The National Television Awards


Fulfilling my self-appointed role as the reviewer who watches TV dross so you don’t have to, I settled down to watch the annual National Television Awards, eager to see which stars of the small screen would win big.  Supplies of Bombay Sapphire and Schweppes were laid in.  Fresh ice cubes nestled in the freezer, pistachio nuts were on hand. A great night’s viewing beckoned.

How wrong can a woman be? Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) was robbed in the Best Drama Performance category, the award going instead to Sheridan Smith (Cilla).  If I were Sarah I’d have been FEWMIN, not least because Ms Smith wasn’t even there to receive it, as she was, we were told, “stuck in traffic”.   I like Shezza, but Sarah’s was the better performance.  And Sarah judges her taxi journeys better.

There was a tedious air of predictability about the whole thing.  In fact they should re-name the NTAs the AntandDecs and just have done with it, given that the Geordie twosome featured in a slew of categories and won most of them, hardly surprising given that this is the 14th year they have won the Best Entertainment Presenter category.  Now I love Ant and Dec more than most, but anyone who has presented an entertainment programme over the past decade or so must feel about them the way Prince Charles probably feels about the Queen.  Love ya and all that, but could you just give someone else a chance?

And there’s no getting away from the fact that the NTAs are lacking somewhat on the prestige front. For example there is not, as far as I know, a Skills Challenge Show category at the television BAFTAs (although if there were, Mary Berry would win it, no contest).  At the Oscars, Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch will not be squaring up to one another for the career defining bauble that is Best TV Judge.  Any award ceremony that chooses to garland Mrs Brown’s Boys with a laurel wreath has pretty much zero credibility anyway. But then the NTAs are voted for by the public, and the public thinks Mrs Brown’s Boys is the funniest thing on television.  Maybe they are right.  In which case, I despair for humanity.

But what the National Television Awards lack in prestige, they make up for in time, boring on for two and a half hours, picking over everything from Serial Drama (soaps) and Serial Drama Performance (soaps) to Newcomer (soaps), by way of Daytime (daytime) and Multichannel (who the what now?)

Mary Berry lost out to David Walliams in the category of TV Judge.  Someone off the Kardashians referred to Georgie Shore.  A singer, perhaps? We weren’t told.   EastEnders won the Serial Drama award and lustily clapped themselves on their own achievement, redeeming their poor form at the last minute by dedicating the award to Anne Kirkbride.  X Factor beat my beloved Strictly.  Why was I bothering? I could have been watching Wolf Hall.

There were a few truly joyous moments.  A hugely well-deserved Landmark Award (guess who won it last year) was presented to Comic Relief.  David Tennant received a Special Recognition award, looking genuinely thrilled to bits as various co-stars, producers, writers and his dad lined up to say what a talented chap and and all-round good egg he was. Bet nobody says that about Simon Cowell.  Gogglebox won the Factual category and Sandy and Sandra shrieked their unbridled delight.  It would have taken a heart of stone not to be happy for them. Finally, an appearance by Thierry Henry, who should be on telly, not to mention in my house, much more often.  I’d vote for that.





Celebrity Big Cry-Baby


Image courtesy of Channel 5


This year’s houseful of washed-up celebrities is starting to look a bit thin, Katie Price’s £500,000 surprise* appearance notwithstanding, as yet another one departed, admittedly this time of his own volition.

Alexander O’Neal walked three hours after being admonished by Big Brother for using a derogatory term to describe Perez Hilton.  Some might suggest there are thousands more appropriate derogatory terms available to describe Perez Hilton, but that kind of talk is for another columnist.  Katie Hopkins, for example.

Yet Ms Hopkins has been out-nastied at every turn; the best she can come up with is being mean to Alicia Duvall on the basis that she reckons the plastic surgery fan is stupid.  Even Keith Chegwin climbed onto the Alicia-Is-A-Thicko bandwagon, saying that when he tells a joke he has to count to 20 as it takes that long for Alicia to get the punch line.  Given that Cheggers jokes are (1) not funny, (2) still not funny and (3) nope, not even a hefty dose of laughing gas is going to work, Alicia’s behaviour is not that of the slow-witted.  Rather, she is not in the business of pretending she gets the joke when no joke has been made.  No matter how many times you shriek “Wha-HAY!”

Alicia also hid two bananas under her bed, a crime apparently punishable by death if some of the louder voices in the household had their way. Only Kavana appears to be even vaguely connected with the normal, and that’s probably down to the fact that he’s not a celebrity.

This is a household where everybody shouts at and over everybody else, and when that isn’t happening there is nothing other than an endless stream of bitching, arguing, back-biting and sly, cruel remarks.  The Daily Mail has taken to referring to Perez Hilton as “The Most Hated Man In Britain”, a patently ludicrous moniker and one that nobody is using other than the Daily Mail itself. Hilton is finding little support this side of the Atlantic though:




With the exception of the increasingly deranged Hilton, most of the people in the house are pretty normal, and I never thought I’d say that about Calum Best.  But if the programme can’t keep hold of its guests long enough to evict them, then the public doesn’t get its say and that’s not the premise of Big Brother.

As for the Channel 5 execs, before they congratulate themselves on all the publicity they’ve garnered, they should remember this: they could have saved themselves close on a million quid by not bothering with either Katie Price or Hopkins.

*Absolutely nobody was surprised


Celebrity Big Brother – say what, Ken?


