OUR Sunday web columnist on the week’s TV:
Over in the Queensland jungle on Wednesday night, actress Lucy Pargeter clutched a pillow with her child’s photo and declared: “It makes you realise what you’re missing.”
So I checked – New Tricks, some thrown-together nonsense about a Tudor Monastery Farm and, for the really desperate, a Jack Whitehall gig, on BBC3.
Not much, then, to distract us from the 13th outing of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! which began with Steve Davis’s theory: “There’s no smoke without fire,” proven by fellow OBE Rebecca Adlington with the use of a tampon.
It’s about the only thing that has ignited so far on a damp squib of a series whose fault lies squarely with ITV’s uninspired booking department.
They’ve given us Will Smith’s back-in-the-day straight man, Gary Oldman’s big sister, one of Westlife, a Channel 5 daytime presenter, snooker’s Mr Interesting, a phantom Olympic pool piddler, Chas Dingle, THE Amy Willerton and third-person speaking fashion designer David Emanuel who looks like Russell Grant having eaten Jonathan King.
Most of all, though, they’ve given us Joey Essex, a star billing that says everything about this year’s line-up.
Worse, the network is doing everything in its power to hand victory to the TOWIE bandana berk.
He’s already being referred to as “Hero Jungle Joey”, receives the bulk of airtime and his myriad flaws have been magically inverted to his advantage.
Under normal circumstances, a fully grown man who can’t tell the time, blow his own nose or comprehend rudimentary English but does, to be fair to him, understand crockery goes into a dishwasher dirty and comes out clean would be ridiculed and dismissed from public attention.
Not Joey, a bloke who wouldn’t “confrontate” anyone, not without good reasontate.
ITV has made all these traits affectionate and paired him with beauty queen Amy in the hope of a fumble in the jungle.
But I can’t blame just him when most of the support cast aren’t helping matters.
Spare part Kian Egan may insist: “There is nothing I won’t do,” to which anyone who saw him as a judge on Your Face Sounds Familiar will attest, but it’s more accurate to say that, seven days in, there’s nothing he has done.
The huge viewing figures don’t lie, however, and this show’s popularity is bigger than ever.
That’s understandable. The format is unbreakable, the Bushtucker eating trial was epic, Ant and Dec are on top form (“Monday night takeaway, the only trial on TV that says don’t just watch the nads, eat them”) and Matthew Wright has stepped effortlessly into the grumpy old sod role.
He’s been the most entertaining one there from the moment he revealed on day one he’d had “a last-night hurrah on my own in the hotel”.
(Don’t worry, Matthew, that won’t show up on your room bill.)
But the mid-series injection of new campmates needs to make a dramatic improvement, because right now a vintage series seems beyond our reach.
If it doesn’t, I’ll have to agree with a thoroughly disgruntled Matthew Wright after the through-the-night memory task.
“What a waste of everybody’s time.”
Everybody’s except Joey’s, of course.
He can’t tell the time.
This week’s Best Preparation For An All-Night UFO Vigil In Remotest Chile award goes to...
History channel’s Shaun Ryder on UFOs: “Our experts have set up their equipment but they’ve forgotten some of the crucial parts. So we’re not really going to get anything.”
Worth the trip, then.
TV stars getting parents onto their own shows is a real pet hate.
So, following Sarah Millican and Matt Lucas’s lead, BBC3 presents Backchat With Jack Whitehall & His Dad (Michael), which included an ill-judged Hitler joke immediately after the pair interviewed Jeremy Paxman about his World War I book.
It’s clear that Whitehall Jr doesn’t get his comic talents from his father, for one obvious reason.
His dad is actually funny.
Go solo, Michael. Just don’t get your son onto your own TV show.
Not even undiscovered tribes in the rainforest of Sumatra could have avoided the BBC’s Doctor Who overkill this week.
Last night’s 50th anniversary The Day of the Doctor (“The TV event the whole universe is talking about,” apparently) followed Dr Who: The Ultimate Guide, Dr Who: Greatest Monsters and Villains, Dr Who docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, Pointless Celebrities’ Dr Who special and back-to-back Dr Who episodes on BBC4.
As for who put in the greatest performance, it wasn’t Matt Smith, David Tennant or even John Hurt.
No, that accolade goes to a disco-dancing Cyberman (don’t ask) fainting through a drum kit, live on The One Show.
Another 12 regenerations of that, please.
Lessons in telling the time for Joey Essex, part one.
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time.
And not the technical name for “time of the month”.
Loose Woman Janet Street-Porter discussing accents: “There’s north London, south London, east London and west London.”
Jane McDonald: “So what’s Joe Swash?”
A bit of a prat?
Street-Porter: “Well, he’s a bit like Danny Dyer.”
I’ll take that as a “yes”.
Sunday Side Up host Stephen Mulhern during the guess-the-sound-effect game: “What’s this noise?”
(Caller makes sound of a dripping tap.)
Matt Willis: “Ping pong?”
Mulhern: “No, you have to turn it off.”
This week’s Spudulikes...
Ant and Dec.
Saul Berenson’s (and actor Mandy Patinkin’s) finest hour on a rejuvenated Homeland.
X Factor writing its TV review for me by opening with I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.
And Loose Women’s Andrea McLean getting a fit of the giggles announcing: “Oxford Dictionaries have revealed their word of the year is something long and hard... I mean something long and hard to pronounce.”
This week’s Spuduhates...
EastEnders’ cast trying to act drunk – about as realistic as Alfie and Roxy’s stag and hen parties straying no further than the Vic and the R&R.
ITV interrupting I’m A Celebrity with a meaningless football friendly. (Ever heard of ITV2, dummies?)
The Ashes being unavailable on free-to-view TV.
Newsnight’s inability to spell “foriegn” and the editor decreeing BBC4’s Borgen newsworthy enough to devote eight minutes to it.
ITV2 awarding Tricked a series highlights show.
And stone-throwing, glass-house inhabitant Peaches Geldof assuming This Morning’s newspaper review rent-a-gob role... six days after branding Katie Hopkins on This Morning a “rent-a-gob”.
X Factor’s Gary Barlow to Sam Callahan, who gave George Michael’s Faith the Andrew Ridgeley treatment: “When I think back to when I was 19, was I the best singer in the charts? No. Far from it.”
Reassuring how some things never change.
Ben Shephard and Julia Bradbury are gallivanting around the country investigating ghosts and aliens for ITV’s bloody awful Mystery Map, which arrived with this perfect introduction from the continuity woman.
“Now on ITV, they say some things you just can’t explain.”
Mystery Map being one of them.
But I’ll give it my best shot here next week.