Monday, 8 June 2009

Life's like a box of chocolates


Well, they saved the best to last...as, thankfully, a not-very-entertaining series of The Apprentice ended on a high.
And not only was it the last episode; it was also the final glimpse of so many much-loved aspects of the show.
No more Margaret. No more Sr'Alan (he'll be Lord Sugar...will they remember to call him that in the boardroom?) No more classic James one-liners. And no more montages of Philip dancing. Thank the Lord.
The final task was based on chocolates, designing and selling.
"I've invited some of the key people from chocolates to your presentations," said Sr'Alan. You could tell James was dying to ask if Willy Wonka would be among them.
Then past candidates returned to be put into either Team Yasmina or Team Kate.
The big question was, would Team Kate pick boyfriend Philip? In the end, Team Kate did not. She allowed Philip, Philip's invaluable advice and Philip's dancing ability to leap off to Team Yasmina where he spent much of her time muttering about how people still don't get Pantsman.
"People don’t get it at the time. They will eventually." We await the day.
Yasmina set him to work choreographing a "nice and snappeee" dance routine while everyone else got on with the much more trivial stuff, such as actually inventing the chocolates. After some wrangling about a "chocolates for men" campaign, which all the men interviewed said they wouldn't buy, Yasmina dreamed up the name Cocoa Electric...the idea being electrifying chocolates...and a box with a zig of lightening on it.
"It lukes like a crarkurr," Lorraine blarneyed, still in her mysteriously acquired Irish accent.
Over on Team Kate, Ben was proving equally helpful. His little mind was rattling around chocolates and threesomes, not to mention somehow using the number 69 as a selling point.
"Ben, there's no way in the world..." Kate said.
She did, however, let him talk her into using the brand-name Intimate...until the rest of the team caught wind of it.
"Frankly it sounds more like something to do with feminine freshness rather than chocolates," said Nick.
"It looks like it's a box of Tampax," said Debra.
"Something you'd find in vending machines in gents' loos," was Sr'Alan's reaction.
The name was swiftly changed to Choc D'Amour and Kate stepped in to oversee the transformation of their ad campaign. Until this point we haven't been big Kate fans but she seemed the deserving winner. Ominously, though, the deserving winner never actually wins The Apprentice.
Meanwhile, Yasmina was back to her Week Two strategy of sprinkling basil on everything and hoping for the best. During the filming of her ad, even the poor actors were begging: "Can we spit it out?" as they tried Yasmina's "electrifying" strawberry and basil chocolate.
Come the presentations Kate, again, outclassed Yasmina's sergeant major style.
"IT'S SEXY! IT'S FUN!" Yasmina barked at her crowd, before trying to whoop up a bit of atmosphere. "Orange and coriander. What do you have?"
"An ingestive nightmare?" we wondered.
Nevertheless, come the boardroom bit, Sr'Alan's hiring finger pointed at Yasmina. Even though her chocolates were inedible, Sr'Alan wasn't bothered about the taste. The price was right. Poor old Kate was left feeling as robbed as someone who'd forked out a fiver for a box of orange and coriander chocolates. It's not as bad as the Dewberry versus Badger travesty of 2007, but it's still not an inspiring decision.
Anyway, after 12 weeks of crazy, blood-shedding rivalries, it's Yasmina off to work in Sr'Alan's digital signage department. What a fantastic prize! We give her six months.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Apprentice - the final five


Apart from Shopping Channel Task and Annual Advertising Balls-Up, Interview Week has to be one of our favourite Apprentice episodes.
Just think of the great moments it’s produced in past seasons: Pterodactyl Lee and his c.v. truth-economising, Posh Boy Simon fielding complaints from his tenants. And those two went on to win the thing!
All the familiar faces on the Sr’Alan’s interview panel of “trusted associates” were back with one exception – bristling-chopped Cockney geezer who has maybe been scared off by Claire’s attempts to flirt with him last year. We missed him. The bloke they got in instead wasn’t half as cutting.
Regardless, we were all poised to see Perfect Kate squirm and stutter or Shouty Deb-rah get frogmarched out by a couple of coppers for threatening behaviour. Sadly, none of the above took place. Perfect Kate rattled off perfect answer after answer in deadpan Brummie. Debra managed to rein in her scarier tendencies.
In fact, the biggest casualty of Interview Week was the one we always suspected was going to come a cropper at this stage – poor old James.
Every time there was a short silence and somebody said something like: “James – why should Sr’Alan hire you?”
He proceeded to drop clanger after clanger, with statements like: “I want him to be like Willy Wonka” or, to the man himself, “Sr’Alan - you and I could be a good match” or "You don't need to reinvent the wheel with me... just fix a few spokes."
By the end, viewers were on the edge of their seats shouting: “JUST! DON’T! SAY! ANYTHING!”
James’ one aim was to get through the programme without Sr’Alan kicking him “so hard up the a**e I’ve got his toes for teeth”. Sadly, it didn’t happen. James was fired.
Also fired was Lorraine, who mysteriously lapsed into Irish during her interviews, then back to West London the minute she left the room. Twirly-haired Karen Brady tried to make a big deal about Lorraine lying on her c.v. because the dates were a year out on one of her jobs but, to be honest, it didn’t have the same impact of somebody trying to make a whole education for themselves, like Lee did. Anyway, even though Lorraine had had a hard life Sr’Alan didn’t want to hear her “blathering on” about it – and neither did we, if we’re honest. Yer fiyud!
So that left it between Debra – who had spent the episode being weirdly touchy-feely, even CRYING when James got the chop – Yasmina and Perfect Kate. Yasmina had messed up her interview a bit because she didn’t seem to know how much profit her business made – or indeed, what profit was – but squeaked through. Perfect Kate was in the final, of course, although Sr’Alan told her he thought she was robotic (“I’m not robotic” said Kate, robotically) and very serious (“I’m not serious,” she said, trying to prove it with a giggle).
So that meant it was Slab-Faced Debra who was fired.

Which leaves us with probably the dullest final line-up in the history of the show. We can’t help thinking what it needs – what it really needs – is a pterodactyl impression.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Car Crash Telly - The Apprentice, Week Ten




Was it a big shock to you that nice steady Howard got the boot after last night’s marvellous shopping channel task?
To be honest, the way this series has been going, you could see it coming a mile off.
The dull ones are going and all the absolute nutters are getting to stay in the show for as long as possible. Hooray.
Indeed, it was probably more of a shock that Howard’s team (can’t remember if it’s Ignite or Empire any more, sorry) lost in the first place. It was all being edited to look as though they would race away with it - with their expensive chip pan and, er, gorgeous gold and silver leather jackets. Vom.
But “TV natural” Debra and the best new comedy double act of the year James and Yasmina sold what must have been about 40,000 cheap hair nets and weird head scarves to pip their rivals to the post.
Right from the start, it looked as if Debra’s lot would be a disaster - with their hilarious bickering about who was going to be leader.
“I need you to be happy!” Yasmina wailed at Debra after she eventually got the prestigious role.
“What do you want me to do? Fall down at your feet and worship you?” hissed her furious sparring partner.
Yet when the cameras started rolling, hard faced Debra (OMG she’s only 24!!!) was a star. Chatty, friendly, approachable, nice.
Everything that she hasn’t been for most of this series really.
Still, the stars of the episode were undoubtedly James and Yasmina.
“£9.99 for three - you’re pulling my chain!” enthused James as Yasmina explained her fantastic deal on those hair combs.
What a pity they were actually £17.99. And who would pay that for such a load of rubbish?
This slight mishap didn’t put James off his track for long though.
“If you’re not fast with this, you’re gonna be last with this,” he stuttered. “Stop spying and start buying!”
Honestly, he’s turning into the one of the best Apprentice characters of all time is James. We adore him.
And so it was off to the boardroom, where the losing team of Howard, Lorraine and Kate awaited their fate.
S’ralan wanted to know why they hadn’t made as much money as Debra and co - even though their products were much more expensive.
“When the chips were down, I stood up to the mark,” said Lorraine. D’ya geddit? She was selling chip pans on the show.
We thought that bit was really funny, but nobody else seemed to laugh.
S’ralan decided he didn’t need another Steady Eddie like Howard in his company.
“I haven’t got time for ordinary people,” he said as he gave the blue-eyed boy his marching orders.
Well, let’s face it, there aren’t any ordinary people left in the running now.
Just James and four barmy females.
“I feel like Hugh Heffner!” he grinned back at the house.
Oh how we’re looking forward to next week’s interview task.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Apprentice - off their rockers

We knew Ben was doomed.
Not because he’s spent this entire series of The Apprentice behaving like a complete and utter plank, or because he made the fatal mistake of proclaiming, “There’s no way I’m going today – I’m making it to the final”, but because he sat in the wrong seat.

