Strictly – the quarter final

Strictly Come Dancing the quarter final

Musicals Week, hurrah!  But before we embark on our Strictly journey, take a moment to remember the man, the legend, the sheer, er, balls, that is Ed:

In the great steaming pile of shite that is 2016, Ed was a weekly two minutes of joy. Now at something of a loose end since last week’s Strictly ejection, he has said he has no plans to return to his previous life in politics.  Very wise.  Let’s face it, if a tangerine fuck-knuckle can make it all the way to the White House,  the public affairs bar is set way too low for a man of Ed’s talents.

Dress watch: Tess in a split bin bag, Claudia in an Ann Summers’ nightdress.  4/10. Must do better.

The show kicked off with Anton Du Beke yelping an abomninable ditty specially penned by Strictly’s music producer Matt Howes, who should be taken out and shot.  The only distraction from Anton hitting all the wrong notes was his unfeasible, decayed satsuma-coloured hair.  Presumably Anton is mates with Paul McCartney and Silvio Berlusconi, both of whom use the same orange hued dye. Embrace the grey, Anton.  And never sing again.

Once I’d taken my fingers out of my ears, I was able to focus on Ore and Joanne,  who danced the Foxtrot to ‘Pure Imagination’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Ore as Willy Wonka.   It was truly lovely, but I’m afraid I’ve led you astray with my previously stated conviction that he would win the competition.  He won’t.  Hey ho.  This is why I don’t win the Lottery, folks.

Next, Judge Rinder and Oksana, who danced the Samba to ‘Oh! What a Night!’ from Jersey Boys.   I have loved Rinder ever since the moment when, waiting to find out if he was in the dance off, he was caught during one of Tess’s interminable pauses mouthing “Oh COME ON.”  Alas now Ed has gone (obligatory two minutes’ silence) he is the weakest link.    I missed some of Rinder’s dance due to a brief spat with my daughter who objected to my asking her to unglue herself from her iPhone and pour me another Aperol Spritz – what are offspring for, if not to keep one’s drinks topped up?, but what I did see looked fun.  Not good, but certainly fun.

Louise and Kevin danced the Quickstep to ‘The Deadwood Stage’ from Calamity Jane.  Louise’s characterisation was brilliant, although there was far too much out of hold and she messed up the timing. Len, of course, managed to bugger up his bon mot: “Never mind the Deadwood stage, you could be on the, er, um, er, the West End stage!” he burbled, like a grandad at Christmas, unable to get his knock knock joke in the right order.

Claudia and AJ danced the Salsa to ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from the Lion King.   It was a frantic routine, the teeny twosome bopping like toddlers high on Ribena and Tangfastics at their 12th birthday party.  “Well, that was HIGH ENERGY!” shrieked Darcy, who kindly refrained from mentioning the final lift in which AJ lifted Claudia over his head and wore her like a hat, something I hope never to witness again.

Finally, Danny and Oti danced the Tango to ‘One Night Only’ from the musical Dreamgirls.  Danny was excellent at the start of this series, and is still excellent, although his footwork went awry several times.  He’s too much of a tailor’s dummy for my taste, but there’s no denying the man can dance.  He’ll probably win.

The show finished with a knock-out West Side Story routine from the professionals that mercifully did not include Anton singing.  If only Ed Balls had been in it, it would have been perfect.





Strictly – Blackpool!

Strictly Come Dancing Blackpool

It’s that week.  You know, the one where everyone pretends that they want to go to Blackpool.  They don’t, of course, but part of Strictly’s charm is pretending to like things when you patently don’t.  Ed Balls, for instance.  There must be quite a few contestants who would like Ed to be knocked down by a Blackpool tram, but nobody says so because that’s not the Strictly way.  Not me.  I’m 100% #teamballs.  Er, #teamEd.

Yes Blackpool, the “Vegas of the North”.   People say that. They really do.


Blackpool is usually where the novelty act gets booted out, so this week could be the end of Ed’s Strictly run, but then, in a world where a hamster-crowned kumquat can be voted the leader of the free world, who knows?

Claudia and Tess maintained current hideous dress form, Claudia dressed as a 1960s primary school teacher in navy polyester, Tess in a red confection that probably looked okay until the caretaker’s cat mauled it.

Up first were Claudia and AJ, dancing the Jive to ‘Hey Mickey’ by Toni Basil, a song I hated in 1981 and didn’t sound any better in 2016, as it was murdered by the Dave Arch singers.  In typical AJ style it was fast, probably too fast for Claudia, who went wrong right in front of the judges.  Len was on hand however to provide reassurance, and his customary unfunny word-play.   “Verr woz no takin’ the mickey wiv that darnce!” he yelped.

Peter Kay turned up to read out the terms and conditions and was funnier in his allotted 90 seconds than any other comedian manages in an hour.  Behind him, the dancers giggled wildly and Claudia gave up any attempt at control.

Next up, Ore and Joanne danced the Viennese Waltz to ‘That’s Life’ by Frank Sinatra. I have tipped Ore to win, but I am now going to hedge my bets and say Ore or Ed. (Now Ed will be voted out. I am rubbish at predictions.  This is why I haven’t won the Lottery.)  Their dance was gorgeous, notwithstanding the extra dancers milling around the floor which I find an annoyance, not an enhancement.    There was a fleckerl that went on for a week and a show-stopper of a finish.

Louise and Kevin danced the Paso Doble to ‘Explosive’ by Bond.  Louise has gone from tentative “don’t look at me” to full-on hoofer and it has been a joy to watch.  Their Paso was passionate, dynamic and perfectly choreographed.  Even Craig liked it.  Just as it seemed as though the judging panel might all say something informed and constructive, Len blasted through their measured intelligence like an ice cream van fuelled by amphetamines: “Ar woz blown away on the beach diss mornin’! An’ arm blown away nah!”   Shut up, Len.

