WEB EXCLUSIVE: OUR Couch Potato web columnist mourns the loss of Shooting Stars, contemplates celebrity charity feats and ponders the political merits of Will Young.

FILE PIC: Will Young. PA
FILE PIC: Will Young. PA
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Our Sunday Couch Potato columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

Will Young was on BBC Question Time’s panel, which didn’t seem quite right.

For political balance they should’ve also had Gareth Gates.


BBC2’s Horizon on Tuesday predicted solar storms which by Thursday had become a distinct possibility.

Can’t wait for the episode predicting my forthcoming lottery win and marriage to Holly Valance.


There are two ways famous people can raise money for a televised charity appeal.

Cover yourself in goose fat and swim the Channel, or if you’ve already ticked that one off (haven’t we all?), 140 miles of the Thames, as per David Walliams’ Big Swim, a heroic feat of endurance.

If that doesn’t float your boat then there’s only one option – sign up to a live BBC1 Saturday night entertainment show that’s currently doing its bit to secure a brighter future for washed-up celebrities across the UK.

And do give generously, folks, because you never know. If we can raise enough then maybe there’ll be no need for Let’s Dance For Sport Relief, a world of its own where, unless my eyes were deceiving me, the bloke who played Archie the inventor in Balamory had turned up as The Prodigy’s Keith Flint and was trampling around to Firestarter like the stage had a cockroach infestation.

And the drink really kicked in when someone arrived wearing a Dennis Taylor Bo’ Selecta mask and the WWE’s Big Boss Man outfit.

Though I am prepared to believe that was actually Shameless actress Alice Barry who, we were told, “is a household name”.

Then again, so is Domestos. And it’s no word of a lie to say I could have done with a bottle of the stuff to wash my eyes after watching first her interpretation of George Michael’s Outside and then grabbing host Steve Jones’ bum and crotch (her, not me), to his obvious horror.

Poor old Steve. He’s there every Saturday, alongside klaxon chops Alex Jones, cursing his luck that he still has to do this gig, having got the heave-ho from the US X Factor by Simon Cowell.

But it’s the same routine from him as the first three series of Let’s Dance – an overdose of irony: “We’re three weeks into our search for the ultimate dance champion of 2012.”

“David Hasselhoff, I can’t wait to hear your new CD.”

“Dani Harmer, from Tracy Beaker, you’ve already conquered the acting world...”

It’s one of many annoyances with this show, which has been on a downward spiral since Robert Webb’s brilliant and funny cross-dressing Flashdance routine in series one, which was followed by Rufus Hound’s less brilliant and funny cross-dressing Cheryl Cole routine in series two and Russell Kane’s overly convincing but unfunny Beyonce cross-dressing routine in series three.

As for series four, cross-dressing comedian routine duties have passed to Terry Alderton, who appeared in a frock and wig in the first episode gurning like Elizabeth Taylor, post-facelift, to Proud Mary by Yikes and Tina Turner.

It really is a device they should have retired after Webb’s insurmountable dance, along with the majority of bookings which appear to be the result of trawling the CBBC actors’ directory and watching tapes of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and hiring the ones you haven’t heard of.

The panellists are equally predictable – it’s always three comedians, although they broke with tradition last Saturday by including Katy Brand, who you might think was hired in the spirit of this programme’s irony.

But you’d have forgotten that she was Strictly Come Dancing’s first guest commentator on its new red-button coverage.

Then there are the words of support from the contestants’ “famous friends”, like THE Barney Harwood, Qasim Akhtar, Jack Deam, and David Tennant, whose latest excuse for BBC1 airtime was that he was once Arabella Weir’s lodger.

Still, I have to admit enjoying Omid Djalili’s Fight The Power, by Public Enemy, and Eddie The Eagle Edwards’ Austin Powers, even though it’s parodying a parody.

There is, then, hope for Let’s Dance. And it comes from Steve Jones: “Next year we’re thinking about doing the show on radio.”

BBC Radio 6, if you please, followed swiftly by the station’s closure.


Gok Wan: Made In China?

If only it had been Gok Wan: Stayed In China.


First impressions of The Sarah Millican Television Programme – poor format, funny presenter, not least her opening gambit to Chris Packham: “Why do you do Springwatch every year? Isn’t it mostly the same?”

But best of all? Not a single sign of Micky Flanagan anywhere.

I give that two weeks.


Monday night, and the word on Twitter was “crappuccino”, which could mean only one of three things.

Either everyone’s autocorrect was playing up, a video of Gareth Hunt’s most distasteful Nescafe commercial outtakes had gone viral, or there was a new series of Embarrassing Bodies.

So I switched over to Channel 4 and was met with the reason for Twitter’s mirth.

Constipated Carol, 41, “a woman who’s addicted to sticking coffee up her bum”.

Yes, you heard correctly. But just in case you missed it, the voiceover woman, who declared “the benefits are controversial” (you dare say!), tried a few more ways: “Carol has become addicted to an extreme form of detox known as coffee enemas.”

“Carol is literally putting a tube up her bum and filling it with coffee to clear out her poo.”

“Will a change in diet enable Carol to stop pouring coffee up her bum?”

You’re really asking the wrong man. What I do know, however, is that she’s aware she has a problem: “When I first started doing it seven years ago, I used bottled water and ground coffee and boiled it. Now, I use instant coffee and hot tap water, insert the nozzle and let it flow into me.”