Copyright Daily Mail

Photograph courtesy of Channel 5

Although Celebrity Big Brother is supposed to be all about the combative gob that is Katie Hopkins, it turns out she is but a mewling infant next to the giants of misogynistic and/or racist behaviour as displayed in various guises by two of her housemates. Jeremy Jackson was unceremoniously booted out of the house for groping Chloe Goodman. Now one-time Corrie regular Ken Morley has been ejected for his “unacceptable and offensive language”. Goodbye, Ken. It is doubtful that anyone other than your agent will mourn your departure.

Channel 5 kept its announcement short and for Ken at least, not particularly sweet.

Under normal circumstances I would see no reason to give ocean-going twerps like Ken any airtime, but his remarks to Alexander O’Neal deserve to be more widely known, if only to demonstrate how casual racism is alive and kicking, albeit hiding under the invisibility cloak of “political correctness gone mad.”

Ken thought it would be hilarious to share with Alexander a “joke”, which he told in a feeble attempt at a Southern US accent, using the words “a nice big fat Negro.” Alexander patiently explained to him that “When you get in the company of another black man, don’t say Negro.’

But such niceties are of no interest to Ken, who retorted that he found the description “black” to be just as offensive and patronisingly went on to say that “negro is Spanish for black.” Quick as a flash Alexander shot back: ‘But you’re not Spanish.’

Unabashed, Ken went on to use up the old but nonetheless offensive term “pickaninny”, (seriously, when was Ken Morley born? 1805?) to which Alexander, who is to be applauded for not rapping Ken smartly on the nose, instead contented himself with replying: ‘That’ll get your a** kicked.’

How can Ken Morley not know this? My guess is he does, and doesn’t care. Now he’s gone, and whatever career aspirations he may have had they have turned to ashes in his “what’s wrong with that?” mouth.

Channel 5 must be thrilled – and about to ask Katie Hopkins to return her fee.

Celebrity Big Brother – launch night


There was a vague attempt at a fairy tale theme to this year’s Celebrity Big Brother, with the role of the wicked witch being played by (who else?) Katie Hopkins.  She generously shared with us her view on the world. “I don’t like fat people. I don’t like ginger people.”  Ginger people?  What, like gingerbread people? Or people with ginger hair? Alas, Katie was too busy spouting her particular brand of minor public school, fourth form-ish bile, to elaborate further.

Hopkins was given a secret task, blah blah, something about choosing two celebrities she found least entertaining and they would be up for eviction first, something something, talking mirror.  Anyway, next up was Patsy Kensit, whose face is so shiny and tight should she go out in the sun she’ll have to prick it with a fork.  “I fart a lot,” she revealed.  Pats might win though, wind problems notwithstanding.  She’s nice.

Next up, Perez Hilton, who was keen to let us know that he’s had a lot of feuds with celebrities.  “I’m fun, fabulous and fearless!” he yelled. Yeah, we’ll be the judge of that, thanks.  He was followed by Ken Morley (Reg Holdsworth from Corrie) who was boring.  Soz Ken.  Ken was followed by a woman who said her name was Cami Li and that she was “kinda a big deal”.  Not with me love. Never heard of you.

Calum Best, now running out of reality TV shows on which to, er, “star”, told us that he had never been in love, and has always lived alone.  I remember you on Celebrity Love Island, Calum.  And that when you were on it, they dropped the word Celebrity. Alicia Douvall told us she had undergone over 300 cosmetic procedures, information which was entirely unnecessary, the visual evidence being overwhelming.  Alicia seemed quite sweet and anyone who loves playing Scrabble is okay by me.

What Alexander O’Neal is doing in the CBB house is beyond me. Maybe he has a huge tax bill to pay.  Alexander confessed: “Aah doan like people wit GAZ.”  One hoped he wouldn’t choose a bed next to Patsy’s.   Perhaps he could kip next to Nadia Sawalha, who confided that the only reason she was doing Celebrity Big Brother was that she wanted an extension built onto her kitchen. Props to Nadia.

Jeremy Jackson introduced himself. Nope, me neither. Kavana introduced himself. A pop sensation in the 90s, apparently. Nope again. Then it was Michelle Visage, who looked as though she might be fun as long as you stayed on her right side.  A woman called Chloe Goodman appeared.  Nope once more.  Finally, Keith Chegwin, fully clothed, for a mercy. He said “Wha-HAYYYY!” twice in his first sentence. I hope he pals up with Michelle and Patz.  They’d make a fun gang.

The final twist, if twist it is, was that Hopkins had to be nice to everyone or risk suffering her worst nightmare. We weren’t told what that was, but I should imagine it’s being ignored. Oh, the two slebs up for eviction are Chloe and Alexander.

With one or two notable exceptions, reality television competitions are always won by the decent person. Decent is an under-used adjective these days, but it is appropriate here I think. Taken to mean of a good standard or quality, honest and fair, this is the kind of person that usually wins. But for someone like rent-an-opinion Hopkins, winning isn’t the point. She’ll get her fee and the oxygen of publicity, something to which she is clearly addicted. For people like Patsy Kensit it’s a chance to breathe life into a career now in the doldrums. For a nobody like Kavana, it’s a few quid and an alternative to sitting on his sofa in his pants eating cereal out of the packet whilst waiting for the next episode of Diagnosis Murder.

The crux of shows like this is that you can’t hide your true personality. Hopkins’ secret task was to sit behind a two-way mirror and bitch about the other contestants. Obviously live shows can’t be rehearsed, but she was shown to be nervous, flustered, hesitant and supremely unfunny. Her much-vaunted razor-sharp opinions were as blunt as a piece of week-old cheese.

I hope Alexander gets to sing before he’s booted out.