We remembered, from last week’s preview, you see, which way Sr’Alan’s fearsome finger was pointing when he said “You’re fired!” and it was definitely off to his left. So we knew whoever sat in that seat was for the chop.
Even when Sr’Alan was chuntering on about James being a “nice guy… and did he need a nice guy” and James was getting all sweaty and bulgy-eyed, we knew there was likely to be a last minute twist in the tale.
And sure enough it was Ben (Barney Rubble in braces) and his “raw business talent” who got his marching orders – very appropriate, what with his almost-Sandhurst background.

As for Sandhurst… well, Sr’Alan had the final say on that proud boast. “I was in the Jewish Lads’ Brigade. Stamford Hill Division. Trainee Buglar. It didn’t help me sell computers.”
Still, like Margaret, we did feel sorry for odious little Ben on one count. “He had to spend the whole day with Debra,” she observed.
Yes Debra, for the second week in a row, was entirely culpable for the failure of the task. Both teams had to select products to flog at the Earl’s Court baby show. Empire team leader James, showing an eerie understanding of female body parts (except for breast-feeding, which he seems to think is tap-operated), selected a birthing pool. Empire’s other product was a rocking horse (minimum price £1,500) chosen by Debra.
This, in itself, was not a mistake. Normally, without fail on The Apprentice, the team that selects the most extortionately expensive product wins. But you’ve got to actually sell one first. And that was what defeated Debra. She’d failed to negotiate any kind of discount on the pony and seemed to strike mortal fear into the heart of every potential customer.
“I’ll come and work for you… for a week… FOR FREE!” she barked at one bloke seeking a £200 discount.
If that didn’t put him off, nothing would.

The rest of the episode was memorable for the fact that Ignite leader Lorraine’s instincts actually worked.
Ever since Margaret gave Lorraine (known henceforth, after last night’s You’re Fired, as “Olive off On The Buses”) the tagline Cassandra, Lorraine’s “gut feelings” have gone hilariously skew-whiff.

But last night she chose sellable products… albeit stuff we’d never have bought in a million years. Still, the baby bicycle helmets went down a bomb as did the “easy to dismantle” pushchair, once Lorraine had spent about five hours collapsing it.
“… in one simple manoeuvre,” she said, whacking the thing on the floor. “Something’s stuck. One second… it’s completely jarred…”

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ooh, Mona!

Yes, yes we all agree.
Dire Debra should really have gone last night.
But come on, Mona was always going to get the boot at some point. I mean, she can’t even pronounce her own first name properly. How on earth was S’ralan supposed to trust her in a pivotal role at his company?
The rather pointless task last night was to “rebrand Margate” - and Mona couldn’t even get that bit right.
She kept telling local people Team Empire was going to “regenerate” the town.
Still, with her enormous local knowledge of the area, surely they couldn’t go wrong.
“It’s a seaside resort,” she reliably informed Debra, Howard and James in their initial brainstorming session.
Later, they hit upon the idea of relaunching Margate as the next UK gay destination.
Not a bad thought at all really - and certainly more exciting than Ignite’s snoozeworthy family theme.
James and Mona immediately hit the streets to do some in depth research - and came across a friendly transsexual in a local bar.
Mona seemed a trifle confused when s/he tried to explain her/his... condition.
“Are you a man or a woman now?” she blundered.
Even James, a man not averse to putting his foot in it, admitted he was embarrassed.
Mona and James proved a formidable double act, setting up a photo shoot on the beach where two models attempted to convey the gay message.
James got the chaps (and himself) a couple of 99 ice creams at one point.
“Not too much licking guys, it’s not a porno,” he warned his subjects.
But even all this ludicrousness wasn’t the thing that did for Empire.
It was all down to obnoxious team leader Debra and her apparent ability to do absolutely nothing all day - so that she had to put together an entire poster and leaflet campaign in about half an hour.
“Your visuals are dreadful,” said one personally offended looking woman at the main pitch.
Debra certainly seems to have done something to impress S’ralan though.
It was almost as if she knew she was invincible, so didn’t care one way or the other that most of her fancy leaflet was just blank space.
Even after Mona’s firing, it wasn’t Debra but James who got the “I’ll be watching you” warning from the boss.
Yes, the dead wood is slowly but surely being cast aside this series.
The question is - who’ll be next?

Oonagh Robinson

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bye bye Pants Man

Well, the almost unanimous opinion in our office this morning seems to be: “Good riddance to bad rubbish!”
But I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a bit subdued now that Pants Man himself - the arrogant Philip Taylor - is no more.
S’ralan finally got rid of the cocky estate agent after his lacklustre performance in a thoroughly entertaining selling task “oop north” last night.
And while I know Phil deserved to go and all that - gosh but he was an entertaining little git.
The “official” reason for the troublesome tosser’s departure might have been his failure to get any orders for what ostensibly were (a) a glorified carrier bag and (b) a decorated box.
But we all know the real reason why Phil wasn’t performing at his best.
How did they put it in King Kong again?
“T’was beauty killed the beast...”
Gorgeous Kate certainly showed herself in a whole new light as she fought for her position in the boardroom showdown, amidst PM Lorraine’s controversial “relationship” claims.
“I can assure you I have no loyalties here - Philip or otherwise,” the blonde bombshell purred. Ouch. You could almost see Phil give up the ghost on the spot.
Still it was a nail biter at the end there - surely S’ralan would fire argumentative Lorraine for being such a, well, plonker.
“That was my worst presentation in 20 years,” she commented after she tried to sell a cat playbox with the motif “Suck UK” to a DIY shop and upmarket homes store Heals.
Her team ended up trawling the length and breadth of northern England with their loot only to be met with looks of derision from every shopkeeper they met.
“It’s a cardboard box,” observed one rather astute bloke.
The other team’s chosen products weren’t much better either - a dog lead for two people and a sleeping bag “with individual leg items and arm items.”
Mind you, they had the surprisingly fabulous Mona on their side - negotiating within an inch of her life to secure some lucrative orders. Who knew she could be so good?
But the undeniable star of last night’s show was that mysterious and fabled place known as “London Gateway” - the spot where S’ralan had chosen to meet his hopefuls.
As they packed their bags for what they all assumed would be a glamorous stay in Africa or Dubai, the apprentices speculated about their rendezvous.
“Gateway suggests it’s a gate to somewhere,” guessed Irish Ben.
Never.
Imagine their disappointment, then, when the glorious destination turned out to be.... a service station on the M1.
God, that S’ralan is so cruel...

