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Dear Jim

Dear Jim, (1926-2011)

Please please please please please please please please please please please could you fix it for me to return to the simple days when your show was one of the highlights of my weekend?

Your death, whilst terribly sad, was not a complete surprise – I have never once seen a photo of you without a cigar on the go, and once even saw you jogging while smoking a fat one – but it drew something in to very sharp focus for me: Kids today are utter bastards.

'The Chair' allegedly nine immigrant workers were killed in its 3 year construction

I think back to the letters that you used to get. You’d be sat there, decked out in your finest gold like a bleached anorexic Mr T, sat on that giant chair with all the secret compartments where you’d hide cigars, gin, your gun and of course those famous ‘Jim Fixed It For Me’ medallions, and you’d read out a letter from little Kevin in Withernsea asking if you could get him in to London Zoo to see if elephants really are scared of mice; or if him and his mates in the cubs could go to Alton Towers and eat a Wimpy meal on the rollercoaster. You’d make some delightful quip and then we’d meet the little scamp. They were generally agreeable enough, polite and clearly delighted to be there. These, let it be perfectly clear, were not spoilt little bastards – even I could see that through my haze of envy as they got to be a passenger in a stunt car doing a wheelie, throw a million pounds into a fire or press the button that demolished a tower block – they were just normal kids with the dreams of normal kids i.e. silliness, messiness and a bit of destruction. And you made them come true. And they got a bloody medal at the end of it. Jammy bastards.

Do you know what Jim? Even without your incredible charity work, your pioneering radio endeavours or your unrelenting service to Elizabeth Duke and the struggling British shell suit market you’d be a shoo-in for a spot on the good side of the afterlife. I have no idea who you’ll meet there, Jeremy Beadle’s a 50/50 shot, as is Rod Hull – mostly thanks to Emu, but I would imagine Bamber Gascoigne’s going to be there – he’ll be great for Trivial Pursuit. Did you two get on? I digress, the point is that you made so many kids happy that your spot is assured (we won’t mention that you did introduce some kids to Gary Glitter – how were you supposed to know?).

You could, of course, have made a lot more kids happy had your show not been cancelled, and while many will argue that your time was up because you were a relic of a bygone era, those people are idiots barking up the wrong tree.

The writing was on the wall for the show when Jimmy fixed it for this little boy to have a free go on 'Miss Swallows' at the local knocking shop

The problem was the kids Jim. In your heyday in the 80’s the kids had simple dreams – dancing The Locomotion with adorable teeny pop temptress Kylie or driving a locomotion with gruff giant Northerner Keith – they were fun and, importantly, achievable. Then the kids changed. The bastards. No-one wanted to be a train driver any more, they wanted, neigh demanded to be famous – talent optional. No longer would they be happy smashing a fake priceless vase on Antiques Roadshow (that was a brilliant one by the way) no, they ran out of imagination and into the shopping mall, wanting expensive things like computers, they wanted the moon on a stick – and they wanted it now. If you’d carried on you’d have had to have a budget of several million a show,  and giving in to them would have just compounded the problem Jim. You were best off out of it.

One lucky git meets the legend that was Roger Hargreaves, this kid changed his name to Mr Spawny

You never answered my letter but I forgive you, you were a very busy guy. It was probably an unreasonable request any way, I wanted to have a go in a fighter jet. It was a lot to ask, especially bearing in mind the rapidly collapsing Communist bloc subsequent political upheaval and increased demands on the military, not to mention the vast costs that would be involved in taking a child far too unattractive to appear on modern television (but perfectly acceptable then – in your face ugly present day kids) on a ten minute joy ride that would inevitably end with vomit filling the control panels. Regardless, you prolonged my innocent wonder at the world for a bit longer, and I thank you for that. It saddens me to think that in order to have watched, understood and properly enjoyed an episode of Jim’ll Fix It you’ve got to be over 21 – that’s a whole lot of people who missed out on something really special. No wonder they rioted.

The world was a better place with you in it, so (lights cigar) now then, now then Sir Jim, you Rest in Peace now, you were a proper legend.


R (aged 34)

PS – If you still get the letters wherever you are I would still like that flight

PPS – Or a go on a hovercraft

PPPS – Or a go on Kylie. I’m not fussy.





Dear Dirty Sexy Things,

Dear Dirty Sexy Things, (E4, Mondays @10pm)

I’m so sorry that it’s taken me until now to write to you, according to my doctors I fell into a banality induced coma about halfway through your debut on Monday. I did regain consciousness for a short while on Tuesday and watched the second half of the

How I believed I looked in my catatonic state - note the beautiful lilac plumage which is very in this season. Who's a pretty boy?

show, but in an effort to protect me from myself my brain went into overdrive and I became convinced I was a budgie. I’ve spent the last 24 hours staring into a mirror and eating the odd seed (ironic really, I’d probably fit right in with your lot) but now I have regained my senses, promised my brain I will never put it through such traumas again, and in return it has promised to help me write this letter begging you to stop.

