COUCH POTATO: Why Nasa could learn a thing or two from The Voice

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OUR Sunday web columnist on the week’s TV:

Nasa can keep its rigorous selection process for the next batch of astronauts.

If it’s pure endurance, stamina and sheer never-say-die grit you’re after, just go and find someone who’s sat through every minute of BBC1’s invitational karaoke contest over the past month.

A gargantuan effort that deserves some kind of mention in the Queen’s honours list.

In case it’s passed you by, we’ve now arrived at The Voice’s live shows, and I genuinely can’t remember how we got here.

Since the spinny chairs stopped spinning, there’s been the best part of five hours of “epic” battle rounds, followed last weekend by a double-header called the “knockouts”, so-called because it left me, and countless others, comatose.

And it’s thanks only to the reviving qualities of smelling salts that I can report this was the moment the series pressed the self-destruct button and defeated its own reason for existing.

It can’t be a coincidence that an audience ratings collapse accompanied the abandonment of all pretence that this show is: “All about the voice.”

Jessie “seriously” J, who really needs to stop putting up her hand and jiggling in her chair as if she’s asking a primary school teacher if she can go to the loo, ditched a lad named Danny because: “He’s going to have a career either way.” found himself admitting: “For an artist stepping out into the world, it’s more than just a voice.”

Something about having the X Factor, maybe?

And a week after Danny O’Donoghue said of one of his acts’ former drink and drug addiction: “When you hear the story behind the voice, it really hits home,” another hopeful, Sean, told him: “At a young age I was adopted.”

O’Donoghue: “As soon as he said that, I was like, ‘Wow, the song has just brought on another connotation’.”

Even if you skim the sob stories (including shyness) which, by the series’ mantra, should have no place here, there’s no getting around the cold truth that The Voice’s entire foundations are based on a shaky falsehood.

It pretends that unattractive, disabled or fat singers don’t get a chance in the music industry.

Even blind Andrea said: “I want to compete on the same level as sighted people.”

So perhaps she’s never heard of Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder.

It’s the kind of fib that’s escalated out of control, along with the judges hyping up the largely off-key singers, which is so over the top it’s become laughable. is the chief culprit: “Leah McFall is the best artist I’ve ever, ever seen in the UK in a long time.”

“Letitia, you were like a queen up there.”

“Leanne is raising the bar of what UK singers bring to Earth.”

Resident comedian he may be, but the complete nonsense he delivers has become tiresome: “John’s voice is a sports car. He’s a Lamborghini with propellers on.”

By which I assume he means he’s completely useless.

He’s not alone, though.

Cleo(patra coming atcha) Higgins announced: “To take on a Michael Jackson song is like climbing Kilimanjaro.”

Isn’t it.

But in a candid moment I’m meant to leave in his own head, he said out loud last weekend: “The only percussion I heard was my head hitting the chair and falling asleep.”

Then may I recommend smelling salts, Will.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

BBC3’s The Call Centre. Sky1’s Mad Dogs. C4’s visionary D-Day: As It Happens.

Pointless, TV’s best quiz show, reaching its 500th episode milestone on Thursday.

The beautiful piece of television performed by Britain’s Got Talent’s Attraction.

EastEnder Michael Moon’s super-villain armchair of doom.

The Apprentice’s “Colonel Alex” looking like the seventh member of the Village People.

Springwatch’s Michaela Strachan announcing: “For shags, the bigger the better.” (It’s a seabird, folks. What were you thinking it was?)

And Embarrassing Bodies: Live From The Clinic playing Knocking On Heaven’s Door as a group of pub mates disappeared under their duvets to “test their erections”.

I’m expecting Amii Stewart’s Knock On Wood next time.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

A BGT final without the automatic presence of Maarty Broekman.

The Voice calling its contestants “artists”, and crediting Eva Cassidy with Songbird when the only version that matters is Christine McVie’s Fleetwood Mac original.

Charlie Brooker feeling the need to hire Rich Hall for a stand-up routine on 10 O’Clock Live, what with the show failing to provide any decent laughs with David Mitchell and Jimmy Carr.

And Loose Women’s caption writer inserting a rogue apostrophe into a clip of: “All Star Mr & Mrs, Wednesday’s at 8pm.”

Wednesday’s what?

Wednesday’s a good time to get a grammar book. That’s what.


Arise Nev Wilshire, the charismatic/lunatic boss and undisputed star of BBC3’s The Call Centre, which propelled straight into my top five shows of the year.

He makes new recruits sing, patrols the corridors asking: “Where’s my next victim?” and flings hard objects at staff who dare to yawn while he’s speaking: “Whatever comes to hand, whether it’s a whistle or a pen or a pasty or a sausage roll.”

Thoroughly out of order, if you ask me.

What a waste of perfectly good pasties and sausage rolls.

As for the obvious comparisons with David Brent, I only hope Nev follows a different path.

’Cos we don’t need to see another man not being funny in a Channel 4 care home.


Channel 5’s Pistorius Trial: The Key Questions, in full.

“Is it plausible Oscar didn’t notice Reeva wasn’t in bed?” (They didn’t know.)

“Was Pistorius on his stumps or wearing his prosthetic legs when firing his weapon?” (They didn’t know.)

“Were the couple arguing before the shooting?” (They didn’t know.)

And finally, “Was vital evidence altered after the shooting?”

The narrator: “Both Oscar and Reeva’s cell phones could reveal hidden information that may strengthen the case of either the prosecution or defence.” (They didn’t know.)

Hardly worth bothering with the trial now.


Down in Walford, Tuesday night, Dot’s distressed a sneaky serpent’s slithered under her sideboard: “When you’ve got a vicar visiting, you don’t want a viper in the vicinity.”

Dexter’s tentatively tiptoeing with tongs to try to tease or tempt it out.

And it certainly seems silly season’s soon, because EastEnders wheeled out its occasional “comedy” AWOL pet episode, starring Monty the snake, and I’ve started making up tongue-twisters to get through this show.

It’s the first sign of madness... watching EastEnders.


Martin Hughes-Games with a Springwatch update: “Dragonfly larvae have a fearsome weapon.

“They tighten their anal sphincter, squeeze their stomach muscles building up the pressure in their body and then... BANG! Out it comes.”

Or they could just try syrup of figs.


BBC4, What Do Artists Do All Day?


Happy to finally solve that mystery.


Jimmy Doherty at the end of C4’s Food Unwrapped: “Next time, I find out what meat is in a doner kebab.”

Really? There’s meat in a doner kebab?


This week’s Worst Idea for a Theme Night at EastEnders’ R&R Club award goes to...

Phil Mitchell for this flyer: “‘Getting Hammered’. Make your Friday a night of full-on drinking and footie on our new widescreen TV.”

An outrageous, objectionable suggestion that was rightly knocked on the head.

There’s no football on a Friday.