Oonagh Robinson

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Why aging Playboy Ray was a step too far


COMPULSION (ITV1, Mon) was based on Jacobean tragedy The Changeling – one of our A-level set texts in days of yore – which is riddled with the gory and the unbelievable. There’s a virginity test. A bedroom-based woman-swap. And a last-act blood bath.
However, none of them come close to topping the most flabbergastingly inconceivable conceit of Compulsion – namely that the beauteous young Parminder Nagra would fancy Ray Winstone. At least when Ray was Henry VIII, he was, he was, there was a title and a bit of status up for grabs to attract the requisite six wives. Here, there was just belly.
Belly and creepiness, anyway. Ray played Flowers (an updated version of the Jacobean disfigured manservant De Flores) who is obsessed with spoiled little princess Anjika (Nagra). When she gets into bovver over an arranged marriage, Flowers helps her out by bumping off the suitor in exchange for her spending the night with him. Yeuch.
It all got decidedly more yeuch when Princess Anjika decided she’d rather enjoyed her night with Ray and wanted rather more of it. Portly middle-aged men with a stack of top-shelf mags by their beds may have warmed to the blue movie dialogue but, for the rest of us, it pinballed from the risible to the offensive.
It’s not such a terrible idea to update classic works for a modern audience, provided there are feasible modern parallels. But, the fantastical murders and social misogyny in Jacobean tragedies require a very thoughtful approach if they are to fast-forward successfully through the centuries. This was so lacking in that kind of care that when we saw it was directed by Sarah Harding, we seriously wondered if it was her from Girls Aloud. On second thoughts, she’d have made a much better fist of it.


GEORGE GENTLY (Sun, BBC1) is the kind of name that fits into Sunday nights like toes into Totes Toasties. He might as well be called Harvey Horlicks, Nigel Nightcap or any other name that could just as easily belong to a Classic FM presenter.
George is, of course, a detective (what else?) He’s set in the ‘60s. He’s played by a TV treasure (Martin Shaw).
And he has a bumbling sidekick. So far, so Sunday night cliche.
Where George Gently tries to veer away from Heartbeat territory is in its plotting, which is relentlessly dark. This week, George happened upon a child abuse ring, with Jill Halfpenny in a beehive reflecting on her traumatic past in a children’s home.
Sadly it was all cack-handedly scripted, with ‘60s life viewed through a determinedly patronising 21st century lens ("Have you ever heard of the word paedophile?" a character asked at one point.)
The dialogue stuck rigidly to the Agatha Christie format ("More tea vicar?" "How can I help you, inspector?") which the plot’s aspirations of grittiness seem trite.
And despite the array of bad Geordie accents before us, it was clearly filmed in Ireland.
ITV’s Foyle’s War makes a much better job of investing in a period. As for Martin Shaw – Judge John Deed was a far better character. And not a name you’d find on Classic FM.


They said it
It’s bad enough Kirk getting Roy’s History Today. We don’t want Roy with Kirk’s Nuts on his doorstep, do we?
Norris goes all Carry On Kabin on Corrie.

– What did you say about Vietnam?
– I dreamed I were there, fighting for the King Kong
Another Corrie classic shared between Eileen and dim son Jason.

I judge everything on whether it’s worth the calories. This is not – Pru Leith shares her top tips on how to stay shapely as a Great British Menu judge.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Apprentice... big rug, big rug


“You open your mouf like that again, then don’t even bovver to come back in this boardroom.”
The above Sr’Alan rant has been ringing in our ears for weeks now, ever since a clip of it was aired in episode one.
Who was he yelling at? What on earth had they said?
We pictured abuse… certainly verbal, possibly physical. A bit of swearing or something. Perhaps they’d gone too far and called Sr’Alan a dyspeptic gnome.
In the event, it was nothing at all, was it? Talk about a tempest in a tea-cup. Slab-faced Debra having a bit of a “who closed the sale” bicker with Nick. “It wasn’t ‘im, it was me, it was me.” Yawn.
We don’t know what it was, but last night’s task really failed to ignite (pardon the pun). The budding apprentices had one day to hare around London hawking random wares that might be valuable or might not be. These included a skeleton, a first edition James Bond book and a rug that was worth more than £200 but you’d feel gutted if you actually paid that because nobody in the whole of London seemed to like it at all.
The apprentices seemed baffled; in fairness, so were we.
At the end of the task, Sr’Alan compared the actual prices of the items with what the Apprentices got for them – and both teams had made a loss. So, let’s get this right? They could have just sat around all day with a cup of tea, brought back all the items back unsold and won the task, yes?
In their first rubbish deal of the day, Team Empire got ordered to trade Kate for Noorul.
Then, led by cocky little Ben, they sold off everything for knock-down prices.
Team Ignite, led by the equally obnoxious Philip, seemingly spent their day wandering around London shouting: “Big rug! Big rug!” Philip was followed by a little procession of people including sour-faced Lorraine, who was (rightly) convinced the rug was a gem, and an equally fed-up Margaret, who clearly had sore feet and kept grumbling: “This is the stupidest thing they’ve done so far”.
Eventually, Phil found a buyer but, despite winning, was taken to task for not listening to “Cassandra” Lorraine.
Cassandra? Ha! Whingey, more like. Our own startling powers of prediction suggest Lorraine will be fired in the next task she loses.
Sandhurst Ben decided he was going to take Noorul and James back into the boardroom. No, wait! Noorul and Debra.
“Are you thinking about James there must be a village missing an idiot?” asked Sr’Alan. James looked quite flattered.
Much though we’d have liked to see Sandhurst Ben or Old Slab-face get the boot, Sr’Alan wasn’t going to miss the chance to give Noorofen the boot. The firing was every bit as dull as the rest of last night’s show.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Ashes to Ashes - why we prefer Mars any day


Try as we might, we just can’t find much nice to say about series two of Ashes to Ashes (BBC1, Mon).

It’s not just that the show is not a patch on the sublime Life on Mars. It’s lots of other things too.

Indeed, we’ve got so many niggles with it, we’ve made a “big list”:

* We’re fed up with the non-stop trailers for it on every BBC channel.

* We’re bored of Gene Hunt, who used to be funny but now gets hardly any decent lines.

* We detest the way it isn’t set oop north any more.

* The car is rubbish.

* We hate that it’s called Ashes to Ashes. Apart from that being another Bowie song it makes no sense. Life on Mars meant something, Ashes to Ashes doesn’t.

* Why does Keeley Hawes’ character go to the effort of doing her hair and make-up in an 80s way? Surely, it would be a lot easier for her to just keep her 2009 style.

* Why haven’t Gene and his sidekicks aged a day since 1974, when we first met them?

* What month in 1982 is this new series set? Because Mirror Man by the Human League (as featured on the end credits) wasn’t released until November that year. Yes, we know that’s anal - we get similarly annoyed during Heartbeat too if that helps at all.

* Life on Mars looked authentically 70s. We don’t really get the same vibe from this 80s update at all. Chris’ quite convincing hair aside.

* What was all that stuff with the belts sticking out of the car doors? Actually, that was quite funny. But it still made no sense whatsoever.

* It would be so much better if they just ditched the supernatural rubbish and made a straightforward period cop show wouldn’t it.

That’s just a snapshot of our “big list” really. Possibly, more niggles will come to light as this silly series progresses. Not that we’ll be watching.

And yes, some people will no doubt complain that we’ve taken the whole thing a bit too literally and it’s all just a massive send up.

Think we’re missing the joke then.

Funniest programme of the week?

It’s got to be Nuts in May (BB4, Sun) as featured in Mike Leigh Night.

That’s right. The original film first broadcast on Play for Today in 1976.

We watched it with a 12-year-old who howled her socks off at the wonderfully odd Keith and Candice Marie (Roger Sloman and Alison Steadman) on their highly scheduled camping trip.

She’s also been going round saying “Kiss Pwudence, Keith” all day.

Marvellous.

Not sure we’ll be saying the same thing about Ashes to Ashes in 33 years time.