Yes, normally I’d write with a few helpful hints as to how to get a show back on track (I’m generous like that) but once in a while there comes a show so utterly beyond hope that you just have to hold your hands up and say “What the f**k am I supposed to do? These people think Zoolander is a documentary.”.

I mean seriously, from top to bottom what are you about? It’s a genuine question, because although you filled my screen for an hour (and will continue to fill my nightmares for months to come) there was maybe 90 seconds of content. Digital storage space may be cheap and easily available these days, but that’s still no excuse for you to be such a grotesque waste of it. Hang on, I’m thinking about you too much, I’ve gone all feathery…

Trill - a delicious treat. If you're a bird. Which I'm not.

I’m back. Right, obviously this could result in a serious and permanent mental funk if I think about you for too long, so I’m just going to go down the old-fashioned route and list the most obvious faults I can think of, beg you to stop again and then go spend the evening ringing my bell and eating some trill. Pizza, I mean pizza. Right, have to be quick.




  • Dirty Sexy Things? Eh? What? Are you competing for the most stupid name in TV history? It means literally nothing and is of no real relevance to the show. You may as well have called yourself ‘Model Train Set’, it would have meant just as much. The only thing I can think is that it’s a play on either a) The little watched marginally entertaining C4 show ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ or b) The little watched band fronted by original Pete Doherty robbery victim Carl Barat – ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ you know, they did that one song that got used on everything for a while. Maybe it’s a mix of the two, either way I suggest a change of name – ‘Pointless Shitpots’ sounds good to me. Go for that.

The 'Pointless Shitpots' from L to R - Lord Hunk of Beefcake, Fun Time Frankie, Gladriel, Little Miss Chaste, Johnny Cheekbones, Apprentice Candidate, Nick Grimshaw and Miss Council Estate 2011

  • Perou? Eh? What? Continuing the theme of ‘what sort of f**king name is that?’ is this jug eared photogratwat who’s obviously mistaken himself for a Brazilian footballer when deciding upon his moniker and mistaken his ability to press the shutter button on a fancy camera that does a lot of the work for you for the ability to cure cancer just by looking at it. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it takes a lot of hard work to be a good photographer, I have no doubt it’s a real talent…ooof…sorry I just tripped over one of the umpteen names that Pernod dropped. Where was I? Oh yes, he’s skilled, obviously, but it’s not the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is it? Which brings me on to…

Perou (yes, that's what he calls himself) contemplates the true meaning of 'Being a Twat'

  • Eight photos? Seriously, that’s the foundation for this mess is it? Eight super special magical earth shattering photos of models? Wow, you might just have found the flimsiest premise for a show since someone at the Beeb said “You know walls? Well what if you cut a whole in one stuck Darren Gough in a leotard and shoved him through it?” on the plus side though they at least didn’t take themselves too seriously – Perou takes himself so seriously he’s in danger of becoming a one man human centipede, and those Pet Shop Boys inspired shades…
  • The models:
  1. You keep referring to ‘the beautiful people’ but I seem to be watching a different show, one that’s filled with six fairly average looking people, an elf and Nick Grimshaw.
  2. It was made very clear that they were being selected because of their personalities – it’s so important in a model don’t you know – so I have to ask where you got that magic camera? You know, the one that can tell you everything you want to know about someone’s personality based on three photos. It’s either that, or they were selected base on their looks. Which would make more sense. Because they’re models.
  3. I think it tells you all you need to know about a group of people when they consider ‘walking’ to be ‘tricky’. I’ll admit that I once found it difficult – for the first eight months of my life. Since then it’s not provided me with too many challenges and I’m quite confident that I could walk equally well in London, Paris or Milan and in a wide variety of clothes…

    A model makes the fatal error of thinking whilst already walking and wearing clothes

  4. Basically can you please ask them to stop insinuating that being a model is difficult? That’s not to say it’s not hard, I’m sure they have a lot of demands placed on them and they might sometimes be a bit cold or uncomfortable, like a homeless person but with more expensive ill-fitting and ridiculous looking clothes. However anyone who believes that wearing clothes and ‘looking’ at the same time is – in any way – difficult, must surely have to sit down every time they’re asked a question. I know I’d be fearful of falling over if I upset that delicate balance.
  • The content. There wasn’t any. We learned that hunky beefcake man likes to workout, didn’t see that coming, Nick Grimshaw will throw up if you call him fatty gaylord, and that blonde snooty chops won’t get her non-existent tits out. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and that not every model gets selected for every job. Insightful. An hour and that’s all we get.  You may have missed the memo, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression and your is a mind-numbing fog of dullness almost beyond comprehension. How you will fill another seven hours without being engulfed with self-loathing is beyond me. Thankfully I shall not be finding out.
So, I thank you for further lowering a bar of shallow and vapid programming that was already interfering with the Wombles headroom, and I ask that you look in the mirror (glass not newspaper) smash it and take a jagged piece to whichever dipshit commissioned you – it’s they who truly deserve my wrath.
Yours with contempt,
PS – Seriously, watch Zoolander again, you’ll see that what Ben Stiller’s actually doing is taking the piss out of you.
PPS – Sunglasses are generally used to deflect sun from your eyes, not to help self-appointed demigods avoid the gaze of mere mortals
PPPS – Why did nobody tell Perou (seriously, I can’t get over that name, didn’t he play for Benfica?) that a calendar needs twelve pictures? I mean he’s going to look like a right twat when he approaches WHSmith with a calendar missing September through December.

