WEB EXCLUSIVE: Couch Potato on Louis Theroux, beach weddings and David Coulthard’s maths abilities

Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux
Have your say

Our Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

Ding-ding! Seconds out, earplugs in, for the three-hour onslaught that is the battle rounds, opening last Saturday with an aerial bombardment of barefaced porkies by BBC1’s continuity announcer:

“This is where things get really exciting. Some programmes are so big, one episode just isn’t enough.”

Apparently not for The Voice, a series which, post blind auditions, could have been in danger of running aground once its neat gimmick had run its course.

As it turned out, it was much, much worse than that.

This baby capsized in a swell of deluded self-belief and hypocrisy over its chest-beating mantra: “It’s all about the voice.”

Frustratingly, it’s really all about the same-old sob stories, the singers’ ages, the celebrity status of dead friends, even the radio-friendliest image, as Danny O’Donoughue, who’s like a lost lamb now that he can’t simply copy whatever Will.i.am has done a split second earlier, admitted on Saturday night.

Which would be fine if star quality extended beyond just two of the remaining 20 singers (Ruth Brown and Becky Hill), but, alas, it doesn’t.

The result was a 180-minute screech-off between pairs of sparring peacocks, including super-heavyweights Sam Buttery and Aundrea who went head to head in a “vocal showdown inspired by Elvis”, in his burger-eating later years.

Danny’s adviser Paloma Faith said: “I’m not looking for perfection,” which was just as well, although half the time I really wasn’t sure the praise-heaping coaches were listening to the same thing as me.

The other half, I also wasn’t sure they were listening to the same thing as me.

Honestly, the claptrap they were coming out with.

Will.i.am: “Bo, it’s like I was watching a Grammy performance. Vince, you’re like Dave Matthews selling out your own festivals. You guys are superstars.”

“Jay, you’re better than Justin Timberlake.”

“Deniece, you represent the strength and the height of the music industry.”

Will.i.am’s adviser Dante Santiago: “This is like Whitney versus Christina.”

That pair, however, weren’t half as out of control as Jessie J, who lost the plot entirely: “This show is a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

“That was TV history. That’s how good that was.”

“Television is not ready for the talent on this show.”

Someone needs to have a quiet word with her to rein it in because, believe me, not everyone was “smashing it” or “killing it” in that pretend boxing ring, which at least made use of the spotlights from The Weakest Link’s defunct set.

More objectionable about Jessie J, aside from the inability to sit still for one damn second, was the fact she picked her contestants for all the wrong reasons, most notably in the battle between jobbing backing singer Kirsten and alopecia sufferer Toni:

“You are two of the best female vocalists I’ve heard in the UK.”

(But I’m going to pick the bald one).

“Kirsten, I can see how much sparkle is in your eyes and how much you want this.”

(But I’m going to pick the bald one).

“You are not a backing vocalist. But the person I’m taking through is...”

The bald one.

It is, though, just as well the show is live from here on in.

Last Sunday’s edition was edited to within an inch of its life, with most of the battles chopped to pieces by a production team trying to share the limelight equally between everyone on stage, at the expense of the audience at home.

That was beyond annoying until the conclusion of the Ben versus Ruth-Ann showdown, when Reggie Yates appeared between them as if by magic, like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn, with the pertinent question: “So, who has won this battle?”

With any luck, Britain’s Got Talent.


Maths whizz of the week goes to BBC’s F1 commentator David Coulthard at the Bahrain Grand Prix: “Mark Webber is on his way to a fourth consecutive fourth place. And what do four fours give you?

“Third place in the championship and 48 points.”


Lord Sugar sent Katie packing on The Apprentice after her idea to sell pricey gourmet street food outside a Scottish Premier League match backfired.

To be fair, it’s probably not the best time to ask Rangers fans for money.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

BBC2’s heartbreaking and award-worthy Louis Theroux: Extreme Love, which I’m sure is what John Logie Baird had in mind for his invention back in the day.

The extraordinary Barcelona v Chelsea Champions League semi-final on Sky Sports, albeit with a prolonged noise from Gary Neville when Fernando Torres scored that belongs in his bedroom.

Homeland (yes, I am cutting and pasting this word every week).

Meet The Romans With Mary Beard.

The Matt Lucas Awards turning Westlife’s You Raise Me Up into gangster rap by bleeping out the second word of each line in the chorus.

And the TV reappearance on Celebrity Deal Or No Deal of Olly Murs’ brilliantly named sister Fay.

Though I am still waiting for her to join her brother on stage to sing that classic Bros line: “When will I, will I be Fay Murs?”