We count ourselves rather lucky to have a small child who gives us the perfect excuse to watch kids’ telly.

Otherwise we would have missed the fabulous Timmy Time (CBeebies, weekdays) - the new production from Aardman.

Cute, believable characters, beautiful production values, accessible storylines - and not a word of proper dialogue from start to finish.

A bit like Nuts in May, in fact!

They said it:

“Have you seen them thong things? You could wash a month’s worth of thongs and still have space for your bedding. In my day, four pair of bloomers and you’d got a full load.”

Corrie newcomer Connie explains the demise of her domestic laundry business to a fascinated Jack Duckworth.

Soapsuds - what's the point of Corrie's Natasha?


WE’D like to have a little rant about Natasha on CORONATION STREET.

And we know what you’re going to say – “Natasha? Natasha who?” because that’s what everyone says.

Natasha is another one of those recently-introduced, slightly “meh” characters like Poppy the transvestite-looking barmaid (you know... the one who’s become such good pals with Tara, she can divulge what Dev got up to during their break-up.)

Natasha’s the annoyingly smirky hairdresser who’s currently bedding boggle-eyed Tone. Tony, like the rest of us, seems to spend the best part of every episode forgetting Natasha exists. Then, she’ll spring at him, outside Audrey’s, trying her best to be all pouty and Angelina-like as she spouts lines like, “I’ll have to get an injunction on you”. Sadly, since she has the broad Lancs twang of Big Glen off Dinnerladies, her role as the local sexpot doesn’t convince.

Natasha aside, Corrie’s been quite good this week. They’ve resurrected Daryl’s mam who reminds us of happy, pre-Windass days.

“I’ll be no use until I’ve had a fag,” she informed Daryl as she swanned into the kebab shop.

“Then we can play ‘spot the difference’” retorted Minnie, her rival for the high-flying kebab gig.

Elsewhere, we wondered if Norris should have a sign on the Kabin door. “We don’t approve of nacky-noo in here”. It’d be one way of keeping Natasha at bay, anyway.

Be honest, you didn’t for one minute think that Zainab was having an affair over in EASTENDERS did you?

The fluctuating moods, the secret texts from “Bob,” the pretty new scarf? We guessed it was all to do with mysterious elder son Syed within about three seconds.

Oh well. Perhaps the writers have learned their lesson about dragging a mystery out from that whole Danielle saga (sob) and just wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible.

Can’t say we’re that interested in what Syed has been up to and whether he’ll make it up with his father.

Indeed, we’re far more intrigued about what’s happening between Masood and Jane - with their furtive glances and, er, titillating tea towel flirting.

But we suppose the prodigal son does provide a bit of welcome eye candy in a show that’s seriously lacking such important ingredients.

Which brings us to Phil Mitchell.

He’s fallen off the wagon rather spectacularly these days - meaning he’s finally got it together with the awesome Shirley. Hooray.

We aren’t half enjoying his drunken exploits, especially his penchant for Shirl’s surprisingly glamorous dressing gown.

And what with all that family’s recent woes, it’s nice to see at least one member knows how to enjoy himself in style.

It’s just a shame it’s all bound to end in tears...

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Pants



Oh how I wish Harry Hill was still on at the moment...
“I like Pants Man... I like Captain Squawk... but which is better?
“There’s only one way to find out.... FIGHT!!!!!”
Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see those costumed characters scrapping on the floor in that inimitable HH way.
Never mind, last night’s advertising task was probably more hilarious than any sketch you’re likely to see on a dedicated comedy show.
The teams were asked to come up with a new breakfast cereal brand and a promotional kids’ character, which would be launched in front of a room bursting with top London advertising execs.
Although let’s face it, most of the people crammed into that room were probably just nosy office workers sneaking a look at what were bound to be embarrassingly terrible presentations.
American Creme Puff Kimberly and her team of “creatives” came up with the ludicrous Pants Man. Largely because Phil stamped his foot and said he wouldn’t play any more if they didn’t run with his barmy idea.
I’d almost forgotten Mona was still in the show by the time she took to the mike to lead their pitch - but she sure as heck ended up creating a memorable telly moment.
After carefully explaining the benefits of eating bran flakes and five, or possibly three, portions of fruit and veg a day, she got straight to the point about her new cereal Wake Up Call.
“You won’t dress up like Pants Man... because you’re not Pants Man.... Only Pants Man gets away with his pants over his... clothes.”
What the blobbing hell was she on about?
For a minute there, I did think there was going to be a last minute twist - and this apparently terrible idea would end up winning on a technicality, as so often happens on The Apprentice.
You know, it had the best colour box or the other team had forgotten to mention something really vital.
Thankfully, Treasure Flakes and Captain Squawk rightfully won the day for the marvellous Kate.
Although the little lad in her ad nearly scuppered them: “I don’t have to eat it do I? I’ve got a nut allergy...” Arf.
Faced with a firing, Kimberly had ample opportunity to take some of the quiet numpties who did absolutely nothing on the task into the boardroom.
Instead, she took loudmouth Phil and lamentable Lorraine - both of whom wiped the floor with her.
Serves her right for starting the task off with that fatal grin of enthusiasm and the boastful: “Yes! This is the task I’ve been waiting for...”
Wake up call indeed.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hell's Kitchen walk-out


EXCLUSIVE: Sacked Grant Bovey has revealed one of his fellow celebrities has walked out of Hell’s Kitchen... but he doesn’t know who.Carlton-born Grant, 48, became the second contestant to be fired by chef Marco Pierre White on the ITV1 reality show last night.But he has been told another contestant has since quit the series... and he fears it may be his wife, TV presenter Anthea Turner, who was in tears following his firing.“I’m hoping it’s not Anthea. If it is her, I think they’ll allow her to phone me shortly,” he said in an interview with the Evening Post, following his departure.He also wondered if Niomi Daley, aka Ms Dynamite, may have been the one to leave.“Niomi is very principled,” he said. “If it’s her who’s gone, I’ll be miffed because I think last night’s sacking was between her and me. It’s a waste of a position.”Grant ruled out fellow contestants, goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar and comedian Adrian Edmondson, as potential quitters.“Bruce is very steady and Adrian is taking the competition very seriously,” he said.
*Read the full interview with Grant in Friday’s Evening Post.

Britain's Got Talent



Britain's Got Talent
BRITAIN’S Got Talent. No, honestly, it does. If you really, really scour the screen until your eyes hurt, you might even be able to spot it.
Look – there’s Ant and Dec. They’re talented. Well, when we say talented, we mean they’re not so objectionable they make you want to switch right off again, which passes as talent among TV presenters. And Simon, Amanda and Piers are back as judges (no Kelly Brook – not talented enough to join these luminaries, apparently). If you’re still baffled as to what Pier’s talent might be, other than world-class slimeballing, you’re not alone. They could really do with a choreographer among the judges, instead of Simon Cowell pretending to be an expert on everything.
"It’s the show that turns ordinary people into SUPERSTARS!" announces Ant-or-Dec.
You what, hinny? Paul Potts? George Sampson? Yes, apparently, they are superstars. Paul Potts is, apparently "internationally, the most successful UK reality winner ever". More than Girls Aloud or Leona Lewis? We refuse to believe it. And George Sampson has... released a DVD. Good on that man.
This was the audition stage of the Saturday night, ITV1 show. Normally you can count on there being at least three talented acts. The rest will be laughably poor or mediocre stuff that makes Amanda cry and go: "You touched my HEART" while everyone looks very uncomfortable.
This week’s clearly talented were: that hilarious Greek father and son act and that all-lads dance group. So we had two hours to kill wondering who, among the crowds of Ferrero Rocher eaters and dancing penguins, would turn out to be Genuine Talent number three.
The signs weren’t promising.
"I’m Susan, I’m 47 I’m unemployed and I’d like to be the next Elaine Paige".
You could see sneery teens with over-GHD’d hair cocking a snook and Simon rolling his eyes. Amanda, to her credit, didn’t.
Then Susan unleashed a powerhouse of a voice and it proved one of the most moving moments on TV all weekend. Row after row rose from their seats to applaud. Amanda cried. Of course.
Never mind Elaine Paige – Susan could become more of an international superstar than Paul Potts, for Pete’s sake! Now, that’s talent.