Dear Columbo

Dear Columbo, (Loads of Channels, 1968 – 2003)

This is something of a first for me, a letter that is both entirely heartfelt and somewhat posthumous, I hope you don’t mind if at times it’s a little bit less than serious.

Basically I just wanted to say how saddened I am that Detective Columbo has now shuffled off this mortal coil, to know that the next time I see a detective he (or indeed she, for these are the times we are living in) will almost certainly have two functioning eyes fills me with both trepidation and an intense sensation of boredom.

Columbo - f**king ace!

In the last forty odd years there have been so many cop shows that it’s impossible to count. Actually that’s nonsense, it’s perfectly possible to count them, but it’s Friday night and I can’t be bothered. The point remains, however, that you can count the number of cop shows that lasted longer than you, Columbo, on the fingers of a dolphin. Or a jellyfish. Or a budgie. Basically you can count the number of cop shows that have lasted longer than the 35 years you have managed on the fingers of any creature that doesn’t possess fingers. It’s zero. None. Nada.

I should maybe acknowledge that I haven’t researched this, so it actually might not be true – I can’t think of a cop show that has lasted longer and do you know what, I don’t care. Columbo’s just died, if I want to say his was the longest running cop show in history I will. You can’t stop me.

Excuse my waffling, I’m emotional.

I’m one of the three billion people in the world (again not researched, sue me) who were born after your show began, so I feel like I’ve known you all my life. In a huge sea of cop shows that came and went, everyone knew Columbo and everybody, at least on some level, loved you. Yes we had our passing dalliances with others: the pastel shaded speedboat excitement of Miami Vice, they offered a glamour you simply never attempted; the tropical intrigue of Magnum who sported a moustache you couldn’t match; and the hokey old school warmth of Jessica Fletcher – who was also blessed with impressive facial hair. We fooled around with them, even loved them, but when they were gone we came back to you Columbo. We came back not just because you were there, but because we loved you.

Thomas Magnum - Sexy and undoubted owner of impressive lip upholstery, but a bit of a show off.

Why did we love you? How typically modest that you should ask you scruffy one-eyed midget. Well let me tell you why:

  • You possessed a natural charm that other shows simply couldn’t match, and trying to match it would have been a fool’s errand – because they didn’t have Peter Falk.
  • You drove a battered old car that looked ready for the scrap yard. Whilst Magnum and Miami Vice tried to engage the Yuppie audience with their flashy Ferraris you were realistic about your main audience: stoners and the unemployed. They don’t care about Ferrari’s, they don’t particularly aspire to own them – seeing a successful detective drive the sort of car they could afford was all they ever needed – and you supplied it!

He drove the sort of car that no-one ever aspires to. He was one of us.

  • Mrs Columbo. We almost never saw her, you made sure of that (we certainly never watched the ill thought out show that was Mrs Columbo), but boy we loved her – we knew all her little foibles you see, Columbo used to tell us all about them. The best character never to appear? Quite possibly.

Mrs Columbo. Yes, it was a real show.

  • The dirty Mac. Maybe my memory’s playing tricks on me, but whatever the weather, be it chilly (what’s that in LA? Low teens Celsius??) or if it was sweltering heat, you were wearing that Mac. I believe I’m right in saying that this also means you’re the only man ever to wear a Mac that often and never be caught masturbating in a public place. Bravo for that.
  • You had a glass eye! That’s cool enough, but the fact that you never got drunk, popped it out and dropped it in your bosses drink? That puts you a class above.

And they are the reasons I love you, I believe they are the main reasons that we – a couple of generations right around the world – love you, and why we’re very sad to see you go. The world is a poorer place now, but I will leave you all to your grief.

Sincere Condolences, and much love


Peter Falk - Legend

Oh, and just one more thing – you’re a one trick pony, but what a f**king trick! We knew who did it, we knew that you knew who did it, we knew exactly how you were going to pin them down but it was exciting every single time you did it. Just as you were getting to the door, or into your car, or as they were about to leave – it didn’t matter – you’d just toss it out there, all casual, like it was an after thought, like it meant nothing “Just one more thing…” and they were nailed, you had a piece of information, evidence or just a bloody hunch that they couldn’t escape from. Like Chris Waddle with his shoulder drop, it was the only trick you had, but you forged an incredible career out of it. It was brilliant.

