Category Archives: ‘QI’

This Week in TV – 31st August – 6th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with the return of a doc, a teacher and four tough judges. I’m sure you’ll have heard of them.

Saturday 31st August

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

There are three shows beginning on ITV tonight but the biggest of course has to be The X Factor!

As I’m sure you’ve read, it’s all change this year on X Factor: Tulisa’s out and, after six years, Sharon is back in – alongside Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh, for whom this is his final series. Plus, the audition rooms (last seen in 2008) are back, with the contestants having to impress the judges in an intimate setting before, if they’re deemed good enough, going to Wembley to perform in front of a crowd of 12,000. And, as well as the auditions stage being altered for this series, the way it’s being shown is changing. The ‘audition rooms’ will be shown on a Saturday night and then on Sunday we will see the successful auditionees from that stage perform again at Wembley Arena. It is at this point that we will find out if they have progressed to Boot Camp. So, we have double X Factor every weekend from now until Christmas! Great news for fans of the show, devastating for those who were enjoying a bit of Tipping Point of a Sunday evening.

In an attempt to boost ratings (episodes regularly dropped a million viewers last year, in comparison to the 2011 series), Simon’s back, too! He will be advising Gary, Louis, Nicole and Sharon at Boot Camp who to put through and will even be judging the Live Shows – via satellite link.

So get ready for three months of bitching and screeching – and that’s just from Louis. Hopefully the changes will go down well, ITV will renew X Factor‘s contract (which expires this year) and Cowell won’t have to rely on the Mothercare vouchers from Cheryl Cole to get Little Simon a big, posh buggy. We’ll have to wait and see whether that happens but one thing’s for sure: with Sharon back, it’s going to be one hell of a series!

Also today: Shane Richie and Claudia Winkleman are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:15pm); there’s a Pointless Celebrities chefs special (BBC1, 6:15pm); Davina McCall hosts new reality show Stepping Out (ITV, 6:30pm), in which celebrities and their real-life partners learn to dance; Tinchy Stryder and Alex Jones are on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); Keith Lemon steps into the shoes of David Frost and Loyd Grossman as he revives Through the Keyhole (or Through T’Keyhole) (ITV, 9:20pm); and Caroline Flack and her new co-presenter Matt Richardson have a new series of The Xtra Factor (ITV2, 9:20pm).

Sunday 1st September

The Story of the Jews

BBC2, 9:00pm'The Story of the Jews' - BBC2, 9:00pm

In this five-part documentary, beginning tonight, Simon Schama takes a trip through Jewish history, from the very beginning to the present day.

This episode – entitled ‘In the Beginning’ – goes back to the origins of Judaism, when the Hebrew Bible was created, telling the story of a tribe’s tumultuous relationship with their jealous God. This ‘God of Words’, and Jews’ loyalty to it, became the centre of the faith, and helped see its followers through centuries of adversity.

As the series progresses, Simon reveals how these events from three millennia ago helped shape the religion and greatly influence the lives of Jews today.

Also today: Teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (Channel 4, 2:30pm); Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Channel 4, 5:30pm); The Pursuit of Happyness (Channel 5, 5:55pm); one-off documentary Rebuilding the World Trade Centre (Channel 4, 7:40pm), which follows artist Marcus Robinson’s attempt to recapture the tragic structure; Vince Vaughan film The Dilemma (Channel 4, 9:00pm); A Touch of Cloth II concludes (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); and action film The Expendables is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Monday 2nd September

Doc Martin

ITV, 9:00pm

Yes, Martin Clunes is back once again as the no-nonsense, stubborn Doctor Ellingham for a sixth series of Doc Martin.

Of course in the last series Martin and Louisa were brought even closer together as they now had their son, James, to look after. Actually, they didn’t do such a grand job of that as James was in fact kidnapped in the final episode by Mrs Tishell, who has for a long time been madly in love with Martin. The drama of it all prompted the Doc to propose, and this series will see that wedding – but will it actually come to fruition? After all, Martin seldom welcomes the idea of commitment. Who can forget him and Louisa alone together when she visited the surgery, with him poised to say ‘I love you’ but bottling it at the last moment and instead declaring, ‘I’ll need to take a stool sample’. The most tactile of people he is not.

