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Category Archives: Terrible

Dear Celebrity Big Brother

Dear Celebrity Big Brother, (every night @9ish, 5)

Welcome back, though I think it’s only fair of me to say that a) I was glad to see you leave in the first place , and b) I’m not particularly pleased to see you back so I suppose c) I shouldn’t really have said welcome back. I’ll start again.

Hello. You are back.

That’s better. Right, to business. I’m hoping that you can help me because, after watching as much

A scan of my weeping brain shortly after the 'assault' reveals several 'mind tears'

of your visual enema as I could manage (it was approximately 28 minutes before my brain crept out of my head, dragged itself to the bathroom and sat under the shower, gently sobbing and rocking – you’d violated it you see. You raped my brain) any way, none of that matters, we’ve made up, my brain’s going for counselling and I’ve promised not to leave you two in the same room ever again. Where was I? Oh yes, how you can help me. The thing is that I think, that is I’m concerned, worried even, that I might be, what you refer to as…a celebrity.

In truth I’ve had my doubts for a while – shows like Celebrity Family Fortunes, Celebrity Masterchef, and even the recent BAFTA’s have had me so bewildered about what actually constitutes ‘celebrity’ that I’m in constant fear that I myself might be one of the most famous people in Britain. What if I have a stalker? What if my fans think I’m aloof, arrogant or simply a prick because I ignore them? These are genuine concerns, and they’re only there because the likes of you and seemingly the entire commissioning board of ITV have decided that some cretinous spunk dumpster from Essex who says “Oh my God, I’m so jel” about anything and everything (though presumably it’s always about the same thing – the process of independent thought) is a genuine bona-fide celebrity. I shouldn’t have these concerns, unlike most of these fucktards I’m a normal person and wish to remain so.

Amy Childrens - just like a Barbie doll, but with fewer uses and less brain power

Let me tell you the reasons for my concern. They are manifold so I’m going to use a list. I hope you don’t mind but don’t actually care either way.

  1. I’ve been on TV several times.
  2. I am recognised by several people, probably in excess of 500.
  3. If I google search my name I get several results about me.
Now I realise that none of these results sound impressive enough to justify use of the term ‘celebrity’ – I certainly didn’t think so at any rate, not until I saw the rag-bag bunch that entered your house the other day (and will probably have left by the time you get this). I’m not going to pretend to recognise most of them, so here’s my understanding of who went in and why they’re famous:
  • Sally The Cow – Famous for marrying a man of arguable importance and then doing everything in her power to sabotage his career.
  • Little Bobby Staples – Famous for having pretty hair
  • Tara ‘The Defendant’ Reid – Formerly famous for being a small part of the American Pie team, now famous for her drink, drugs and fanny flashing debauchery. A classy lassy.

"Miss Reid, Miss Reid! You've accidentally covered up one of your breasts." Cries her carer forlornly

  • Paddy Doherty – Famous for being on a reality show about gypsies and being a bit fighty.
  • Amy Childrens – Famous for something called ‘TOWIE’, being jealous of everything, sticking beads and glitter on various lady gardens and having the intellectual capacity of a mollusc.
  • Viscount Lucien Von Trap III – Apparently an actor, famous for being very pretty.

What? You heard that Lucien had had it away with Kym Marsh? That's just Hear Say! Thank you, I'm here all week. Try the fish.

  • Kerry Katona – Originally famous for being in the very first of the 96 incarnations of the pop band that will never die, Atomic Kitten, then famous for marrying Boyzone/Westlife (delete for accuracy) then famous for being famous, then famous for a lack of self control, then famous for being an utter fuckwit, now famous for being a famous fuckwit with no self control.
  • Darren Lion Bars – I know that he’s technically famous for taking photographs of mildly famous people, but you have to presume that in all actuality he’s famous for being a massive bell end.
  • Pamela ‘Not Anderson’ Baywatchface – Famous for being married to Mitch Buchanan, then divorcing him before he started drunkenly guzzling burgers on the bathroom floor.
  • Sickeningly the last thing that Tigger ever saw was a pair of happy morons. If rumours are to be believed they also have coats made from 101 Dalmation puppies and their wallets are crafted from the Little Mermaid's tail.