Danny Mac and Oti (love her) danced the Charleston to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Gregory Porter. He was supposed to be playing a waiter, but was dressed like a circus ringmaster; no matter, it was really, really good.  Her choreography was terrific, a sort of American Smooth Charleston, and although Danny looked a bit knackered in the middle section, there was no denying it was a full on performance.   Craig gave it his first 10 of the series.

Ooh Ed Balls and Katya! They danced the Jive to ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis. The Jive is where many dancers trip up (literally) but my worries that Ed’s dancing would be flatter than a platypus nailed to the floor were unfounded.  There were genuine kicks and flicks in his routine.  Of course the judges have now given up attempting to provide any form of critique because he is just fun to watch and the public love him.  His marks were rubbish of course.

Next it was Greg Rutherford and his huge bottom, dancing with Natalie to the Quickstep to ‘Hand Jive’ by Sha Na Na.  Greg looked nervous throughout, skipping round the dance floor like a kangaroo keen to let the townsfolk know that young Barry Dingwall had fallen down a disused well.

Finally, Judge Rinder (now spray tanned to a shade known as Donald Trump Max) and Oksana who danced the Salsa to “Spice up your life” by  – do I really have to tell you?  I LOVED it.  Lots of hip action, and Rinder unable to stop himself singing.   He and Oksana really seem to have struck up a genuine friendship.  Craig, amazingly, loved it.  “Hip-tastic, dahhhling.  I think I’d like to call you Judge Grinder.”   Darcy gave him The Look.


but Craig was unapologetic. Len whinged about piffling detail relating to footwork, but Rinder was too happy to care.

Will this be the week that results in Balls being buried at Blackpool?  I’ve no idea, but clock that alliteration.

Strictly – Halloween!

Strictly Come Dancing Halloween

I bow to no-one in my love of the BBC, but their copywriting stinks.  Cop an eyeful of this drivel:

“Want to see an Olympian practicing witchcraft, or a TV presenter playing an evil shopkeeper? How about a couple of comic book villains giving us a chilling Charleston, or a Lady Gaga song turned into an eye-popping Paso Doble? Of course you do. So grab a toilet roll, do yourself up like a mummy, and get into the spooky spirit.”

Grab a toilet roll? God’s sake. Hey Beeb, give me a ring. I’m way better than the dudes you employ who churn out this deathless prose.

Anyway, to the dancers.  Halloween night is usually a florid rat’s nest of ludicrous props and holy-crap-the-kids-have-found-my-all-my-lipsticks face paint, as pros and slebs alike camp it up more than a Carry On film directed by Liberace.  This year’s stuck fairly close to tradition.

For anyone missing, or at least recently discharged from hospital after playing, Bake Off Bingo,  there’s always Strictly Halloween Bingo to keep you warm/ease you into an alcoholic coma.  Neck a double everytime:

  • Someone (and when I say someone, I mean Tess or Len) says “spooktacular”
  • Ditto “frighteningly talented”
  • Ditto “scarily bad”
  • Len smugly delivering the line “there woz plenny of tricks anna few treats” or variations thereon
  • Craig referring to Ed Balls as “a horror show” or variations thereon
  • Len telling us all that the Rumba is hard for a man
  • Anastacia pretending to be pleased Brendan is back
  • Tess wearing an appalling dress.  Oh hang on, that’s every week.

In a case of supreme bad taste, the opening group number was to “You Spin Me Round”, a hit for the recently deceased Pete Burns.   The Beeb rushed out a statement blithering on about it being a tribute, instead of admitting they hadn’t had time to choreograph and rehearse anything else.  Tess and Claudia appeared, Claudia in her usual flapper-meets-shapeless-sack affair and Tess wearing her nan’s bra and net curtains she’d dyed black for the occasion.

First up, Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton, dressed as Suicide Squad Lite, dancing the Charleston to the ill-advised Emeli Sande version of ‘Crazy In Love’, one of the worst songs ever recorded.  I thought it was dull, but the judges loved it.   Maybe I need new glasses.  Maybe THEY need new glasses.

Judge Rinder and Oksana gave us their Paso Doble to Gaga’s Born This Way.  He was a moth, she was a butterfly and it was tremendous fun.  Their gapping would have allowed a small mini-van to drive between them, but there was bags of theatrical energy and I loved it.  Even Craig liked it.  Rinder looked delighted and squeaked with pleasure.  I’d rather watch him than tailor’s dummy Danny Mac any day of the week, but each to their own.

Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ, who is taking part in this competition to pass the time until he’s allowed into big school, gave us their American Smooth.  It’s difficult for tiny people to pull off elegance, not least because when in hold, teeny Claudia looked like a baby mammal clinging to her mother rather than a sophisticated foxtrotting dancer, but again, the judges loved it.

Oh God, giant ego Brendan and Anastacia in one of the unfunniest VTs of the series.  “Aal this bat training has got me burble burble burble Aa hope Aa wone bee wingin it” she drawled.  At least she had the grace to look embarrassed.  They danced a flat-footed Jive to ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ by Meat Loaf.   Darcy wiffled on about confidence and failed to mention Anastacia’s kicks and flicks had all the sharpness and energetic action of an elderly bear wearing Ugg boots.

Danny (tailor’s dummy but very accomplished dancer) and Oti (fabulous) danced the Foxtrot to ‘Take Me To Church’ by Hozier.   An interesting choice of music for a pagan festival.   Their VT was one of the worst-acted in the entire history of Strictly, ever.  How is this man a paid actor? Sorry, what’s that? Oh.  He’s in Hollyoaks.  That explains it.   Danny messed up but he’ll still make the final.  He won’t win though.  Ore will.

