine to complete her documentary.
But there was something about Lee Ingleby, playing the nerdy young hot shot detective leading the highly realistic looking 1963 investigation, we found strangely mesmerising.
Maybe it was just the over-sized glasses and dodgy mac.
But he made a welcome change to the tiresome disheveled, maverick yet dishy detectives who usually populate these stories.
Plus he turned into the marvellous Philip Jackson (he’s from Retford you know) when we moved forward to the present day. Brilliant.
But maybe you better ask us again in a fortnight, when we’ve seen how it all ends.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

It's a kind of magic...

Oonagh Robinson on the Beeb's new adventure series Merlin:

The main protagonists in Monty Python and the Holy Grail dismissed Camelot as a "silly place."
But watching the BBC's new family adventure series Merlin, it all looked rather fabulous.
Lovely big (CGI) turrets, lots of secret staircases, a big underground (CGI) cave with a scary (CGI) dragon inside - and yards and yards of sumptuous fabrics everywhere. It was just a pity about the people who lived there really. They were indeed a bit silly.
All the familiar names from the classic legend of Arthur turned up, but they weren't quite how they should have been.
Guinevere was a lowly handmaiden who liked to call herself "Gwen."
Uther Pendragon wasn't so much ruthless and fearsome as rather grumpy and tired.
Arthur was a bit of a "prat" - as Merlin himself observed.
Ah, yes. Merlin.
In this version, the famous wizard walked around dressed like a youth on a gap year holiday - complete with casual top, trousers and backpack.
He even started his first encounter with Arthur with a very modern sounding "Hi."
And while lots of references were made to his immense potential as a sorcerer, the magical powers he exhibited in this opening episode seemed to be restricted largely to "moving things around a bit." The bed that Victor Meldrew fell from a great height onto; the stuff that Arthur tripped over while they were fighting; the great big chandelier that dropped on the evil old woman's head.
Maybe in future weeks we'll get to see other aspects to Merlin. At the moment... well, he's quite nice to look at. So we don't particularly mind.
And that's the point really.
The whole show was lovely to look at, with a suitably epic feel - mostly special effects, but hey they were pretty impressive.
With the dusk falling outside and Strictly Come Dancing just finished beforehand, Merlin was a proper old-fashioned TV treat.
A bit lacking in humour, maybe. But my 11-year-old was transfixed throughout.
And anything that can put a smile on her face these days has got to be doing something right.

Read our review of "Merlin" tonight...

Don't forget to read our review of the BBC's new flagship family drama Merlin directly after the show is broadcast tonight.
And why not let us know what you think, too, by adding your own comments?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

We are family!

Oonagh Robinson reviews the first episode of Channel Four's The Family

I always like to know that my family isn’t the absolute worst in the world - whatever everyone else tries to tell me.
Hence, I was very keen last night to tune into The Family - Channel Four’s ambitious new fly on the wall documentary following the everyday bickerings of The Hughes clan from Canterbury.
What a thoroughly stupid lot they turned out to be - with the possible exception of the clumsy young lad who kept knocking glasses over.
He was brilliant.
Most of the action in the first episode centred on terrible teen Emily - a kind of surly cross between the pop star Pink and Stacey Slater off EastEnders.
Mum Jane was about to celebrate her 40th birthday (and yes, it was a bit of a shock to find out she was already a granny) so she was already in a bad mood most of the time.
But Emily didn’t help matters.
She was out partying until all hours in the morning, kept skiving off work and was generally a miserable little cow for most of the episode.
The one time she was nice, she ended up singing Kate Nash songs with her mum. Which shows you how bad things were.
I would have had a bit of sympathy for Jane and her pillock of a husband Simon if Emily had been, say, a girl of 13 or 14 years - who was out of control and driving them crazy.
But Emily wasn’t a young schoolgirl.
She was 19, with a job in (we think) some sort of High Street shop and her own money and her own life.
She would have been old enough to go away to university, for example, where she would no doubt have been up to all sorts without the benefit of her mum and dad’s words of “wisdom.”
The solution to Jane and Simon’s predicament seems completely obvious to me.
Start charging Emily for her board and lodging.
Then she wouldn't have as much money to go out partying from 11pm and causing them so much grief.
It ain’t rocket science.
So will I be tuning in next week to see if the penny drops? Course I will.
Best bit of mindless telly that’s been on for ages this.
I only wish they were doing it Big Brother style and we could catch up with all the shenanigans every night.
So - what did YOU reckon?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Farewell Tucker, hello Tess

Oonagh Robinson reviews the last ever GRANGE HILL and the first episode of TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES

The thought of watching the final episode of Grange Hill (BBC1, Mon) brought a tiny tear to my eye this week.
The show started back in 1978 - which has a special relevance for me because that’s when I started secondary school too.
Me and Tucker Jenkins and Tricia Yates and co - we had a bond, man.
We shared the same experiences, went through the same crises at the same time.
No-one I went to school with would dream of missing an episode.
What a shame, then, that this final outing was so... awful.
It all centred on the school prom (not disco, like it would have been in my day) and a bunch of rather dislikable kids being trapped underneath the building with an unexploded bomb of some sort.
Dead realistic then.
Elsewhere, Tucker himself turned up to talk sense into his nephew, who wanted to leave the sixth form.
“This place has certainly changed,” he commented, as he arrived on his trustee motorbike.
Hmm, you could say that. It’s changed from a school in London to a school in Liverpool for one thing. Funny he didn’t notice.
In the end, even Tucker couldn’t rescue the situation.
The bomb never did blow up, but the end was inevitable for this now mediocre attempt at entertainment.
I watched it with my 11-year-old daughter who herself has just started secondary school.
She was so entranced, she went off to read a book instead.
Would never have happened if Tricia Yates had still been in it...