That one more thing is why we loved, sorry love, you Columbo, and a big part of the reason that we will miss the awesome actor and human being that was Peter Falk.

RIP Columbo and Grandad out of The Princess Bride, you will be missed.

Dear Camelot

Dear Camelot, (Channel 4, Sat @9pm)

Greetings Ye Olde Worlde Citizen, and welcome to the modern age. The ‘Olde Worlde’ to which I refer is not the dark ages in which your ‘drama’ is set, that would be to imply that any effort had gone in to ensuring any form of historical accuracy on your part. No, I’m referring, of course, to the uber-popular soft core porn era of the early 1970’s when Robin Askwith would delight an audience of wankers (a statement of fact, not a judgement on their characters) by seducing, undressing and then knobbing a series of beautiful and buxom trollops in his ‘Confessions of…’ series. It was a time when moral standards were higher, porn much more difficult (and dramatically more expensive) to get your sweaty palms on and there were no computers, videos or smartphones to store your grot on – and as such there was a need for a socially acceptable way to set your eyes on a top-notch set of dirty pillows. Judging by a quick look around the internet that need has long since disappeared.

Fortnum and Mason - suppliers of Fine Jugs, Beautiful Baubels and Great Knockers, but sadly not breasts

Don’t get me wrong in this, I like boobs as much as the next man, and even straight women, gay men, the clergy – hell even the dead – will acknowledge that Morgan Le Fay (played not entirely terribly by Eva Green) is blessed with breasts of the absolute highest quality – imagine, if you will, that Fortnum&Mason supplied lady cushions – they’d look like these! Seriously, they’re quite mesmerising. Excellent piece of casting there.

Where was I?

Oh yes! As is now abundantly clear I have no problem with seeing boobs (well not a ‘bad’ problem at any rate), but I have to ask if you thought that the sight of boobs was a sufficient replacement for a decent script? I know what you’re going to say – “It worked with Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” – and you’d be right. Boiling down pretty much the entire history of the Roman Empire until it consisted of little more than topless women, violent men and violent men having aggressive sex with topless women did work exceptionally well. On Bravo. And then Sky One. Now I’m not saying that those channels attract a more low brow audience than Channel 4, but actually that’s exactly what I’m saying. On Channel 4, we, well I at any rate, expect a little more, and I’m delighted to say that there’s practically no level on which you didn’t greet my disbelieving eyes with abject failure.

I will return to my ‘Confessions of…’ analogy in a moment, but if you don’t mind me switching lanes for the time being…

Camelot Theme Park - Excellent fun when compared to a car park of similar size and expense

The whole experience was a bit like going to the Camelot Theme Park (Charnock Richard, J27 of the M6). Thanks to your excellent trailers I’d spent the entire journey almost vomiting with excitement, turning to my partner and demanding to know “Are we there yet, are we there yet?” until she threatened to turn the TV around if I didn’t shut up. Then, once through the gates, the initial thrill lasted for all of five minutes before it became clear that there was going to be quite a lot of waiting around to be done. So we waited in line for the next ride, and we waited, and waited – and then there was a couple of minutes of excitement in the form of a fight or some sex (obviously a roller coaster in this analogy, wait I think I’ve switched them around. I’m confused…) but whichever way around they’re supposed to go, this is true of both. The thrill, both in content and duration, simply wasn’t worth the wait. Take the big scrap at Camelot (your show, not the theme park), almost nothing happened. Sure, it felt like stuff happened, but in reality it was a loop the loop and little more. very disappointing. Other similarities included the fact that much of my visit was ruined by whiny little bastard kids (notably the wettest, feeblest portrayal of King Arthur in history) and that I was unnerved by the fact that so much was made of wood – in Camelot: The Theme Park some of the rides, in Camelot: The Travesty most of the cast. I also had candy floss whilst not enjoying either version of Camelot. Here endeth this failed analogy.

Returning, ever so briefly, to the Confessions of… thing, and I think this is my main point (look at me, I’m as confused as your show). You could forgive Askwith and co for making films that were little more than a series of soft-core sex scenes strung together

Askwith's reaction on being offered the role of Sir Lance-a-lot-of-ladies was "Oooh mother..."

with implausible dialogue and barely feasible plots because that’s what you signed up for. If anything the scenes tended to get in the way of the sex. They were a nice bit of good old-fashioned farce, a bit of titillation and everyone went home happy. Or at least they went home and made themselves happy. It was cheap and cheerful, it knew exactly what it was and so did the audience. No expectations of high quality, great acting or high drama because no-one ever suggested that any of those would be present. Oh how very different it is for you, Camelot. Almost everything I’ve just said about the Confessions of… films I can equally say about you, but it’s not so easy to forgive because, you see, you have the budget; you have the technology; and perhaps most importantly you have one of the most abiding stories this nation has ever produced – and it wasn’t mostly about Merlin being all shouty and Morgan’s tits.

