Static and Silent

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Much Much Better

After last year’s fiasco where Sugababes and Girls Aloud were overlooked in favour of James Blunt, Katie Melua and Westlife for the Best Pop Category, U2 were nominated for the same album the 2nd year in a row and Paul Weller received an Outstanding Contribution to British Music, I wasn’t exactly overly-optimistic about this year’s Brit Awards nominations.

But surprisingly, glaring omissions and ridiculous nominations are few and far between. And the redundant Best Pop, Urban and Rock categories have also thankfully fallen by the wayside. Just a shame that Russell “hilarious on BBBM but humourless on anything else” Brand will be presenting it. Below are my predictions with who I think will win in bold. The international categories to come tomorrow.

Best British Male Solo Artist
James Morrison
Jarvis Cocker
Paolo Nutini
Thom Yorke

So Robbie Williams gets award after award for releasing MOR drivel like Sing When You’re Winning and Escapology but gets completely ignored when he produces the most inventive, if albeit, inconsistent album of his career. Also surprised to see The Streets miss out as well. Especially when you see that Lemar, and two James Blunt knock-offs have made it. It’d be great to see either Thom Yorke, who did the rare thing of making a solo album actually different to his group’s output, or Jarvis Cocker, nominated for the first time since 1996, win it but I’m afraid it will surely go to James Morrison.

Best British Female Artist
Amy Winehouse
Corinne Bailey Rae
Lily Allen
Nerina Pallot

A much stronger category than the males, Winehouse, Bailey Rae or Allen would usually walk this in any other year but it’s been such a strong year for British females with all three having either #1 singles or albums. Winehouse’s current #1 album couldn’t be better timed and Back in Black will probably stand the test of time more than Alright Still but considering Allen’s received three other nominations, I think it’ll be her night. Great to see Nerina Pallot receive a nomination, if a token one, too.

Best British Album
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Lily Allen - Alright Still
Muse - Black Holes & Revelations
Snow Patrol - Eyes Open

Winehouse and Allen can be written off already as for some reason females never win this thing. The Monkeys are a strange one. Their album was released before last year’s Brits but too late to be nominated. So this nomination is for an album which feels like it was released light years ago. But can The Brits ignore their colossal achievement? I think they might. This award usually goes to the biggest seller, see Travis, Coldplay, Keane and I think Snow Patrol will end up with their first ever Brit.

Best British Band
Arctic Monkeys
Snow Patrol

You would think that the winner of the Best British Album would automatically get the Best British Group but the last two years, Coldplay and Kaiser Chiefs, and Keane and Franz Ferdinand have had to share the spoils. And I think it’ll happen again this year. I’d love Muse to get it and I do think they have an outside chance but I just can’t see them not rewarding the Arctic Monkeys at least once.

Best British Breakthrough Act
Corinne Bailey Rae
The Fratellis
James Morrison
The Kooks
Lily Allen

The Fratellis. Ugh. The worst nomination by far in the whole list. And I think they’ve got a decent chance of winning too. Considering it’s voted for by Radio 1 listeners, I don’t think the solo artists have the kind of fanbases to bother to vote. Which is why I think The Kooks, who I actually thought would have been up for Best Band and Album will win the only award they’re nominated for.

Best British Live Act
George Michael
Robbie Williams

A very strange award. You can listen to every album that’s been released last year, but you can’t go and see every act who tours. And how can you compare the old-skool "rock n roll" of a Kasabian show to the over-produced theatre of a Robbie Williams one. Anyway, I'm surprised to see George Michael nominated as from the clips I’ve seen, his live show looked completely soulless. Muse will surely deservedly walk this one for the second time in three years.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

This Week's Singles

Quality not quantity seems to be the theme of this week's new singles with a rather small selection to choose from but several key releases from acts tipped to be big in 2007.

