WEB EXCLUSIVE: Couch Potato on The Voice, Eurovision and Gok Wan

Sweden's Loreen kisses her trophy prior to a news conference after winning the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest at the Baku Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan
Sweden's Loreen kisses her trophy prior to a news conference after winning the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest at the Baku Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan
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Our Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

This week I give you my verdict on The Voice.

No, hold it. Sorry. Can I start that again? It’s just that I want this to be perfect. Sorry to do this in a TV column. My keyboard isn’t working properly. Can somebody check it? I apologise to everybody, apologies, but this is what happens.

If you have no idea what I’m blathering on about, well done you.

You’re one of the four million who’s abandoned BBC1’s great white hope during the abysmal live stages and, as a consequence, missed (for want of a better word) Jessie J calling an immediate halt to her group’s show-opening performance because her earpiece wasn’t working properly.

The phrase “just get on with it, bozo, because that’s what professionals do on live television” wasn’t even mentioned.

Yet you just know if the same fate befell any of the contestants (I refuse to call them “artists”), that’s exactly what she’d be telling them from her stupid spinny chair.

Yes, that’s right, even the chairs are getting under my skin now on this show.

It’s a self-righteous shambles that imploded before our eyes in chaotic scenes last weekend.

Obnoxious ball of anger Becky forgot the lyrics to Seven Nation Army and mouthed the F-word.

Aleks, still refusing to spell his name properly, grumped like Kevin the Teenager because the coaches called him a bit dull.

David nicked the song-to-mystery-girl routine from Britain’s Got Talent’s Ryan O’Shaugnessy, to which Danny O’Donoghue said: “I hope that person’s watching because I think they’re really going to get the message.”

That message being: “Run!”

Jessie J told guitarist Max that she enjoyed watching him play the drums (eh?) and ruined the result on Twitter before Sunday’s show.

“It’s all about the voice” became “it’s about the loop pedal, the turntable stage, the most marketable singer, the ruddy V-room, the idiot in a bowler hat standing on his chair, Holly Willoughby’s ever-plummeting cleavage (TV’s barometer for how desperate a programme is)”.

And all pretence that the series is not simply a poor man’s X Factor was jettisoned once and for all, and I’m not just talking about the sob stories (“Bo’s had a bad back all week”) and the catchphrases (“You took a massive risk, Max, but you smashed it”).

No, the very thing that the show has prided itself on, that the coaches are not at war and don’t unfairly criticise each other or their singers, finally collapsed.

Deliberate or not, the dam burst the moment will.i.am told David Julien: “It was cool. I liked it,” before Willoughby prompted him to go for the jugular and in waded O’Donoghue, pre-bowler hat incident, to defend him.

It was like a Walford family fallout at Christmas, with holier than thou Jessie “Can I Just Say Something?” J trying to act as peacemaker, insisting any criticism was constructive.

The fact is, if it’s “constructive” you’re after, you’re looking in the wrong place on this show.

Will.i.am’s words of wisdom included: “What I’m saying is blinds, not the blinds, open the blinds, see what’s happening,” (right you are) while Tom Jones found himself trying to think of words that rhyme with “cow”, which was nothing if not constructive.

Those who still refuse to believe the show is doomed, though, will argue that six million viewers is still a decent return.

It is, if we’re talking about Countryfile, which immediately precedes it and is now ahead in the ratings.

However, the BBC is committed to a second series of The Voice, by which point they need to have taken a leaf from Jessie J’s book.

Start all over again.


Essex psychic-to-the-stars Jayne Wallace, who can tell a person’s key personality traits just by holding one of their possessions, demonstrated her extraordinary powers on Wednesday’s This Morning.

So who was mystery celebrity number one waiting in the wings?

Jayne: “This watch, I feel there’s a really strong creativity with her. I’m getting words and writing with her. She’s got a book. She’s a deep thinker. She’s driven. She’s artistic. She’s creative. She’s passionate. She’s sophisticated...”

She’s Lionel Blair, love.


Next week, all the Eurovision shenanigans receive the full Couch Potato treatment (only the Russian grannies are safe).

But in the meantime, here’s a quick nod to those who fell by the wayside on BBC3’s wonderfully off-the-scale semi-finals.

