Our Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV.
It almost certainly passed you by, but the civilian version of Big Brother ended its latest run on Monday.
And on Wednesday night, with great fanfare, Channel 5 launched another civilian version of Big Brother, with a line-up jam-packed not so much with Z-listers as no-listers including, in no particular order of anonymity:
Ashley McKenzie, Danica Thrall, Jasmine Lennard, Rhian Sugden, Prince Lorenzo Borghese. That’s right. THE Prince Lorenzo Borghese.
So it came as quite a surprise when Brian “I like it” Dowling confirmed that the TV listings magazine boffins had not made a clerical error in the evening’s schedule: “This is Celebrity Big Brother.”
An outlandish claim, surely. But no. The programme title was confirmed within moments when that oh-so-rare CBB beast appeared, an actual famous person – Corrie legend Julie Goodyear, the Goodyear Blimp, who’d come as a cross between WWE superstar Ric Flair and John Lowe in a wig, wearing a T-shirt with Bet Lynch’s catchphrase: “Get it? Got it? Good.”
And by the time Harry Hill’s figure of fun, EastEnder Cheryl Fergison, joined her for the opening night’s predictable, worn-out secret mission, all was going well, until the pair were defeated by the well nigh impossible task of working out how to insert an earpiece.
“Which way are we supposed to shove it? There’s a spike at the end. There’s a prick.”
There’s 13 of them by my reckoning, Julie. So let’s take a closer look at who’ll be clogging up our screens for the next three-and-a-half weeks.
Because, as Goodyear said: “I’ve never been in the celebrity world in my life.”
And she’s not about to start now, sharing a house as she is with the likes of Olympic judo flop Ashley McKenzie (pummelled 11-0 in the first round) who “got expelled from school three times”.
Which, if nothing else, proves that the school expulsion system is poorly marshalled.
But don’t for a moment think he’s the most unknown of the bunch.
There’s “the star of Channel 4 documentary Sex, Lies and Rinsing Guys, Danica”, the visually forgettable Samantha Brick, model Jasmine Lennard who’s not even allowed to discuss her only claim to fame – an affair with Simon Cowell – and a slimy Italian prince bloke who played the Gavin Henson role in The Bachelor USA (Lorenzo’s oil slick).
We have “reality sensation” Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino who boasted: “You can hate on me all you want to but what could you possibly say to somebody who looks like Rambo with their shirt off?”
Put your shirt on, sunshine?
He’s from MTV’s Jersey Shore which, as explained to Vernon Kay sex-text bimbo Rhian Sugden, is the “American version of Geordie Shore” and had her asking him: “Is it as bad?” which was almost as brilliant as Julian Clary enquiring: “You’re called The Situation? What’s your function?”
“I’m on US TV.”
“Alright, I’ll try to use short words.”
There’ll be time I’m sure for Coleen Nolan, MC Harvey, and Martin Kemp to shine or, hopefully, unravel spectacularly.
But the initial signs are that this series could be brilliant for two reasons – “renowned homosexual” Clary and battleaxe Goodyear whose high point on opening night, while in secret-task character, was mouthing the words “reality show” like it was an obscenity.
Clary in particular had a cracking start, putting Brick firmly back in her box by correcting her pronunciation of “Magaluf”, addressing Dowling as “Davina” and even out-gaying the presenter. No mean feat.
And asked in the diary room who would be the alpha male, he replied: “Ross Kemp.”
Big Brother: “Ross Kemp isn’t in the house.”
Clary could well be the saviour of CBB10. Just one small ask though, Julian, and I realise it’s a forlorn hope.
Drop the innuendos. They’re obvious, tired and stupid.
Russell Grant’s Olympic prediction for bronze medallist Tom Daley, in the Daily Mirror, before the Games: “A Saturn/Mercury link keeps his mind focused, inspiring him to take control of his own destiny and come out with a gold.”
I don’t know how he does it.
Channel 4’s trailer voiceover man: “Funny Fortnight kicks off this Thursday, at 9pm, with Peter Kay.”
Make that, Funny Thirteen Days.