You’ve taken an amazing tale, thrown an offensive amount of money at it and what have you produced? Confessions of Arthur, King of the Britons Except instead of the cheeky charms of Robin Askwith you’ve got some unimpressive, unappealing moaning teenage bell end who has taken to the role of leading man like a duck to Backgammon. I’m not saying he’s bad, I’m saying he’s so bad that it almost made me forgive Joseph Fiennes for being made almost entirely out of re-constituted pig product. He really has put the ‘ham’ in ‘One of the most s’ham’bolic performances I’ve had the misfortune to sit through, I mean seriously, what’s he so very angry about?’ and the twat in ‘Joseph Fiennes has an acting career? Lucky twat.’. I had hoped that his alarming performance in the dire Flash Forward was a one-off, but it would seem that it was on that performance that you hired him. Bravo, producers, Bravo. Your shows belong on Bravo. Yes, I’m aware the channel no longer exists, that’s the point.

The cast of Camelot (minus Fiennes who was in his luxury sty) take a break during filming

You should always try to finish on a positive note, so I’m going to finish on two!

  1. I won’t be watching again. Hurrah.
  2. A redeeming feature for Camelot is the provision of ample parking. After a lengthy drive up the M6 you don’t want to struggle to find a spot. Bravo to them.
Please don’t attempt any more takes on British history.

PS – Alternative title suggestion number 2 –  The Secret Diary of King Arthur, Age 15 3/4

PPS – You’ve seen Game of Thrones right? It’s just your crapness implies that you haven’t.

PPPS – I forgot to add that I’m equally annoyed at Channel 4. Damn it.

PPPPS – I apologise for implying that you did no research. You clearly watched Monty Python’s The Holy Grail and mistook it for a documentary. Common error.

Dear Four Rooms

Dear Four Rooms, (Channel 4, Tuesdays @8pm)

Still to come in this letter:

  • I’ll be mocking the style choices, personalities and mannerisms of the buyers
  • I’ll cast doubt on whether they’d have reacted like that to the Hitler bust if cameras weren’t there
  • and I’ll make some (hopefully) witty comments about the guy with the pink hair
Do you see what I’ve done there Four Rooms? I’ve taken a perfectly good letter that might have even been interesting and I’ve told you everything that’s in it. Do you think it works? I’m not so sure that it does, but just in case the previous, linear, method of letter writing that’s been sufficient for hundreds of years isn’t up to scratch I think I’ll keep doing it. I mean, who needs a narrative any more? Not in this day and age, people who watch – or indeed read – stuff simply don’t have the mental capacity to remember what’s happening or why they’re doing it so it’s absolutely imperative that you must keep reminding them. All the time. In fact, best do that now.
  • This is a letter to Four Rooms. In Four Rooms people with stuff to sell go into Four Rooms. In those Four Rooms are three multi-zillionaire ponces and Sporty Spice (during her leather phase) who will each make an offer – the punter can either accept or reject the offer, but if they leave one of the Four Rooms they cannot go back, and that offer is gone forever. That’s what happens on Four Rooms, and this is a letter to Four Rooms.

Four Rooms is the first album by new 'supergroup' Rich Wankers feat. Mel C and three guys from mediocre 80's synth groups

You see left to their own devices people might have thought that they were watching a really shit version of ‘The Matrix’, featuring Sporty Spice as Trinity, Albert Finney as Morpheus, Christopher Biggins as a scarf wearing and unnecessarily threatening Oracle and a geography teacher in one of Jonathan Ross’s discarded suits as Agent Smith. I suppose Neo would have been Johnny ‘Pink Hair’ Fancy-Table (this might not be his real name). Thankfully every time I started thinking that I was indeed watching a Hollywood blockbuster I was swiftly snapped out of it by being told information I’d been fully furnished with not five minutes before – time and time and time again – and of course the obligatory mention of the name of the show…Five Sheds was it? Three Cupboards? Which reminds me.
  • This is a letter to Four Rooms. In Four Rooms people with stuff to sell go into Four Rooms. In those Four Rooms are a collection of failed Bond villains, each less villainous than the one before, who will each make an offer – the punter can either accept or reject the offer, but if they leave one of the Four Rooms they cannot go back, and that offer is gone forever. It sounds like a great format and I really wanted it to work, but by making an hour long show out of ten 5 minute trailers you’ve ballsed it up and made it utterly unwatchable. That’s what’s happened on Four Rooms, and this is a letter to Four Rooms.
But still to come in this letter:
  • I will question whether or not the dealers would have actually got quite excited by the Hitler bust if it weren’t for the cameras.
  • I’ll ask why they took the one moment of genuine drama and ruined it by trailing it immediately before showing it.
  • and I’ll ask if the entire production team previously worked on Dragons Den.

"You've stumbled into the wrong room my darling, now brace yourself 'cos this is gnna make your eyes water."