First up though, is one of last year's mild success stories, The Ordinary Boys. Preston may have had a sense of humour bypass (seriously, who goes on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and doesn't expect to have the piss taken out of them) but the slightly corny "I Luv You" (***) is rather charming although it's unlikely to reverse the fortunes of its almost Victoria Beckham-like parent album chart run.

JoJo returns after a three year absence with "Too Little Too Late" (***) a track which follows exactly the same R&B verses, guitar pop chorus formula as her first single but is still far preferable and less pretentious than any of her contemporaries have managed lately. Looks like it could be #1 next week.

Her main challenger will be "Starz in Their Eyes" (****) by Just Jack, which may be another rather patronising tirade against reality pop shows but whose Streets goes pop sound could be one of the most intriguing this year and is indeed the Single of the Week.

Much less palatable is the similar Jamie T, a self-proclaimed street poet whose bizarre accent renders "Calm Down Dearest" (**) almost unlistenable.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen seems like Damon Albarn's 56th side project but on the evidence of "Kingdom of Doom" (*) is as aimless and pointless as Gorillaz are inventive and innovative.

Last and definitely least is The View, who look like they're going to be this year's The Kooks. Which is not a good thing. "Same Jeans" (*) is yet more ramshackle student indie with not an original thing about it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is This The Best You Can Do?

Just when you thought no show could ever beat last year's Love Island for the most Z-list casting of a reality show, along comes Celebrity Big Brother 2007, with 11 rather depressing and mostly unknown dregs of celebrity society.

Has anyone ever heard of Danielle Lloyd? Donny Tourette? Shilpa Shetty? Is this really the best BB can do. Even someone who was once an extra on Eldorado has more entitlement to be called a celebrity.

Anyway from the launch night show, Jo O'Meara seems quite nice, and honest too. She definitely should have slapped the increasingly awful Davina McCall for cynically asking her whether she would release a record after BB. Why shouldn't she? Does Davina really think anyone else is n there for anything other than money, fame or career resurrection?

I know this is a horrible thing to say but I wouldn't be surprised if we had our first Big Brother death with Ken Russell in the house. Surely putting someone in who looks like he's going to keel over even before he enters the house is a bad and irresponsible move.

I'm undecided about H. Sometimes, I admire his constant enthusiasm for everything but most of the time I find it just plain irritating. And his "coming out" to The Sun was the most unnecessary confession of all time. Talking of enthusiasm, Leo Sayer has it in abundance - in fact you wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be H's dad.

Carole Malone really is the most spiteful woman on the planet and I'm quite looking forward to her getting a taste of her own medicine over these next few weeks. Unfortunately, she came across as quite nice last night, but I'm 100% sure that was just put on.

People called Preston and Maggot for being unknown but at least they'd had hit records. Which is more than can be said for Donny from Towers of London. I'd like to think he's some kind of ironic Dennis Pennis-style character who's really a sweet mummy's boy underneath but I'm not sure he's that clever. But surely no-one can be that much of a cliche?

I can see Dirk Benedict having the same kind of ironic cult status as David Hasselhoff has had recently, and if I was a betting man, would probably put some money on him to win.

Elsewhere, Danielle Lloyd already out-dumbs Jade Goody for not knowing who Winston Churchill is, Shilpa is beautiful but looks like she could be a bit of a diva, Clea Rocos seems like fun, and I'd be very surprised if Jermaine Jackson doesn't quit within a week.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Not Exactly Worth The Wait

How disappointing was last night's This Life special? The original two series were unmissable ground-breaking TV at its best but the ten year reunion lacked any of its humour, realism or originality.

Why did they have to introduce the whole documentary element to it? Couldn't they have just had the reunion in normal circumstances. It was a plot device which was far-fetched, (why would anyone be interested in watching a bunch of smug 30-somethings meet up?) stretched any credibility (would every single person really be completely comfortable in revealing their innermost thoughts to a camera?) and created a rather pretentious, "too knowing" atmosphere to the whole thing.

