COUCH POTATO: Nonsense and nincompoopery at the National Television Awards

Ant and Dec hold their NTAs
Ant and Dec hold their NTAs
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A “WHO’S who of television” crammed into the O2 Arena on Wednesday night.

Graham Norton, Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sex And The City’s Mr Big, Keith Lemon, Frank Lampard, a zombiefied Hayley Cropper, an animatronic penguin, Kevin from Grimsby...

They were all there for “TV’s biggest night of the year”, the National Television Awards, where Dermot O’Leary opened by announcing: “We’re going to start the way we mean to go on.”

With very little making sense – The Jeremy Kyle Show receiving a nomination, Keith Lemon two, EastEnders having the gall to show up as if they might win anything, BBC1’s four Musketeers poncing around like an Il Divo tribute act. And O’Leary, not for the first time hosting the NTAs, enduring a kamikaze night where the perils of live TV tripped him at every corner and made it the most entertaining ceremony in years.

“Please give a right old east neester knees-up for Danny Dyer.”

“There will be cattle bettle battle commencing shortly.”

And, picking a random from the audience with the intention of asking what TV she liked: “What do what colour sheet team tears the shoes do you like, Emma?”

She didn’t say. But his gobbledygook was contagious and spread to Hugh Bonneville whose Documentary nominees included: “Penguins: Spy in the M’huggle.”

Which I believe is the working title for the eighth Harry Potter book.

All forgivable tongue-tied moments.

What can’t be as easily brushed off, however, are the inappropriately snidey remarks O’Leary fired at the winners as they left the stage, like this to Best Newcomer Khali Best’s back: “Good speech, considering he ‘didn’t expect it’.”

It was as unpleasant and unnecessary as the wall-to-wall plugs for ITV’s demigod Simon Cowell’s financial interests that peppered the ceremony – Sam Bailey singing (twice) and the X Factor musical number which was the worst idea for the NTAs since someone suggested Kimberley Walsh last year.

As for the gongs, well, you can take them only so seriously.

They’re nothing more than a popularity contest, which explains Benedict Cumberbatch winning TV Detective for a show that wasn’t on air during the entire qualifying period.

Doctor Who is apparently a better drama than Broadchurch, Pointless was robbed and I’m A Celebrity should have missed out to Graham Norton.

But Corrie and Strictly deserved their triumphs, feeding EastEnders and X Factor their just desserts, and justice was done when Mrs Brown’s Boys stuffed Derek.

And if Gervais is wondering why, Brendan O’Carroll had the answer: “We just wanted to make a comedy that would make people laugh.”

Gervais should try it some time.

The only constant is Ant & Dec picking up the Ant & Dec award, but they were also surprised with the big one, the Landmark honour, and a letter from Prince Charles, read out by Phillip Schofield.

“I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting the recipient on many occasions over the last 15 years as an avid and generous supporter of the Prince’s Trust, taking time out of an extremely busy schedule to support and inspire those young people who come to us in disadvantaged and difficult...”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Where’s Spike Milligan when you really need him?


Saddle up, swash your buckles and ride for Paris!

It’s the adventures of Athos, Porthos and Crappos in BBC1’s hilariously ropey The Musketeers.

The dialogue can’t make its mind which century it’s in, the weather can’t decide if there’s a blizzard or not and I started making up my own lines after hearing: “The abbot was told to expect an envoy from Spain.”

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Awful one and one for all.


Loose Women, Wednesday, Ruth Langsford asks viewers: “What message do you think a beard sends out?”

That Nadia Sawalha’s back on the panel?


Over now to Winterwatch’s Chris Packham: “There’s that wet stag, mincing through the marsh.”

Speaking of which... “Martin Hughes-Games is out there in the wet and cold.”

It’s the show where the jokes write themselves, usually in double entendre.

But not even I was prepared for Packham’s grouse commentary: “We can offer you black cock live, first thing in the morning. And nothing beats that.

“They present quite a spectacle but the females won’t arrive until later in the spring.”

Can’t say I blame them.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

Celebrity Big Brother’s hideous nightmare on legs Luisa Zissman.

Dancing On Ice’s one remaining joke Todd Carty disappearing but, sadly, not down the tunnel at 30 knots.

Austin Healey taking Splash! way too seriously, Vernon Kay describing every diver as “brave”.

And Gabby Logan, crusader for parity of the sexes, failing to see her own hypocrisy in flagrantly ogling Towie “eye candy” Dan Osborne in tight leopard-skin trunks: “Hi, erm, Dan! Looking well tonight. You obviously work very, very hard on that body. I could honestly stand next to you all night.”

Because she honestly wouldn’t stand that from a man.


The Musketeers, 1844: Alexandre Dumas.

The Musketeers, 2014: BBC Dumbass.


Splash!’s likeable Tom Daley with some expert guidance: “If Dan (Osborne) wants to be a good diver, he’s got to focus a lot more on his diving.”

That’s advice only an Olympic bronze, two Commonwealth golds, a world championship and a couple of European titles can bring you.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudlikes...

Grump in an anorak Jim Davidson ruling the roost on Celebrity Big Brother.

C4’s Dispatches: Children on the Frontline.

Matt Berry on House of Fools, which swings between genius and excruciating.

Man United and Sunderland’s dramatic Capital One Cup penalty shootout (seven out of 10 missed) on Sky Sports making England look like spot-kick gods.

And Hayley and Roy’s perfectly judged final Corrie scene for which both actors deserve every award coming their way. Soap awards, not Baftas. Let’s not get silly now.


This week’s Most Rousing Theme Tune award goes to...

BBC1’s all-drumming, all-chanting The Musketeers: “Hey!... Hey!... Hey!... Oh HEY!... OH HEY!... OH... ”

Oh bugger off.