Web Exclusive: Couch Potato on TV dating, Peter Andre’s ambitions and Bill Roache’s conquests

Peter Andre on stage
Peter Andre on stage
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Our Couch Potato columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

DAYBREAK’S weekly prize quiz question: Which of these has strings?

A) Trumpet.

B) Flute.

C) Guitar.

Or D) Daybreak’s phone-in competition (£1.03 from BT landlines, other networks may be higher and mobiles considerably more).


JANET Street-Porter on Thursday’s Loose Women: “If I want to send myself to sleep, the sure-fire way is not to count sheep but mentally go back through all the men I’ve slept with. I start at one and I try to erase them in chronological order.”

The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.


ROLL up, roll up, for a circus-themed Props Week on Dancing On Ice, reliably the only night worth watching as business gets even more ridiculous than usual and where the element of risk was in the air on an evening of “death-defying action”:

“Props have a life of their own.” “A lot can go wrong.” “They’re difficult to use.” “They’re dangerous.”

They’re a handkerchief, a bunch of fake flowers and a ribbon, if truth be told, which behaved exactly as they were asked.

But it probably doesn’t need me to tell you that everyone was taking this all very seriously.

Louie Spence: “I was waiting for something to happen with the ribbon. It was emotionless for me.”

What with it being a ribbon.

Robin Cousins: “Chemmy, you tick all the boxes – you can skate, you’re good at comedic timing, and now you’re a magician.”

Ah, all the ingredients of an Olympic ice-skating champion.

But it’s not just the audience who must be scratching their heads.

Spare a thought for Christine Bleakley who only last summer made what appeared to be a dream move from the BBC to ITV.

Since when, after being jettisoned from Daybreak, she’s replaced Holly Willoughby at the ice and was last seen introducing Jennifer Ellison dressed as a clown for a 90-second routine being dragged around on a suitcase while fooling around with a balloon, two hats, a bucket and a flower which spurts water in people’s faces.

Next week, Willoughby, who’s not even employed by the BBC, heads up Auntie’s great Saturday night hope, The Voice.

As for Bleakley? She’ll be announcing the entrance of Chico to the rink as he attempts to balance on one skate.

Where did it all go wrong?


CHANNEL 4’s continuity woman introducing an enjoyable documentary on Monday night: “Now on 4, My Phone Sex Secrets, with conversations of a sexual nature.”

You dare say.


THIS week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards, a wasteful BBC clean sweep, go to:

Jo Brand wasting the casting vote by deciding the nation would rather see Fatima Whitbread flaunting herself than Suzi Perry in the final of Let’s Dance For Sport Relief.

Watchdog wasting everybody’s time by investigating the amount of fries KFC serves in its portions.

MasterChef’s grand final wasting 17 minutes of back stories before anyone actually started cooking.

And BBC2 wasting the remainder of its budget sending Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey’s presenters to even more unjustifiable exotic locations than episode one – Kate Humble to see some clouds 6,000 feet up the Andes in Argentina and Helen Czerski to see some snow at Lake Ontario.

So when Czerski announced she was off to see some stalactites, where do you suppose she went? Cheddar Gorge?

Nearly. Deep-sea diving off Belize in Central America.

If, however, you think I’ve got it in for this series, well, you’d be right. But I’d refer you to BBC3’s The Secrets Of Everything which on Sunday repeated Orbit’s experiment of sending a weather balloon into the atmosphere.

The difference being that whereas Czerski travelled to California to launch it, Greg Foot drove all the way to Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire. California. It’s an understandable mix-up.

Waste not, want not, BBC.


BLIND Date knew what it was doing. One suitor, three possible matches, Cilla Black doesn’t sing. Simple and merciful.

Take Me Out knows what it’s doing too. One suitor, 30 possible matches, Paddy McGuinness also doesn’t sing. Equally so.

The secret to why TMO works, however, is that it’s fully aware it would fail miserably in reverse with a line-up of men competing for one woman, and it’s hosted brilliantly by a man with wit and class who doesn’t leer over the girls or have unnecessary sly digs at the boys.

Compare and contrast, then, TV’s latest dating game show, The Love Machine, on Sky Living, with Chris Moyles and Stacey Solomon, neither of whom, it should be noted, sings.

And that’s where the favourable similarities completely fall down.

First though, an explanation of the format is required, for the 99.8 per cent of the population who haven’t seen it.

Eight men, or women, stand on a Ferris wheel, which remains stationary, and a giant illuminated hoop stops on one before the contestant choosing them decides to “ditch or date” based on looks alone.

It’s shallow, of course, but this is by no means The Love Machine’s biggest problem, for there are many.

Moyles, a man with a face for radio, is clearly on the pull, with constant putdowns of the guys:

“He’s like a pasty Gok Wan.”

“You like him? Don’t his ears put you off?”

