DOWN on the French Riviera, 24 girls are competing in “the ultimate dating contest” for “the ultimate prize”.
And whereas last year we had the ultimate prize prat in Gavin Henson, series two’s “catch” was being kept under wraps from Channel 5’s latest bevy of bunny boilers.
For, as The Bachelor’s narrator Hugo Speer teased: “None of the girls have any idea just who they are about to meet.”
Presumably, then, they’d just been told he’s Spencer Matthews, from Made In Chelsea.
So, with quizzical looks all round and whispers of “Who?” we were off and running on the best meat-market show on British television, beginning with the traditional parade of slap-on make-up emerging one by one from the limo, like the contents of a bottomless Mary Poppins bag, to meet “the ultimate bachelor”.
And quite the varied array of girls we had too.
There’s London PA Sophia, who’s actually heard of Spencer Matthews, Manchester PA Khloe (Kerry Katona meets Gazza, in a head-on collision), London model Jerri, Buckinghamshire model Renay, Cornwall model Brandy, South Shields dancer Rachel who said: “If you could get a straight guy to dress like a gay guy but be a man then that would be perfect,” and was clearly hoping for David Walliams, and, in quite a departure, model booker and dancer Chloe, who “gets a lot of attention from raging lesbians”.
Only one, however, is fully equipped to deal with her fellow contestants – Danielle, from Norfolk, who “works in a medium-secure mental hospital, restraining people”.
She’s certainly got her work cut out in the south of France, not least in the face of the continual behind-their-backs bitching among the girls:
“Just WHAT is she WEARING?”
“Come on, ditz.”
“Is she really wearing those shoes?”
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, had I feared this second series would miss a Gavin Henson-shaped bozo as the main protagonist.
It turns out, though, that the secret winning formula to The Bachelor is one part The Plank, nine parts The Girls.
They’re a vision of hell in high heels and I don’t believe for a second that Matthews isn’t already regretting this.
But, to his credit, he’s playing the game and it makes for great viewing.
He was “looking for a spark right from the start”, and if there’s any justice, that spark will be provided near vile Renay sitting on a barrel of TNT.
“I’m quite memorable, just because of the way I talk and the way I look and the aura that I give out.”
Keep it in, dear.
It was Rachel, however, who asked Matthews the question on everybody’s lips: “What do you do?” (a blooming good question).
“I used to work in foreign exchange.”
I’m guessing, then, that he still has nightmare flashbacks whenever he hears the words: “Cashier number four, please.”
Though I suspect those will be replaced forever after with a new mental image.
One limo, an open door and two dozen girls, on the French Riviera.
Sue Barker at Wimbledon: “The ladies’ quarter final draw is now complete and very bottom heavy it is too.”
That’s no way to talk about Serena Williams, Sue.
Phillip Schofield on Tuesday’s This Morning: “Today’s question of the day is: ‘Tatoos. Tasteful or tacky?’ We’re debating that issue with Jodie Marsh.”
In that case, tacky.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:
Channel 4’s continuity announcer feeling the need to tell us: “Don’t try this at home,” before extreme sports enthusiasts walked across an icy tightrope over a chasm 2,660 metres above sea level in the French Alps, on Daredevils: Life On The Edge. (Okay, I won’t).
Russell Brand disappearing up his own backside on Sky Atlantic’s BrandX.
ITV1 comparing the phenomenal Spanish football team to “boring” Steve Davis and Geoffrey Boycott.
Paddy McGuinness’s Irish dad-dancing at the start and end of yet another panel show we don’t need, ITV1’s Mad Mad World (Michael Flatley’s got a lot to answer for, but not half as much as Dermot O’Leary).
BBC News misspelling the name of its own new director general on Wednesday lunchtime. (Bit of career advice to whoever writes the on-screen captions. “Entwistle”, as in George, does not have an “H” in the middle).
And Krishnan Guru-Murthy concluding an interview on Sunday evening’s Channel 4 News about Britain’s 4x100m relay squad: “Jo Pavey, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight. Sorry, Joyce Pavey.”
“I’m Joice Maduaka.”
Outlandish TV claim of the week, from BBC1’s Martin Keown at the Euro 2012 football final: “Who knows, in two years’ time England might be playing in a World Cup final.”
Hitting a bum note on ITV1’s Mad Mad World, it’s Louis Walsh: “Nobody has ever farted on The X Factor.”
You sure about that? I have heard Jedward and Cheryl Cole sing, you know.
Security! Full lockdown! All prisoners return to their cells immediately!
Because a potato peeler’s gone missing, from HMP Brixton’s kitchen, and unless the screws find it, there’ll be a strip search of all inmates.
Except for the minor point that it hadn’t.
It was an inventory error by Gordon Ramsay and his Bad Boy Bakers – there were only ever 11 peelers, not the 12 his band of culinary klutzes had counted out – and everyone could put their clothes back on and remove any stray latex gloves from their bodily parts.
So ended the drama on week two of Channel 4’s Gordon Behind Bars, with one of the convicts delivering the TV complaint of the week: “We were treated like prisoners in the kitchen.”
And that’s the point Ramsay is missing entirely. He’s in a jail, not The Ivy, and it is to his surprise alone that this experiment to set up a commercial bakery run by criminals on the inside is doomed to failure.
There are too many necessary security checks, searches, X-raying of cakes, and utensils locked safely away, which had him asking: “Why is that door locked? Why can’t we just have the door open?”
To which came the excruciatingly obvious reply: “Because we’re prisoners.”
Yet Ramsay’s ego is too big to allow him to roll up his apron, walk away and admit it’s all been a terrible idea.
Instead, he’s convinced himself this is just another cookery programme: “The baking might be finished but tomorrow they’ve got 300 cakes to ice.”
“With the ovens fired up, the kitchen’s really delivering on bread and scones. But there’s a major problem with the lemon treacle tart.”
There’s a major problem all round if you ask me, exacerbated by those pesky prison officers doing their jobs, which this week included chucking one of Ramsay’s Bad Boys, Jerome Samuels, out of the kitchen and transferred to another jail.
Not that the inmate was taking it lying down: “I’m a good person but people take me the wrong way, innit? I’ve got a bad reputation, innit, of back-chatting and being rude to officers, innit? My life is nothing but a crime, innit, from a young age, innit?”
I suppose it is. I suppose it is.
There are signs, however, that Ramsay is already realising this was always a non-starter: “What a disaster. What total waste of time, effort and money.”
Matt Baker on BBC1’s unofficial publicity vehicle for its London 2012 coverage, The One Show: “Are you looking forward to the Olympics?”
Derren Brown: “No.”
Somebody had to say it.
Just one Couch Potato Spudulike award this week, to BBC2’s magnificent 7/7: One Day In London.
Beautifully filmed and edited, humbling, moving and, above all, on the BBC iPlayer if you didn’t see it.
ITV1’s Let’s Get Gold?
Let’s never speak of this again.
Until next week when, I strongly suspect after collecting my thoughts, I will have much to say on the matter.