Hell's Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen was back (ITV1, weeknights) but it’s still not the TV event it would like to be – even if it does possess the alluring prospect of Nottingham’s answer to Piers Morgan, Grant Bovey, making a Tunnock’s Teacake of himself.
On the whole, Hell’s Kitchen attracts a higher calibre of celeb than similar shows, primarily because it doesn’t make them dance, send them to the jungle or destroy their careers through 24 hour surveillance. No, they’re here to "learn" from Marco Pierre White, the first chef to return to the show (this inconsistency has been part of its problem. Gordon, the original, is still the best). They’ve also lost Angus Deayton, replacing him with Claudia Winkleman – although they seem to have given her Angus’s make-up artist.
The celebs, meanwhile, clearly have some learning to do, as we watched Danielle Bux (Gary Lineker’s girlfriend) apparently pouring vomit on to bread. No wonder the man seems to live on crisps.
Trouble is, if you’re a foodie, you don’t actually want to watch Ms Dynamite whinging about Marco. You want to get a shufty at what she’s actually preparing and how she’s making it. How the celebs actually learn to cook always remains a mystery and the whole thing seems far more contrived than its classier mere-mortal rival, Masterchef.





Red Dwarf (Dave, Easter weeknd) wasn’t as good as it used to be but nor was it as smegging awful as it might have been. We missed Holly and the laughter track. But the fab four’s naturally ticklish charisma soon won us round.





They said it on Doctor Who
– It’s LADY Christina, actually
– That’s handy, ‘cos I’m a Lord.
– Lord of where?
– It’s quite a big estate!
David Tennant attempts to explain his origins to the aristocratic Michelle Ryan on Doctor Who (BBC1, Sat). He will be missed.

Soapsuds



Corrie


SO whatever happened to Hayley’s plans to be a social worker? Presumably they’ve gone the same way as Janice Battersby’s grand scheme to be a nurse.
For now, it seems Hayley’s only job is working alongside her other half in Roy’s Rolls. So why do they need Tweety Pie Windass to help them behind the counter?
We suppose the scriptwriters are thinking that because we all fell in love with Becky dishing up the bacon butties, we’ll therefore clasp the entire Windass family to our bosoms now Anna’s got her job. But if she continues communicating in helium-speak, it’s definitely not going to happen.
Elsewhere, poor old Ken found himself caught between chive-sprinkling Stephanie Beecham and ash-sprinkling Deirdre. When he discovered love of his life Martha had swanned off down the river, things got a bit desperate.
"Martha – where are you moooooored?!" he wailed, in the same manner Fred Flintstone used to summon Wilma to the door.
And Corrie’s writers seem to be over-using Simon’s acting abilities. In that he’s getting at least half the lines in the show now. We know it must be exciting to find a child-actor who can actually act (following years of Mute Amy) but give someone else a chance, can’t you?




Easties
At least Corrie isn’t as bad as Eastenders, where it seems half the cast are under three feet tall at the moment (and we don’t mean in a Wizard of Oz kind of way).
You get an odd glimpse of the occasional grown-up (Phil, Dot, Roxy), then the rest of the air-time is devoted to under-12 Easter Egg hunts and karaoke competitions.
This Easter, they also decided to treat us to a resurrection of the never-ending plotline that involves Abi trying to set up her mum and dad because they’re "made 4 each other". Somebody give that child some hobbies.
Even Nick Cotton’s getting Pippi Longstocking to his dirty work. And how dirty that work can be with a nine-year-old in charge? We suspect not very.
Phil Mitchell seemed as baffled as we were by this week of Kindergarten Cockneys.
"Why are you here?" he grunted at Ben.
"It’s the school holidays."
"Where’s Roxy?"
"Out for the day."
"So who’s running this place?" asked Phil, waving his hand at the Vic.
Presumably a nine-year-old.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The Apprentice - the sweet smell of success


OK, we know Paula probably wouldn’t have made the final. Too likeable. And can’t do maths.
But it seems so harsh to lose an otherwise reasonable candidate so early on. You could see Sr’alan doing some calculations of his own about the three victims in last night’s boardroom, though. Yasmina has won a task. And Ben? Well, he’s just good telly. Unfortunately, the little turd has “entertainment value” written all over him. Plus, he won a scholarship to Sandhurst – did you know that?
On the plus side for Paula, Sr’alan was weirdly complimentary about her product… he liked it so much we thought he was about to go and have a relaxing aromatic shower at one point.
You could tell Sr’alan would immeasurably rather have pointed his finger in opposing team leader Noorul’s direction – perhaps because as he was oozing contempt about Ignite’s soap, that soap was simultaneously oozing honey on to his suit.
Nick revealed a couple of weeks ago, in his best sinister voice, that he’d been watching Noorul and last night we finally realised why.
His opening meeting, as the teams decided what soapy products they’d be making, was a brilliant Apprentice moment. “Any… um… ideas…?” Noorul asked Team Ignite, clearly bereft of any himself.
Everyone fell silent. You could hear the slow drip, drip of the water cooler. A windmill creaked in East Anglia. We at Tellytalk took that as a “no”.
The one idea Noorul did have to sell their leaky honey soap (which becomes just like a normal soap once you’ve used it, you know) was to dress his team as a terrorist squad – sorry, beekeepers – and send them down the Tube. Not surprisingly, everyone ran away from them in horror.
Over on Paula’s team, everything seemed to be running smoothly. Until Nick pointed out they’d mistaken cheap cederwood oil for sandalwood oil (£12,000 a kilo). And Yasmina had mixed up three grams and three per cent, which meant they’d used rather a lot of it too.
The team spent about 20 minutes standing open-mouthed in shock.
Yasmina’s reaction was the best. “No, half of 45… s****”
We didn’t think Nick was supposed to tell them what mistakes they’d made until the boardroom. Even when she knew, however, Paula still didn’t seem to price her products high enough to break even.
The initial mistake, however, was Yasmina’s. In a fair world, Paula probably wouldn’t have gone. But The Apprentice isn’t fair.
And this year’s “personalities” have been a bit dull, so far.
They probably need mouthy little gits like Ben, to keep the interest alive, if nothing else.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A tough team exercise


Three weeks into this series, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the quiet ones had better be worried.
Last week, a menacing Nick warned background lurker Noorul he had been “watching him for a long time.”
This week, laid back Maj got the boot for not doing anything at all really in last night’s fitness task. Quite right, really.
The moral of the story is, be loud and proud - even if your loudness and proudness results in the invention of the gloriously awful Multi Tone home gym.
That’s what Team Empire came up with when S’ralan asked his wannabe apprentices to design portable home fitness equipment for this week’s task.
Brash Ben (he’s the good looking one, arf) thought his ugly black box with a step and some wires inside it was the best thing since sliced bread.
“I shocked myself I’ve invented such a bloody good product,” he commented.
Mind you it was better than the “sex exercise” idea he originally kept going on about.
What was he thinking?
“We need some sort of spring loaded....” Ben began, as he gestured vaguely towards his nether regions.
Thank goodness he never got to finish the sentence.
At first, Empire seemed to be heading along the right lines with talk of a product to deal with every woman’s worst nightmare - bingo wings.
“Keep it simple!” hapless team leader James had warned Ben and the other half of his team as they got together with the designers to bring their idea to life.
Quite how the snappy sounding bingo buster ended up as something which looked like a cross between a miniature electric chair and an amplifier is anyone’s guess.
And quite why John Lewis ordered 500 is another worry.
The catastrophic contraption couldn’t hold a candle to rival Team Ignite’s genuinely great looking Body Rocka.
Although their success (an order for 10,000 - again from John Lewis) was no thanks to Dragon Lady Debra, their ghastly leader.
Couldn’t you slap her?
Thank goodness for hip swiveling Philip who came up with the product and delightfully disheveled Lorraine, who made some pretty awful pitches - but nothing nearly as bad as we’ve previously seen on this show.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Soapsuds