The characters, with the exception of Milly, had all become so hateful as well. Miles and Egg always had arsehole tendencies, but they were quite likeable arseholes. Now, they're just arseholes. Warren was a walking gay cliche and Anna came across as pitiful and bitter rather than the ballsy "don't give a shit" character she was previously.

There were a few redeeming qualities - the mid 90s soundtrack was excellent -the scene where they were all dancing around to the Manics' "A Design For Life" was actually quite poignant, Milly and Egg's relationship was as real as ever, and I liked the fact it didn't really have a proper ending.

But ultimately, it left you a bit cold. They would have definitely been better off leaving it at Milly punching Rachel all those years ago.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top 40 Greatest TV Moments of 2006 #10-1

01)The Guy Goma Interview

So what is it that makes the #1 on my list. An Emmy award winning drama? A moment of genius from the World Cup? Nah, it's a moment of televisual genius that will embarrass the BBC for years that isn't even long enough to be a moment really. It is of course the moment when Guy Goma, who went for a job interview at the BBC, ended up being mistaken for a spokesperson on downloading.

Now if this had happened to anyone else, I'm sure it would have been quite amusing but would have probably been forgotten about after a couple of showings on Auntie's Bloomers. But it's his multitude of hilarious facial expressions when the presenter is announcing her intended guest that makes it one of the best all-time TV cock-ups.

Almost as funny is when the man on the outside broadcast actually refers back to something Goma said, as if everything he said made absolute sense. Somehow, he didn't get the job he actually went for. If it was up to me, I'd have given him his own show.

02) The UK Apprentice

Just as good, if not better than the first series, the UK Apprentice was just unmissable TV from start to finish.

Ruth Badger, who was robbed in the final, was the star of the show, but other characters such as manic Jo, unbelievably pompous Paul (who didn’t cheer when he was ripped to shreds in his interview?) and Syed, the male equivalent of last year’s Saira, provided just as much entertainment.

Highlights included Matt Lucas’ cousin ordering an entire chicken for each pizza in a restaurant task, one team making a rather pornographic advert for a credit card and the most cringeworthy piece of TV all year, Nargiss’ woefully inept pitch for her group’s kitten calendar.

03) Celebrity Big Brother
While not as good as last year’s inspired casting of John McRirick, Jackie “yeah Brackie” Stallone and Germaine Greer, this year’s lot were just as Z-list, controversial and diverse as ever.

Of course, the star of the show was Chantelle, a girl who’s been lumped in with the Jade Goodys and Nikki Grahames of this world, but was far more likeable, grounded and intelligent – she held her own against George Galloway on several occasions and seemed genuinely humbled to have won.

Like this year's normal BB, the celebrity version also had an undercurrent of nastiness, the bullying of Jodie Marsh, Pete Burns vile attack on Tracy Bingham and basically just the presence of Michael Barrymore but on the whole was far more entertaining and less contrived. Let's hope the next one, starting in a few days, will be just as good.

04) Malcolm In The Middle
And so the most under-rated sitcom of this decade came to an end. Like a human version of the Simpsons, at its best MITM was the most inventive, chaotic and laugh-out-loud comedy on TV. Yet moved around the BBC2 schedules, it’s never caught on as much as it should have done in the UK.

The last couple of series have been patchy, with its increasing surrealism not really working. But the tenth and final series just about got it together to give it a proper send-off. The final episode tied up all the loose ends - Malcolm going to uni, Reese leaving home, Hal & Lois having another baby, without resorting to going over the top. Lois, who remains one of the best comedy characters of all time, will be sorely missed.

05) Desperate Housewives
It wasn't as compelling as the first series, and the whole Applewhites storyline didn't really work at all, but it was still pretty unmissable TV thanks mainly to Bree, the undisputed star of the show whose struggle with alcohol, coping with her husband's death and relationships with her husband's killer, her sex addict confidant and her devil incarnate son were brilliantly written and performed. Let's hope we have more of the same next series and less of the increasingly irritating Susan.