Special mention goes to a rapping Gerard Depardieu tribute act from Montenegro, Holland’s answer to Sitting Bull (Amsterwigwam, perhaps), an Israeli genetic experiment between Huey Morgan and Sir Les Patterson, a Georgian killer monk and Austria’s band whose omission from last night’s extravaganza meant sadly we didn’t get to hear Graham Norton announce: “Next up, it’s Trackshittaz.”

Aren’t they all, though.


Channel 4, and indeed the human race, finally ran out of new ideas on Monday night and gave Gok Wan his own cooking show.

That’s Gok, which rhymes with wok. So, naturally, they’ve given it the catchy title Gok Cooks Chinese.

Not since Alan Titchmarsh fronted a show about pop stars trying their hand at opera has a host been so miscast.

Bless him, though, nobody seems to have told the guy that Harry Hill’s no longer doing TV Burp, so Gok’s blatant attempt to be the next Nigella (“It’s time to get my meat out”) is falling on deaf ears.

But he does have a “Chinese bucket of taste and flavour”, which looks suspiciously like a couple of bottles of soy sauce on a tray, together with a catchphrase: “Wok on.”

To which there can be only one reply.

Wok off.


When you hear the word “romance”, what springs to mind?

A sunset walk along a beach? Dinner for two with the wine flowing? Having your personal space invaded by a complete stranger busting some dad-dancing moves in a lift?

If it’s the latter, firstly sort your life out, then get yourself to E4 at 7.30pm on Monday nights where you’ll find the inappropriately scheduled Love Shaft.

It’s a dating show, of sorts, that owes less to Blind Date than it does to blind panic, a charmless rehash of Zoe Salmon’s The Love Bus, which crashed and burned on one of Channel 5’s digital stations a couple of years ago.

Instead of a string of berks trying to impress a girl with karaoke on a double-decker, a string of berks tries to impress a girl in what we’re supposed to believe is an elevator, voiced by the old Eurotrash narrator, which curiously doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Somebody named Will Best hosts the programme from the lift’s destination, a “penthouse bar”, where he had this question: “Olivia seems to know exactly what she wants but will she find it in the Love Shaft?”

Yes, if what she wants is a massage from a dwarf and a pretend dinner party with four mannequins wearing horrifying face masks of Wayne Rooney, Paris Hilton, Russell Brand and Dappy, from N Dubz.

You don’t need the details but as you can probably guess there are tasks for the girl and whichever boy she’s chosen on each floor, the first of whom was named Prateek, who put the “prat” into Prateek, and described himself as an “aspiring model/actor”, or “unemployed” as most people call it.

There followed a back-flipping topless idiot wearing a dickie bow, dolphin impressionist Keiran, and Olivia’s real-life friend Cabbar who’s been chasing her for four years and finally got his date, rendering the whole programme even more pointless than it first appeared.

So I’m pressing the emergency stop and severing the cables. Lift off.


Pointless Celebrities contestant Jake Humphrey, scanning a list of animal hybrid names, to bloke-behind-the-desk Richard Osman: “I thought you looked a bit like a ‘grolar’ when you came in.”

Takes one to know one, Jake.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

BBC2’s sensitively treated Hitler’s Children. The new series of Family Guy on BBC3.

Morgana Robinson recovering from previous TV duds to comedy greatness on C4’s Very Important People.

Vile Katie Price blowing the Celebrity Deal Or No Deal £250,000 jackpot (yes, I know it was for charity).

Scott Mills involuntarily shushing Albania’s female Eurovision warbler.

And a woman with excess body and facial hair on Embarrassing Bodies Live From The Clinic who turned out to be called Tash.

Tash by name...


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:

The BBC sending Gary Barlow around the world to get “inspiration” for the Queen’s official Diamond Jubilee song, without which it would have been impossible to write.

Tim Lovejoy introducing Sunday Brunch the morning after his beloved Chelsea won the Champions League: “We’re here with you for the next two hours with my smug face.”

Every third TV personality getting their entire family onto their programmes.

Two back-to-back sleep-inducing episodes of The Apprentice.

The fact that we haven’t collectively killed off all shows beginning “My Big Fat...”

Panorama pointlessly ambushing Engelbert Humperdinck over human rights abuses in Azerbaijan.

And BBC3 having Frankie Cocozza as an expert pundit on Euros’ Most Shocking Moments football clip show, the biggest waste of 90 minutes so far this year.

At least that is until June 11 when England play France.