Laura and the sweating Italian Giovanni danced the Tango to The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black.”   They were all kinds of wonderful; sexy, passionate, snapping heads – a real tango, in other words.

Ore and Joanne danced the Charleston to the Bow Wow Wow version of ‘I Want Candy’.   Now this was a routine about Halloween I could get on board with, that is, one that was all about stuffing your face with sweets.  It was utterly bonkers, tremendous fun and incredibly fast but unfortunately he missed a lift, there was hardly any swivel and he got out of sync for a couple of seconds.  But hey, it just wasn’t his dance.  And imagine how dull it would be if he was brilliant every week.  I am, in case you were unsure, a huge Ore fan.

Greg Rutherford danced a rumba to ‘Bring Me To Life’ by Evanescence. Natalie, a woman who has always resembled a robot until her partnership with the Olympic gold medallist, gave it her not inconsiderable all.  Greg did a lot of “acting” and the choreography was fast, faster than most rumbas, possibly to cover up the fact that the rumba content was almost non-existent, Greg’s hips needing a couple of cans of WD40 to get them moving even a centimetre.  It was all performance and zero technique,  a critique which reminded at least one viewer of an ex-boyfriend.  Darcy sympathetically told Greg that “rumba is hard for a man”.  DRINK, EVERYONE.

Daisy and Aljaz danced the Paso Doble to Santa Esmeralda version of ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, that well-known Halloween anthem (me neither).   She wore a fantastic dress (I care about these things, shut up), the Day of the Dead make up on both was outstanding and they danced a Flamenco-based Paso that was truly exciting to watch.

Finally, Ed Balls (Ed Balls).  Hurrah!  Craig has awarded him two points each time for the past three weeks, and I felt worried that his Cha Cha would bring a new low with only one point.  Latin is not Ed’s friend.  But they danced (minced would be more accurate) to the Hansel Martinez version of ‘Love Potion No. 9’ and bloody hell, it was great!  Not in a dancing sort of way, you understand, I’m not mad.  “I absolutely loved that,” said Darcy, puzzled.  “There was actually quite a lot of cha cha.”  She looked as though she needed a lie-down and a Valium.  Len, of course, was keen to impart his not at all scripted wisdom. “It wozzunt soopa, and it wozzunt natrell, but it issya best darnse.”  Craig awarded him a four and laughed like a loon, Bruno lost his head and gave him a eight, and the nation ran round its sitting rooms in delight.  Nobody can quite understand the Ed phenomenon, but if I might be allowed to put forward my two penn’orth worth, these reality competitions are now crammed with people who have stage/performance/acting creds, if not dancing ones, and total novices like Ed are rarer and rarer.   Which is why we take them to our hearts.

OMIGOD Ed wasn’t bottom of the leaderboard, either.  That humiliation was occupied by Brendan and Anastacia, who have surely outstayed their welcome.

Next week, everyone quacking on about how badly they want to go to Blackpool.  Which we all know is absolute rot.



The Great British Bake Off – THE FINAL!

The Great British Bake Off - The Final

The last ever Bake Off on the Beeb.  It’s the end of a madeira.  Oh please yourselves.

So – and now there were three. Who would win the royal-themed Great British Bake Off final? The country held its breath.  And its glasses of wine, if Twitter was anything to go by.  Mary Berry’s legacy to the nation is that everyone is now as keen on booze as she is.

Jane, Andrew and Candice lined up and were told to bake a filled meringue crown.  “Big enough for the whole Royal Family!” squeaked Mel.  What, all of them? They were going to need a bigger tent.  “It’s the final, and we’ve been waiting for this,” wrinkled Mary, wisely.  “I’m looking for it to taste good, look good, and…..” And what, Bezza? Have a secret layer of tequila-flavoured raspberries?  Be made entirely of gin?  “Be spectacular.” Oh.  I blame Nadiya (last year’s winner) for this royal shizz.  She’s always being papped with Her Madge.

Jane wanted her meringue to be “as white as possible” (should please Prince Philip) whereas Andrew wanted his to have a brown colour, using muscovado sugar and Candice, (looking all kinds of fabulous in a funereal black dress) wanted to go “a little bit further” and threw in some prosecco (should please Mary).   “Now for my cassis jelly jewels,” shimmied Andrew.  Is that what you kids are calling them these days?  He then bent over his oven to check his meringue and uttered the immortal words:

Great British Bake Off

Moving swiftly on, the judging.  “Your coulis is sharp,” declared Mary to Jane, who looked unsure as to whether or not this was a good thing.”  Candice and Jane got a Paul handshake (it’s just a handshake, calm down) but Andrew didn’t.  Andrew felt this was a worrying development.  What would happen in the technical challenge?

Victoria Sandwich.  Eh? Any fool can make one of those.  There were no instructions, no quantities, no recipe, no method, nothing.  Aha.  Evil.  The camera cut to a Victoria Sandwich so perfect it couldn’t be real.   “It MUST look like this,” said Mary firmly.  Paul’s mandarin orange complexion gaped at her in awe.

Everyone made their sponges, fretting about creaming methods and all-in-one methods, (“Mary likes the all-in-one method” said Jane, trying, and failing, not to look smug.)  They then started making their own jam.   Oh but Mary, you’re cruel.  “Everyone’s will look exactly the same, making it easier to compare them,” wailed Andrew, his jelly jewels presumably limp with worry.

Candice was told she’d made jelly not jam, because she’d taken the pips out.  Candice reacted as though she’d gone to the doctor with a slight rash on her knee and been told she needed her leg amputated.  Jane’s buttercream was a bit on the soft side and her jam was gluey.  She pulled a face that indicated she wished to destroy the government.  Andrew won.  “An even bake, a good jam, a smooth buttercream.”  What more can a girl ask for?  He should put that on his Tinder profile.

