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The TV Column

Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross, Grayson Perry, Katie Price, Cheryl Cole, John and Edward and Jo Brand. All mentioned here, by Angie Sammons

Written by . Published on October 20th 2009.


The TV Column

GRAHAM Norton works hard for his share of the TV licence payers' shilling. Unlike Jonathan Ross, he is demonstrably as sharp as a burglar's tool kit and one of those rare things, naturally funny.

Even Whitney, sitting in the rehearsal room with manager Frank Butcher, had thought it was a bad idea, and there's not much that Whitney thinks is a bad idea

He doesn't need four falsetto poofs as a foil, an excuse to churn out the quality of double entendre you and your horrible friends were delighting in, aged 12. He doesn't need security blankets like Ricky Gervais to turn up on the show every other week for thumb wrestling and other mutual hand affirmation. Nor does he require an airship of Hollywood A-listers, the sort who have popularised the word “what” instead of “pardon”, with a film to plug and a list of agreed subjects to skirt around.

Friday with Jonathan Ross (BBC1, Friday) saw Jack Dee so lugubrious that there was little point him being there, like watching a bored and inarticulate teenager lolling on the couch, and Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon's contribution was so unremarkable that viewer participation, ie switching channels to the Newsnight Review (BBC2, Friday) was the only course to take.

Here former Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry had decided to come on as Little Bo Peep. Mild amusement for viewers ensued as Martha Kearney, ICA supremo Ekow Eshun and critic Rachel Campbell-Johnston mulled, unsmilingly and unflinchingly, the relationship between art and money.

Their earnest ponderings about Andy Warhol's commercialisation of pop art, Damien Hirst's return to painting, or the Turner shortlist were all very well, but the real entertainment came from their studious disregard of the whimsical flamboyance of Perry in the corner, threading a needle while discussing Threadneedle Street. It was they, not he, who unwittingly giving the writers of shows like Dead Ringers all the material they might need. Priceless, if not art itself.

*****

SO Graham Norton, BBC1 (Monday) doesn't normally attract the red carpet brigade, but give the camp Irish comic the Bs and Cs – Jo Brand, Jackie Collins and a P, Katie Price - on the same sofa, at the same time, and he'll clean up.

Here we have one of the most able light entertainment presenters around. Wogan on speed. Or maybe it just seems that way because his show immediately follows poor old Annabel Tiffin's dreary look at the North West news on the nadir TV night of the week.

Jo Brand appears as a squat, round memorial stone with two upright gargoyles either side, Price and Collins. They all have a book to promote and have all come on to tell us about life, on this graveyard shift of a show.

Brand, with her sardonic, rosebud smile remains in possession of great wit and terrible self-deprecation as she tells real stories from real experiences, like how her somewhat effete husband-to-be was knocked out by her

working class dad on their first meeting. Then there's her time as a psychiatric nurse, and the episode when an upset mental patient, struggling with police, swallowed a live pigeon whole. She recalls how staff gave him the Heimlich manoeuvre and “it flew out of his mouth”. “Not literally,” she quickly volunteers.

Katie, no stranger to talk of swallowing things whole, smilingly confides to best-mate-by-now Graham all the lovely, little foolish sexual things that come with her new boy, Alex Reid. Like how he likes his nipples wired up to a battery, and, of course, his cross dressing as alter ego Roxanne.

For an indignant nation still largely on the side of Team Andre, this is, perhaps, rubbing salt in the wounds. But only figuratively speaking - Katie is yet to divulge whether that's another of Reid's peccadillos.

Horse-loving Katie, whose latest LA breasts look like a dead heat in a Zeppelin race, also briefly wonders why the upper class dressage fraternity might be a bit sniffy about her involvement in their sport, musing: “I ride my horse, I ride Alex, I ride Roxanne.”

****

SOMEONE who is never going to be excluded from any social circle is the nation's new Diana, Cheryl Cole. Unless, you happen to be a bunch of Loneys. Not the sort Jo Brand used to look after, but X Factor contestant Rickki Loney's aunties and uncles back in Scotland.

It was obvious that the wee, trilby wearing singer was well and truly hatted (X Factor, ITV1, Saturday) after mentor Cheryl propelled him on stage, in front of millions, to sing Aretha Franklin's Respect, a whole octave lower than perceived musical wisdom.

Even Whitney, sitting in the rehearsal room with manager Frank Butcher had thought it was a bad idea, and there's not much that Whitney thinks is a bad idea.

Meanwhile, those hated twins, John and Edward, continue to take the piss out of the whole X-Factor ethos.

By now even the world's most humourless man (after Piers Morgan), Cowell, is starting to see the mileage, if not the funny side, as they romp around like two errant haemorrhoids in their red leather suits. A sort of kinky Snitch and Snatch from your worst, mumps-fevered nightmare.

“I can’t believe that he’s going home and John and Edward are still here,” the stunningly beautiful people's princess lamented as her departing charge, Rikki, wept bitterly into her shoulder on Sunday after the results show.

We all could. And while the terrible twins may welcome Louis Walsh's return to Judge Chair No 4, the best thing that actually happened to John and Edward last week, apart from their 18th birthday, was no mentoring. Oh, the irony, as they say.

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AnonymousOctober 20th 2009.

Overjoyed that John and Edward got the most votes on Saturday. It's working!

Max CliffordOctober 20th 2009.

Couldn't believe KP going on like thaT. She needs a PR person to keep her gob shut.

Louie MOctober 20th 2009.

let's hear it for the Irish boys, I've been saying since day one of the x factor. Simon cowell and none of them get it! Would love to see them win and have been voting for them every week. They must be very hurt by Cheryl Cole dissing them like that!

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