OUR Sunderland web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:
How do you shoehorn quarter of a century of TV history into just one show?
If you’re EastEnders, you get Scott Maslen to fluff his lines and Jake Wood to shove two fingers down his throat.
Others prefer to return to their first home, invite evicted tenants like Richard and Judy back and unleash Keith Lemon to prat around with a megaphone and trombone.
We’re at Liverpool’s Albert Dock for This Morning’s 25th anniversary.
A calamitous shambles that descended into a two-hour technical mess.
Half the memory-lane highlights clips they’d teed up didn’t play, and those that did were marred by the cacophony of presenters and crew chin-wagging.
The show, I felt, deserved better.
After all, its format is as solid as granite and it has provided some of the most groundbreaking, risky and game-changing TV moments.
Once you’ve seen Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby interview “the man with the world’s biggest penis”, “the woman with the world’s biggest boobs”, or Paul Ross having his rear end probed by Dr Chris Steele’s finger, in a live prostate examination, there’s no forgetting them.
Footage of Richard Madeley being struck in the face by a book flung by the floor manager will never get tired.
Curiously, Thursday morning’s shindig made no mention of a heavily medicated Kerry Katona slurring her way into television folklore, in 2008, or Schofe handing David Cameron an alleged paedophile list, to the costly legal tune of £125,000.
Yet it felt the need to award Katie Hopkins a “best bits” montage, one of the few that didn’t get jammed in the machine.
In a weird way, though, for all the malfunctioning microphones and production gallery mishaps, which got so bad Corrie’s Barbara Knox asked: “Is this live?” the party was befitting of the show.
Just like This Morning at its best, it was memorable, utterly unpredictable (the crowd included an unexplained pantomime horse) and a lot of fun.
The pattern was set when Schofield, handing over to Lemon’s floating weather map report, said: “I must warn you that what you’re about to witness will either be television gold or could go very badly wrong.”
Both, as it turned out.
There followed a pitch invasion by a bloke intent on proposing to his girlfriend but was left floundering, unable to haul himself out of the water, and in the process broke off the southern tip of Britain, like a fanatical Isle of Wight separatist.
Then things fully disintegrated during a quiz game for past and present hosts.
Judy Finnigan was told the wrong start time and had to dash to her seat, the fastest she’s moved since Oddbins announced its autumn sale.
Dr Chris ended up bent over Madeley with his back to camera, obscuring the view of everyone, when his mic failed.
And the buzzers didn’t work until the final round. At least they would have if the questions could be loaded into the autocue.
To quizmaster Stephen Mulhern’s despair, they couldn’t.
So, Schofe put his earpiece back in, the game was abandoned and they went to a break.
On his return he said: “I have seldom had a better time.”
A perfect tribute to This Morning.
Here’s to the next 25 years.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
The Wrong Mans.
Strictly have-a-go hero Dave Myers.
The One Show’s Big Daddy tribute.
Genuinely named C4’s Porn On The Brain contributors teenage voyeur Calum Wrist and sex education consultant Jonny Hunt.
Big Star’s Little Star host Stephen Mulhern’s show-stopping request to Tina Hobley after her five-year-old daughter Olivia revealed she “stomps her feet and growls” when angry: “Come on, let’s see your growler.”
And TLC’s Superstars and Superfans’ wonderfully sarcastic narrator describing A1 as: “The ninth most successful boyband in UK history,” adding after a comeback concert: “The gig has been a great success. And the good news doesn’t end there...”
(Cut to a roadie backstage).
“We have sold 14 T-shirts!”
Welcome back to the big time, lads.
Opening night in BBC1’s ballroom and couple number two take to the floor.
It’s Tony Jacklin, national treasure, the first man to hit a televised hole in one, two majors to his name and the mastermind behind Europe’s historic 1985 Ryder Cup victory, the first for 28 years.
Put him in the arms of Aliona Vilani and make him waltz to the theme from Birds of a Feather, however, and you can forget all those accolades.
He was born to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.
Jacklin has two left feet, a dogleg to the right, and he trundles about wincing like he’s got golf-ball sized haemorrhoids, but, as Len Goodman told him: “You are the spirit of this show.”
In other words, the polar opposite of last weekend’s X Factor, three desperate, bum-numbing hours of non-stop sobbing and self-pity at Bootcamp, usually the best part of the series.
