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The TV Column (23 Nov)

Justin Lee Collins, Terry Wogan, Jedward and Katie Price are voted in and out by Gerry Corner

Written by . Published on November 23rd 2009.


The TV Column (23 Nov)


SIR Terry Wogan has fronted Children in Need (BBC1, Friday) for the last 30 years and he hasn't changed a bit.

Sorry, that should read “and his material hasn't changed a bit.”

True, watching her
chew on a bollock,
it was hard not to feel some sympathy for Peter Andre

I would bet my mortgage that Friday was the 30th year running I have heard the lines “who writes this stuff?” – in response to a superlative-laden script – and “he's obviously got the family in tonight” – in response to cheers for Harry Connick Junior.

By the end of a marathon night (all told, around seven hours – or did it just feel like it?), Tel looked as tired as those jokes. He began sprightly enough but as the show returned from a break for the news, Wogan appeared to be losing his way, literally so judging by the way he shambled hesitantly around the set with a perpetual look of mild bemusement.

When Terry greeted Pixie Lott – one of the few acts performing who did not reach their peak in 1981 – he was like the aged relative at a wedding party who has long forgotten what to say to young people

Age should never be an issue if you are up to the job. But the authority with which Sir Terry once manipulated an audience is gone. As the night wore on, the knight wore out and co-presenter Tess Daly increasingly resembled an overpaid care worker.

None of this was helped by lazy production that presented us with the same old format and most of the same old faces. The fact that it's for a good cause is no excuse. The Nolans, Annie Lennox, Madness and Spandau Ballet donated their time for free but ought to have been paying good money for the sort of TV exposure they wouldn't get anywhere else.

Justin Lee Collins was at least somebody familiar to viewers who reached adulthood in the 21st century. But instead of doing something he's good at – ie. making people laugh – he delivered a mediocre karaoke version of a Tom Jones classic.

Strange, but not nearly as strange as the sight of the studio audience exuberantly waving their Pudseys in rhythm to Delilah, a song about domestic violence taken to its ultimate conclusion

A final thought: while the great British public are happy to dip into their pockets once a year, are they willing to vote for policies that would make real progress on the problems of disadvantaged children but would hit their pockets every pay day?

* * * *

A lot of people can't be bothered to vote for the things that affect them most but will actually fork out, week after week, to vote for John and Edward, the averagely-able amiable Grimes brothers whose Irish luck finally ran out on Sunday night (The X Factor, ITV1).

Simon Cowell had criticised fellow judge and Jedward mentor Louis Walsh, for giving the twins “too much to do”. But Louis knew that the moment the boys

stopped moving, they only had their voices to fall back on.

In a sing-off with Olly Murs, the anti-heroes were so wildly out of tune, so much of the time, that their rival only had to remain standing to go through. Even so, Danni Minogue didn't want to be the one to do it to them.

“Is it a singing competition?” inquired the £1m-earning show judge, a question she should probably have asked before now.

Cowell said of Jedward recently: “There's nothing you can say about these guys anymore. They're unstoppable.” Well, not quite.

* * * *

Another pair of tits attracting a lot of votes has made for vaguely unsettling viewing on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (ITV1, all week).

Night upon night the viewing public has chosen glamour model Jordan, aka Katie Price, to face such grisly – not to mention gristly – tasks as eating a kangaroo's scrotum and crawling through a rat-infested tunnel, the latter at least an ordeal for which a lifetime of handling the tabloid press would have partially prepared her.

The very public battering of Katie Price is presumably being dispensed as punishment for her perceived sins. True, watching her chew on a bollock, it was hard not to feel some sympathy for Peter Andre. But if the public support for John and Edward was partly designed to wind up Simon Cowell, the crushing of Katie was more akin to bullying.

Despite her taking on every challenge with good grace, the viewers were showing no sign of backing off at the weekend, voting to put her through a seventh trial in a row. Now she has walked out, reflecting that one of the reasons for doing so was the fact that the jungle was filled with memories meeting her ex hubby there. So the public got their dubious way, but it won't be as interesting without her.

In Saturday's trial, she and Queen of Clean Kim Woodburn were invited to eat a variety of eyes, posteriors and testicles, giving viewers a rare insight into the contents of an average English sausage prior to its processing into unrecognisable, digestible pulp.

One has to doubt whether television has genuinely evolved when watching a pair of celebrities permanently on the point of vomiting is considered to be top prime-time viewing. The Two Ronnies it isn't.

This is what Saturday nights in Britain have come to. If you can't be bothered to go out and drink yourself sick, you can turn on the TV and watch someone else do the retching on your behalf.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

T. V. TerrorNovember 23rd 2009.

Nothing decent on the telly then?

Jed we canNovember 23rd 2009.

I shan't be watching any of these shows any more

TV CuriousNovember 23rd 2009.

Not since Jordan went.

Phil McCrackenNovember 23rd 2009.

I turned on the telly and caught five minutes of 'I'm a Celebrity'. I was bemused not by the eating of animal genitalia but in trying to work out who the 'celebrities' were. I spotted Jordan with her plasticised face and chest but couldn't work out who the rest were. Have these people ever been celebrities? Who are they? Does anyone care? Does anyone still watch this rubbish?

ObserverNovember 23rd 2009.

It's the words bush and tucker that's got the confused viewers voting

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