So, here’s a question for you, did your entire production team previously work on Dragons Den? I only ask because the incessant describing of what’s happened, is happening right in front of our very eyes (and we’d be able to pay attention to if you’d just shut up for a second) and what’s about to happen quite literally any second now is something that seems rather reminiscent of that. What they’ve done at ‘the den’ though that you failed miserably to do, is edit the footage in such a way as to make it still a bit of a surprise when stuff happens. They’ve played with timelines, used clever camera angles, used mis-direction. It’s all rather clever. What you’ve done, somewhat conversely, is shown us what’s about to happen (I’m talking specifically about Mr Fancy-Table rejecting a big cash offer) and then show it happening in the exact same way. No tension, no drama, no interest. No, “Wow, he’s being offered way more than he wanted, I wonder if he’ll take it.”  nope, none of that because we’ve already seen him reject it. Good move Four Rooms. I mean you already had so many ‘can’t tear myself away’ moments that you really didn’t need another one. Oh christ, nearly forgot…


  • This is a letter to Four Rooms. In Four Rooms people with stuff to sell go into Four Rooms. In those Four Rooms are three rich gits and a girl who looks suspiciously like a robot sent from the future to kill John Connor, who will each make an offer – the punter can either accept or reject the offer and you’ll know well in advance either way, but if they leave one of the Four Rooms they cannot go back, and that offer is gone forever. That’s pretty much all that happens on Four Rooms, and it’s made a very promising format dull and a chore to watch. This is a letter to Four Rooms.
Finally, Hitler. I think it’s pretty much agreed that Hitler was a bad man. We all agreed on that? Good. He did, however, exist, and to anyone with even the slightest interest in modern history the partially destroyed bust of him brought in by Clive Dunn’s older brother was fascinating and certainly worth a damn sight more than the grand he walked out with. The dealers’ concerns over who might end up owning the piece are justified and honourable, but just how much of it was playing up for your cameras? You don’t get rich by having a massive conscience and all four of these ever so moral guardians of the fabric of what’s good and true are stinkingly, offensively and pant wettingly rich and so it’s fair to presume morality is a flexible term to them and that they’ve each – in the process of fixing a ‘fair’ price of course – shafted many a pensioner out of thousands of pounds to line their own pockets. They each knew they could make a lot of money from that piece shifting it on to a private (and legitimate, non-Nazi) collector, and I have little doubt that if the same negotiations were to take place in private the results would have been very different. I think it’s ended up at the right place in the Holocaust Museum, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t buy the act for a moment and in the absence of entertainment – and there was a real absence – a touch of honesty wouldn’t have gone amiss.
So, summing up, an hour long show is not a trailer. No individual section of an hour long show is a trailer – it’s a show. If you haven’t got enough material to make a show then don’t bother, and if you must underestimate, nay insult the intelligence of an audience tuning in – by choice – to a show about the buying and selling of antiques then don’t be surprised when they move to a different room. Like the kitchen to watch a potato bake, or the bathroom to watch their bath fill up, or their… you get the point.

Dragons' Den - a bit like Four Rooms, but well executed and entertaining

You’ve taken a potentially great format and made it fragmented, dull and predictable. No, predictable’s the wrong word. You’ve told us exactly what’s about to happen and ruined it, like sitting next to an idiot at the cinema “Oh you’ll love this bit, he turns down the offer gets all smug and talks about being greedy” – I have a tendency to punch these people in the face. Please consider this a written face punch. Turn to the nearest person and ask them if they’ll punch you – don’t worry, you deserve it.
So there’s only one thing left to say.
  • This was a letter to Four Rooms. In Four Rooms people with stuff to sell went into Four Rooms. In those Four Rooms are a low rent upper class UK version of the X-Men who will each make an offer – the punter can either accept or reject the offer, but if they leave one of the Four Rooms they cannot go back, and that offer is gone forever. That’s what happened on Four Rooms, and it was crap. This was a letter to Four Rooms.
PS – I can’t wait for next weeks episode when two guys with a 4 tonne wall with a Banksy painting on it get offered £12,000, £40,000, £60,000 and £240,000 and probably still turn it down because they go for millions at auction.
PPS – Do you see how I already know way too much about the next episode?
PPPS – Seriously, learn the difference between TRAILER and EPISODE – you’ll be surprised.

Dear Phone Shop,

Dear Phone Shop, (Channel4, Fridays@11pm(ish))

Please accept this letter as cancellation of the contract I agreed with you just two weeks ago. I was led to believe that the ‘Comedy 30’ tariff with Gervais Endorsed Sitcom Solutions brought me 30 minutes of comedy a week with unlimited laughs and a free entertainment bolt on. The fact that you have failed so comprehensively to deliver in any of those categories is surely testament to your commitment to issuing products with so few redeeming features that you have actually made ITV a viable alternative.

I’ll take you back to the day it all began. I’d seen your adverts and, whilst they hadn’t impressed particularly, they’d intrigued me enough to make me switch from my usual provider and give you a try. I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when I returned home, unpacked my new handset (a ‘Bewildering Decision’ by Channel4 – very definitely NOT a Smartphone) and slipped in my SIM only to find that the reception was awful. The promised ‘unlimited laughs’ failed to register even a single titter and entertainment bolt-on simply didn’t work – I think you may have inadvertently signed me up to the ‘Constant Annoyance’ add on instead.