06) The final The Royle Family
I've only ever cried at two programmes/films, the Eastenders episode where Ethel died and more embarrassingly, Macauley Culkin's rather traumatic bee-sting death in My Girl (I was only ten at the time.) But the excellent Royle Family one-off special almost made it three.It may have been obvious from the first five minutes that Nana would end up carking it but the superb performances and poignant script meant it didn't make it any less upsetting when it finally happened.

The scenes where Nana told Barbara she was glad she wasn't in a home, where Barbara thought she had died in her bed, and where all her family kissed Nana goodbye in hospital were both beautifully written and heartbreaking at the same time. Both Liz Smith and Sue Johnston deserve BAFTA nominations next year.

It felt like more of a drama than a comedy but there were still flashes of the usual brilliant Royle Family humour, Jim ranting about "gays on television", Cheryl's hilarious lonely hearts dates, Denise wanting to palm off her son to watch Jeremy Kyle episodes she'd Sky +d. Overall, it showed Only Fools & Horses how to do a comeback special and was a fitting finale to what is one of the most innovative, funny and well-written sitcoms of the last ten years.

07) Sinchronicity

BBC3 only ever seems to serve as an outlet for endless repeats of Two Pints of Lager & A Packet of Crisps. That was until Sinchronicity, a sort of adult version of As If, featuring two of its stars, Jemima Rooper and Paul Chequer which came onto our screens in August.

Using Sliding Doors-style different scenarios, flashbacks and characters addressing the camera Alfie-Style, it told the story of best friends Nathan, Jase and Fi, involved in a complicated love triangle which became a square when Jase started a gay affair with doctor Mani.

Featuring an excellent soundtrack, convincing performances and characters who you actually cared about, why this was tucked away on digital I don’t know, but like last year’s equally as brilliant Conviction, it shows that BBC3 can make quality, innovative programmes when they want to.

08)The Box Sign Language Videos
Music channels aren’t exactly renowned for their innovative ideas but The Box made the genius decision to start signing videos late at night for the benefit of deaf people and the even more genius decision to hire middle aged women to do it.

It may be considered un-PC to find this funny but I'm not laughing AT the middle aged women trying desperately to sign in time to the likes of Usher's "Yeah" or Sean Paul's "We Be Burnin," I'm laughing WITH them. The expressions on their faces as they really throw themselves into it really is a joy to watch.
09) Big Brother
It’s strange to put a show that I watched religiously for three months only at #9 but I had to ask myself did I actually enjoy it, and the answer was for the most part, no.

This year’s Big Brother was the most unpleasant, vindinctive and contrived reality show in the genre’s history. Grace has to be the most unlikeable contestant ever, Sezer was sleaze personified, Spiral was even sleazier, Mikey was misogynistic and Glyn, the “loveable” moron has to be the most moronic person I’ve ever seen. Not knowing how to make a sandwich at 18 isn’t adorable or naïve, it’s mind-numbingly stupid. The show completely jumped the shark as well by allowing the public to vote the monstrous Nikki back in to win.

And Pete would have been a worthy winner up until the last week, when his inoffensive nice guy act crumbled around him as he cynically ployed for votes by getting so offended by Aisleyne’s mock speech, the dead best friend vision and then of course, that see-through relationship with Nikki. He’s become easily the most repulsive winner of BB yet.

So what did I like about it? Well Aisleyne stole the show for me. Maybe it was because the others were so abhorrent, but she stood out as the sole voice of reason in the nuthouse, was the only person to stick up properly for Suzie when Grace chucked water over her and provided some of the best facial expressions on final night when it was revealed Nikki, Jennie and Richard were going before her.

Suzie, who most wrongly thought was the most boring person in there, was so out-of-place she was actually one of the more entertaining. She may have been a contradiction – a tea,drinking, easily offended fame-hungry stripper but her "let’s make a cup of tea" reaction to everything conjured up images of a real-life Mrs Doyle and her treatment by Davina McCall in her final interview was shockingly unfair.