The biggest ever Bake Off final show stopper challenge. Five hours to make  12 puff pastry sausage rolls. 12 fruit and custard tarts (bleurgh). 12 savoury scones.  12 mini quiches (seriously Bezza, the 80s are over. Stop trying to make them happen) and a chocolate cake.  Essentially, a large picnic for alas unwritten Enid Blyton novel, “Five Go Mad With Pastry In A Tent”.

Candice made a chocolate orange and cardamom cake.  Bloody cardamom.  WHY?  Andrew produced a spreadsheet. Of course.  Jane made stuff like elderflower and something or other tarts and a four tier chocolate cake.  You won’t fit that in the picnic hamper, Jane.  There was a clip of Jane’s extremely good-looking children.  Why doesn’t one of them tell her to use Frizz-Ease? John Frieda is the way forward, Jane.  Knock that squirrel off your head.

So, 49 bakes, but only one oven.  “Time management has never been so important,” whispered Mel.   Meanwhile the other bakers were sat outside the tent having a great old time, giving their tips for who would triumph.  Selasi wanted Andrew to win.  I WANTED SELASI TO WIN.  Jane had the most supporters.  Would she steal it from the other two?   Val was firm.  “Candice.  She’s VERY focused.”  Val gave no indication as to whether she approved of this.  Jane’s chocolate collar wouldn’t peel off the greaseproof paper.  She pretended not to mind.


God but it was amazing – they were baking at the speed of light (whatever that is, I didn’t pay a lot of attention in physics at school) and everything looked bloody gorgeous.

Mary thought the Queen would love Jane’s colourful picnic.  “Great chocolate cake”, smiled Paul.  “Shame about the collar.”  He giveth, and he taketh away, folks.

“It’s beautifully displayed,” said Mary of Andrew’s spread.  “But such a thick layer of undercooked pastry, I think I’ll be leaving that.”  His cake fared better.  “That’s a great cake.”

Finally, Candice, who looked terrified.  “It looks an exciting hamper,” said Mary, happily.  “I love your little piggies.”  (Sausage rolls folks, she hadn’t cooked her toes.)  “Beautiful LAAAAAAIIIRRRRRS.”   The tarts were a little over-baked (apparently) but “that’s a good custard.”  Paul looked closely at her cake whilst Jane also stared at it intently.  “Let there be snakes in it,” she seemed to be praying.  “Or a great honking dog poo.” Bad luck, Jane.  Her chocolate orange and bloody cardamom cake was a triumph.  Had Candice got this in the bag, or rather the hamper?   The bakers joined their cheering family and friends whilst Bezza and Paul tried to pick a winner.

Candice won.  Of course she did.  She is a superbly talented baker and she deserved it, and all the people on Twitter and in the newspapers who said a ton of mean things about her lipstick and her pout can just EAT IT.  She cried while Jane and Andrew cheered her heartily, like the good sports they are.  “I did it,” she wept quietly.  “I’m good enough.”  Of course you are.  They all are.

So, that’s it.  Bake Off moves to Channel 4, without Bezza, and without Mel and Sue.  It is such a truly lovely programme that I really, genuinely hope it is successful on another channel.  There’s enough meanness and cruelty in the world.  Let’s have more cake.






The Great British Bake Off – Semi Final

The Great British Bake Off

So we kicked off with Selasi saying if he made it into the final, he’d wear a dress.  PLEASE LET SELASI MAKE IT INTO THE FINAL.  A very funny arthouse homage to French cinema (patisserie week, innit) from Mel and Sue, and then the bakers were up their elbows in palmiers.    Palmiers are easy peasy to bake, folks.  They are also a delicious party snack, the kind that you can cram into your mouth one after the other in vast quantities before realising that everybody is looking at you, and not in a good way.  Just me, then?  Oh please yourselves.

Selasi admitted he’d never made palmiers before, and Mary said “laaaaairs” several times.   There was an interesting spat between Jane and Candice, when it seemed that Jane was carefully watching Candice’s every move – for hints? tips? straightforward copying? – and Candice hissed “I CAN HEAR YOU WHISPERING” in a hey-I’m-only-joshing-I’m-not-really tone.   Selasi finished Sue’s sentences for her and then gave everyone a time check.  “Don’t take this away from me!” laughed Sue.  “Time checks with puns is all I have!”  Selasi grinned, and then went over to Andrew’s bench to help him because Andrew was having a complete ‘mare.  I love Selasi.  Candice wasn’t wearing any lipstick so Mel decided to apply some for her because “you, without lipstick, just isn’t right”.  I also love Mel.

Tasting time.  Jane had turned the same colour as her cerise T-shirt, so the only way to know where her face ended was by the bristling squirrel located about 12 inches above her neck.  Oh Jane.  Why the terrible haircut? In fact, why do women of a certain age choose this haircut? It’s one of life’s mysteries.

Jane: underdone and oily (sounds like an Italian bloke I once dated).  Candice, beautiful flavour, didn’t look like palmiers.  S elasi – okay, Andrew, okay.  Candice is looking good for the winner, but who knows?

Next up, the technical challenge.  A Savarin, which is sort of yeast and booze, basically.   Don’t bother, folks.  Have a sandwich and a beer instead.  Yet again, Selasi had never made one.   Nobody knew what they were doing and everyone tried different methods: Selasi didn’t beat anything, Jane used a dough hook, Candice melted butter, Andrew hurled it all in one bowl.  This is Mary’s doing – who bakes crap from the 1970s apart from Bezza, eh? Someone needs to drag her into the 21st century, pronto.  “How is it everybody can make caramel and I can’t?” wailed Jane, now a shapeless fuschia blob topped by a welcome mat.

