OUR weekly web colunist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:
Cast your minds back for a moment to 2008, a year England skilfully avoided humiliation in the European Football Championship finals by not qualifying.
Nonetheless, the BBC, in its ultimate wisdom, forked out £600,000 on a glass-walled rooftop studio, with a stunning Viennese backdrop, for one of the dullest tournaments in memory.
Four years on, both England and Ireland reach the finals, the matches are thrilling, and what happens?
That’s right. Gary Lineker and friends are holed up in a bunker somewhere several hundred miles below Salford. Pretty much.
So you don’t have to be a football fan to realise it’s a short-sighted decision by cheapskates, made all the more laughable minutes before the opening game when Lee Dixon announced: “We’re all England fans here,” as he looked across the studio to blank faces from Alan Hansen and Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf.
We’re at Euro 2012, obviously, which is more than you can say about the Beeb.
Not that they don’t have a presence in Poland and Ukraine. Oh no.
Without Jake Humphrey pitch-side, for example, we would have been completely unable to put Germany’s titanic clash with Holland on Wednesday evening into any kind of context.
For Jake, getting soaked by the sprinklers while Ukraine’s Eurovision entry blasted over the PA system, was there to explain helpfully: “This game is the equivalent of England versus Germany.”
Okay, so now we understand.
It’s easy to see, then, why ITV is trouncing its rival in all areas of the park.
They’ve actually bothered to set up camp in one of the co-host nations, in Warsaw’s beautiful Castle Square, which admittedly has its own drawbacks.
Namely the raucous home fans, who had Adrian Chiles pleading on day one: “Just tell those Poles to pipe down a bit, will you, while I talk to Gareth (Southgate) about the goalkeeper,” the posse of busking drummers below their balcony and, on Tuesday night, 150 riot police.
It’s a situation almost as ridiculous as some of the claptrap the pundits from both channels have been spouting.
Southgate: “What we don’t know is how poor Czechoslovakia are.”
Well, Gareth, I’ve checked and it turns out they haven’t qualified for any tournament since ceasing to exist, in 1993.
Andy Townsend, when France equalised against England: “Joe Hart will want to save this, Clive.” You dare say.
Jonathan Pearce: “It’s throbbing in Kiev.” (Remind me never to eat at the same restaurant as him).
Gordon Strachan, on Petr Cech’s fumble which gifted Greece a goal: “You just can’t analyse this. From that moment the game changed. That mistake cost the Czechs another half an hour of running and pressure and energy. If it had been 2-0, the game would have been dead.”
Seems you can analyse it.
And Alan Shearer: “Germany are offering so much more than the Germans.”
Like something from Dr Seuss, there are too many Alans on the BBC, so many in fact that Lineker, an otherwise unflappable anchorman, has started to get them mixed up.
At least the BBC’s red button offers the “no commentary” option.
What it doesn’t provide is a “no Gabby Logan” option.
Here’s a woman who quantum leaped from talking about the England team meeting Holocaust survivors to telling us, without pausing for breath, that Mario Balotelli was having a cup of coffee nearby.
And on Wednesday, Gabby, fresh from making a documentary on sexism in football, delivered a hard-hitting live report from Krakow about the players’ haircuts.
So may I suggest a suitable replacement. Craig Stephens.
Who, you ask? Well, he’s the presenter of ITV1’s post-midnight gambling show Jackpot 247 who in the early hours of Thursday demonstrated the required level of punditry: “How are we doing in the football, by the way? Are we all right? I don’t know. I genuinely have no idea.”
Craig, here’s a BBC microphone. Get yourself to Poland pronto.
I had planned to watch Big Brother’s launch night and report back before abandoning the series until the finale.
But I was off last week so I couldn’t.
Never mind, eh?
My assessment of Griff Rhys Jones’ new Channel 4 comedy panel show A Short History of Everything Else.
Not short enough.
James Corden winning a Tony award may have left you gobsmacked.
But surely not as much as the reaction of Carol McGiffin on Tuesday’s Loose Women to his tearful declaration of love for his fiancée during his acceptance speech:
“I do think that these great public declarations of love for someone very close to you, it’s like, who are you trying to convince? Why would you need to say that to someone who you live with, who you love, every day on a public forum? I don’t understand that. You don’t need to say it that publicly. You don’t need to tell everybody.”
And yes, if you’re wondering, this is the same Carol McGiffin who makes a great declaration of love for her toy-boy Mark on a public forum, ITV1, every day between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.
Eamonn Holmes to his Sunrise co-host on Sky News: “In yesterday’s Sunday newspapers you were described as the ‘sassy and classy Charlotte Hawkins’ for your coverage during the Diamond Jubilee.”
Hawkins: “And you were described as a solid anchor.”
Something like that, yes.
Medical advice of the week from Embarrassing Bodies Live From The Clinic’s Christian Jessen to a woman named Aveen who’s had a bald patch ever since a clump of hair was pulled out:
“I think you need to get someone to have a look at that.”
BBC3’s atrocious prison comedy Dead Boss?
Dead in the water.
Fans of scripted reality shows were in heaven this week when ITV2 served up two of them.
The Only Way Is Marbs saw the TOWIE lot jetting off on holiday, following their journey from the airport to a luxury hillside villa before watching some beach volleyball, eyeing up potential love interests, taking their tops off and generally having a blast.
In complete contrast, Mark Wright’s Hollywood Nights saw the twit from TOWIE and four mates jetting off on holiday, following their journey from the airport to a luxury hillside villa before watching some beach volleyball, eyeing up potential love interests, taking their tops off and generally having a blast.
Neither made much sense, but it’s the latter that made the least.
I’ll not concern you with too many details but at one point a police officer, or “actor” to be more accurate, sent to track down a gunman on the loose in their hotel forgot why he was there and arrested the youngest member of the Essex group on suspicion of underage drinking.
“The old Wrightster”, as Wright refers to himself in the third person, saved the day, of course, before setting off house-hunting in Beverly Hills where his guide, Hayley, told him: “Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes live right up the street.”
Wright: “Really? Tom Cruise? It’s just weird for us because we don’t have celebrities like that in the UK.”
No, we have celebrities like the old Wrightster, don’t we?
And if you think that dialogue was unfathomable, check out this exchange:
Wright: “The waitress knew you were difficult.”
Some American blonde named Lauren: “You’re lucky you’re cute. And you smell great.”
The old Wrightster: “That’s what I do, babe. That’s what I do.”
He does, however, have a catchphrase: “Hey, hey, hey! We’re in LA!”
Hey, hey, hey! Please stay!
Louis Theroux’s follow-up documentary Twilight of the Porn Stars made for some shocking viewing suitable for adults only.
To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to forget one truly X-rated scene aired without prior warning that’s burned into the memory and really should have been pixelated.
Theroux’s curtained hairstyle from the original 1997 programme.
Russell Brand discussed his forthcoming new television show Brand X on ITV1’s Lorraine: “It’s going to be on one of the Sky channels. You know the news? That stuff that keeps happening? I will be talking about it.”
The question I have to ask, therefore, is Brand X. Brand Why?