Not this year though, certainly not with a callous new gimmick called: “The six-seat challenge,” which I misheard as: “The sick-seat challenge,” and would’ve been preferable to the needlessly spiteful dream-crushing that ensued.
In addition to the vomit stools (an Argos ticket waiting area) and the stupidity of giving the judges their categories a week too early, they’ve removed any semblance of joy so apparent in Hairy Biker Dave Myers’ heroic, series-defining routine on Strictly, whose return has never been so sorely needed.
Bruce Forsyth, who was literally talking “cobblers” on the series opener, is a terrifying sight let off the leash.
But if I have to put up with his diabolical gags and watch scantily clad Susanna Reid wiggling about for the next 11 weeks to uphold my professional duty then by jiminy it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
I’ll even put up with Tess Daly’s atrocious golf puns if it means Tony Jacklin remains, which he must along with Mark Benton, Vanessa Feltz, the Hairy Biker (Moves Like Tigger) and Patrick Robinson who jives like spaghetti being electrocuted.
The show has already answered one of TV’s biggest mysteries, that Abbey Clancy is a “TV presenter”, which was news to me.
And it’s given us the best putdown of the year, with the celebs’ introductions: “Coronation Street star Natalie Gumede... Casualty star Patrick Robinson...”
And simply: “From Hollyoaks, Ashley Taylor Dawson.”
Darcy Bussell told whoever he is: “If you start like this, you’re going to do very well.”
Same goes for Strictly.
The Alan Titchmarsh Show host on Wednesday: “Is there anything worse than people eating in the cinema?”
Hmm, don’t think so, Al.
Though genocide does come a close second.
A rare, blue-moon moment of self-awareness for Janet Street-Porter as the Loose Women discussed Home Secretary Theresa May’s Tory Party Conference tartan outfit and gemstone heels.
“This is the most powerful female politician in Great Britain, yet we’re talking about the price of her shoes. It is absolutely ridiculous.”
Right, so on to the real meaty issues like Europe, Janet...
“If you look at Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, she just wears the same jacket in a different colour.”
Menace of the TV link Alex Jones crowbarred this beauty into The One Show after Paul Merton told how Boris Johnson messes up his hair on Have I Got News For You...
“Well, Paul, you’ll be doing your hair shortly because you are on tour around the country.”
After disgracefully making Robbie Fowler apologise live on Final Score for saying: “They were pulling at each other like a pair of girls,” BBC1 has a new, thinly disguised feminism propaganda broadcast, Saturday Sportsday, with: “The latest news ahead of a busy sporting weekend.”
So I’m sure it was purely coincidence its opening show had female sport only, primarily the “massive” football match between Liverpool Ladies and Bristol Academy (attendance 2,156).
They’ll no doubt redress the balance next time by discussing a men’s game attended by a bigger crowd – Lincoln City v Hyde in the Conference.
Unless the BBC truly is inversely sexist, of course.
Perish the thought.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
Dexter’s producers fudging the final ever episode, on Fox.
This Morning ruining a perfectly valid debate, should teachers be allowed to strike, by hiring rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins as the “No” camp.
The Jeremy Kyle Show’s “intervention special” failing to feature a dozen hooded men bundling him into an unmarked van.
Jessie J disappearing even further up her own backside on Daybreak: “This album just feels like a cohesive piece of art.”
And everyone on telly discussing the death of Bridget Jones’ husband Darcy, to whom I say this.
Sit down, I’ve got some bad news. HE’S NOT A REAL FLIPPIN’ PERSON.
Sky Living’s search for a supermodel The Face isn’t a rip-off of Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model.
It’s also nicked ideas from so many other reality shows it could be called The (Ma)X Factor.
Exec producer and mentor Naomi Campbell had the 24 girls squealing with delight and gushing: “The most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!” by walking 20 yards, turning and then, to be fair to her, walking 20 yards back again.
And she said this about a hopeful’s headshot: “I don’t like using my hands.”
Indeed. She has history of using mobile phones to assault personal assistants.
Adil Rey, after a clip of his Citizen Khan on The One Show: “That’s very funny, isn’t it? I’d watch that.”
Makes one of us, Adil.
This week’s Most Thorough TV Research award goes to...
Saturday Sportsday’s Katherine Downes: “Heather Mills lost the lower part of her leg after being hit by a car.”
Car, police motorcycle. Potato, potahto.