“But he’s wearing a cardigan.” “I like his cardigan.” “Yeah, me too.”

Precisely what happened during the casting process in a mystery, doubly so when the producers were picking a co-host whose sole responsibility is to write the reason on a big screen for someone being ditched, and forgot one crucial element – do not, at any cost, hire an illiterate presenter.

Step forward Stacey Solomon, a woman who hasn’t even got a voice for radio, who managed to spell “shaddow” with two D’s (standing for Dumb and Dumber), specs as “spex” and oomph as “umf”.

Britain’s love of idiots is alive and well, sadly.

As is TV execs’ love of nicking old formats. Obviously there were always going to be elements of Take Me Out, but they’ve also taken that series’ Saturday night soundtrack, for a 6pm Sunday show, the holiday dates (Aphrodite Hills five-star resort hardly has the ring of Fernando’s, does it?), and a new contestant replacing a gap in the line-up.

But the copycat iceberg lurking below the surface includes Solomon trying to write quips like Bruce Forsyth on Play Your Cards Right, the big wheel resembling the Celebrity Squares set, Bullseye’s let’s-see-what-you-could-have-won reveal, locking in an answer à la Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and, most stupid of all, a Mr & Mrs-style series of compatibility questions.

The most irksome aspect, however, is that the show hates half of its contestants, the male half.

If a woman chooses to “ditch”, Solomon justifies it: “She just wants to check out her options. Fair enough.”

If a man does it, she flies at them like Glenn Close with a knife at the end of Fatal Attraction: “Why were you so angry about it? Was it her eyes? The beautiful eyes? Oh, well, rude.”

The fact that the girls are clearly high-maintenance nightmares only adds to the hypocrisy, like a 22-year-old named Chanelle, who insisted she wasn’t picky and then nitpicked more than Anthea Turner with a feather duster: “You’re not smiling.” “You’re called Andre but you’re not Peter Andre, are you?” “You might have too much swagger for me.”

Whatever that means.

Put in terms I can understand, what this show needs is a simple catchphrase from Paddy McGuinness.

Let The Love Machine, see the chop.


X FACTOR runner-up Marcus Collins was flogging his CD on the QVC shopping channel on Tuesday night.

And some cynics said his career would flat-line before you could say: “Steve Brookstein.”


THIS week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

Slash, from Guns N Roses, playing out Top Gear on his electric guitar.

The Noel Gallagher/Mario Balotelli meeting of minds on Football Focus.

The first 57 minutes of BBC4’s (David) Frost On Interviews, a history of 60 years of the TV chat show, ruined only by a clip of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories three minutes from time.

BBC2’s This World: Interviews Before Execution, about a Chinese talk show with condemned prisoners, blowing away any possible future sob stories on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.

Channel 4’s Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished.

Andrew Neil claiming on Tuesday’s The One Show: “People sometimes get the wrong edge of the wedge.”

And, before the half hour was up, my wife’s response when Pete Burns appeared on screen and I’d remarked: “Blimey, look at the state of him.”

The missus: “That’s Carrie Grant.”

I’ve picked a good ’un there.


NICK Ferrari, discussing the revelation that Corrie actor Bill Roache has slept with 1,000 women, on This Morning: “It’s better than any plot in Coronation Street.”

Sad but, these days, true.


REVELATIONS galore on BBC2’s I’m A Pop Star.

Nik Kershaw telling Smash Hits magazine he liked Marmite led to fans throwing jars of the stuff at him on stage, which wouldn’t be half as dangerous these days with those squeezable containers.

Ronan Keating declared the most ridiculous thing he’d ever done was wearing a chicken suit on The Big Breakfast, which is saying something, as I remember him hosting hastily-canned BBC1 talent show Get Your Act Together, in 1999.

Alesha Dixon insisted: “It’s important to have a thick skin if you’re in the music industry because you’re working with a lot of sharks and ruthless people who will drop you like a penny.” (And how is Simon Cowell, Alesha?)

And Peter Andre recalled: “I wanted to do what Jean-Claude Van Damme does but do it in music.”

Jean-Claude Van Damme has made some terrible, terrible films. Mission accomplished, Pete.


BEFORE The Apprentice returns on Wednesday (I’ve seen it and it’s as brilliant as ever), a cautionary tale from the pages of Radio Times to whoever wins the series.

2011 champion Tom Pellerau, on life working for Lord Sugar: “I pretty much presented him with every one (of my ideas) I have ever had.

“He considered them all and used his experience and instincts to can some, approve others and suggest the rest were kept until later.

“I haven’t given up on the office chairs for back problems that I pitched in the final.

“That is an area I am really interested in and it’s still being worked on and has great scope.”

Immediately below it, Lord Sugar: “We stuck with the nail-file direction as there were a few ridiculous ideas – he had a chair of some kind that I think he pitched on the show that had no potential.”

And the moral is, never take a back seat to Alan Sugar.