It should be an interesting series: if they get married, there will surely be ups and downs (with more of the latter, I imagine) and if they don’t I expect there will be quite a lot of fall-out from that. Anyway, it’s always nice to shut off from the outside world and immerse yourself in life in Portwenn and that’s something that I certainly can’t wait to do.

Fans of Doc Martin might also like to know that there are now novels to accompany the series. Not well publicised, Doc Martin: Practice Makes Perfect – about Martin’s arrival in Portwenn – has just been released, and is available in paperback from Amazon for just £3.50! A Christmas book – Mistletoe and Whine – will be released in November.

Also today, a lot of shows return: Rip Off Britain is back (BBC1, 9:15am); Phil and Holly return from their summer break for more This Morning (ITV, 10:30am); Plan It, Build It begins on BBC1 (11:45am); suffer Julia Bradbury’s new show no more as Bradley Walsh is back with brand-new The Chase (ITV, 5:00pm); Inisde Out returns (BBC1, 7:30pm); documentary series Swansea Market begins (BBC2, 7:30pm); Countrywise returns (ITV, 8:00pm); Jamie Oliver has some Money Saving Meals (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Gadget Man is back, this time with Richard Ayoade (Channel 4, 8:30pm); Robert Peston Goes Shopping begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); The Lost Hero of 9/11 (Channel 4, 9:00pm) tells the story of former US Marine, Jason Thomas; The Insider (which is not too dissimilar to Undercover Boss) begins (BBC3, 9:00pm); and film Miss Congeniality is on ITV2 at 9:00pm.

Tuesday 3rd September

Bad Education

BBC3, 10:00pm

Lock up your sons and daughters: Jack Whitehall is back as Alfie Wickers, the world’s most hopeless teacher, in the second series of sitcom Bad Education.

I did get a little bored with Bad Education last year – it just seemed to be full of stereotypes: the gay one, the slutty one, the chavvy one, the fat one, etc. It proved popular, though, and I’ll still be watching (there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night).

As we rejoin the Abbey Grove group, the school swimming gala is imminent and Alfie has decided to enter his class into the synchronised diving. Let’s just say that the students aren’t entirely happy with this – but the promise of a trip to a restaurant soon makes them enter into the spirit of things.

Of course, if you can’t wait until Tuesday to see Abbey Grove re-open its doors, you can always go to BBC iPlayer, where the first episode of the new series has already premiered.

Also today: Aussie Animal Island begins (ITV, 7:30pm); Ade Edmondson looks at how TV commercials have mirrored British life over the decades in Ade in Adland (ITV, 8:00pm); Trauma: Level One (ITV, 9:00pm) takes an inside look at the University Hospital Southampton’s specialist trauma unit; one-off documentary Siege in the Sahara (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and on BBC1 there’s The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese (10:35pm) – which is as bonkers as it seems.

Wednesday 4th September

Big Star’s Little Star

ITV, 8:00pm

Stephen Mulhern presents this new six-part entertainment series, which will see some of our best-loved stars left red-faced by their own children.

Each week, a host of famous faces will enter the studio with their kids, who will reveal embarrassing anecdotes and cringeworthy facts about their parents, which would have been best kept to themselves. The show begins with a series of Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the aim is for the celebrity and the child to give the same answer to a question, and then ends with the one remaining pair winning £5,000 for their chosen charity. However, they can then treble that money by correctly matching together pictures related to their lives.

Will Mellor, Jamelia and Duncan James are just three of the stars who will be taking part.

Also today: Romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Channel 4, 12:55pm); Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels Back on the Road begins (BBC2, 8:00pm); Harrow: A Very British School starts (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); drama Whitechapel (ITV) and makeover series Grand Designs (Channel 4) return at 9:00pm; another big name gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm & 11:00pm); and Boris Johnson is a guest on The Last Leg (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 5th September

Pat & Cabbage

ITV, 8:30pm

Barbara Flynn and Cherie Lunghi star as the eponymous best friends Pat and Cabbage in this brand-new sitcom.

