OUR Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:
Rarely is Hollywood’s biggest night of the year an unpredictable affair.
But with the most wide-open Oscars in ages, there was really only one big talking point at the 85th Academy Awards.
Over to Sky Living’s Alex Zane: “There seem to be a lot of beards on the red carpet.”
Yes, beards. And it sparked quite the debate among his studio guests, I can tell you.
Fashionista Antonia O’Brien: “Look at Clooney. He’s working a long grey beard. Hugh Jackman is the current king of the beard, alongside
Ben Affleck. Do you think he kept his so he’d be taken seriously in the film industry this season?”
Heat magazine’s Boyd Hilton: “It adds gravitas, doesn’t it?”
Zane: “I think we once had a conversation and you didn’t have a beard and I sort of zoned out halfway through...”
I know how the man feels. It was only the 17 cups of Kenco that kept me going, around the midnight hour, last Sunday night.
That, and a sweep stake I had with myself about how long Alex Zane would maintain the pretence that his “rooftop terrace here in
Hollywood” was inside a London television building.
Only up to the point, it transpired, that he announced: “Let’s hop across the pond now to Hollywood,” where Sky News reporter Lucy Cotter
confessed: “All your dignity goes out the window on the Oscars red carpet.”
She wasn’t kidding. What unfolded was a Tinseltown brown-nose operation, courtesy of pooled US network coverage, that made me long for the
chaotic, warped days of Fearne Cotton and Angela Griffin abandoning any shred of self-respect interviewing the stars pre-ceremony.
In their place, outside the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, was a height-obsessed, 4ft 11in Broadway midget named Kristin Chenoweth
who opened by revealing: “The red carpet is about 500ft long. That’s about 2,000 of me.” Which, by my calculations, makes her roughly
three inches high.
She had one line of questioning, asking Jennifer Lawrence, Adele, Bradley Cooper’s mum Gloria how tall they were.
But I’ve no intention of dwelling on an American I’ve never heard of, not when the UK provided its own dignity-shedding, Oscars after-show
party TV trolls on Monday morning.
Leading the charge, as ever, Daybreak’s Ross King at the Vanity Fair bash: “Who have we got behind me? It’s Taylor Lautner. Hello Taylor.
Taylor! Hello Taylor! TAYLOR! We’re live on British television!
“And that’s enough to make him run away.”
If I say he fared better than BBC Breakfast’s Tim Muffett, merrily ducking and diving a TV camera that was sparring next to his right
temple in the media pen, you’ll have some idea how poorly the Beeb’s man coped in the scrum for A-list sound bites.
It didn’t help that Muffett was making very little sense: “Daniel Day-Lewis broke history by winning his third best leading man actor.”
“Everywhere you look there are incredibly famous people. Just like the Isle of Man.” (Say what?!)
The on-screen caption writer wasn’t doing him any favours either, suggesting during his interview with the triumphant British team behind
best documentary feature Searching For Sugar Man that he was chatting to “Simon Chin”.
The only problem was it wasn’t Simon Chin. Nor was it Simon Chinn, the film’s correctly spelled producer, but executive producer John
At least John Travolta, among the late stragglers, was unmistakable. Unfortunately for Muffett, by this stage in the day, the actor had
clearly had enough of the endless red-carpet exchanges he was duty-bound to endure and ignored the question: “Hi John, you’re live on the
BBC, what did you think of this year’s Oscars?” choosing instead to put on a London accent, straight from the Dick Van Dyke school of
Cockney, and pretend to be a TV reporter. No one knows why.
The all-round shambles demanded a fittingly shambolic finale. And up stepped Breakfast host Susanna Reid: “Well, that’s almost all the
time we’ve got time for.”
Just roll end credits. That’s a wrap.
Text voting isn’t available on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, which last week featured Jason Manford on the judging panel.
Yes, that’s probably for the best.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes go to:
• From Romania With Love.
• ITV’s extraordinary, shocking, provocative and, most of all, agenda-free HMP Aylesbury.
• The flag-waving, just-glad-to-be-there Bradford City fans watching their side’s 5-0 drubbing to Swansea in the League Cup final.
• The welcome return of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
• Celebrity Juice playing a clip of 1996 ITV game show God’s Gift featuring a floppy-haired goof going by the name Paddy McGuinness
(let the Micky Flanagan lookalike see the embarrassing early TV work).
