WEB EXCLUSIVE: Couch Potato on Wimbledon, cooking in prison and fear and loathing of music festivals

A muddy campsite at the Isle of Wight festival, after heavy rains turned the site into a mudbath causing traffic chaos. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.  Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
A muddy campsite at the Isle of Wight festival, after heavy rains turned the site into a mudbath causing traffic chaos. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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Our Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:

Music festivals. Don’t you just love them?

In a word? No. They feature, in ascending order of personal loathing, rain, mud, overflowing portable toilets, and Coldplay. Endless ruddy Coldplay.

But if there’s one thing worse than suffering a festival in the flesh, it’s suffering a festival on television, presented by Fearne Cotton.

And just because Glastonbury is taking a year off, don’t think for one moment that this small inconvenience has deterred BBC3, which came to us live from the Hackney Weekend.

Two nights of mindless chat, from Cotton and Radio 1 DJ Greg James, with the occasional musical interlude including (take it away, Fearne): “The lovely Labrinth.” “The lovely Ed Sheeran.” “The lovely Rizzle Kicks.” “The lovely Nicki Minaj.”

For love, apparently, was in the air from this pair of goofs. “Jack White. I love that guy.” “Flo Rida. I just love him.” “Will.i.am. I love your coat.”

And this next exchange that exposed the overkill for the insincere fakery it is:

Fearne: “Lana Del Rey is one of my absolute favourites.”

Greg: “Did you see her set earlier?”


The baloney wasn’t coming solely from the presenters.

Will.i.am revealed: “I got called to do this festival earlier in the year. In December.”

And a section called “Lethal Bizzle’s Guide To Hackney Slang”, which I’m convinced was a spoof, included these insights into the local dialect: “‘Wagwan’ means hello. ‘Two twos’ means cut a long story short.

“And ‘Leave it, yeah?’ basically means leave it alone.”

Such is the jargon’s deep, deep code.

The one thing you can say for the Beeb is that at least it showed the headline acts live and uninterrupted, unlike Sky Arts 1’s coverage of the Isle of Wight Festival, where Zoe Ball and Jo Whiley spent a total of ten hours teasing viewers on Saturday and Sunday night before airing just four songs from Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen because of “rights issues”. (So what’s the flippin’ point being there?).

But its presenters clearly knew their stuff, with their brains wired to their mouths.

In contrast, by Sunday evening, Fearne Cotton’s “lovely” Tourette’s had been replaced by an outbreak of “Unbelievables” from Greg James: “Rihanna is impossibly hot. It’s unbelievable.” “A masterclass from Jay-Z. Unbelievable.” “The fireworks were going off just then. Unbelievable.”

Almost as unbelievable, in fact, as this piece of breaking news he delivered: “The Olympic park is in the background. In a month’s time that will be used for the Olympics.”

He’s right, you know.

But for all Fearne and Greg’s time-filling uselessness, thank your lucky stars the whole shebang wasn’t anchored by roving reporter Gemma Cairney.

A jumping-bean caricature in an anorak, she was running around trying to spot Jay-Z, on Saturday evening, like Anneka Rice on Treasure Hunt, without much success until she stumbled upon a clue: “I still haven’t seen him but I reckon this might be his car. It’s quite shiny.”

And it’s just as well she didn’t catch up with him, because her line of questioning would have had to top this humdinger she had for rapper Professor Green: “Which number bus would you get to Homerton?”

Clearly one for the big interview exclusives is Gemma, which reached a nadir when she started asking the performers if they knew any Cockney rhyming slang, to which R&B singer Nicki Minaj replied before the watershed: “I couldn’t say a particular one. James Blunt.”

Just as well you didn’t say it, Nicki.

Gemma did, however, get a fuller response to her question: “Do you know any Cockney rhyming slang,” from Nigerian artist D’Banj:

“Top of the morning, top of the morning, top of the evening, in fact top of the day to you. I’m D’Banj, hope you have a confession. Liberty.”

I’ll take that as a no, then.


Incidentally, BBC3’s Hackney Weekend camera supervisor was Lincoln Abraham.

He took some good shots.


Incredible scenes on BBC2 on Thursday night where Andy Murray’s potential semi-final opponent Rafa Nadal was knocked out of Wimbledon by a complete unknown.

So the question is, who’s Murray going to be beaten by in the semi final now?


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:

Hapless Treasury Minister Chloe Smith receiving the both-barrels Paxman treatment on Tuesday’s watch-through-your-fingers Newsnight.