And there were many other fantastic moments, both Pete and Imogen’s songs, Imogen’s radio Hot Topics jingle, the look on Sezer’s face when he found out he was evicted, Nikki’s original diary-room rants before she got evicted and voted in again etc.

Like The X Factor, it's one of those shows that infuriates you as much as entertains you. Let's hope next year, they can stop the lame twists every five seconds, put some vaguely normal people in there and stop the blatant bias towards/against contestants. I doubt they will somehow.

10) Totally Boyband
MTV UK might be a load of Yank-centric rubbish most of the time (does anyone outside the US know who Master P is? So why do we need to see his "Cribs" about ten times every week?) but it really does excel when it comes to commissioning their own reality shows. After the excellent car-crash series that was Totally Scott-Lee comes the follow up, Totally Boyband.

The concept was simple. To follow around a newly-created boyband supergroup made up of five singers who combined have "apparently" sold 80 million records worldwide. But you wouldn't be able to laugh at the show if it were former pop stars who actually had talent, Gary Barlow, Tony Mortimer etc. So instead we got a group made up mostly of people who never actually sang on their records, Lee Latchford Evans, Danny Wood, Jimmy Constable.

Unfortunately despite their lowly status, most of them had rather large egos to say the least and despite Dane Bowers being the only vocally gifted member, in a huge lack of self-awareness, they decided to sack Lee for being talentless. Which made their dismal chart position (No.35) even more satisfying. Star of the show, like last year, was Concept Records' Roseann McBride, the bluntest woman on earth, whose effing, blinding and brutal honesty made the show even funnier.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Top 40 Greatest TV Moments #20-11

11) The X Factor
This was going to be much further down the list up until last Saturday's finale in the auditionees rendition of Earth Song where Lorraine missed her cue completely, providing one of the funniest moments of the year.

If only the rest of the series had been as entertaining. The thing is, for the first time since Will Young, I actually found someone, in fact two acts, worth rooting for in Leona, by far and away the best talent show contestant the UK has ever had and Eton Road, a boyband who understood the whole concept of pop music perfectly.

But the rest of it was so utterly contrived, mundane or both, it unfortunately cancelled the good points out. The sob-stories were exploitative in the extreme, the songs were the same songs we've heard the past three series (does anyone need to hear Somewhere Over The Rainbow or I Don't Want To Miss A Thing ever again?) and in the likes of Ray, the McDonald Brothers and Nikita, we had the most mediocre and unexciting set of contestants ever.

Thank God that sense prevailed and that Leona won, making watching the whole sorry mess worthwhile. Surely even Simon Cowell won't give her Westlife rejects for her album.

12) Lost
You tend to forget that we’ve actually gone through three series of Lost this year, what with the tail end of S1 at the beginning of the year, S2 in the Summer and then the opening six episodes on Sky One just recently. And yet we’re still no closer to finding out what the hell is going on. Surely the producers should have given us something by now? Anyway, despite it being utterly infuriating at times (why does no-one ever ask any questions?) when it’s good, it’s really good, and Michael shooting and killing Ana-Lucia and Libby was the most shocking and unexpected TV moment of the year.

13) Lee Otway’s Strop on Love Island
Don't get me wrong. This year's Love Island really did scrape the bottom of the barrel like it has never done before. You know you're in trouble when Bombhead from Hollyoaks is the most recognisable face in there. The likes of Chris Brosnan, Calum Best and Bianca Gascoigne proved you don't even need to be a Z-list celeb to be on a reality show, as long as you're related to someone famous, that's fine. I'm sure next year we'll see Claudia Winkelman's brother's dry cleaner in there.