MUCH use Granny Deirdre is in a fire.
There was poor little Simon, trying to make the vital phone call on CORONATION STREET to the fire brigade to get him and Peter out of a burning building.
And there was Grandma, clogging up the phone line again.
"Are you all right, Simon?" she gravelled down the phone at the cherubic tot.
"Will you get off the phone, grandma? I’m trying to call the fire brigade," the little’un informed her, not unreasonably.
In fact, we’re surprised Simon could tell it was a real live fire. He’s spent so much of his young life around at Granny Deirdre’s with her Benson and Hedges collection, he probably thought that amount of smoke is par for the course.
Anyway, we were glad he was safe. And Leanne (rabbit Leanne). We weren’t that bothered about Pathetic Peter. As for his 80s record collection – well, that deserved to melt.
Elsewhere, Maria appears to fancy Tony (Liam’s not been dead six months) and Tom appears to fancy Maria. "I go for unattainable women," he informed her, pointedly. Maria? Unattainable? We think half the men in Manchester would beg to differ.
As for Lloyd’s "lads’ away trip" to Ibiza – well that, we believe, is a voyage through the universe with Rimmer, Cat and Kryten. (Favourite ever Red Dwarf joke? "That’s a really ugly picture". "It’s a mirror").

Soapsuds




WE’RE not sure this is entirely the right time or place to admit this, but just so you know... Archie from EASTENDERS...?
We probably would. Well, maybe.
There. It’s out in the open and we can’t take it back now. For an old cardi-wearing guy, he is seriously tasty.
In fact, he’s turning into one of our favourite characters, the manipulative swine.
And we’re getting increasingly concerned that just when they’ve built him up into a fabulous villain, they’re going to ham it all up with THAT wedding next week.
Please don’t write him out or kill him off or make him have to leave. We want him to stay.
We’ll even forgive him that he’s responsible for YET AGAIN preventing Danielle from telling Ronnie the worst-kept secret in the history of soap.
Incidentally, those lavish-looking trailers for the wedding next week. What the flip is that all about?
They probably cost more than Dot Cotton’s entire salary for the last 12 months.
And she’s up for a Bafta (though Lord only knows why, actually).
Elsewhere this week we welcomed the marvellous Edward Woodward into the show. He’s got four Ds in his name, you know. Otherwise he’d be called E-war-woo-war.
Boom boom.
Oh and here’s another.
What do you call a man with a wooden head? Edward.
What do you call a man with three wooden heads? Edward Woodward.
There you go – this is officially the funniest Soapsuds columns we’ve ever written now.
Thanks, Edward.
Over on CORONATION STREET, Gail "Tough Love" Platt has finally done what she should have done years ago.
Yes, instead of blinking at David in a reproachful way, she’s finally kicked him into oblivion. Well, Liverpool. With her ex, Martin. Same thing.
Phew! Now we can maybe all move on from perjury and juvenile detention plotlines. Because we’re not sure about you, but after all that Julie Myerson stuff in the tabloids, we’re heartily sick of middle-class mums bleating on about their tearaway sons. Actually, does Gail Platt count as middle class? Well, Audrey would certainly like to think so.
Anyway, after Corrie’s brief day in the sun last week with Becky’s wedding, we’re back to the usual nonsense we’ve seen too much of lately. Joe, Gail’s man-of-the-moment (who comes complete with Martin Platt’s hair-gelled hedgehog do) jeopardised the relationship by accepting a job from the Windasses – the same family whose refusal to pay up for their kitchen sent his business spiralling downhill in the first place. And that’s not the only thing that makes no sense. Namely Tony and whatserface (Natasha, is it?) Why should we care? As for Poppy, that new barmaid, is it just us or do you see her and think "Five o’ clock shadow"? Maybe it’s just us.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Rocky's knocked out..


Oonagh Robinson on Week Two of The Apprentice...

Poor little Rocky fell for the oldest trick in The Apprentice book during last night’s deliciously humiliating catering task.
Never, never, NEVER put yourself forward as team leader when the challenge is in any way related to the field in which you work.
You will ALWAYS get fired.
Sweet 21-year-old Rocky, who runs a chain of ten sandwich shops oop north, bravely volunteered to take control of the boys when they were asked to provide lunch and evening meals for high flying city bankers.
Hmm, so what food should they serve?
“The obvious thing is sandwiches,” Rocky suggested. Eureka!
But before he could say “BLT”, the other lads had randomly concocted a hideous Olympic 2012 theme for their lunch do. With different butties representing each Continent - including chicken tikka for Asia and peanut butter for the USA. Nice.
And things got worse for the evening event, when the theme shifted to Ancient Greece - with the boys all decked out in togas to serve cheddar and pickle on a stick to some of Chicago’s greatest business brains.
“I look like I’ve just escaped from a mental asylum,” observed a mortified looking Maj.
Unsurprisingly, the clients were not impressed - holding back a good chunk of the agreed price so that the lads made an unforgivable £161 loss.
If only they’d managed to secure that ludicrous £60-a-head deal moany Philip had originally pitched for.
Over on the girls’ team, no nonsense Yasmina was having an equally bad time on the food front - despite allegedly being a "restaurateur."
And no, I don't think I'll be booking a table at her gaff any time soon either.
She sent clueless Kate in to pitch for the evening event in one of the most cringeworthy presentations in the entire history of commerce.
Hot food, cold food, bruschettas, blinis - it all seemed like another language to poor Kate.
Observer Margaret Mountford spoke for us all when she clutched her head in her hands in sheer desperation.
Nevertheless, despite serving plates and plates of hideous looking food - mostly chunky tomatoes and 74 tins of cheap tuna - the girls made a stunning £650 profit and duly went off to learn polo as their treat.
Poor, poor loser Rocky, meanwhile, had to decide who to take with him into the fearsome boardroom.
James - the one who says he wakes up in the morning and can taste success in his spit - was alarmed that he might be up for the chop.
“I feel like I did when my cat died,” he wailed.
Rocky also brought gawmless Howard in with him - on the basis that having run pubs successfully for several years, he should have known a teeny bit more about catering.
But in the end S’ralan took the easy option and got rid of our young novice. What a shame.
Still, the other chaps shouldn’t be resting on their laurels - especially after Nick Hewer’s chilling warning to Noorul for no particular reason I can fathom.
“I’ve made it my business to watch you for some time....”
Scary stuff indeed.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A dirty business