• Phillip Schofield, during This Morning’s Fertility Week, telling a man named Craig, who was there for a sperm test, ahead of his
intimate moment behind the scenes with a cup: “Right, you’re going to go and, erm, and do that.”
• And, on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, Kim Woodburn and Rosemary Shrager as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell but looking more like
Marilyn Manson and Ken Russell, and One Direction’s emotional Ghanaian children’s hospital film, in which Harry Styles openly wept: “This
little boy is three and has malaria. No movement, too weak to even cry. Watching Kofi and his mum is simply heartbreaking.”
Back in the studio, Alex Jones: “You will be glad to know he made a full recovery and was discharged from hospital.”
No word yet on Kofi though.
BBC2’s Jo Rowsell, speaking of Becky James’s preparations for the women’s keirin final at the World Track Cycling Championships: “She
won’t want to warm down too much and then have to warm up again, so she’ll just be keeping the muscles warm, maybe putting on the hot
pants we used at the Olympics.”
I’m fairly certain those were only used in the beach volleyball.
Take one pinch of Great British Bake Off, a dollop of Gino D’Acampo’s There’s No Taste Like Home, a soupcon of This Morning’s People’s
Pizza competition, and serve generously with a massive slice of Channel 5’s 2008 home-cooked ready-meal series Breaking Into Tesco, and
what have you got?
The biggest cookery show rip-off ever seen, that’s what.
Or, to give the ITV programme’s official title, Food Glorious Food, slopped smack bang in primetime because it’s made by Simon Cowell’s
production company Syco.
And as you’d expect, The X Factor influences were everywhere – comedy no-hopers, sob stories (“Last year I was quite overweight”), sore
losers, certifiable fruit-loops, four judges championing their chosen contestants, even a “Judges’ HQ” stage, which of course is nothing
whatsoever like Judges’ Houses.
Wednesday’s opener featured a barefoot cabbage-stamper, a mother and son who go about their teashop business in Victorian period costume,
a woman who calls her peppers “Roy”, and an oatcake obsessive who’s campaigning for a national oatcake appreciation day and has somehow
persuaded some celebrities to pose for photos holding a “I support oatcakes” sign, including Slash, from Guns N Roses, and Jimmy Carr,
“from Ricky Gervais”.
But you only have to look at Red Or Black to realise Syco is a one-trick pony.
In the end, it all comes back to The X Factor.
So, “the pressure” was on, Loyd Grossman was spewing: “It’s a no from me,” and fellow judge Stacie Stewart was “looking for the wow
And, after two Welsh lamb cawl dishes were rejected in week one, I suspect I know what will happen next time.
They’ll both be invited back to join two other cawls to create one cawl supergroup.
ITV2’s Keith Lemon introducing the new Celebrity Juice maternity-cover team captain Kelly Brook: “Holly Willoughby is really jealous
because she’s got the second best boobs on the show.”
The third best, if you include the one hosting it.
More diagnosis expertise now from those medical fonts of all knowledge at Embarrassing Bodies.
Dr Pixie McKenna: “We need to get you in front of a surgeon to have a look.”
Dr Christian Jessen: “You’re going to have to get yourself down the clinic to get tested.”
Dr Dawn Harper: “We will get a specialist involved and you can come back and show me when you’re feeling a bit better.”
It’s quite the invaluable service, eh?
Sue Perkins’ BBC2 sitcom Heading Out?
Well, there’s no point staying in for that.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates go to:
• Channel 4 swallowing Ricky Gervais’s delusion that Derek deserves a Making Of documentary. (Don’t be ridiculous.)
• ITV airing the most obviously daytime show ever made, Food Glorious Food, at 8pm just because it’s a Simon Cowell project.
• Delia Smith lying through her teeth on Thursday’s The One Show: “We still need all the food programmes on television.”
• Piers Morgan, on Daybreak’s Oscars red carpet coverage, delivering what Aled Jones branded: “The most gratuitous plug I’ve ever
seen in my life,” for Friday night’s Life Stories with Lorraine Kelly.
• And Steve Jones showing the sign outside Let’s Dance For Comic Relief’s pub Shenanigans that had the Six Nations result as: “Wales
26, Italy 9,” when the match was played in Rome, not Cardiff.
That might be how they do things in America, Steve, but you’re not there anymore.
All-Star Family Fortunes question of the week: “Name something you might switch off when you go to bed.”
TOWIE. Cause and effect.