Does the nation really need another version of Tess of the D’Urbervilles (BBC1, Sun)?
It barely seems a minute since the ITV1 drama department did their lavish production (although, I can’t remember who was in it or what it was like to be honest).
Then there’s the iconic Roman Polanksi film version from 1979, with gorgeous Nastassia Kinski. If you did Tess at A-Level like me, you probably had to watch her and her famously huge lips speaking all the lines in a weird foreign accent too.
This, however, is the first time the BBC has had a crack at the Thomas Hardy classic.
And we all know that when it comes to costume dramas of any description, Beeb is Best.
Gemma Arterton in the title role certainly looked perfect as the resilient country girl who is sent away by her parents to claim kinship with a wealthy (and weird) family.
But the thing about this production is that it’s being shown over FOUR PARTS.
And yes, you’re right. That’s about two more than is strictly necessary for such comparatively flimsy material.
Not that it isn’t lovely to look at - with all the right elements for a wonderful Sunday evening in.
Fair maidens dancing on a hillside in crisp white frocks, lots of ooh-ar, ooh-ar, ooh-ar accents. And gosh, but Tess’ rustic room at her new posh relatives’ pad was fabulous. Bit of whitewash and a quick sweep of the floor and it looked heavenly.
But it was all rather slow.
And maybe that’s because I was waiting to see how they would handle the infamous “pivotal” moment in Tess’ life.
Would the dastardly Alec (played by a not particularly dastardly Hans Matheson) be shown “raping” or “seducing” the innocent young girl?
Interpretations have varied over the years, after all.
In the end, the Beeb seemed to go for “rape.”
But they way they did it, in blurred slow motion with only the sound of Tess’ muffled protests was just, well... naff.
Either show what happened properly. We can take it, we’re grown-ups. Or do a cut-away to another scene - and leave the whole thing mysterious and ambiguous.
But don’t fanny about with blurred slow-mo “did he/didn’t he” nonsense.
Makes you look silly.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Big is beautiful!

Oonagh Robinson and Jennifer Scott look back at the week's tv...

SINCE Big Brother finished, we’ve found ourselves watching an awful lot of random documentaries.
The other night, for instance, we caught two very intellectual efforts straight after each other.
It helped that we’d consumed quite a few large glasses of Chardonnay along the way, but afterwards we felt really good about ourselves.
And frankly, we didn’t say that very often after watching Rex, Darnell and Co.
First up was The Sculpture Diaries (C4, Sun) with the spiffing Waldemar Januszczak travelling all over the world on our behalf to look at some very big statues.
This episode was all about how sculptors over the years have conveyed the notion of “leadership and power”.
Basically, it seems “power” in terms of art means “massive”.
So we had a good old look at Mount Rushmore, the statue of David, those weird heads on Easter Island and the big Soviet figures depicting Stalin and Lenin.
The latter proved particularly interesting, as it turns out some wealthy Lithuanian businessman has bought all those old statues and put them in a big theme park complete with barbed wire fencing to look just like a Soviet concentration camp.
He was even going to ship visitors in by rail using big cattle carts, until someone pointed out that this might be a little on the offensive side.
Throughout this enthralling doc, Januszczak proved a completely marvellous host who obviously knew his stuff but talked like he’d only just found out all the information himself.
He also reminded us a bit of Dr Fox from Pop Idol. Which was weird.

After this, we switched over to Earth: The Climate Wars (BBC2, Sun) where Dr Iain Stewart was presenting a guide to “the history of global warming”.
Dr Stewart was trying desperately hard to be likable and jovial – we even saw him playing with his kids on the beach just to make sure we understood he was a “completely normal family guy.” He wasn’t half as engaging as Januszczak, though.
This first episode covered how the theory of global warming developed from the 1970s.
In those early days, everyone reckoned Earth was about to go into another Ice Age.
So Dr Stewart was shown smirking at old TV footage of Magnus Magnusson spouting off facts about the imminent freeze to come.
Funnily enough, the theory was soon laid to rest with the arrival of 1976 – when we had the hottest summer since records began. Doh.
It was all interesting enough, but we can’t help thinking that next week – when Dr Iain will look at how “the sceptics” developed their views – will be a lot more explosive.

WHO Really Killed Jesus? (C5, Tue) was the question being asked in yet another documentary this week.
With this being on Channel Five, we hoped it would be something wacky like “aliens” or “Leonardo Da Vinci.”
Turns out it was simply: “Pontius Pilate.” What a disappointment.
The real topic was whether Pilate was the “hand-washing” bystander he’s always made out to be in the gospels. Some posh academics reckoned there was lots of evidence the Roman leader was a nasty piece of work who crucified thousands of people daily.
Fascinating enough – all rather spoiled by some very dodgy dramatic reconstruction.
Still, nice hair, Jesus.

IT was a wee bit hit-and-miss but, when it worked, Harry and Paul (BBC1, Friday) was bang on. The Dragons’ Den spoof, with Theo Profiterole, John Lewis, Duncan Guillotine and The Grumpy Woman, was hilarious. “I hate you – and for that reason, I’m out!” Brilliant!