    Edwohn – Even I know these two crazy Irish bastards, genetically engineered by the finest Gaelic scientists as revenge for making their nation host Eurovision 15 years in a row. They’re famous for achieving a new level of mediocrity on a ‘talent’ show that already excelled in this department and being generally irritating. Still less annoying than Bono though, sorry Irish science guys.

Now I think you can probably see why I’m confused. I’m at least as famous as half of these buggers. Admittedly I’m not married to someone famous, but I have said hello to Mel Gibson (before he was a Jew hating racist mental case) and once shook hands with Michaela Strachan – and when you combine that with all the other stuff it’s a fairly compelling case I think you’ll agree.
Any way, that’s why I’m worried so if you could just answer me these three simple questions I can either stop worrying because (as I hope) I’m not a celebrity, or I can at the very least fire my agent (do I have an agent? Make it four questions) for not telling me I’m a celebrity in the first place.
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  1. What exactly is the cut off point for ‘celebrity’? Would, for example, the man who waxes David Beckham’s (where am I going? Balls or car, balls or car?) wife’s moustache (fooled you) be classed as a celebrity?
  2. Do I have an agent? If so could you please tell him to call me
  3. Am I a celebrity? You make the rules, you make the call!
  4. If I’m not then how come these no-marks are? Maybe you should re-name it Been On Telly Before Big Brother? Or ‘If You Watch ITV2 You Might Recognise Me But Probably Not Big Brother’.

One of the people who is probably a die hard example of those who are not my fans, but I can't be sure until I know if I have fans, or people who are intentionally not fans or if no-one really knows who I am. God I'm confused.

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Please let me know ASAP, I’m sick of trying to avoid people who probably have no interest in having their picture taken with me.
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Thanks,
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R
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PS – What were you thinking with Brian Dowling? Oh dear, oh deary deary me.
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PPS – Seriously, look up the word ‘celebrity’ I think you think it means something else.

Dear Odd One In

Dear Odd One In, (ITV1, Saturdays @7.15pm)

Have we met before? I think we have, because I tuned in to you on Saturday for what I believed to be the first time and I recognised almost everything about you. Where is it I’ve seen you, where do I know you from? Oh yes! That’s it! The entirety of the 1980’s.

Mick Hucknall was popular in the 80's - enough said about the decade methinks

Yes, from the ‘weaker than diluted water’ concept, through the ‘as already seen on 3-2-1’ set and the ‘hasn’t been particularly good since first rising to prominence in the 80’s’ Bradley Walsh, every single tiny little thing about you felt massively outdated. That’s not to say, however, that it is outdated. You see nostalgia’s a very big market and TV is a sucker for it – if an idea’s worth doing once then it’s worth repeating again and again until you flog every last little ounce of entertainment out of its battered corpse.

Whilst I believe that all commissioners do desperately want to find ‘the next big thing’ that desire is, unfortunately, hampered by an all-conquering fear that they’ll make a mistake. One mistake, that’s all they think it’ll take to steal their handsome pay packet and fancy lifestyle away from them, one mistake and it’s no more sniffing coke off the breasts of a 19-year-old Lithuanian lap dancer, instead they’re giving hand jobs to truck drivers so they can afford just one glass of Prosecco – and even that probably wouldn’t be chilled. This is the fear they live with, and this is why – despite their protestations of desperately seeking originality – we keep on seeing the same old faces presenting the same old shit on TV.

Sometimes that can work quite well: Strictly Come Dancing is probably the most striking example of how LACK OF ORIGINALITY+CRIPPLING FEAR OF FAILURE+PROMINENT TIME SLOT (can)= HUGE WORLDWIDE SUCCESS, but it’s that (can) that’s the key factor in all of this, because the truth of the matter is that most of the time it doesn’t work. Take, for example, you ‘Odd One In’, I’m led to believe that the format first began during The Black Death (a plague that tore through Europe in the 14th Century, cutting the population in half) where you had to guess who had the plague and beat them to death with a stick if they refused to leave the city. It was an entertainment smash and the ‘guess who’ spirit persisted throughout the centuries:

 

  • Say what you like about the French, but they knew how to add a bit of jeopardy!