Phones - bewildering but certainly hilarious

Figuring that I might have configured things incorrectly I did give everything another chance and I have to say I was surprised. Not pleasantly, dear lord no, but I was surprised all the same. I also came to the conclusion that I was maybe expecting too much – shows like Peep Show and the I.T. Crowd have led me to expect laughter, even hilarity, from comedies – so I lowered my expectations to the more appropriate level of, say, a Two and a Half Men tariff or Nicholas Lyndhurst Pay as You Go deal. “They can’t possibly provide a service that would make ‘After You’re Gone’ seem bearable” I thought to myself, but you did. The ad break hit and I lowered my expectations further, to ITV’s Martin Freeman starring super-flop ‘Hardware’, one of network televisions saddest memories. After the fifteen minutes that followed, I now look upon that show with great and lasting fondness, such was the gargantuan cak-fest sent to me.

Like with any form of service, the big things are easy – like delivering a story that fills the allotted time without continuity errors or anyone accidentally wetting themselves on screen – all easy, but it’s the little things that matter. Little things like having characters that are anything other than repugnant, loathsome morons with all the warmth and charm of a suspicious priest at a cub scout jamboree. Little things like having comprehensible dialogue spoken in accents that don’t make you want to rip your own ears off after 30 seconds so you don’t have to hear the ridiculous Tim Westwood patois any more. Little things like making your script – and the attached performances – funny. Okay, so that’s a big thing.

You see what you’ve done, and it seems to be a bit of a trend these days, is mistaken awful, horrible, ugly people being horrendous and foul to one another for comedy. You’ve mistaken ‘talking like a twat’ for ‘jokes’, and you’ve mistaken attaching Ricky Gervais’ name to something for that meaning anything whatsoever. You’ve also, and this is possibly the most confusing misapprehension since ‘The Crying Game’, mistaken phones, phone bills and the like for being in any sense entertaining. You probably didn’t see the sitcom based at the British Gas meter reading HQ or the Eon call centre, but they were hilarious, all sorts of jokes about kilowatts per hour and Economy 7. They were both brilliant. Of course they weren’t, neither of them exist because no-one would ever – and I do mean both no-one and ever – make the mistake of thinking they were comedic goldmines. The reason they wouldn’t do that, and try to stay with me on this, is that they’re not. If anything they’re mundane comedy vacuums (like I imagine Morgana cleans her house with) so they’ve opted, unlike yourselves, for areas more ripe for comedy.

The point is that that’s a series of quite serious mistakes, and you’d think someone somewhere along the line would have picked up on them. Fortunately for you, however, the Channel 4 comedy commissioning team had some illiterate teenage chav making the big decisions the day your ‘script’ came across the desk and, in between taking his staffy, Kanye, for a walk and getting Chardonnay off the estate pregnant (again) he saw fit to greenlight this utter nonsense. When the rest of the commissioners returned from their truffle and champagne tasting conference in Monaco they were simply too embarrassed to admit their monumental error and so the series went ahead. It sounds far-fetched I know, but no more far fetched than the idea that someone who had achieved the post on merit would have ever commissioned an entire series of this painful codswallop.

A Channel 4 Commissioner 'signposts' the way forward

So you are aware I am also forwarding a copy of this letter to Richard ‘Ricky’ Gervais who we’re led to believe was your script editor. Ricky, if you’re reading this I know what you’re up to – making yourself look better by making other comedy output worse – and it’s not going to work. I mean it did this time, but not on a continuing basis – I mean when would you find time for your hourly ego massages?

I’m also appealing to Trading Standards regarding the definitions used. I consider referring to Phone Shop as a ‘comedy’ as possibly the most scandalous misuse of the English language since Alanis Morrisette’s musical list of unlucky things that she decided, entirely erroneously, were ironic. Having ‘a free ride when you’ve already paid’ isn’t even unlucky, it makes no sense, it’s gibberish. Bloody Canadians. I digress. You are to the world of comedy what ‘Crazy Frog’ is to the world of music. For absolute clarity I don’t mean that you’re hugely successful and popular with kids – I mean that your mere existence is utterly baffling to me and hearing you makes me want to commit unspeakable acts of violence.

Thankfully all unpleasantness can be avoided by simply cancelling the contract that I would never have agreed to in the first place if the full details had been revealed. Please consider this an end to our agreement, hopefully an abrupt end to the careers of all those involved and an end to my faith in Channel 4’s comedy commissioning practices.



PS – I have friends who work in actual phone shops and are actually funny. Thanks to your show I now like them less.

PPS – I also like phones less.

PPPS – And shops.