Paul didn’t hold back in his criticism. “Overcooked and under-prooved.” He could have been referring to the latest ITV Agatha Christie adaptation, but was actually being rude about Candice’s effort.  “The membrane is off the orange, which is nice,” said Mary of Andrew’s bake.  Innuendo central.  Selasi’s was declared to be the wrong colour, and, horror of horror, he’d left the membrane on his orange.  Ahem. Jane’s caramel had crystallised.  And yet she won.  Selasi looked despondent.  Noooooooo.

The showstopper.  36 fondant fancies, of two types. Genoese sponge, buttercream and glossy fondant.  Argh.  They are SO difficult to get right.  “Time really is important,” said Andrew, glumly.  “I want to see SHOP STANDARD FANCIES,” glowered Paul.  You do? Then buy them from a bloody shop, mate.

Everyone came up with inventive ideas for their fancies.  “I never sieve my flour,” confessed Selasi.  Mary looked as though he’d just done a poo on her kitchen table, stuck a candle in it and wished her Happy Birthday.  “BUT YOU MUST SIEVE!” she corrected, in a horrified tone. “Er, okay,” said Selasi, with a “calm down you loon” look on his face.

Candice’s fancies looked  “Could do with tidying up,” said Paul. Oh shut up. “Textures are spot on though.” As you were, Paul.  “You’ve made two cracking fondant fancies,’ added Mary.  Candice to win, anyone?

Selasi’s weren’t all that.  “The white chocolate isn’t coming through,” said Mary.  “There’s very little sponge, but then the  lime IS really coming through.” DRINK, everyone. Jane had made a bollocks of hers, and looked close to tears.  She’d iced hers in the same colour as her face, ie fuschia pink.  “So sad you didn’t put anything on the outside of them,” sympathised Mary.  “They’re very lumpy. But the lemon’s coming through.” Anyone playing the GBBO drinking game (copyright, my daughter) would be in an alcoholic coma by this stage.  Andrew’s were too buttery.  “The mocha’s coming through.” Christ, enough with the coming through, judges!  When this programme moves to Channel 4 (pah) the new judges need to think of something else to say.

It was goodbye to Selasi.  Everyone was genuinely sad to see him go.  “No-one’s more sad than me to see him go,” said Mary.  “What a character, what a baker.”  Goodbye, Selasi.  Jane said she was crying that he had gone.  Andrew, however, was made of sterner stuff. “I’m in the final. YESSSSS!”  Nobody likes a show-off, Andrew.

Until next week, folks. Can’t wait. Also, Candice for the win.




The Apprentice – Week Two

The Apprentice Week Two review

Well this is unusual.  The advertising task in Week Two, which this year involved devising a marketing campaign for jeans.  Hey, that’s cool, Apprentice dudes, nobody’s ever done that before!

Anybody remember who got fired last week? No, me neither.

Blah blah recap, blah blah holding phones horizontally the way nobody in the history of mobile phones has ever held them blah blah. Taxis, please be quiet, you is not the kind of person ah want to go inta bizniss wiv, blah blah.

The telephone rang, at OHMIGODWHATTIMEISIT, and despite having only minutes to get ready, ironing/hair straightening/admiring the view took place.  The numpties were summoned to – er, not sure, somewhere that used to be a textile factory and is now a “renowned fashion school”, and told to come up with an advertising campaign for Japanese denim.  “One of yoo will be ‘ung outa dry.”  Oh haha, Sirsugarlordalan.  Very droll.

Big K (twat) waffled on about not wanting to pluck his monobrow because he didn’t want to be like everyone else.  Whevs, K.  One of the girls announced she had a fashion plan. What’s that?  The girls couldn’t decide on a project manager.  “How many for Rebecca?” Rebecca held up her own hand. “You can’t vote for yourself.” “Oh.”  JEEZ.

Jessica was PM (that’s project manager to you, not the prime minister.  Although I can easily imagine Theresa May in this scenario).  The girls did a quick focus group on the street. “What makes you choose a particular brand of jeans?” Her respondent replied as though speaking to a very slow, very small toddler.  “The fit. And the fabric.”   The boys wasted time stopping blokes to question them, and then telling them they were too old to know anything about jeans.  Well done, boys.

Everyone started blabbing on about straplines.  “Claim your fit.”  “Wozza strapline?” “The thing that sits alongside the branding.” Man, this was already shaping up to be a doozy.  Dillon, he of the mascara to emphasise his eyelashes, was, if I have got this right, art director.  He declared he couldn’t be interrupted during his thought processes.  Everyone in his team gave him the side eye.  Their brand was Day After Yesterday Denim.  What does that even mean? The girls chose something that I think was both Unclaimed (eh?), and  Claim Your Fit, which frankly would have worked a lot better with an apostrophe.  Jessica had a panic attack, which amused everyone (nice), and went outside to recover whilst her team took the opportunity to conspire against and say loudly how unreliable she was.   They also seemed to have mislaid their jeans. Cracking start.

Mukai tried to call his artistic director who was busy auditioning hot models for the advert.  The girls blabbed on about “share your image” and directed a photoshoot with genius suggestions such as “do a fake laugh”.   It was all kinds of mess, like trying to make mayonnaise using egg whites instead of yolks.    At this rate the whole lot of them were going to get fired and Sugarlordsiralan would spent the rest of the series having botox injections in the fruitless pursuit of looking less like a disgruntled Shar Pei.  Jessica declared that today had been not at all smokin’ (quote) and that tomorrow she would be better. She missed out that to achieve this she would be an entirely different person with a working brain and a few ideas.   The rest of her team had a hugely enjoyable session bitching about how hopeless she was.  “She just lost it!” “Yeah.”  As far as Jessica is concerned, the sisterhood is dead.

