OUR TV writer gives his view on this week on the box:
News of a great statesman’s death filtered through shortly before 10pm on Thursday.
So over to ITV who’d no doubt have the latest tributes to Nelson Mandela, starting with Rebecca Adlington who was speaking to Alfonso Ribeiro.
“Amy told us that you had told Amy that Lucy was heading a hate campaign against her.”
Not quite the tribute I’d been expecting.
Nor was the denial that followed from the bloke who played Carlton in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that he’d bad-mouthed Emmerdale’s Chas Dingle.
Then the penny dropped.
Extraordinarily, ITV had thought better of interrupting I’m A Celebrity with the Mandela newsflash.
An unfathomable decision that sums up this show’s third dismally under-achieving series in a row.
Instead of nightly brilliance it’s been a three-week barney about concealer (whatever that is), chewing gum and fem wipes (whatever they are).
Any prospect of the camp erupting was scuppered, alas, by a TV golden rule you’d think this programme knew inside out.
A well-fed camp is a happy camp.
A happy camp is a dull camp.
There’s no denying it’s had its moments.
Ant and Dec have worked their socks off to carry this series, although they should have made much more of their Matthew Wright impression.
Ribeiro blowing his fuse will never get tired: “ENOUGH, MATTHEW. OKAY. ENOUGH!”
And Laila Morse’s highly personal exit interview (“It’s made me a better person”) was a rare treasure, along with her trial where a cold-blooded, hideous beast... let a crocodile lay on top of her for one minute.
But the truth is I’d rather watch Steve “Stumble” Davis’s pre-bushtucker trial pratfall into the pond on a loop than sit through another 90 minutes of slurry-laden daily highlights, least of all the dreary Dingo Dollar Challenges with the Kiosk Keith obsession.
ITV need to hold up their hands and admit they got the casting atrociously wrong.
Sick note Rebecca Adlington shouldn’t have been there if she couldn’t do any trials, the spiteful bitching about Amy Willerton by women twice her age was unpleasant, not entertaining, and there simply weren’t enough characters.
Matthew Wright, a poor man’s David Van Day, departed before he could perfect his impression of Compo from Last of the Summer Wine with the lunatic eyes of The Shining’s Jack Torrance.
He did at least try to stir it up, suggesting a tools-down protest that the one from Westlife refused to join, prompting the immortal words from Wright: “That’s what’s happened to industrial relations in this country. Scabs like you.”
A sentiment delivered to an Irishman in the Australian jungle, so which country he was referring to I’m not sure.
But the immunity tokens twist served only to protect the quietest in camp from the chop.
Wednesday’s emails from home backfired spectacularly when everyone won their message.
Ribeiro’s Carlton dance was no Ashley Roberts’ Don’t Cha routine.
And smart cookie Joey Essex repeatedly blew his own cover by exposing his thicko front as fake.
It was day 17, though, when Lucy Pargeter, chewing over her foul fried-eel supper, concluded I’m A Celebrity XIII.
“It’s a bit pants, really.”
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
Sky Sports’ Mosconi Cup.
The One Show’s Japanese PoW “Railway Man” feature.
Frank Skinner invoking the spirit of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Sky Atlantic improvisation show Set List: Stand Up Without a Net.
Get-fit Dev’s behind-the-counter “walking workstation” treadmill on Corrie.
Abi Branning’s performing dog instantly becoming EastEnders’ greatest ever actor.
And Newsnight asking world memory champion Jonas von Essen to recall its end credits in order, and failing spectacularly: “The production team consists of... erm... it’s, erm... in order it’s, erm... Jake, erm...”
Paxman: “No that’s not the first one.”
Comic Greg Davies on The One Show: “Man Down is a comedy show.”
Finally, an explanation.
After last night’s (Prof Stephen) Hawking documentary, expect a sequel based on the trading activities of C4’s favourite group of people.
My Big Fat Gypsy Hawking.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
X Factor viewers booting out Tamera before Luke Friend.
The Now That’s What I Call Christmas album omitting Stay Another Day, the Doritos advert Mexican band version.
Carla and Peter’s bile-rising bespoke wedding vows on Corrie. (You can shove your “old Apache blessing” up your reservation, pal.)
And This Morning choosing Ground Force’s Tommy Walsh to lead the Mandela tributes: “When it was first talked about that we might get to do Nelson Mandela’s garden, for me there was no alternative. Although we had the Clintons’ house in New York as a back-up.” It’s how he’d want to be remembered.
The 10 people currently residing in EastEnder Bianca’s Tardis house seems set to rise following this question from boyfriend Tel to his son: “Tropical beach in a lovely sunny country or a sleeping bag in Walford? Which one do you think your mum’s going to go for?”
(21 minutes later...) Ding-dong!
“Nikki. What are you doing here?”
In C5’s The Bible last night, EastEnder Kierston “Kirsty Branning” Wareing was cast as Delilah.
Why... why... why...?
The question: “Are we alone in the universe?” was answered once and for all by the Happy Mondays’ lead singer, naturally, in the finale of History channel’s Shaun Ryder on UFOs.
He reached the same earth-shattering conclusion for all three UFO witnesses he interviewed.
Three generations of a Lancashire family? “They definitely saw something.”
A West Yorkshire policeman on duty? “Something happened.”
US Air Force pilots in Suffolk? “Clearly something truly extraordinary happened that night.”
No doubt about it. Something happened.
Ryder added: “A few years ago anything about UFOs in the red tops was really poking fun at it.”
Perish the thought.
This week’s You Are Talking About Shoe Size, Not Sex, Right? award goes to...
Corrie’s Hayley to Carla: “Half an inch either way might be the difference between triumph and disaster.”
A Great British Christmas With Sarah Beeny?
It really isn’t.
The full and varied comments from Louis Walsh to X Factor contestants last weekend.
“Luke, you’re like a relevant pop star.”
“Sam, look at you. You look relevant.”
“Tamera, you look like a relevant star of today.”
That’s Louis Walsh. X Factor’s biggest irrelevance.
Fresh from marrying his partner Scott, John Barrowman asked This Morning’s resident astrologer Russell Grant: “Will there be children in our future?”
Grant: “I think there is a great potential here for family, John. Jupiter and Cancer links to all these lovely watery signs.
“Fertility is in abundance.”
Fertility? Russell, there’s something you need to know about the bees and the bees.