Britain’s first beach wedding took place yesterday on Bournemouth seafront.

And there, to mess it up, was ITV1’s Daybreak, a programme which believes nothing says “romance” more than tying the knot, live on breakfast television, in a windswept tent in front of Michael Underwood, Angellica Bell and The Only Way Is Essex dingbat Harry Derbidge.

This was, for those who have better things to do with their mornings than endure Kate Garraway and Dan Lobb, the result of a competition called Here Comes The Tide (see what they did there?), won by Frazer Seed and Kate Smith.

Quite the touching story it is too. Frazer proposed while she lay in a hospital bed with a broken back, thigh, shoulder, five ribs and a collapsed lung after a getaway car on the wrong side of the road ploughed into her vehicle head-on at over 70mph.

But one of life’s great constants is that Daybreak will drop the ball at the worst possible time.

You were doing better than me if you suppressed a chuckle as Bell told viewers: “Kate’s hair has been done by Royal Wedding hairdresser Richard Ward, her dress by celebrity designer Amanda Wakeley.

“And Frazer’s suit is from Debenhams.”

You were doing even better if you didn’t laugh when Dan Lobb told the happy couple: “It was all a surprise to you when we surprised you over a week ago.”

And you were doing better still if your response to Underwood revealing: “Teddy the dog was due to wear a tuxedo but unfortunately, due to size issues, he was not able to wear it,” wasn’t the same as mine: “And due to being-a-ruddy-dog issues as well.”

Even so, it was a beautiful moment when Frazer said his vows, and as the woman who he nearly lost was about to reciprocate and declare her undying love for him, up piped Garraway in the studio: “We’re going to have to take a break,” and off they went to the commercials.

That was as bad as it could get, you would imagine.

Garraway, alas, was given free rein after the adverts to interview the newlyweds via satellite, to whom there is one thing you should never say:

“Congratulations guys. How was it?”

The bride: “Sorry, I didn’t hear that.”

Garraway: “I was asking if you wanted a divorce.”

There are no words.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:

BBC1’s This Week booking Sinitta to answer Andrew Neil’s question: “Does Simon Cowell have black toilet paper.”

The blurb put together by some over-enthusiastic, or possibly sarcastic, previews writer on my digital box for Tuesday’s The One Show: “Matt Baker and Alex Jones are joined by the very funny Robert Webb.”

BBC2’s Olympic Games Football Draw caption misspelling the South American country “Columbia” which, as we know, hasn’t been the same since attempting re-entry, in 2003.

And Sky Living’s Steps On The Road Again voiceover artiste Jamie Theakston announcing without a shred of irony: “In 2011, Steps made one of the most astonishing reunions in pop history.

“Steps fans are awaiting quite literally the ultimate tour.”

Which, with luck, is an 18-month tour with The Rifles regiment in Helmand Province.


Week five of Britain’s Got Talent where, inevitably by this stage of the series, the bottom of the barrel has turned to sawdust and the show’s been renamed Britain’s Run Out Of Talent And Is Having To Scour Other Countries For It.

It got to the point last Saturday where Alesha Dixon found herself telling three-piece band Loveable Rogues: “I love the fact that you’re just British.”

At the latest count we’ve had Hungarians, Germans, the French, and a Colombian expat.

The latter of whom I speak is Edith Thorley-Chaux, aka Chica Latina, the lovechild of X Factor’s Wagner and Margarita Pracatan, who injected some desperately needed laughs into the show with a bull-in-a-china-shop version of River Deep, Mountain High (river not deep enough, love).

I like to think she was saved until the final act of the night because she was the most entertaining, which is undeniable.

And not, as I suspect, because she cheered up Simon Cowell at the end of a segment where he was grumpy.

I mean, with all the bad press he’s having, I can’t imagine the programme’s being edited to make us connect with the guy.


C5’s Ten Things I Hate About 1990 got me thinking what would be on my list.

Number 10, Amy Childs was born. Number 9, Amy Childs was born. Number 8, Amy Childs was born. Number 7...


From the following possible answers, guess the question Davina McCall asked actor Chris O’Dowd and fiancée Dawn Porter on Million Pound Drop Live:

Syphilis from a platypus.

Chlamydia from a koala.

Warts from a wombat.

Pubic lice from harvest mice.

If you guessed: “According to The Sun, One Direction fear they could have caught what after being peed on, on tour in Australia,” then you’re correct.

If you guessed: “Watching any Channel 4 show presented by Dawn Porter is like experiencing what?” then you’re me.