Couch Potato on Eurovision, the Baftas and Bruce Forsyth

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OUR web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

Song 21 of the night. Four Greek blokes wearing kilts are can-canning around the stage yelling: “Alcohol! Alcohol! Alcohol is free! Alcohol! Alcohol! Alcohol is free!”

Looks like the ouzo’s gone down a bit too well, then, in Malmo Arena’s green room complimentary bar.

But it did explain much of the certifiably brilliant madness that went before at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Roxy Mitchell emerged from a giant Belarus disco ball.

Iceland defrosted Rick Wakeman.

Hungary sent Badly Sung Boy.

A Finnish bunny boiler in a wedding dress was possibly hurling: “F*** you,” repeatedly at the audience during the chorus, long before the watershed.

A castrated Romanian high-pitched his way through a song called: “It’s My Life,” a potential sanitary towel advert anthem, while surrounded by a gigantic red sheet.

And Bonnie Tyler, playing the UK’s youth card, attempted to avoid going from Lost In France to last in Sweden.

The result’s irrelevant, though.

When it comes to Eurovision, the crazier the better.

Knock it at your peril. The pure joy of the annual bring-your-own-village-idiot singing contest is that it’s proudly un-PC (aside from the occasional lesbian kiss), a celebration of national quirkiness, and the only occasion where you can laugh at Johnny Foreigner, with the assuring voice of Graham Norton, and not have the self-appointed comedy police or a UKIP canvasser at your door.

Yet yesterday evening’s extravaganza was all the weaker for the acts who failed to make it through from BBC3’s midweek semi-finals.

Proper men in white coats stuff it was, from the moment host Petra Mede (a genetic experiment between Arlene Phillips, Carol McGiffin and Samia Ghadie) opened Tuesday’s show by quoting Orson Welles.

The Saturday night main event was sadly missing a Slovenian trio of gimp-masked backing dancers, a harem of Serbian blow-up sex dolls and a Macedonian gypsy re-enacting the dying wail of a truck-squished polecat.

That wasn’t all. There was also three minutes of Bulgarian duel-drumming, pig’s-bladder-bagpipe playing, banshee-yowling chaos that they were just making up as they went, Albanian rock guitarist Gary Oldman after seven years’ hard labour in Azkaban, and the Montenegro government’s space programme – Gary Neville and Karl Pilkington’s stunt doubles with comedy beards, dressed as astronauts, rapping.

Ground Control to Major Din, you might say.

BBC3 was the only place you’d see those treasures.

It’s fair to say, though, Eurovision isn’t the only TV show languishing in the shadow of its supposedly inferior spin-off.

Dara O’Briain’s The Apprentice: You’re Fired is consistently terrific, and Britain’s Got More Talent is vastly more joyful and funny than its mother ship.

The ITV2 show’s had a hip-hop Humpty Dumpty named Matthew, from Windermere, an act you need only know Simon Cowell described as: “A dog playing an iPad drum kit ruining a Westlife song,” and five Danish bottle boys whistling out Party Rock.

That they weren’t Denmark’s Eurovision entry was a missed opportunity.

But as one door closes, another opens.

Austria, Russia (my favourite entry alongside Greece) and Belgium were all represented in Malmo by the winners of their country’s version The Voice.

Yes, Bonnie Tyler was just keeping the seat warm.

So may I be the first to wish good luck to our next Eurovision entrant, on her first appearance in public since claiming victory for Team Tom.

Leanne Mitchell, the best of British to you.


Channel 5, Thursday night, Aliens: Are We Alone?




Holly Willoughby announced at the Royal Festival Hall last Sunday: “And the Bafta goes to... Made In Chelsea!”

A safe bet, you’d assume, we had reached the evening’s nadir.

Not a bit of it. Because the TV Bafta jury’s wall-to-wall idiocy made the blood-boiling decision to hand sole credit for the triumph that was London 2012 to Clare Balding, ignoring the greatest single broadcast of the century, the Olympics Opening Ceremony, while giving two gongs to BBC spoof Twenty Twelve.