The next day dawned – the day of filming their ads.  The girls were on point. “You need more lipstick.”  YEAH GURL. They filmed in a toilet, to the sound track of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” which was, frankly, an unfortunate choice.  Over in Brixton, Dillon gave directorial instructions to a skateboarder.  “When you fall, can you take off your sunglasses?”  Special K , behaving like Donald Trump at a Miss Universe pageant, suggested he remove his own shirt because he was so hot.  Everyone shuffled their feet in an embarrassed fashion and pretended they hadn’t heard him.

The pitching.  Speaking as a pitching expert (modest) they were all crap.  The boys in particular were appalling.  “I’ll now hand you over to…. thanks, Big Guy…. creative juices…. yeah, love it…. sorry if I’m going a bit quick.”   There was a terrible bit where DAY denim or whatever they called it, launched into their presentation and Mukai, barely one word in, said: “I’ve completely fucked it.”  Yes, he actually said that. It is only fair to say the girls were no better.

Alansirlordsugar listened intently on a corded phone (get with the 21st century, Daddio) as the advertising experts slagged off both teams.  Everyone declared everyone else to be an idiot.  “Did you all go orf talking too much abaht the jeans bean Japanese?” enquired Sirsugarlordalan.  “Wotissit? You wait hours for a terrible bus advertisement and then two come along at once!”  It was hard to disagree with him, and he was properly angry about the dross he was presented with. “Arm not putting ma name to EYE VERR OF VEESE ADVERTS!” he yelled.  “Viss is ma favritt tarsk! GIT OUTTA HERE!”

Both project managers were sent out and told to chose two people each to accompany them back into the boardroom.   The Cafe of Despair was full to bursting as both teams told each other they were crap.

“Arm bitterly disappointed,” declared Alansugarlordsir. Mukai brought back JD (who? Does he have a sports clothing company?) and Special K.  Jessica brought back Alana and Natalia (no, me neither).    The boys started arguing almost immediately.  Special K’s monobrow disappeared into his hairline as he criticised JD.  Mukai’s bow tie drooped with disappointment.

The girls fared no better. “On Day One, arr lost ma head,” explained Jessica.  “But on Day Two, arr found it.  Natalie could’ve done more, but she just got on with the job I gave her.”  WTF?  Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, ie your job?  “Oooh, arrve lost ma train of fought,” flustered Jessica, who had mysteriously turned into Sue Pollard.

Natalie waffled on about not letting anybody down and doing 100 hours a week with passion but Alansugarlordsir was unimpressed and gave her the boot.  “Thank you, Lord Sugar.”

JD was given the benefit of the doubt and was allowed to stay.  Special K was declared to be a loose cannon but also allowed to say.  His monobrow looked grateful.   Anymore to be fired? Nope.

Next week, manufacturing and selling their own sweets.

The Apprentice – Week One


Oh man.  “My business acumen would be like a bouncing puppy.” “Behind my boyish good looks…’ “All I’ve ever wanted is money, and power.”  “Arm here twin.”  Look, there’s 18 of them.  I can’t write down every brainless quote.  Stick with me though, because I have a feeling this series is going to be television GOLD.

“So.  You lark to be called The Big Kay arr hear?” Siralanlordsugar interrogated Karthik Nagesan.  “The Big K for friends and fans,” smirked K.  “But you can call me K.” Sugarlordalansir gazed at him in wonder.  It’s been years since a candidate has revealed their idiocy so early in the process.  He then delivered his annual boardroom sermon of doom. “You can compare this to being on a life support machine and one of your colleagues here pulling the plug out just to charge their mobile phone up,” he warned. “That’s how competitive it will get.’’

So, the task.  But first, team names.  The boys chose Team Titans.  Hey, have I heard that name before?


The girls chose Team Nebula, because who doesn’t want to be thought of as a cloud of gas and dust in outer space?

Someone called Paul was project manager for the boys, Michelle for the girls.  They had to go through piles of antiques, find valuable stuff among the rubbish and sell it.  One numpty reckoned he’d got it covered because he had seen an episode of Bargain Hunt.  Off they trotted to a car boot sale, the boys proudly setting out their crap trestle table with broken china and an old statuette. The girls hadn’t even unpacked when some old lags who knew what they were looking at took them for a ride.  The girls, of course, celebrated.  “We’re gonna make some MONEY!” they yelped.

Then they dragged their stuff off to experts to find out how much their rubbish was worth, buy new stuff blah blah (I missed a bit due to the cat having a fit that I’d put out dry food instead of wet, so I put out wet and he promptly started eating the dry. Frickin’ cats).  Anyhoo, Paul was quite taken with a perfectly hideous Alan Partridge-type chair and got a £300 valuation from his expert. “Hipsters will like it,” declared Paul.  Yeah, they probably would.  Add a couple of antique trombone parts and an ironic lampshade and you’ve got a deal. The girls sold the same chair for about fourpence.  Go, girls!

Michelle spent what felt like the entire day quizzing her expert, only to ignore him entirely and go to Camden instead of heading for Portobello market.  The Titans, however, DID go to Portobello on the basis that it’s the ideal place to flog junk to unsuspecting poshos with money but no sense.    Blah blah how much shall we drop the price blah blah where’s the antiques dealer blah blah run run run run RUN!  “Guys, comman see our stall we sell THINGS!”   Meanwhile, the camera cut repeatedly to shots of Mukai walking around the market wearing an insane orange crocheted bowtie with matching pocket kerchief.    Then there was the usual running around shops with five minutes to go thrusting hideous tables and plastic candelabras at bemused dealers.  “£60 for the lot.” “£50.” “£55?” “£52.”  “Done.”  They had obviously all read that bible of business acumen, Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.”