Anyway, the show, not surprisingly, bombed but at times it was embarrassingly entertaining, mainly thanks to Sophie Anderton's daily breakdowns and the utter stupidity of Lady Victoria Hervey, who didn't know where America was on a map, even though she lived there. Best of all was Lee Otway's hilariously cringeworthy reaction to being rejected by an ex Playboy model, stomping his way around the diary room, breaking camera equipment and curling up his bottom lip in an almighty two-year-old style tantrum. He made Paul Danan look balanced.

14) The Keith Chegwin Extras episode
On the whole, the second series of Extras was a disappointment, relying on repetitive storylines (Maggie puts her foot in it…again) “have them for the sake of it” cameos and ludicrously unbelievable plots (a critically mauled sitcom star becomes as famous as The Pope). But the first episode promised so much, whether it was the Lenny Henry gag, Orlando Bloom’s vendetta against Johny Depp or Maggie being humiliated by a former extra. But the star of the show and the series was Keith Chegwin’s whose foul-mouthed racist send-up was on a par with last year’s Les Dennis nervous breakdown and showed you don’t need big stars for the cameos to work. If only the rest of the series hadn’t smugly disappeared up its own arse.

15) Chef’s Death in South Park
How to get your own back Trey Parker and Matt Stone style. When Isaac Hayes hypocritically announced he was quitting voicing Chef due to the show mocking his Scientology religion (when he’d been happy to appear in a show that had mocked every other religion, race and minority there is) the show’s creators got their revenge by giving Chef’s character probably the least graceful exit ever, turning him into a paedophile and giving him the most violent and undignified death imaginable. The most shockingly funny bit of TV this year.

16) Popworld
Forget Top Of The Pops or CDUK, the biggest loss to pop music TV came in April when the brilliantly subversive Popworld came to an end. OK, so Miquita Oliver often came across as pretentious and was nothing more than a spare part, but that doesn't matter when you've got Simon "hell-bent on showing up popstars" Amstell.

His finest moment will always remain attempting to chat up homophobic reggae star Beenie Man but each week you’d be guaranteed at least one popstar who just didn't get the joke. The final show avoided all the usual compilation cliches, and instead provided us with a finale where Simon and Miquita discovered that God was actually Daniel Bedingfield. The show continued with different presenters, Alexa Chung and Alex Zane, but no matter how hard they try, and they are getting better, it’s never going to be the same.

17) Dragon's Den
The first few series of Dragon's Den somehow completely passed me by and I only stumbled upon this one by accident. Set up like a businessman's Pop Idol, the show revolves around wannabe-entrepreneurs pitching their products in an attempt to persuade five successful multi-millionaires, the "dragons", to invest in their business. And like Pop Idol, it's the utterly clueless people thar provide the most entertainment.

The dragons themselves make Simon Cowell look like Fern Britton. Totally and utterly intimidating, it's not surprising that most people just fall apart when making their pitch. Two of them, Duncan and Theo, have to be the most obnoxious, patronising and grumpiest people on TV, but the other three, for the most part, are usually quite fair and offer constructive advice e.g. don't give up your day job, rather than just totally humiliating them. Along with The Apprentice, this showed that business programmes can be fun too.

18) Hotel Inspector
Another show which copied Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares formula, hotelier Ruth Watson tries to help ailing hotels boost their business usually by obvious things (nicer rooms, nicer food, better organisation etc.) The show is watchable but nothing outstanding. The reason why it’s so high up is due to two particular episodes, the first which centred around The Saxonia Hotel in Weston-Super-Mare run by a middle-aged couple, so bizarre they could have come from The League Of Gentlemen, who said in all seriousness that they would kill themselves if they weren’t awarded an extra star in their next inspection. The second and most disturbing was the Sparkles Hotel in Blackpool, a scary children's themed hotel which charges £500 for the privilege of sleeping in a room covered with Barbie dolls and frightening looking mannequins.