    In Tudor times it was “The Axe Factor”, the game was spot the Catholic – the prize being a haircut, with an axe.

  • The Pilgrim Fathers took the concept to America, renaming it “You Have Been Witching?” but who had? Everybody! The solution? Burn them of course.
  • Then the French had a go with their revolutionary take on the theme “Posh or Pauper” which was very popular for a few years until they ran out of poshos and had to start making up other reasons for beheading people – “Come Die With Me” was, however, not popular and commissioner Robespierre ended up getting the chop.
  • There was also a UK revival “The Spy at Night” that the entire town of Hartlepool lost when they incorrectly identified a monkey as a French spy and hung him.
Clearly this was a format with legs, and one that lasted for hundreds of years – progressing from barbaric slaughter to new, enhanced form of barbaric slaughter with the odd parlour game version in between – but then something happened. An invention arose that rendered this game, this somewhat pedestrian game, moot. That invention was the television.
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Walsh wonders why he's still working, Manford laughs at his wife's trust whereas lovely Peter Andre has obviously been thinking about a squirrel. Again.

With the development of network television the stakes were raised, people started to expect more and more in order to be entertained – for a while it was enough to watch something like a fat man sitting at a desk, and I’m sure that in those days Odd One In would have been a resounding success. TV quickly moved on though, so why didn’t you? What is it about three minor celebrities and a sex texter guessing which random idiot can do what utterly banal thing on the basis of absolutely no information that is supposed to entertain us so? Is it the ‘witty banter’ that Bradley ‘Actor, Comic, Tit’ Walsh so spectacularly fails to engage in? Is it the comedy stylings of husband-of-the-year Jason Manford? Is it the fact that no-one really says or does anything to relieve the tedium at any point? Is that it? It is isn’t it, we’re supposed to be entertained by the mere fact that your show exists aren’t we?
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Well I’m afraid to say that I’m not. Sorry about that. Time for some home truths I think.
You are not a good TV show. You are a bad TV show, bad because there is no point to you, no entertainment factor, little originality and you are so intensely and unflinchingly dull that at one point I found myself dismantling my clock to see if it was broken – time was moving so very slowly that I feared it had stopped all together.

Grass - I'll be watching some of this grow next Saturday at 7.15pm!

There is no hope for you, there really isn’t. Sell the set to a nostalgia night club – Flares or Reflex perhaps – send Manford back to the Travel Lodge his wife makes him stay in, thank Peter Andre and tell him he’s lovely, and take Bradley Walsh round the back of the barn and put him out of his misery. It’s not that you can do better, it’s that you would genuinely struggle to produce something worse than this derivative dirge.
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I do have one idea though, maybe you can pass it on for me. It’s also called ‘Odd One In’.
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What you do, is you get all the commissioners in a room together and you have to spot the one who’s going to take a chance and commission something new, fresh and original. The prize could be that they keep their job. For those that lose? Well, the French had an idea or two (well it was just one, but it was a good one wasn’t it?)
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Let me know what you think,
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Rx
PS – When you go to finish Bradley, don’t look directly at him – you’ll never go through with it.

Dear The Marriage Ref

Dear The Marriage Ref, (Saturdays, ITV1 @9pm)

Or should that read: Oh dear, The Marriage Ref? I was going to write a letter proclaiming that it should; decrying you for being such a shambolic waste of talent, money, time and oxygen; expressing my shock and awe that no matter how low I place the ITV bar you simply scoot under it like a limbo champion on roller skates. Yes, I was ready to rip you to shreds, eviscerate you and throw you to the dog – then take you away from the dog because I like the dog and I wouldn’t want to poison it with this dross, maybe I’d put you in the recycling, I don’t know. What I’d do with your remains is unimportant. The important thing is that whilst not considering you a worthy way to spend my time, I would ‘do time’ in order to prevent your continuance, such was my disappointment.

ITV Commissioners are yet to meet an expectation to low to stoop beneath

Like I say, I was going to write all that.

Then I saw through the matrix.