Oonagh Robinson on Week One of The Apprentice, Series Five


So here we go again, then. These are the 15 idiots, sorry, hopefuls we’ll be spending the next 12 weeks of our lives ridiculing and deriding.
Ah, don’t you just love reality television?
I must admit there was that familiar brief moment of doubt when I first glimpsed The Fifteen triumphantly trundling over the bridge pulling their little cases behind them.
“Oh no, this isn’t going to be as good as the last series!” I worried.
Fortunately, such concerns were swiftly put to bed as soon as Idiot Number One started waffling on about making money being better than sex.
And then Eloquent Anita made the killer statement: “I am outstanding - that’s a given!”
Yes that’s right, Anita was the one who later got fired.
I knew then it was all going to be all right.
S’ralan warned the hopefuls he wasn’t going to be taken in by people who were just good at using words.
“I know the words to Candle in the Wind,” he said, rather dubiously. “Don’t make me Elton John.”
He also revealed that one contestant - “Matey” - had already dropped out because he wasn’t up to the pressure needed to become S’ralan’s “diamond.”
The others could barely hide their glee.
Onto the task, and it was an apparently straightforward one. Go out and make money by cleaning something. Anything.
Most of the lads team, by now calling themselves Empire, headed down to a cab firm and spent what seemed like several hours pressure washing just one vehicle (with the door open).
“Never have so many people spent so much time cleaning so few cars,” said the marvellous Margaret Mountford, who was observing them.
The girls (aka Ignite), led by Mona - pronounced Monna for no particular reason - cocked the whole thing up big time by not spending their budget frugally.
Things didn’t look good when Mona at one point asked: “What’s this?”
Her colleague had to explain calmly: “A duster.”
Oh dear.
Sure enough, the girls lost and went off to get the obligatory “spanking in the board room,” as Nick Hewer would put it.
Surely it was going to be between hapless Mona, who thought she’d been a “fantastic leader” or scary Debra, who complained she’d been put in charge of a couple of puppets.
But no. Anita might as well have had “fire me now” written on her forehead as she admitted she’d made mistakes with the budget but would learn from them.
Bye bye love.
“In ten years time, he’ll think maybe I made the wrong decision,” Anita commented as she took that lonely cab ride back home.
I doubt it, love.
Like the rest of us viewers, S’ralan probably won’t even remember what you’re called in a couple of weeks when this series has started to kick off...

Clough (ITV1, 10.35pm Wed)



"HELLO young man!"
There he was. Brian Clough, back on the box; large as life and twice as natural in Clough (ITV1, 10.35pm).
Hazel eyes, crackling with humour, sizing up his interviewer to see what kind of reaction he’s provoking. And a mouth turned in a steady half-smile, always ready to say something outrageous.
And, by ‘eck, how we’ve missed him.
It has to be said, the last time ITV attempted a documentary about any of Nottingham’s sporting heroes, it was a great hide-behind-your-hands-in-horror disaster. Their tacky Torvill and Dean "tribute" involved such leading luminaries as Suzanne Shaw and Bonnie Langford giving their views on iceskating’s greats.
But the Clough family probably reckon things can’t get much worse, as far as portrayals of their patriarch are concerned. They’ve seen David Peace’s The Damned United – a "faction" they regard as an offensive fallacy – turned into a film. In this, the week of the movie’s release, they demanded their say.
And the result was a deeply moving, tremendously entertaining look at the life of Brian, seen through the eyes of his nearest and dearest. Brian’s beloved wife Barbara, his sons Nigel and Simon, and his players were all present and correct.
Narrator Pete Postlethwaite rumbled in the background. What was not to like? (At least, until Geoff Boycott appeared).
As you’d expect in a Cloughie retrospective, there were ripples of controversy. It turned out he never stood a chance with the England manager’s job, despite 95 per cent of the country baying his name. – Sir Harold Thompson, the FA’s domineering chairman, had already plumped for Ron Greenwood. And you could see the hurt The Damned United had wrought on Barbara.
"Have you read a novel with a real person’s name in it?" she demanded, angrily.
Still, we also saw Forest’s European triumphs, via a few clips of vintage Cloughie.
"I would sit ready for what he was going to say next," said Barbara, with a nervous laugh. "You sort of got used to it!"
There was no shying away from the misfortunes that beset Clough’s later years – recounted movingly by Nigel – who has now inherited his dad’s Derby mantle.
"He’s turning into my father," quipped a mischievous Simon.
"They should have got together again. It was ridiculous," sighed Barbara, before smiling. "They probably are together again!"
My only quibble was the timeslot. 10.35pm made it a late night for anyone wanting to see ITV finally do something right.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Comic Relief Apprentice

DIDN’T you want it to be Jonathan Ross who got fired? He was so teeth-grindingly annoying on Comic Relief Apprentice (BBC1, Fri).
Plus, we took so blimming long to even reach the actual firing, each snippet intersected with hours of – yet MORE – Jonathan Ross, this time in the Comic Relief studio.
We thought the editing HAD to be building towards a wed card for Wossy.
Everyone in the Great British nation who wanted the Beeb to sack him last year, following Sachs-gate (most of us simply because we can’t stand Ross, rather than out of sympathy for that Satanic Slut woman) finally seemed to have been granted their wish: namely Sr’Alan Sugar, pointing his finger across the boardroom table, informing him of instant dismissal.
But no. Even though the boys’ team lost and even though their failure in the task – to design a new toy – seemed to be largely down to Wossy’s vast ego, Gerald Ratner failed to bring him into the boardroom. Pah!
Ratner, of course, is famous for wiping £500 million off the value of his jewellery company after declaring he was selling “total c**p”.
Clearly he hasn’t learned his lesson because he made the same mistake with the boys’ team product – a “swap belt” (a belt on which little collectables could be hung) – was a “s**t or swim” product. Charming.
Well Sr’Alan decided it was the former.
“But kids have loads of Pokemon characters!” protested Wossy. “Yes, but Pokemon is a popular cartoon that didn’t originate in the mind of Jonathan Ross,” we wanted somebody to point out but no-one did.
In the end, it was squealy-voiced Alan Carr who went but nobody – not even Sr’Alan – was taking it terribly seriously.
All except Patsy Palmer who had kicked up a right old stink on the girls’ team. The girls’ winning design, a velcro suit that sticks you together with somebody else, looked fab. We’ve already got one on mail order. But Patsy was too busy playing Bianca: “Down’t you tell me what to do!” she screamed at her team leader, businesswoman Michelle Mone. “’Ow dare you?”
You can take the woman out of Walford... sadly there seems to be no removing Ross from the BBC – even temporarily.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Let's hear it for the boys!


Oonagh Robinson on the new BBC3 sketch show Horne & Corden...



Well, all things considered, our boy Mathew Horne and his pal James Corden didn’t do at all bad in their first outing as sketch show kings.
"Promising" - that’s how I’d describe Horne & Corden (BBC3, Tues).
"A lot better than I thought it was going to be after their terrible stint on the Brits" - is another way of looking at it.
The dull and embarrassing intro bit with the pair as "themselves" (a la Mary Whitehouse Experience) needs dropping immediately.
Some of the sketches went on far too long without really going anywhere. Superman and Spiderman, for instance. That was really good for the first minute, but got irritating after a further four. Same with Xander, the boarding school chum from hell.
And there was rather too much reliance on James Corden taking his clothes off and wobbling his fat belly for my liking.
He’s a large man with a big gut. Can we move on now, please?
But all in all, there were several glimmers of hope.
Camp News 24 war correspondent Tim Goodall was hilarious with his " 'iya from Basra!" routine. "OMFG, what just happened?" he minced as a huge bomb exploded in front of him.
Corden’s excellent impersonation of Ricky Gervais in Karate Kid 14 also made me titter.
Not sure what the viewing public are going to latch on to as the main catchphrase from this series.
Because, let’s face it, without a silly catchphrase, no sketch show can ever survive.
We’re banking on Jonny and Lee Miller, the anti gun crime magicians, with their: "When I say you say we say you say..." act.
Like all good catchphrases, it doesn’t look anything written down.
But repeat it enough times every episode and you might just get away with it.
Similarly, repeat some of those good characters and drop the dross, and Corden and Horne (sounds much better that way round to me) might also have a hit on their hands.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Ready Steady Cook with Becky