How disgusting. Instant coffee?

The expert medical advice, regularly this show’s most amusing aspect, was that she should stop using coffee enemas.

And elsewhere, Dr Dawn Harper was telling a woman with a leaky bladder: “I think you need to see a gynaecologist,” a man who almost lost a leg from a mosquito bite to: “Sleep under a mozzie net,” and a 23-year-old with scabies: “I think you need some medication for scabies.”

Where would we be without them?

The episode was really all about Carol, though. And the good news was, after seeing a dietician brilliantly named A Brown, she cut the enemas to once a week, adding: “If it’s in the evening, I just use warm water and no coffee because obviously at that time of night it keeps you awake.”

As does, you might say, thrusting a tube up your bottom.


Pointless Celebrities host Alexander Armstrong: “And next we welcome Ben-Ryan Davies and Georgia Henshaw. Of course, many people will know you from BBC drama Waterloo Road.”

Not really, no.


The BBC is slashing budgets, cutting £700million a year and shedding 2,000 jobs.

Nowhere is the pain felt as much as at BBC2, which started the cull by axing the brilliant Shooting Stars.

And, with the money saved, it’s made Orbit: Extraordinary Journey, a three-part documentary that requires Kate Humble and Dr Helen Czerski to explain the changes our planet undergoes as we travel around the sun, with the benefit of CGI, from a BBC bunker somewhere.

But no. Instead, it’s foreign-trip junket o’clock, with the alarm bell ringing when Humble announced: “We’re going to begin our journey on the island of Andoya, off Norway.”

Comparatively a short-haul trip for either presenter, it transpired.

Czerski: “To understand how the Earth’s spin has so much influence, we need to explore the place it has its greatest impact – the atmosphere.”

(And that’s why I’ve come here, to California, to tell you that the “fuzzy blue line” between the planet and space is what scientists call “the atmosphere”).

Humble: “To see how the Earth’s spin can play such a powerful role, I’ve travelled to Ecuador.”

Of course you have.

Czerski: “The development of a hurricane shows how the Earth’s spin controls the weather.”

(Which is why I’ve come here, to Mexico).

Humble: “The Coriolis effect also affects the oceans...”

(Which is why...)

“... I’ve come to Chile, to the world’s biggest ocean, the Pacific.”

Czerski: “I’m going to join the warm air rising from the equator as it changes direction.”

(And that’s why I’ve come here, to skydive in Arizona and explain that deserts have a “lack of water”).

Humble: “I’ve come to the eastern coast of Canada.”

(To see a tidal causeway, much like the one at Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula, near Swansea).

And Humble again: “Tides were much bigger in the past. The evidence for that is...”

Lincoln? Clacton? Dudley?

“...just off the coast of Bermuda.”

So the Bermuda Triangle then, where things mysteriously disappear.

Most recently, BBC2’s annual budget.


The week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

BBC4’s brutal documentary Knuckle: Bare Fist Fighting, which included travellers but was free from the “Big Fat” title curse.

QPR: The Four-Year Plan. Sandy’s ever-growing Emmerdale song, on TV Burp.

Diversity’s routine capping the final of Sky1’s excellent Got To Dance Live Final.

Phillip Schofield almost failing to stifle a laugh on This Morning while interviewing a woman who’s having “a long-distance relationship with the Statue of Liberty”.

And The Jeremy Kyle Show marking female solidarity on International Women’s Day with the theme: “How can I trust you when you sent naked pictures to another woman?”

Altogether now: Sisters are doing it for themselves.


The week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:

The outbreak of Question Time copycat shows, like ITV1’s The Agenda and BBC3’s Free Speech, a political debate show with Jake Humphrey (don’t be silly).

Channel 4 running scared of its own excellent documentary Keith Allen Meets Nick Griffin by airing it at 11.05pm.

MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace describing Hi-De-Hi, which ran from 1980-88, as a “classic 1970s comedy”.

BBC4 remaking Sherlock, removing the comedy and calling it “comedy drama” Dirk Gently.

Prisoner’s Wives maintaining its man-hating until the bitter end (“I am sick to death with men telling me what to do, what to think!”)

Prisoners’ Wives showing the miracle birth of a baby minus an umbilical cord.

Prisoners’ Wives armed police cornering a baddie on a rooftop by tracking his mobile phone signal, even though he’d just got it out of his pocket.

And, you’ll be surprised to hear, Prisoners’ Wives, of all shows, going the entire series without the necessary apostrophe in the title sequence.

So you can see why I’ve been gunning for it.


Frankie Cocozza is reportedly in line to be Channel 5’s next Bachelor.

At least until he’s kicked off in week three.


Special recognition is due for understandably clueless Manchester team captain Tristan Burke who started randomly shouting numbers at Jeremy Paxman in the University Challenge semi-final:

Paxman: “Give the largest real root of the following polynomial equations. X-squared minus 10x plus 25 equals zero.”

“I don’t understand what the question means... SEVEN.”

“No, it’s five. Secondly, x to the power four minus five times x-squared plus six equals zero.”


“No, it’s three. And finally, x to the power six minus 64 equals zero.”


“No, it’s two.”

Which, by my calculations, gives them the grand total of zero to the power zero.

Good luck in the final.