You see, I’ve sussed what’s actually happening. You may have pulled the wool over the eyes of everyone else, but not me. I’ve spotted you for what you are Marriage Ref – a red herring. You’re a fool’s errand, a smoke screen – you are a spy sent by ITV to confirm what we all know – namely that no bugger’s watching. ITV, the network that brought us such cultural delights as ‘Kerry Katona- This Time I’ll Hurt The Kids’ and ‘Jordan – Marrying a Gay Vicar? Why Not!’seems to be, bewilderingly, having a

ITV have refused to scotch rumours that sexy poster girls Jordan and Katona will have sex changes and then marry each other for new ITV2 show 'My Transgender Best Friend's Gay Wedding'

bit of trouble getting viewers. I’ve even heard whisper that even those who have ITV on the box aren’t actually watching it, instead playing Connect 4 or thinking about what they want for Christmas. The big wigs wanted confirmation of this, and I’m afraid they used you, Marriage Ref, as bait. “Surely” they pontificated “if anyone sits through this crap they’ll complain.”. Well, glutton for punishment that I am, I did, and now I am (complaining that is).

I understand that this is a lot for you to take in, after all you were just trying your level best to be an entertaining show. That you failed miserably is neither here nor there, you tried – and against horrible odds – but you were merely a pawn in a game that few can play, most don’t understand and nobody cares about.

Confused? Me too, a bit. Let me explain the clues that should have enlightened you as to your role as ‘sacrificial lamb’

  1. The Title – ‘The Marriage Ref’ is a dead give away isn’t it? I mean it’s fine as a working title, but if they wanted you to stand even the vaguest chance of success they’d have given you a proper name before going to air – it’s not a phrase in common usage, it’s not a play on words, it doesn’t mean anything. To anybody. It’s like parents calling their daughter ‘Cristal’ and not expecting her to grow up to be a lap dancer/prostitute/porn star or possibly a combination of the three. If you’re called Cristal then your parents ambition at your birth was that one day you might gratify rich men for money, if you’re called ‘The Marriage Ref’ they don’t expect even that much.
  2. The Opening Titles – I know, we’re not even in to the show yet and the evidence is mounting. Ignore the fact that it looks like it was concocted by the lowest bidder, in a rush, after a heavy night. Ignore the fact that it actually uses the term ‘mullet’, the biggest clue is that if you rearrange some of the words used they say: “If you don’t stop watching this you’re a complete idiot. We hate you.” this is almost entirely true.
  3. The Concept – Whilst it’s true that some of the best ideas are written on the back of a fag packet during a heavy session (see The Million Pound Drop) there’s a very good reason why this isn’t standard procedure (see Don’t Scare the Hare). You fall very firmly in with the latter. The whole show has the feel of a half thought, the start of an idea that was, for some reason, not followed through. Don’t get me wrong, I like hearing about the banal problems of dull but slightly quirky strangers as much as the next man, but unfortunately the next man doesn’t give the slightest shit. To Do Lists? Pickles? A man-child? Come on, how about a second family or selling crack? Jeremy Kyle should be your benchmark.
  4. The Concept, Again– The judgement of the refs carries absolutely no weight – this is a problem. If we’re going to have a kangaroo court lets at least have their summary judgements mean something awful and humiliating happens immediately – think your husband makes too many pickles? Well we don’t, so now you have to sign a legally binding document that states upon your death you will both be preserved in vinegar in giant pickle jars and the whole process will be covered live on ITV2- this is a show I would watch.

    "My husband won't stop being racist." vs "My wife complains about my racism"

  5. Time, My Concept Of – Maybe it was the interminable VT’s, perhaps it was the excruciating bit where the hapless couples came on, I don’t know, but somewhere along the line my entire concept of time went out the window. How long is the show? 3, 4 days? It certainly felt like it was never going to end.
  6. Dermot – Lovely Dermot. He’s lovely, a genuine talent, and he’s clearly lovely, but when he’s phoning it in – as he was with you – then you know something’s a miss. Never has the term ‘Contractual Obligation’ been more apparent on-screen. he looked unprepared and deeply unmoved – can you confirm that the idea was thought up late one night and then filmed the following day? That’s how it felt.
  7. Gerri Halliwell – Gerri Halliwell? Seriously?
  8. The Audience – Who exactly would you be aimed at if it’s not people who you’re certain aren’t watching? Not families because you’re post watershed. Not young adults because you’re incredibly dull. Not the elderly because they’re all asleep. Perplexing.
  9. The Execution – What you lack in so many ways. A literal execution would be an extreme but entertaining way of punishing a spouse for some trifling habit like drinking milk from the bottle. Likewise it would be a fitting punishment for the execs in control of your production. ITV are past masters in making silk purses out of assorted pig bits, yet with you they just put a bit of lipstick on the pig, shoved it on stage and told it to dance. Pigs are not good dancers.