Dear Jamie’s Food Revolution Hits Hollywood

Dear Jamie’s Food Revolution Hits Hollywood, (Channel4, Tuesdays @10pm)

Just wanted to send you a quick note to wish you well on this series. If viewer numbers are directly related to the length of a programme’s title then you’re a shoo in for record figures!

I thought that you generally did alright. I mean when you bear in mind that during an hour of television practically nothing happened – and certainly nothing different to the first series – then I have to give you some credit for the fact that I stuck around until the end. Or do I? Maybe rather than giving you credit what I should actually be doing is removing credit from myself – after all it’s only my time that I’m wasting. Your time is already wasted – I know this (and deep down you do too don’t you Jamie?) and yet I still watched until the end. More fool me, that’s my opinion. I’m a fool, a damn fool.

Arthur - unusual in remakes in that it wasn't unnecessarily shit, merely shit and unnecessary

This might come across like I don’t agree with your ambitions, this isn’t true. I think what you’re trying to achieve is simultaneously noble, admirable and wholly unachievable – and I have a great deal of respect for you for trying it. Doesn’t make it great to watch though does it? Regurgitating the points you made in the first series in a bigger place doesn’t make this a new series, it makes it a re-make and whilst they are all the rage in Hollywood, how often do you leave the cinema going “well that was pointless”? All the time, that’s how often.

Want to know where you’ve gone wrong? Of course you do, and your kids aren’t going to tell you are they? To be honest I’m a bit surprised they recognise you. So I’ll tell you.

You Mistakenly Think We Care

Yes, you’re right, the crap they pump their kids full of in LA is atrocious and something should be done about it. By them. California has the 7th biggest economy in the world – on a par with the UK. I’m not an economist, but I reckon that makes them our most direct competitor so the more of them that get diabetes or heart disease the better it is for our economy yes? No? Oh. Besides, despite your single effort over here most of our school meals are still crap and we don’t even have the sunshine or easy access to guns that they do in California, so why should we care about what they have or haven’t got? They’ve got better weather and outdoor pools. I know, I know, that’s not very humanitarian, but it’s true. It’s difficult to care about Americans being their own worst enemy.

Your Battles are Meaningless

We all know what a pain red tape can be – try marrying a Thai girl you’ve never met, bureaucratic nightmare – but it’s also pretty dull. Either you’re going to win your battle with the school board and get in to a school (or several) which is great. Or you’re going to lose which makes the whole enterprise pretty pointless. Either way you don’t need to go on and on about it to make your point, just cut to the chase and get on with making a difference.

Running a small business are we Dino? Need to make a profit to feed your family? We'll see about that...

You Shouldn’t Pick on Dino at Patra’s

You see, what you’ve done here Jamie is go smack bang into the capital of consumerism, in the country that has the headquarters of McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut as well as thousands of branches of each, you’ve gone there and you’ve picked on a guy running a small family business. You might not remember what it’s like to not be a millionaire Jamie, but it can be tough and you’ve got to make ends meet. I’m sure Dino would love to serve burgers made of nothing but Kobe beef, covered in the finest cheeses from around the world, with a selection of salad grown by President Obama in buns baked one at a time by Michelin starred chefs and have the whole thing wrapped in a silk handkerchief by a beautiful Balinese virgin. I’m sure there’s bits of that he’d love to do if it didn’t mean that he’d be out of business within 6 months. Leave Dino alone Jamie, your incredulity at his need to make a profit so he can give his family better food than he serves to people he cares far less about does you no favours.

You’ve wasted 57 Tonnes of Sugar

It was a beautifully graphic example of what passes through the LA school system, dumping all that sugar onto a school bus. It was a shit load of sugar, no doubt. Do you know what though Jamie, I have no context to put it in so it meant precisely nothing. How many kids is that sugar divided by? How much sugar does each child consume in a year? Is it just cardboard kids that you like to bury, or do you do it to real kids too? If you want to shock people then it’s very easy to do so by throwing out huge numbers of things – my friend spent half a million quid in ten minutes last year. That’s shocking isn’t it? He bought a house – that makes it less shocking. It’s now worth £600,000 – that makes it not shocking at all. The point is that if you’d shown the amount of sugar one child is subjected to purely through flavoured milk over the course of their school career I’m sure it would have still been shocking, but it would also have been cheaper and it would have made sense.

Fat Americans - both hilarious and necessary for British pride

We Like the Fact Americans are Fat

It’s just about the only stick we have to beat them with. They’re better looking than us, more successful than us, richer than us and they’ve got a cool President whilst we’ve got Lord Snooty in charge. Now you want to take away the fact that they’re fat? Pretty soon all we’ll have left is their ignorance of the rest of the world and Sarah Palin – and it’ll be your fault.

There’s more, but I think that’s enough for you to be getting on with. If you do nothing else though Jamie, do this:

Get on with it.



PS – Thanks to you I think everyone watching wanted a greasy burger and strawberry milkshake.

PPS – You know the people watching your sugar demo thought it was a giant stack of coke don’t you. Watch again and have a look at them.

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