19) I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here
This year’s I’m A Celebrity was one of the most tedious so far thanks to its most Z-list cast, the stupid idea to break up the camp into males/females and the fact that most of them got on so well, the only thing the show seemed to consist of was them telling us how hungry they were. Of course there were a few moments of TV Gold: Lauren Booth’s Beenie Man moves, Phina and Scott’s bitch fight in the Treasure Chest, and of course the enigma that was David Gest whose tales of genitalia-named cleaners and one legged parents had everyone in fits of laughter and goes to show the media can completely twist someone’s persona. But of course, this year will always be remembered for one thing- Dean Gaffney’s near mental breakdown on his bush tuckertrial. Looking as though he’d literally been taken in against his will, he shrieked and yelped his way through every single part, and didn’t seem to have a clue where he was. The look on Ant and Dec’s faces said everything.

20) Porno, Preachers and Peddlers
A show which probably only one man and his dog saw, this was still the best documentary I saw all year and is surprisingly one of two BBC3 shows in the Top 20.

The programme followed the progress of three new cable channels in its opening months, I-Buy TV, a shopping channel in which its main host believed he could persuade someone to buy something by just staring into their eyes, Television X, an adult channel which had so few viewers for its text show, had to rely on the directors to message in themselves and most amusing of all, Revelations TV, a British Christian channel run by just one family, which made Live TV look like the pinnacle of British Broadcasting. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Viewers were asked to pray when their phone system went down during a phone-in for suicidal people, an explicit sex education video was accidentally shown in the middle of the afternoon. You couldn't make it up. This was a hilarious and eye-opening look behind the scenes at just a few of the seemingly never-ending amount of cheap, rubbish channels that are swarming satellite TV.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top 40 Greatest TV Moments of 2006 #30-21

21) Screen Wipe
Charlie Brooker is without a doubt, the most truthful TV critic there is. His Screen Wipe book is offensively hilarious and his TV show, buried away on BBC4, is just as colourful. There are so many moments on Youtube that I could have chosen to illustrate this, but this introduction to British TV to a group of Americans sums up how his observations can be both funny and rather depressing at the same time.

22) Silvia Night's Eurovision tantrum
Eurovision was OK this year - a different winner, a half-decent UK entry and Terry Wogan on top form as usual. However, it's someone who didn't even make the final that makes this list. Silvia Night, who makes Bjork look like Dido, didn’t make the final, getting eliminated in the rather new idea of a semi-final. Not exactly the most gracious loser, she then decided to exact her revenge by slagging off the other contestants, calling an innocent journalist a slut for no reason at all and telling the press she will sue them and they will all go to jail. This was the funniest showbiz strop of the year. I don’t know anything about her but I’m assuming she’s some elaborate joke which some people aren’t quite in on.

23) 7 Stupidest Things To Escape From
I usually find the kind of shows where people deliberately inflict pain on themselves (Jackass, Dirty Sanchez) the most utterly moronic and unfunny shows on TV. The difference here was that escaplogist Jonathan Goodwin actually gives himself a chance to prevent injury, by setting himself timed tasks which he must complete in order to avoid both pain and embarrassment.

Unfortunately Goodwin isn't the world's most prolific escapologist and so more often than not, ends up nearly having his nipples ripped off, being burned by an iron or worst of all, being seen naked and in full bondage gear in front of his immediate family. It’s still moronic but it’s done with a sense of humour, a nod to Harry Houdini and Goodwin comes across as a very likeable if someone who’s a glutton for punishment.

24) Numberwang
That Mitchell & Webb Look was inconsistent as a series, far too clever for its own good and many sketches forgot to add anything resembling humour. But it could also be hilarious at times, none more so than the piss-take of daytime quiz shows, the nonsensical Numberwang. Adam & Joe did it better on Quizzlesticks but this was still silly parody at its best.

25) US Apprentice
Not as enjoyable as the UK one but still ridiculously over-the-top entertainment, mainly due to seeing how many times the preposterous Donald Trump can shamelessly self-plug in one episode.