Ready Steady Cook (BBC2, 4.30pm weeknights) doesn't bother with boring members of the pubic as contestants now.
Instead, its kitchens are a celeb-only zone (well, we say celebs, we mean minor characters off Holby City).
But last night, they had Mansfield superstar Becky Adlington and her mum Kay competing to win that special Ready Steady Cook plate thing that has "straight to eBay" written all over it, plus the chance to donate money to charity.
We used to like the lovely Fern Britton as presenter but, of course, she defected to ITV years ago. So now we've got former Ready Steady chef Ainsley Harriott. We used to think the problem with Ainsley was that he wasn't quite used to being a presenter yet. He's always awkward and gurning. But it's been about 10 years, for pity's sake. 10 YEARS! And Ainsley still behaves with the gritted-teeth bonhomie of your dad at a dinner party, trying to cover up for the fact there's been some massive family row. The outsized helpings of forced jollity drive us insane.
Becky, she of the golden hair and the golden medals, confessed she wasn't actually an amazing cook. That was good - we'd be far too jealous otherwise. Her "goody bag" contained steak, an enormous potato, cheese, brocolli and a carrot that rolled on to the floor. "We'll WASH IT, it's alright!" cried Ainsley to the viewers, already in a tizz. Is he worried about being the subject of a letter on Points of View or something? Then he told Becky she could put the broccoli in a flask and take it to training. Hah?
Over on the other side (the red tomato kitchen), Becky's mum Kay had one of those fab Italian chefs called Aldo, who says everything once in English, then repeats it in Italian. As in "Perfect! Perfecto!" He thought he'd do soul meuniere with the fish Kay had brought. "With the rest, you will see something you have never seen before" he said, with Mediterranean panache. "Ooooooh!" went the audience. "Making it up as he goes along" we thought.
Kay is, apparently, an excellent cook. It runs in the family. "My nan-ah was a dinner lady and she was brilliant," she says.
Nan-ah! How fab to hear that on national TV! As the saying goes, you can take the ladies out of Mansfield...
The 20 minute countdown began, as did Ainsley's questions of randomness to his guests. But he actually managed to uncover a scoop. Did you know that Becky Adlington, winner of two Olympic gold medals for swimming, doesn't like the sea?
"I love water, I just don't love it with fish in it," she says. "It's fear of the unknown. Sharks and things that might eat you."
Aldo the Italian, clearly had no such qualms and was busy slitting Kay's lemon soul and sprinkling it with salt.
"Becky won't eat fish," adds Kay. "She won't even come in the kitchen when I'm cooking fish."
We reached the grand finale, which is always amusing, because it involves our contestants trying to simultaneously scoff five dishes and go: "Mmmm! It's lovely!"
Of course, Becky, in the green pepper kitchen, won. She is the nation's sweetheart, after all. And the Asian steak thingy with cheesy bread looked "Mmmm! lovely!"
"Here's a woman who achieved a challenge in the water, along with her mum!" cried Ainsley, in a confusing summation. Now, we have to say, our eyes were very bleary when we watched Becky achieve her Olympic glory. But we never noticed her mum splashing around in there with her. Maybe she was fending off the fish?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Should Cerrie get the sack?


By Oonagh Robinson


Due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e living with a psychotic toddler), I find myself watching a lot of kids’ telly.
Specifically, CBeebies - the dedicated channel for pre-school kids.
Now it’s not very often that this channel gets a mention in the news (I think the last time was when some plonker decided to drop In the Night Garden), but this week it’s hardly been out of the headlines.
All because of new presenter Cerrie Burnell, who only has one arm.
According to some reports, small tots have been running screaming from their living rooms and having recurrent nightmares because they have been forced to watch Ms Burnell.
Her disability, which she makes absolutely no attempt to hide (and why should she?) is too scary for small tots to put up with, according to some dubious Internet discussion forums.
"This sort of thing shouldn’t be inflicted on my granddaughters!" said one irate woman who called in to The Wright Stuff on Five this week.
Doesn’t it make you proud that you live in such a caring and broadminded society?
Of course, it’s utter nonsense that kids have been scared by Cerrie’s appearance.
My tot hasn’t even noticed and neither have any of her friends. That’s the beauty of little kids - they accept everything as completely "normal."
It’s far more likely that any "scaring" that’s been going on is a result of narrow minded parents vocalising their own expressions of distaste.
And even if a child did appear to be uncomfortable about watching the disabled presenter, wouldn’t that be a good opportunity for a parent to have a little chat about the issue and resolve the situation?
Rather than immediately bombarding the CBeebies message board with demands for Cerrie to be sacked.
On the other hand, I do actually think Cerrie SHOULD be fired. And her co-presenter Alex.
But that opinion has got nothing to do with disability.
I say that because they are both utterly terrible at presenting.
She has a permanent look like a rabbit caught in the headlights while he is so bland you could probably use him to wallpaper a new-build house.
And neither of them can sing the iconic "bedtime song" - a signal for millions of kids all over the UK to go to sleep.
Predecessors Chris and Pui were magnificent in comparison and it’s a travesty that they were dropped in favour of this insipid pair.
Heck, Pui was an actual Teletubby for goodness sake - what more could you want from a children’s presenter?
As I listen to my 22-month-old asking me every day: "Where Oy Dom?" (translation "where’s Pui gone?"), I have to wipe away a silent tear as I tell her she’s just away on holiday and will be back soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish Cerrie all the best and hope she goes on to prove me totally wrong - developing into an accomplished presenter.
But at this very moment?
Bring back Chris and Pui!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Meh Awards...

Oonagh Robinson on The Brit Awards (ITV1, Weds)

Well, it's a long way from Burton Joyce to The Brit Awards - but the question is will last night's co-host Mathew Horne get asked back next year?
Hmm, I wouldn't put money on it.
Oh, don't get me wrong. The Nottingham lad - who was presenting along with pal James Corden and teeny tiny Kylie Minogue - didn't do anything particularly horrifying. Nothing in the Sam Fox/Mick Fleetwood category anyway.
But the whole thing was just a bit "meh!"
Kylie spent most of the time backstage changing into different outfits.
Mat and James tried their hand at a few jokes (mostly centring around Craig David not winning anything, zzzzz) - and they seemed to go down like the proverbial lead balloon.
Unless that was just a result of these horrible modern production techniques for "live" TV performances, where the crowd noises are completely switched off - leading to a serious lack of atmosphere.
The awards themselves were a predictable affair - Duffy won everything and Coldplay walked away empty handed (snigger).
Paul Weller got British Male Solo Artist. Eh? Makes you wonder where Robbie Williams is when you need him.
It was a nice surprise to see Elbow pip Take That to the post for British Group - especially since Gary and the lads blatantly mimed during their "spectacular" live performance. (Although I rather liked their Kraftwerk inspired costumes, so maybe I'll let them off).
Iron Maiden were rather suspiciously named Best Live Act and a weird girl called Florence won something for being new and edgy and tall. Her swearing got bleeped out, which is lucky considering this was supposed to be a live broadcast.
The rest of the awards seemed to be dominated by "International" categories, mostly won by Kings of Leon.
Which brings me to the live performances.
U2 were surprisingly bad. Girls Aloud were surprisingly good (and wore hardly any clothes, which was quite helpful).
Chris Martin ran out of puff as usual, Duffy was boringly competent and the Ting Tings for some reason had to put up with Estelle ruining their biggest hits. Oh well.
The only ones who were really any good were the aforementioned Kings of Leon. So much for British music ruling the world.
Lifetime Achievement award winners The Pet Shop Boys struggled a bit in the finale until that nice chap from The Killers came on stage to help with their attempts at "singing." Lovely lad.
In the end, though, the whole show was a rather staid, oh-so-professional affair - with us viewers praying for some amusing cock-up or other to brighten the evening.
So let's give it up for Alex James from Blur, who was the only guest to even attempt to make himself look a total plonker by fumbling his lines and missing his cue...