Saturday, 24 December 2011

The halls have been decked . . .

Well, here we are folks. The final few hours of madness before we can all sink into a rosy glow, knowing that the shops are closed and if we ain't got it by now, then we ain't 'avin it. Sorry, I came over all 'Albert Square' there.

Lots of madness to view in Waitrose this morning. Plenty of hyperventilating lunatics. Enough of me for the moment though. I wheeled my trolley past a puce-faced woman instructing her husband to "Just go and look at the Madeira. Now please!" The prize for worst selection of festive fare went to the glum looking couple with a trolley full of Fosters lager and parsnips. Someone's in for a treat tomorrow.

For me, the lead up to Christmas has probably been the same as that of many others. Each year I promise myself that I will not trundle down Oxford Street in December. Failed. I was particularly amazed by the desperation of some of the shopping in John Lewis where some people operated a kind of 'auto grab' method, whereby they just scooped up anything that lay in their path. Oh the joy of opening a festive pannetone and Union Jack tea tray tomorrow.

Last night I was out at a meal in south east London. The restaurant was lovely and the food wonderful. The floor show came courtesy of one of the chefs who made John Barrowman look like Danny Dyer. He glided across the floor, clasping his hands and brandishing a tart (ooh Matron!), advising us that he had made his own mincemeat. Not a snigger from any of us. I opted for a coffee . . .

Anyway, I've ploughed through the Radio Times to see what Christmas Day has to offer. Here are my recommendations:

8.20 a.m. Blue Peter Christmas Special (BBC1)
Here's one we rescued from a bin . . . (8.20 a.m.)
Join the team, well Helen, as she crashes into the scenery in the show's new micro bijou studio in Salford. No crib, no tree, no advent crown and a couple of carols sung by a woman from the production team and Shep. Plus photographs from the Summer Expedition to Belgium.

11.00 a.m. Songs of Praise (BBC1)
Pews that don't see a bum in a month of Sundays are now filled with ugly people in hats. Expect several carols to be desecrated beyond belief by a dubious chorister.

12.30 p.m Film: Panda Feet versus Aliens (ITV2)
Heart-warming festive animation voiced by Joan Rivers and Chuck Norris.

2.00 p.m Top of the Pops (BBC1)
Join a host of nobodys and Fearne Cotton as you try to remember anything that charted in 2011. Probably contains a scene with Cher Lloyd in a santa suit.

3.00 p.m. The Queen (Every channel)
Usual sour-faced meanderings topped off with that wintry grimace.

4.00 p.m. Panorama special (BBC News 24)
Is TV journalism dumbing down? Hosted by Dale Winton and Amy Childs.

7.00 p.m. Emmerdale (ITV1)
Marlon tells Sam that Andy Sugden is Amos Brearley's dad. Val Pollard eats Lisa Dingle's heroin and jumps off the Woolpack. In a shock revelation, Cain confesses to Mr Wilks that he was only responsible for 8 of the 14 disasters that hit the village this year. Edna eats dynamite and is shot from a cannon across a large expanse of the Nile delta.

8.00 p.m. Coronation Street (ITV1)
A bad hair day for Rita (8.00 p.m.)
Emily Bishop tells husband Ernie that Nick Tilsley is really Rita Sullivan's love child by Albert Tatlock. Meanwhile, Dev sings "I'm just an old fashioned girl" in full drag at the Rovers party just as the police arrive and shoot Eileen dead in the snug. Tyrone jumps off the factory roof on to a large spike.

9.00 p.m. EastEnders (BBC i-player if you are desperate)
Dirty Den confesses to Ethel's dog that Pete Beale is the father of punk Mary who hasn't been seen since 1988. Derek Branning gives Fat Boy a lesbian kiss in the laundrette and in a fit of jealousy, Dot Cotton jumps 80 feet from the roof of the Queen Vic, through a flaming hoop and lands in a bath of acid. Meanwhile a phonecall brings unwelcome news for Shirley.