On television a week last Monday, to thunderous applause and cheers, Great Britain won their first Olympic showjumping gold for 60 years, Beth Tweddle finished her glittering gymnastics career with her first Olympic medal, Jason Kenny became king of track sprint cycling, boxers Anthony Agogo and Anthony Joshua guaranteed Team GB two more medals by reaching the semi-finals, and our men’s basketball team won their first match at the Olympics since 1948.
On television last Monday, to thunderous applause and cheers, Gino D’Acampo walked barefoot over a vat of custard and cooked some aubergines, with Nick Knowles, on Let’s Do Lunch With Gino and Mel.
Enjoy your job over the next four years. It’ll be better than mine.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:
Eddie Butler’s beautifully written, beautifully edited Olympics 2012: A Golden Games.
Who Do You Think You Are? with Samantha Womack.
BBC2’s uplifting, life-affirming Paralympics drama The Best of Men.
The return of Jimmy McGovern’s superb Accused, with cross-dressing Sean Bean as the best-looking woman on the small screen since Roger Taylor, in the I Want To Break Free music video.
The contestants on Celebrity MasterChef, back in its rightful teatime slot, finally cooking somewhere their food can fit in, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, probably to donate it for research purposes.
And Channel 4’s excellent documentary Escape From Colditz in which a team of modern-day engineers “following the original plans to the letter” tested whether an audacious plot by British officers to fly to freedom by building a glider made from bed sheets and floorboards, catapulted off the roof of the World War II PoW fortress by a falling bathtub full of cement, which was abandoned only because the liberation of Europe happened first, would have worked.
Amazingly, it did. In fact the only bits that weren’t followed to the letter were not using floorboards, ditching the runway-made-from-tables idea, building and testing a scaled-down prototype and analysing the data on freeze-frame video, putting extra steel in the bathtub of cement for necessary additional weight, attaching the rope to two pulleys instead of one for the required take-off acceleration, remote-controlling the glider, and getting scrap metal from the local DIY superstore to reduce friction with the wooden runway on launch.
Apart from that, though. To. The. Letter.
Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education?
Jack Whitehall’s bad. Period.
TV Maths Wizard of the Week goes to Jake Humphrey, after Great Britain’s final gold of the Olympics: “Looking at the medal table, that’s 16 silvers for Team GB, 19 bronze and 29 of them are gold, which counts up to 29.”
Back for one last time to Stratford now on a night of disappointments during a sloppily conceived Olympics Closing Ceremony that was as lame as Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony was terrific, and as unwelcome as George Michael’s second song.
The overload of 1990s music featured the wrong Oasis band, the wrong Oasis number, and the Spice Girls who, let’s face it, are no Hear’Say.
Trevor Nelson fared no better than during the Opening Ceremony, claiming Fatboy Slim (first hit single in 1998) had great success “in the early 90s”.
The Rio 2016 presentation began with some sort of sick re-enactment of the De Menezes shooting (I think) before a Brazilian Elvis appeared strapped to two dozen flashing lightbulbs, followed by Pele who, based on his previous endorsements for erectile dysfunction products, was probably wise not to bring a football for some “keepy uppy”.
And Steve Ovett failed to turn up and recreate the old days by running past Seb Coe at the podium and finishing that speech for him, while waving to the crowd.
I did, however, enjoy the Ugandan national anthem, not played at any Olympics since 1972 until the men’s marathon medal ceremony on Sunday night, which turned out to be the theme from Police Academy.
It was fantastic to see a montage of all the athletes who became Olympic legends at London 2012 – Bolt, Phelps, Farah, erm, the British hockey women bronze medallists.
Eric Idle actually did the swear in Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
Elbow were pure class, even if Hazel Irvine, with the benefit of notes and having seen rehearsals, identified the wrong song.
The Freddie Mercury reincarnation segment idea worked; the Jessie J replacing Freddie Mercury idea didn’t.
Gary Barlow showed immense courage to perform to the world after such a private tragedy.
And I’m already looking forward to The Who bringing down the curtain on the London 2072 Olympic Games.
But what the Closing Ceremony did above all was to ease the country’s transition back to normality.
Let’s face it, had it not been so indescribably poor, the comedown from our Olympic high could have been unbearable.
Feels good to be cynical again, doesn’t it?
A full review of last night’s X Factor series opener will appear here next week.
In the meantime, here’s the short review.
No “Super Saturday” with Mo Farah, was it?