The pair have recently become single, after Pat’s husband suddenly died and Cabbage divorced her partner, and they intend to exploit their new-found freedom by going on many adventures, doing what they like and not caring what people think. They are growing old disgracefully and proud to be, too!

Pat and Cabbage must deal with their home lives while also trying to maintain their own fun-filled private ones, but with their families dubious about how long the friends can continue with their shenanigans, there will be more than a few obstacles in their way as they pursue some amusement.

Also today: Waterloo Road begins another term (BBC1, 8:00pm); one-off documentary Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up (BBC2, 9:00pm); Tamsin Greig and Katherine Kelly star in brand new drama The Guilty (ITV, 9:00pm); Educating Yorkshire begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); J from 5ive wants answers as The Big Reunion: On Tour hits the road (ITV2, 9:00pm); crime film Public Enemies is on ITV4 (9:00pm); Bouncers (Channel 4, 10:00pm) shows the day-to-day work of doormen in Essex and the north-east; Alex  Jones, Nathan Sykes and Jason Derulo join the fun in Celebrity Juice (ITV2, 10:00pm); and George Clooney and Brad Pitt star in crime comedy Burn After Reading (ITV4, 11:45pm).

Friday 6th September


BBC2, 10:00pm

As QI returns for its eleventh series – this time focussing on the letter K – the first topic is ‘Knees and Knockers’. Ooh-er!

Joining the brainy Stephen and moronic (and greying) Alan in this opening episode is Jack Whitehall, David Mitchell and newcomer Sara Pascoe. Sara’s not the only first-timer we’ll see in this series, though – also popping their QI cherries will be: Victoria Wood, Richard Osman, Noel Fielding, Isy Suttie, Tim Minchin, Katherine Ryan, Josh Widdicombe, Graham Linehan, Janet Street-Porter, Trevor Noah and Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll, who will make an appearance in the Christmas special, ‘Kris Kringle’.

Who will receive the dreaded ‘wrong answer’ Klaxon? Who will be Stephen’s teacher’s pet? We’ll have to wait to find out…

Also today: Celebrity MasterChef: The Final (BBC1, 8:30pm) – who will impress with their three course meal?; Secrets of the Pickpockets is back for another one-off (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s yet another Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); David Walliams, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm), which also features a performance from the reformed original Sugababes line-up, now under the name of Mutya Keisha Siobhan; 2010 adaptation The Tempest premieres (BBC2, 11:05pm); and Paul Chowdhry: What’s Happening White People gets its first TV airing (Channel 4, 11:05pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: The Story of the Jews – Thanks to BBC, Oxford Film and Television and Tim Kirby, ©Oxford Film and Television; Bad Education – Thanks to BBC, Tiger Aspect and Scott Kershaw, ©Tiger Aspect; QI – Thanks to BBC, Talkback and Brian J Richie, ©Talkback (part of FremantleMediaUK).


TV Round-Up: 15 – 21st September 2012

Comedy World Cup – Episode 1.1

The premise for this show really is brilliant: a team of comedians – old and young – answer questions on the world of comedy. That’s everything from stand-up, to the sitcom, to the panel show to really get apparent comedy know-it-alls like myself and the panellists wracking our brains.

Fans of the genre will be all over it – as will David Tennant fans. The trouble is, though, that comedy fans may be left somewhat crestfallen as, considering it’s a show all about the subject, it’s not very funny.

I’m a huge fan of host David Tennant, as well as many of the participants this week: Shappi Khorsandi, Jo Brand, Dave Spikey, Jason Manford and Nicholas Parsons. Paul Chowdhry not so much. However, I don’t think they particularly excelled on Comedy World Cup which was a shame, especially when it came to Dave Spikey – someone who I believe to be one of the most underrated comics on the circuit, sadly living in former friend Peter Kay’s shadow. I actually went to see Dave live in March and found him to be just as good – if not better – than many comics I have seen, whether it be live or onscreen.

