COUCH POTATO: Sex inside a box, on the box

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OUR square-eyed TV writer on this week’s viewing:

You can see how it must have happened.

Channel 4 had a late-night brainstorming session to “think outside the box”.

Hours of nothing, then suddenly one bright spark pipes up: “Let’s think INSIDE the box. Put couples in one and make them, you know, ‘do it’!”

So it was that Sex Box entered the world kicking and screaming.

It’s Phillip Schofield’s Cube minus the inconvenience of actually being able to see and hear what’s going on inside.

Two “very brave volunteers” walk in, have nookie and, explains host Mariella Frostrup: “Immediately afterwards talk frankly about what they did, to me, a panel of sex experts and our studio audience.”

Not before a commercial break though.

And for “talk frankly”, read “clam up the moment they’re asked for details”.

So you may be wondering, reasonably, what was the point.

Well, apparently, there has “never been a greater need to talk about sex”, a statement disproved instantly by panellist Tracey Cox: “When the internet first came out it was all porn but now there’s tonnes of good information out there.”

Frostrup insisted: “A lot of people might think getting couples to have sex is a TV gimmick,” (surely not), “but there’s a lot of research to say...”

Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

Truth is C4 made this solely to trend on Twitter, today’s unreliable barometer of a programme’s success.

It was just a giggle, as highlighted by the box’s hilarious traffic light system indicating when the deed is done.

In fact, they could have had more fun with it.

When one couple recalled: “We took our clothes off, a bit of foreplay and then went into it,” and expert Phillip Hodson asked: “Into...?” Frostrup should have had a whiteboard and marker and said: “Time we had that chat about the birds and the bees, Phil.”

Forming part of C4’s Campaign For Real Sex season, I so wanted to see a heavily bearded man in a woolly jumper with a love for cask ale looking lost in the audience after misreading the memo from CAMRA.

The couples ticked so many boxes – straight, gay, lesbian, wheelchair-bound – that I half expected a two-headed dwarf wearing a gimp mask and nipple clamps to emerge.

And the host could have followed Cox suggesting: “A simple way to keep things going sexually long term is to change one thing every time,” by asking: “The sheets?”

Frostrup did, however, steer events in the humorous manner intended and, in so doing, teed up a lightning bolt TV moment.

During the second ad break, after gay pair Matt and John exited the box looking flustered, came the voice of B&Q’s Rob Brydon.

“Say goodbye to your unloved rooms, the stain that has no shame and the love nest that’s lost its allure.

“You can do it, Britain. Now is the time to man up your sex cave.”

You can’t make it up.


Bringing all the hopes and expectations of a condemned man on death row, X Factor’s live shows landed last night.

And with any chance of a series-salvaging comedy act snuffed out at Judges’ Houses when Andrea Magee hit a bum top note and the dog-killing flute menace was sent home, nothing short of “Devon diva” Shelley Smith in cow fancy dress mooing the Yeo Valley adverts can now raise a smile.

I am, though, mystified why anyone’s fussed Gary Barlow put a singer with a thug’s past back into group Rough Copy.

Never did Girls Aloud any harm.


This week’s Human Abacus award goes to...

Suzanne Shaw, asked by Big Star’s Little Star host Stephen Mulhern: “How would you describe yourself in three words?”

“A little bit impatient at times, silly and running late.”


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

The Graham Norton Show.

The inspirational Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards (aka Britain’s Got Talent’s open-mic auditions).

Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin in C4’s Homeland, which returned at a slower-than-breakneck speed but remains the best thing on TV right now.

Tony Jacklin’s plus fours on Strictly, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s celebratory Charleston and Mark Benton, in a hallucinogenic shirt, giving the salsa his all to Bom Bom, by Sam and the Womp.

And Channel 5 following its documentary about 40-stone women raking in money by being morbidly obese, Fat For Cash, with the perfect encore...

The Health Lottery draw.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

BBC1’s absolutely diabolical Truckers, making HGV stand for Hammed-up Garbage Vision.

Corrie’s Nick Tilsley grumping his way into a personality transplant, plus the absence of Jeremy Kyle to reveal his imminent paternity test results.

ITV2 magic show Tricked going about like Derren Brown and Dynamo never happened.

The disappointment C5’s Fat For Cash wasn’t The Bachelor featuring 25 chubbers throwing themselves at Wimbledon champ Pat Cash.

And arty farty Julian Fellowes on The One Show: “When you’re writing a show like Downton, you’ve got to limit the number of people you’re trying to service in a narrative sense.”

Yeah, or you could just chuck in a rape scene from nowhere to get attention.


BBC1’s The Day I Got My Sight Back showed radical surgery to restore blind Ian Tibbetts’ vision by drilling a plastic lens into one of his teeth and implanting it into his eye.

World’s first case of an eye for an eye, a tooth for an eye.


If you’re going to fluff your autocue, do so at the best possible moment, like The One Show’s Alex Jones...

“According to a new report, young people in England and Northern Ireland have some of the worst reading and writing maths skills... AND maths skills of the developed world, behind Estonia, Czech Republic and Poland.”

But not behind Wales, apparently.


Brilliantly described by Graham Norton as: “The Olympic torch version of an e-cigarette,” the Queen’s Commonwealth Games baton began its relay to Glasgow with much predictable fuss from BBC1 and Sky News.

The pride of Scotland were there at Buckingham Palace to start its journey –gymnast Dan Purvis, swimmer Caitlin McClatchley, Alan Wells, whose presence Gabby Logan said was “a great synergy” (if you say so), a Blue Peter competition winner, “Scotland’s former strongest man”, Clyde the Thistle...

Expect even more fuss from The One Show over the coming months.

Because Norton’s right about the damn thing.

You can’t stub it out.


A “who knew?” moment from Superstars and Superfans narrator Jonathan Agnew...

“Unlike Kerry Katona, Paul Daniels actually works for a living.”

Not a lot.


Loose Women’s Janet Street-Porter wading into the storm-in-a-teacup Downton Abbey great rape debate...

“Downton is a lovely, cosy fantasy, so that scene was like a slap round the face.”

Though, in Janet’s case, it is hard to tell the difference.


According to C4, you can’t have too many TV panel shows with David Mitchell and Micky Flanagan.

Hence, wordplay-based Was It Something I Said?

Yes, it was something you said.

So rearrange these words into the correct order.

Off. Clear.