The boardroom.  Nebula were immediately roasted for selling stuff too cheaply and spending hours with an expert they then ignored.  Michelle, project manager remember, praised everyone.  Everyone repaid the favour by telling her she was rubbish.

SugarSirAlanLord moved onto the boys.  “Arve had the feedback from Karren fat sum of yoo were like lost lams.”   Everyone gave each other serious side eye as they tried to explain their brilliance and blame each other for their failure simultaneously.  They didn’t need to.

The boys won.  Their prize was a lesson learning how to lindy hop (that’s a kind of jive, young ‘uns).  They looked underwhelmed at this, but not as underwhelmed as the Nebula gals who gathered in the Cafe of Despair.  “Lemme finish torkin!” “IN MY OPINION!” “Arl fight my corner!” etc etc.

Back into the boardroom they trooped and promptly started looking for a bus under which they could throw their team mates.  “There was a lack of leadership.”  One candidate boasted of selling some vases for £15.  “Do you know how much they were worth?” enquired SirSugarLordAlan.  “Er, no…” she replied, sensing that he was about to tell her, and she wasn’t going to like the answer. “Three hundred pahnd.”  “Oh. Sorry.”  Hopefully the vases’ new owners were watching the programme, shouting “Joleen! Them fackin’ vases are worth a fortune!  Gettem on Ebay, now!”

Michelle brought back Alana and Rebecca (nope, no idea.  Soz.)  Rebecca gave a pretty good account of herself, despite selling nothing.  She turned on Michelle’s lack of leadership and zero business acumen.  “Five, ten, fifteen, twenty.   That’s not a pricing strategy.”  Alana declared herself to be the second best seller.  Way to go, Alana. Who wants to come first? Second is where it’s at.  There was a lot of tedious bickering, and Michelle got the boot.

‘THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE OPPORTUNITY!” she yelled in response.  Seriously, think of something else to say, you losers.  “I DIDN’T F%*KING WANT TO BE YOUR KNOBBING BUSINESS PARTNER ANYWAY!” for example.

The lesson, dear readers, is never, ever, volunteer to be project manager in the first week.   But you knew that, didn’t you?








The Great British Bake Off – episode 7


It’s dessert week, yay! Back to proper baking, not pratting about with pancakes that you FRY, Paul.

So, the signature challenge was to bake a roulade.  Last fashionable in 1981 (I can still recall the horror of spinach roulade filled with coronation chicken), it put the fear of God into all the bakers, as everyone immediately fretted about their roulade having a crack when rolled.  I’m just going to leave that sentence there, as my gift to you.

Andrew made a Tropical Roulade – yeuch, and also, why? – and Benjamina knocked up something repulsive involving pineapple.   The only two ways to serve pineapple are (a) in the 14 Pina Coladas you knock back on a night out in a dodgy cocktail bar, and (b) on top of the Hawaiian pizza you snarf in a feeble attempt to banish the ensuing hangover.  I realise I may be in the minority with this opinion.

But wait!  The bakers are not just good at baking.  No.  Some of them are philosophers, specifically Tom, who briefly decided to abandon his roulade to take up the role of Confucius.  “Good enough is not good enough,” he intoned solemnly.  Honestly, if I wanted to drown myself in that sort of meaningless shite, I’d scroll through Instagram.

Back to the tent.  Everyone served up their sponge tubes of goo, and Mary and Paul liked some of them.  Far more interesting was the technical challenge: making something nobody had heard of.  Marjolaine.  Who the what now?  It’s a  fiendishly difficult French (obvs) dessert, essentially a combination of nutted meringues, pastry cream, and a hint of chocolate.   Or as Andrew put it, “It’s like a Vienetta, but posher.”  Paul and Mary would, we were informed, be looking for a perfect daqciose. Aren’t we all, darlings, aren’t we all.

Anyway, at the judging, Mary told Selasi that his effort was “a bit drunk looking”.  You should know, Bezza.  Andrew won.  He looked thrilled, as well he might.  Onto the show stopper – 12 Mini Mouse cakes! Hey, that’s a bit low rent, isn’t it?  Just icing a load of red and white bows onto sponge.


Sorry, what? Oh, Mini MOUSSE cakes.  If you’re not sure what they are, let me explain.  They’re the kind of pointless shizz you buy in a panic in Aldi when it’s Christmas and the whole family’s coming round and you suddenly think you need a metric tonne more food but you don’t want to cook any of it.

Candice confided that she would be making a “Champagne Cocktail Mousse.”  Mmmn, yummy.  “I’ll be making it with Prosecco.”  So a Prosecco Cocktail Mousse, then.   Andrew whipped out a ruler to measure his strawberries.   Look I just report this stuff, I don’t make it up.   Tom and Benjamina did complicated stuff with apples.   Jane did something with gelatine.  Selasi looked worried as his mousse refused to set.  “Disaster.”  Oh no, not Selasi, the king of laid-backness (shut up, it’s a thing.)  Would he be booted out of the tent?

Jane’s mousses (I really want to type mice) were terrific, despite some gelatine disasters (steer clear of gelatine, people, nothing good ever comes of it).  “Great moussiness,” snuffled Mary with her mouth full of pink gloop.  Selasi’s were pronounced to be too big *sideways look to camera* but had a lovely flavour.   Candice’s chocolate mousses weren’t mousses, according to Paul “more of a ganache”, and her other mousses were “too stiff for me” he added.  If you say so, Paul.   Tom produced mousses called “Hipster Madness” but, if I have got this right, as there were no Doc Martens, beards or checked shirts they were pronounced inadequate.  Andrew won Star Baker.  “He showed us a very good finish,” creamed Mary.   What is this woman on? And can I have some?