The promising opening of BBC2 police corruption drama Line Of Duty.

Alan Partridge’s long-awaited TV return, on Sky Atlantic, immediately followed by Armando Iannucci’s US version of The Thick Of It, Veep.

Tim Wardle’s brilliant Channel 4 documentary Lifers.

And this line during an interview on This Morning with a woman named TJ who left her fiancé to pursue a porn-film career: “On the first day it was just really hard for me.”

Well what did you expect, love?


Occasionally, the myriad cookery programmes on Channel 4 serves as a wake-up call to society rather than simply filling half an hour in its schedule with Gok Wan stir-frying noodles and making innuendo about his meat.

Jamie’s School Dinners removed turkey twizzlers from kids’ menus.

Hugh’s Chicken Run championed free-range poultry against battery farms.

The Big Fish Fight fearlessly tackled the illegal shark-fin trade.

So I have no doubt the broadcaster had a similar public service in mind with Gordon (Ramsay) Behind Bars, with the chef trying to set up a commercial kitchen in Brixton Prison where inmates cook food to sell on the outside.

Unfortunately, nobody seemed to have watched Alan Partridge once famously pitch Cooking In Prison as a programme idea.

Because this isn’t so much Porridge as garbage.

It’s just another TV reality show that should be locked up and the key thrown away, featuring the dreaded J-word.

That’s right, the prisoners, who’ve been whittled down to Ramsay’s “final 12” for no discernible reason, are on a “journey” with all the usual soundbites:

“The enormity of what I’m taking on is starting to sink in.”

“It’s becoming apparent that I’m starting from rock bottom.”

“I’m taking a really big risk putting negative Tesfa Jones in charge.”

Most moronic of all: “They’re all committing GBH against cupcakes around here.”

The cupcakes task came straight from The Apprentice, with half the team baking and the other half heading up a marketing campaign, which followed a MasterChef test to see if they could cook scrambled eggs, minus the watchful eye of Monica Galetti.

As for what Ramsay says behind the convicts’ backs – “It’s time they paid something back,” and, “They’re like a bunch of f***ing babies,” – you’ll not be surprised to hear he’s ever so slightly more chummy to their faces: “Come on, we’re a team!”

And buttering up (though not in the prison-shower sense) career criminal Lawrence Gibbons, the chef asked: “We could have been at school together. I was 45 last month. How come you look older than me?”

Three words, Gordon. “Hair transplant” and “botox”.


Sky Arts 1’s Zoe Ball, at the Isle of Wight Festival: “On the way we have The Virgin Marys, Pulled Apart By Horses and The Boss.”

Sounds horrific.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:

Alistair McGowan explaining every joke on You Cannot Be Serious.

BBC News channel’s Ben Brown claiming: “There had been a lot of negative press reports ahead of Euro 2012 of thuggish behaviour and racism,” only for an England supporter to point out to him that the chief culprit was BBC’s Panorama.

Million Pound Drop’s lousy researchers offering the multiple choice answers to the question: “What was the most watched TV show on Christmas Day, 2011?” as Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, the Queen’s message and EastEnders, when the actual answer was Downton Abbey.

And a man called Adam Child, whose fiancée TJ left him to pursue a porn-film career, lying to This Morning’s Phillip Schofield that he’d never done porn himself, leaving the disgruntled host having to reveal the fact to viewers half an hour later: “I Googled him in the break and it took about 15 seconds to find him naked on a website.”

Which is roughly 15 seconds longer than This Morning’s researchers spent finding out about him.


The final week of Euro 2012, Gary Lineker and friends finally move from their underground Salford bunker to Ukraine, thereby ensuring England’s immediate exit, and the rich variety of BBC1’s football punditry was in abundance.

Guy Mowbray: “Steven Gerrard is England’s Pirlo – peerless when it comes to crosses and free kicks.”

Jake Humphrey: “Once again, Pirlo is peerless.”

Gabby Logan: “Pirlo was peerless tonight, wasn’t he?”

In fairness, he was. Though try telling that to the army of England fans in Kiev giving their predictions before the game on the rolling news channels.

“England will win 4-1 and Rooney will get a hat-trick.”

“3-1, Rooney will get a hat-trick.”

“2-1, Andy Carroll with the winner in extra time.”

And, most ridiculous of all: “It will be a very tight game, 0-0, and we will win on penalties.”

I mean, come on. As if.