It was a watchable show, but not a stand-out one. I suppose some tricky questions blended with vintage – yet hit/miss – clips managed to see it through. Hopefully it won’t rely on this throughout the series, though.

Big Fat Quiz of the 80s

Call me sad, but one of the highlights of the festive season for me is watching the annual Big Fat Quiz of the Year. I always enjoy it! Sometimes I even watch the Big Fat Quizzes from as far back as 2005 and it still tickles me.

The key to the Big Fat Quizzes‘ success is a brilliant panel, usually involving Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand or Noel Fielding and other fantastic comedians. However, although entertaining, I have to say that I’ve seen better panels than the one produced on Big Fat Quiz of the 80s.

The contributors on this episode were comedians Jason Manford, Jonathan Ross, Adam Buxton (…) and Micky Flanagan, alongside actor Stephen Mangan (of Green Wing and Episodes fame) and Loose Woman, Carol Vorderman. I guess they were chosen specifically for their 80s status: Jonathan and Adam both fall into the ‘nerd’ category so are therefore probably fans of 80s retro, Micky was in his twenties in the decade, Carol started in her iconic Countdown role and Jason and Stephen were, I guess, either teenagers or young kids so have some sort of affinity with that time. Nevertheless, as I said, it wasn’t the strongest panel ever.

Fortunately Micky Flanagan didn’t disappoint. It’s refreshing to see a comedian who always laughs if he finds other comics’ jokes funny, unlike some comedians who suppress it, prioritising professional rivalry of simply being genuine. Plus, his Filofax gag was the highlight of the show! I couldn’t possible repeat it here, though…

Big Fat Quiz of the 80s was still funny but not as much as I would have thought. Maybe I had my expectations set too high, due to the standard of previous years’ episodes. Perhaps I just missed the presence of a Brand, Ayoade, Fielding or Walliams to provide absolutely absurd answers throughout.

Tomorrow there’s the 90s quiz and, I’m going to be honest, I’m not holding out much hope for it. If Jack Whitehall wasn’t there, I think I’d be dreading it. I may be pleasantly surprised, though. I hope so.

The Rob Brydon Show – Episode 3.6

What has been a fairly average – yet quite enjoyable – series of The Rob Brydon Show drew to a close this week.

Once again, the audience interaction was great as in this episode, Rob spoke to a man who was born in a toilet. Actually in a toilet. As if the story wasn’t brilliant enough in itself, the host added, “And your mother looked down and said, ‘It’s a wee boy!'” Inspired.

The first, and probably biggest, guest of tonight’s show was Ray Winstone who provided my favourite moment of the entire series when Rob attempted to get him to showcase his ‘softer side’ by getting him to read an excerpt from The Three Little Pigs.

Despite his instruction being to not act tough, nor intimidating, Ray still managed to incorporate this line to a crossed-legged, thumb-sucking Rob:

“Take care that that naughty, naughty, naughty, naughty wolf does not catch you…’cos ‘e’s a f*cker!”

I had to pause the show because I was laughing so much!

It’s a safe bet that The Rob Brydon Show will return for both a Christmas special later in the year and a fourth series next. That’s not a complaint by any means but the show isn’t very experimental, is it? It’s a very ‘safe’ comedy so could run and run without anyone questioning it or calling for changes. So, until the inevitable special, farewell, Rob!

Citizen Khan – Episode 1.4

Now that the whole furore about its alleged political incorrectness seems to have died down, Citizen Khan seems to be going quite unnoticed, just moving along at a consistent pace. Unfortunately, that consistency means that it’s still as unfunny as when it started.

In fact, I so often find myself spending the whole episode cringing on the cast and crew’s behalves. I don’t think it’s offensive or particularly stereotypical – it’s just predictable and of poor quality!

If it wasn’t for the fact that it may be challenging and altering perceptions of the Muslim and Pakistani communities, I doubt it would even have been commissioned!

Celebrity Juice – Episode 8.4

I don’t know about you, but I tend to find that when a new series of Juice starts, it seems that this run is going to be the best ever. Full of fresh ideas and jokes, it looks to be the funniest of them all.