Tom got the boot, and was incredibly gracious about it.  “You always hope it won’t be you, but I knew, really, it would be me.”  What a lovely chap.

Next time, quarter final.  Tudor Week.  Tudor Week? FFS.  Baked swan and leeches, anybody?

The Apprentice – preview

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:01:00 on 27/09/2016 - Programme Name: The Apprentice S13 2016 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: * Strictly embargoed to 00.01 hrs Tuesday 27th September 2016 * (L-R) JD O’Brien, Natalie Hughes, Michelle Niziol, Karthik Nagesan, Mukai Noiri, Courtney Wood, Sofiane Khelfa, Frances Bishop, Alana Spencer, Samuel Boateng, Dillon St Paul, Oliver Nohl-Oser, Trishna Thakrar, Jessica Cunningham, Rebecca Jeffery, Paul Sul - (C) Boundless - Photographer: -

Apparently the first task involves testing the candidates’ negotiation and selling skills. As always, they’ve a shaky grasp of grammar and an inability to know when they’re talking bollocks.  Take a look at this year’s numpties:


The Tasmanian devil occasionally stirred up a tornado.  Not a torpedo. JEEZ.






Not a sentence, mate.



Because I’m worth it.



You play IN the team.



Close the door on your way out, love.



Except in order to win something, there has to be an element of competition.



“I’m short, so I’m, er, a pocket rocket! Aaaaaaaaand….. I’m fiery! (GEDDIT!) And I, er, nope, I can’t stretch this metaphor any further, soz.”



Likely to volunteer to be project manager in the first task, and also first to climb into the Taxi of Doom.



Hey, it worked for Frida Kahlo.



D’you want some wax for that cross?



Don’t look like him, pal.



And what do hustlers, walking the mean streets of Glasgow want?  That’s right. THEIR OWN HAIR SALON.



“And mummy says I’m the best at tying my own shoelaces.”



“And I am absolutely not whingeing when I say that people foolishly mistake my enthusiasm for silliness or positivity for naivety.  I’m not, I’m not, I’m not.  Stop being mean. IT’S NOT FAIR.”



“I’ve even adapted to getting to the age of 32 and not rising any higher up the corporate ladder than sales exec.  Go me!”



And nothing conveys the inalienable aura of strength quite like a bow tie.



“I’m better than Samuel at tying my own shoe laces, so THERE.”

Strictly Come Dancing – episode two

Strictly Come Dancing Ed Balls

The opening dance was so lovely this week I (almost) cried: children and old people,  waltzing to “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”  Ain’t that the truth.  Donald Trump, I’m looking at you.  The pro couples joined the dance floor, then the judges were waltzing too, there was a choir, everyone looked absolutely delightful and it was all too nice for words.

Fortunately, normal service was resumed as your writer noted that Tess’s stylist still hates her, and now hates Claudia too, having dressed them both in bath towels, and that Louise Redknapp must have pissed off someone the costume department and they had repaid her by making her look like Shirley Temple in a supermarket overall.  The girl can dance though, her jive was terrific.

Next up was Melvin (no idea) and Janette dancing to that ghastly 11pm wedding reception disco favourite, “Going Loco Down In Acapulco”.   Melvin’s VT contained all of his family.  Too early, Melv.  You’ve got to go on a journey and whip out the relatives around Week Nine.

Daisy Lowe performed the waltz. She was rather good, in a mildly irritating fashion.   Despite it being Week One, Len completely lost his head and gave her nine out of ten.  It’s his last series and he obviously doesn’t care anymore.   By the time we hit Week Eight he’ll be holding up three paddles, shouting “FROM LEN, ELEVENTY TEN!” and Tess will be calling for the nurse to up his medication.  Then it was some chap from Hollyoaks – who knew that was still going, surely nobody watches it? – called Danny Mac, which sounds like a bar of salted caramel.  He danced the Cha Cha with his partner Oti to ‘Cake By the Ocean’ by DNCE.  It was fine, but I was after stronger stuff.  WHERE WAS ED BALLS?

Then it was an actress called Tameke from East Enders – don’t watch it, no idea – who clomped her way through the Paso with Gorka to ‘Y Viva Espana’ by Manolo Escobar. Meh.  Where was Will Young?

Oh, Anastacia. She made tons of mistakes but styled it out pretty efficiently and was rather likeable, which makes up some of the ground lost by being paired with the permanently chippy Brendan.

FINALLY! It was Ed Balls, looking terrified. Those of us worried that he would dance like a partly mashed week-old potato were relieved to see that he could waltz reasonably proficiently, and although he went horribly wrong halfway through he kept going and got himself back on track.  “There were glimmers of an elegant gentleman,” said Darcey, kindly.   “I was pleasantly surprised,” added Len.  Ed looked relieved, although his marks were pretty rubbish (5,5,6,5, since you ask).

Claudia Fragapane (gymnast, appaz) and her partner AJ, who looked to be waiting to celebrate his 11th birthday, danced the Cha Cha to ‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction.  Obviously, they threw in a load of back flips because gymnastics, which backfired because it ruined the rhythm of the dance, as Bruno pointed out.

Hurrah, Will Young!  Will is the only person I have ever voted for in a reality competition, when everyone I knew, and Simon Cowell, was sure that Gareth Gates would win Pop Idol.  I felt so indignant about this assumption I called up and cast my vote.  I’m practically a suffragette.   Will performed the tango to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, wearing very strange Michael Jackson-esque trousers, and sweating like an ice lolly in the sun (apparently he smokes like a trouper) but he was bloody marvellous.  Craig agreed with me, as indeed he should.

So that’s it for the first week.  God I’m glad it’s back.  It’s The Apprentice  on Thursday too, so it’s practically Christmas.  No YOU shut up.