The contestants, were on the whole, pretty hateful people. Arrogant, cocky, no sense of self-awareness, they made the UK’s Syed look like a shy, retiring wallflower. It was hard to care who actually won they were all so unlikeable but it was fun watching them bitch and backstab their way to the top. In the end , Kendra, the most deserving contestant ended up the winner, beating the slightly neurotic Tana in the series’ first all women final.

26) The Hollyoaks Fire
Maybe I’m too old to still be watching this but I’ve actually found Hollyoaks far more watchable than any other soap this year. Yes it’s still terminally bad at times - the Irish cross-dresser is perhaps the most irritating character in soap history and some of the acting is never more than school play-standard. But when it goes ridiculously over-the-top, it does it in style.

The whole plotline may have been totally ludicrous - a mild-mannered guy gets lured into date-raping by his best friend and then becomes a mass-murdering psycho all within a few months. But it resulted in a spectacular finale which showed Emmerdale how to do an explosion, killed off several characters in one go and managed to be both moving (the twins deaths) and funny (Joe’s mobile ringing from a body bag) at the same time.

27) The Madness of Boy George
The madness in the title should be referring to him agreeing to take part in this often bizarre profile of one of the most colourful characters in pop music.

Trawling Gaydar for one night-stands, making odd home-made video diaries, slagging off the likes of Madonna and Elton John at any given opportunity, this Channel 4 show, following his community service for cocaine possession, only showed what a rather tragic and bitter if still very entertaining person he had become.

28) Girls Aloud: Off The Record
Who'd have thought it. A warts and all documentary about a pop group which did show every wart possible rather than a sanitised version the record company wanted you to see. Off The Record followed Britain's #2 girl group around for a few months and revealed exactly what they're all like. Nicola and Kimberley are lovely, Nadine couldn't look less bothered if she tried, Cheryl is a stroppy cow, and surprisingly, Sarah was the biggest diva of them all.

29) Shipwrecked
Sun, sea, sand, scripted reality TV – what more could you want for your Sunday afternoon viewing. The original castaway show returned but this time with a competition element which may have been a good idea on paper, but ultimately led to the most blatant scripting of a reality show I can remember.

The idea - two islands both start off with five castaways each. Each week, a new castaway would spend three days on each island and then choose which island they wanted to live on for the remainder of their stay. The winning island would share a rather paltry sum of £75,000 between them.

So how convenient then, that after 20-odd weeks, each island was even on the very last show. People joined islands for no given reason at all, fights were started with no provocation, every conversation started with a “So, how are you etc.” as if they were reading them off an autocue - everything was so utterly contrived. So why have I put it in? Well, it was still genuinely entertaining, there were several highly likeable and dislikeable characters and it helped to pass a couple of hours each Sunday for a few months.

30) Boys Will Be Girls
I’m not sure whether to include this in the Best or Worst list as it’s one of those jaw-droppingly bad ideas that somehow compels you to watch but leaves you feeling rather dirty after having watched it.

The concept – to find a new girlgroup, but with a twist – it had to be made up of ex-boyband members. You weren’t sure whether to feel contempt for them for doing absolutely anything for a bit of fame, or to feel sorry for them for being exploited by their cretin of a manager, Nathan Moore.

The band was made up of Austin Drage, a member of an unsigned boyband (that’s how low down the boyband food chain they had to go) who was the term “little shit” personified, Russ from Scooch, who’s about as feminine-looking as Geoff Capes and Martin from Fast Food Rockers, who looked worryingly good in drag and indeed, you get the feeling he'd be carrying on this little experiment long after the show finished.

The fact that this group couldn’t score a top 200 hit in their own gender didn’t seem to phase them and they bravely went for it culminating in the show’s climax, a gig at Butlin’s. Surprisingly only half of the audience guessed they weren’t of the fairer sex. Like a slightly warped Faking It, this was compulsive viewing and the actual song they recorded wasn’t bad at all. But considering it never got released, you have to ask what was the point of it all.

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