Beautiful woman or pig in lipstick? Clue to ITV execs, it's a f**king pig.

So tell your bosses at ITV Towers that I, Instantly Forgotten, have rumbled their little ruse. TV this bad doesn’t happen by accident, and it’s wrong to use Dermot O’Lovely, Jimmy Carr and Sarah Millican to play your silly little games. It is, however, fine to use Gerri Halliwell in this fashion.

Also tell them I have an ultimatum: You are to improve (including an immediate change in title) or go off air, or both – else I shall go to the papers with my findings.
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Sorry for your pain,
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R x
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PS – Alternate Name – Mum Was Right – I Should Never Have Married You!
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PPS – Or – I Gave You The Best Years of My Life
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PPPS – Or – I Hurt You Because I Love You, It’s Your Own Fault
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PPPPS – Gerri Halliwell, seriously?

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.
R

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 In With The Flynns

Dear In With The Flynns, (BBC1, Weds @8.30pm)

I’m just writing to welcome you, the eponymous Flynns, to the neighbourhood and to tell you how much I enjoyed your first little romp on that box in the corner of the room I stare at way too much. In the interests of clarity I should really tell you straight away that I didn’t enjoy it because of what was happening on-screen – that was far more akin to how I would imagine farmers feel when having to slaughter and burn their cattle amidst a foot and mouth epidemic: Namely their cattle (in this case BBC comedy) who they love and rely on for sustenance, being killed off because a virulent disease (in this case contagious ineptitude) has affected others far away (BBC commissioners) and I was having to pay the price. When farmers lose an entire flock or herd to the whim of government officials they are at least compensated. There is no such compensation for me, I have to pay the price – and what a price it is – for the folly of others year on year. Regardless, thrill me it did and, if you’ll bear with me for a little while, I’ll explain precisely why.

Coward or realist? Okay, coward, but something of a role model for me.

Ever since ascending from childlike innocence and it’s connected indestructibility I have been something of a coward. That’s not to say that i shy away from confrontation – far from it, someone as opinionated as myself must thrive on it or surround themselves with lackeys who agree with every word they utter – I have neither the charm or good looks required to achieve this, and even if I did I would probably end up so desperate for an argument that I’d make statements impossible to back up without appearing either bigoted or insane. I believe that’s how The Daily Mail began. Any way, the point remains that when faced with a physical challenge I am prone to massive cowardice: In a fight I’m the fastest runner; if playing cricket I’m scared of the ball (and the bat for that matter, and don’t get me started on the boundary rope…); and my idea of an ‘extreme sport’ is watching football whilst also needing a wee. I think you get the point. I’m a wuss.

What on earth does this have to do with you though Flynns? These gibberings of a lily livered jellyfish? Well I’ll tell you.

You see, like many other cowards I get many of my thrills vicariously. I watch The X-Games, Deadliest Catch and America’s Most Extreme Mentalists and marvel at the bravery of all involved as they risk their lives for their own excitement, filthy great wedges of money and the entertainment of others, hiding behind my fingers as some dolt who’s already lost a hand to a snow blower or some such attempts to do a back flip off a mountain and land on the rail of a helicopter hovering in the valley below. These people impress, amaze and bewilder me in equal measure as they throw themselves undaunted into these incredible feats – they talk of a lust for life that I can only dream of, and they will undoubtedly die quickly from massive ‘failed parachute induced squashing’ whilst I will die slowly and miserably from Butterkist induced diabetes. Basically these people are better than me. I know it, they know it and now you know it. Thanks to you, however, I moved a step closer to their world of daredevilry.

You see whenever you watch some bronzed God called Chad leap from a moving train onto the back of a passing lion and then onto a half-pipe they always say the same thing: “Every cell in my body was screaming at me not to do it, but I just had to.” and up until last Wednesday evening I didn’t know what they meant.