10.00 p.m. Last of the Birds of a Grave and Horses (BBC3)
Two hours of festive comedy from the BBC, proving that they haven't managed to come up with any new formats for over a quarter of a century. Probably narrated by Alexander Armstrong.

11.20 p.m. Non-Celebrity Come Dine in Essex (ITV2)
Christmas pudding? (11.20 p.m.)
The perma-tanned uglies are invited to the remains of  a festive slap-up meal hosted by Arg and the fat one who looks like Diana Dors. Living the reem.

Merry Christmas from Clinkers to Riddle!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A feast of fine music?

It's time to let off the party-poppers and celebrate like there is no tomorrow. The end of the X Factor is nigh! I shouldn't really moan, having followed it from underwhelming week to underwhelming week. My heart has not really been in it this year and I guess I'm only watching the old nonsense out of slavish duty.

Bored . . .
I won't miss Dead-Eyes Dermot, a man who lights up a room every time he leaves it. If ever anyone was going through the motions, it's Derm. Still, we should pause for a moment to remember his predecessor, the automaton known as Kate Thornton. Weep for her.

Hapless old Uncle Louis
I will also not be missing the panel of judges. Tulisa just about redemmed herself when she suddenly remembered that she wasn't actually a beer-swilling chav but a middle class girl who had a private education. Louis Walsh now appears to be played by some camp, elderly, confused uncle who shouts out at inopportune moments. Should he come back next year, then the producers will dump the over 25s category on him again. Watch him wail and moan under thity grand's worth of wig.

I will definitely not miss Kelly Rowland. She's a riotous joy of over-emphasing ridiculousness, every utterance some contrived 'east side' nonsense. "Go momma" is often followed by the same lines but bellowed at some ear-shattering level. She's a foghorn in a frock. Laugh as she sits there, dabbing at dry eyes, attempting to squeeze emotion from somewhere. Time for that momma to take a hike.

Let's feel sorry for Gary Barlow. He seems like a decent bloke but Mr Nasty he is not. I get the feeling that he won't be back in 2012. Barlow's career is pretty rock solid at the moment and he doesn't need to take part in an end-of-the-pier show.

As for the finalists? Well let's forget Amelia Lily. She's definitely a competent singer but bland in a Julie Andrews kind of way. If you heard her on the radio, you wouldn't hurl the set out of the window but you wouldn't batter down the doors of HMV for a copy of her CD.

Err . . . no idea
Little Misfits, or whatever they are, may just win. They have a decent singer (the blonde one - does she have a name?) but are saddled with the odd-looking one. You know, the one who sounds as though she is trying to force her lungs out of her nostrils. The other two could be anyone. It might as well be Yootha Joyce and Peggy Mount up there or a couple of wooden spoons. Not a clue who they are.

Which brings us on to the probable winner, Marcus Collins. When he's not channelling Bruno Mars, he's quite a decent singer. However, you just know that twelve months on, he'll be brandishing a top hat and a cane in cabaret somewhere. A West End career beckons and why not? The guy seems to have stage presence and a good voice. Let's wish him well.

Has Lys got the Swiss Factor?
Meanwhile over in Switzerland, musical hysteria of a different kind. Several thousand people will pack into an arena in Kreuzlingen tonight for that traditional festive event, a qualifying competition for next year's Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, the contest that will be held at the end of May. Not that I'm accusing them of overdoing it but six months of preparation for the 2011 contest resulted in a less than joyful 25th place for Anna Rossinelli. Or 'last' as it is often known. Tonight's show is the culmination of months of qualifying rounds which featured X Factor rejects Maria Lawson (who?), Same Difference plus international star Ultra Naté. None of them made the final. One person who did though is 87 year old Lys Assia. She has been to Eurovision before - in 1956. Back then she emerged as the winner and tonight, armed with a schmaltzy, calorie-laden pudding of a ballad, she is expected to win again. You can almost hear Kelly Rowland's cry of "Go momma"  . . .