A shameful chapter for Bafta. So don’t be surprised by the 2014 Reality and Constructed Factual likely winners.

Congratulations, MTV’s The Valleys. There’s lovely.


This week’s Scandinavian Geography Expert of the Week award goes to...

Bonnie Tyler speaking to The One Show from the Malmo Arena: “I went to the British Embassy in Denmark yesterday, or wherever I am, and I had a lot of champagne.”

Yes, it shows, Bonnie.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

BBC3’s brilliant Eurovision Semi-Finals.

The heartbreakingly groundbreaking Cutting Edge: The Murder Workers.

The Fall threatening to eclipse Broadchurch as crime drama of the year after one episode.

Ronnie Corbett revealing on BBC4’s Frost on Sketch Shows that the genius Four Candles/Fork Handles idea came from a hardware store boss who it actually happened to.

The undisguised sarcasm as BBC1’s continuity man announced: “Oh joy. It’s another Mitchell family meal next, on EastEnders.”

And the return on C4’s Embarrassing Bodies: Live From The Clinic of wound dabber/packer and Roger Hargreaves character Nurse Joy Tickle, together with the subtitles that had Dr Christian Jessen telling a woman who’d shed 19-and-a-half stone: “Whale chat later.”

No need to be rude, doc.


Bruce Forsyth at the Bafta TV Awards: “Where would television be without funny ladies?”

Somewhere in the vicinity of Watson & Oliver, Sue Perkins’ Heading Out and BBC3’s Pulling, Brucie.


Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

Quick, everyone. Hide.


Team Evolve achieved the impossible on The Apprentice’s flat-pack furniture task – designing a product even Argos rejected.

But what was it, exactly?

“It’s a multifunctional side table.” “It’s a storage unit.” “It’s a cube which is a table.” “It’s a table that turns into a chair and laptop tray.” “It’s a box with a lid.”

It’s a total mess that ended up as a sorry-looking box on castors with a de-fluffed cushion.

Ideal for all your sorry-looking- box-on-castors-with-a-de-fluffed-cushion needs, which had Sophie asking: “Are we table? Are we desk? Are we chair?”

I’ve no Ikea, girls.


ITV’s This Morning, Tuesday’s laugh-a-minute line-up.

10.30am: “Sentencing of schoolgirl Tia Sharp’s murderer Stuart Hazell.”

10.50am: “Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy.”

11.30am: “Fighting for the right to die, a High Court appeal after 23 years in agony.”

ITV. Where laughter lives.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

The tinnitus-inflicting caterwaul of The Voice’s Battle Rounds, especially giving opera duo Carla and Barbara the Mariah Carey karaoke suicide cocktail Hero.

Watchdog wasting everyone’s time revealing some Subway Footlong sarnies measure only 11-and-a-third inches (someone call the International Criminal Court in The Hague).

10 O’Clock Live’s Lauren Laverne failing to see the irony of taking the Mickey out of BBC local radio presenter Paula “I’m not drunk” White for making a complete fool of herself, live on air.

And Embarrassing Bodies needlessly carrying out a double rectal examination, live in the studio, of healthy 59-year-old Robin’s back passage by Dr Christian Jessen’s finger and consultant urologist Dr Zaki Almallah’s lubed-up 18-inch ultrasound probe.

Always wondered what happened to Terry Wogan’s old Blankety Blank microphone.


X-rated commentary from Sky Sports’ London Sevens Rugby, England versus Werner Kok’s South Africa.

Wyn Gruffyd: “There’s Kok, making a good fist of it, good pressure being applied.”

Ben Gollings: “But Dan Norton can stretch the holes on the way back. He’s got a lot of room to manoeuvre and that’s often a scary sight.”

Not least for Kok, by the sounds.