I do now.

All the signs were there for your show:

  • It occupied the cursed ‘Nicholas Lyndhurst’ week nights at 8:30 slot, a place where comedy goes to kill itself and piss poor scripts provide plentiful ammunition.
  • It was a BBC ‘family’ comedy, meaning it was both about families and for families, putting it immediately in such company as the started well but outstayed its welcome by about 6 years My Family, the didn’t even start well so how has this debacle made it to three series Life of Riley and the too awful for any words to do it any sort of justice final nail in Jasper Carrot’s comedy coffin that was All About Me
  • It was based on hit and miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, glancing blow US show Grounded for Life which itself rarely scaled beyond the dizzying heights of mediocrity
And finally, most compelling of all:
  • It starred Jambo from Hollyoaks.

Jambo was as perplexed as the rest of us when told he'd make a career in comedy

To describe Will Mellor (for he is the artist forever to be known as Jambo) as a comedy ‘star’ is to demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the cosmos, you see our Jambo is a massive star, but one that has collapsed in upon itself to form a singularity – a stellar even more commonly known as a black hole. From the comedic black hole that is Will Mellor nothing can escape, no laughs, giggles or titters – his pull is so strong that even smirks are quickly turned into scowls of pain and derision. The man is a comic vacuum almost beyond compare – I say almost because to the best of my knowledge Andi Osho, Andy Parsons and Patrick Kielty are all still alive and stealing a living in ‘comedy’. I would have thought that you’d have known about this. He’s ‘starred’ in approximately sixteen thousand episodes of the Beebs perpetual humour void Two Pints of Lager and a Packet

Never seen Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps - this photo is equally funny and far less time-consuming

of Crisps and then there was the recent reminder in the form of clearly they’ve reached the point where they’ll commission anything shitcom White Van Man, a show so devoid of comic moments it made you yearn for the good old days of Two Pints. It’s probably unfair to focus on him, because despite his lengthy experience with the laughably titled BBC Comedy Department he’s never been given a script anywhere north of God awful to work with, but equally after this latest deposit in the bank of work you can’t really want to tell people about it’s probably fair to describe him as ‘The New Nicholas Lyndhurst’ – only he lacks the saving grace of starring in one of the best sitcoms ever. He aspires to be as bad as Nicholas Lyndhurst. Dear God.

I digress. There I was, 8:29pm Wednesday evening, sat on the sofa, TV on BBC1 (HD), remote in hand. Every cell in my body screaming to me to turn it over, turn it off, turn away – anything but carry on watching – and do you know what I did? I ignored their screams, I ignored their pleas – I ignored common sense and I watched. I watched every last second of you, as you filled my screen, my living room and my weeping, despondent brain.
.

Free Climbers - too scared to watch 'In With the Flynns'

As you well know, you were not good. You certainly fell some distance short of funny (despite the mysterious and unwarranted laughter track), but that’s hardly the point. I knew it was going to be a painful experience and I went ahead with you all the same. I faced my fear and won! You, In With The Flynns, may be a shameful excuse for a sitcom, but you’ve introduced a whole new dimension to watching TV – a thrill factor, adrenaline junky attracting new brand of extreme TV! You’ve made me a braver man and for that, if nothing else (it’s definitely nothing else), I thank you.
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I realise I’ve said very little about you in this letter, but what is there to say really? Everyone knew you were going to be naff, you’ve proved us all right, no-one’s surprised, no-one’s disappointed and no-one’s wondering what might have been. How better our licence fees might have been spent? That’s another letter all together.
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Enjoy the neighbourhood, it was ruined long before you got here. Please don’t stay for long.
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R

PS – Seriously, how many licence fees have gone directly to Will Mellor?

PPS – I only ask because it seems like a lot

PPPS – You know, like sufficient to fund an entire new series of sketch shows starring really promising comedians

PPPPS – Or a series of sitcom pilots written by people who haven’t already had multiple opportunities. Just a thought.

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.
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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.
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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

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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.
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So there’s only one thing left to say.
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  • 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.
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Bye
.
R
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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.
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PPS – Do you see how I already know way too much about the next episode?
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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.

Sincerely,

R

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.

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