However, a few weeks in, the novelty of having Keith and the gang back wanes a little and, while there are still moments of genuine hilarity, it just isn’t as good as it was a few episodes back. Well, that’s the way I’m starting to feel.

Don’t get me wrong: I still think it’s a brilliantly funny program and stands head-and-shoulders above its contemporaries, but the magic of the first couple of episodes isn’t quite there any more.

Nevertheless, I loved this episode. With chart-topper Example, Capital breakfast show’s Lisa Snowdon, comedian Chris Ramsey and Olympic hero Mo Farrah (or as Keith preferred to call him, MoFo!), while it wasn’t the funniest of the series, it was the most shocking!

The shock came from the Bonk Game – a spoof of the Bong Game, as played on the Capital breakfast show. Whereas in the original Bong Game, callers have to hold their nerve while sums of money gradually increase, and if they call for it to stop before the ‘Bong’ goes, they win that money, Keith’s Bonk Game was nothing like this. Instead, Lisa had to predict how far Keith would go with her on a first date. It started quite civilised, with “LOOKING INTO EACH OTHER’S EYES”, then “CUDDLE”, “PUT MY HAND ON YOUR KNEE”, then it got a bit more risqué with, “TOUCHING BOOB OVER SHIRT”…and then it descended into something else altogether! I stared at the TV open-mouthed and just felt so sorry for Fearne and Holly! Even given the nature of Celebrity Juice, the Bonk Game was shocking – hilarious, but shocking.

Then, there was the first round – LemonHead – in which Keith produced a magazine entitled Le Closerer. On seeing it, everyone leaped to the Duchess of Cambridge’s defence and turned into a pantomime audience, booing and hissing at the mock-up. However, their boos turned to cheers and their hissing to applause when Keith proudly placed the magazine in a shredder! Keith took it even further, though, when he emptied the shreds, spat on them (prompting those present to cheer even more), then picked a handful up and pretended to angrily wipe his backside on them – by which time any cheering had subsided and laughs prevailed.

I’ve already made my views known about the Kate scandal elsewhere, but I will say that to see Keith do this was unexpected. It would have been so easy for him to just mock the Duchess and ridicule her and the story as a whole. The fact that he didn’t is actually quite respectable and solidifies the outrage and disgust we as a nation feel towards the French magazine.

Trollied – Episode 2.5

Trollied – the jewel in Sky’s comedy crown – is fast becoming the highlight of my week and it’s down to two things: brilliant one-liners and Stephanie Beacham.

In fact, a lot of the one-liners I am so fond of do come from Stephanie Beacham’s character: Valco’s foul-mouthed manager, Lorraine. It’s simply inspired that every other word with her is “bastard” – and it’s not becoming tiresome! Every time she does unnecessarily drop it into a sentence, it’s still hilarious! She’s the best thing about Trollied – and that’s some achievement.

The big storyline this week was happy-go-lucky – and slightly dippy – shelf-stacker Leighton turning off all of the freezers in store in order to prevent global warming, thus flooding the frozen food section. This led to Lorraine – who has hated him for a while now anyway, ever since he sold copious bottles of cider to a group of schoolboy…who were dressed in school uniform (his defence was that he “was told they were thirty”) – ordering Julie to fire him immediately.

Valco is Leighton’s life! He was devastated to have been fired for just trying to do good for the environment, and I was devastated to see him go. I really hope he comes back – if he doesn’t, I’ll try to get him a job with me at Argos!

The subplot of Julie trying to emulate Lorraine – both in authority, speech and body language – is excellent, too. Julie and Lorraine are polar-opposites, like chalk and cheese or Alex Reid and Chantelle Houghton. And we all know how it turned out for the latter pair, don’t we? (While we’re on the subject: have you seen Alex’s grovelling video? Oh my God!) Lorraine is a tough, no-nonsense woman, whereas Julie is a soft, flighty girl – it’s just a treat to watch. And long may it continue to be!

Alan Carr: Chatty Man – Episode 9.2

Chatty Man seems to be going from strength-to-strength, appearing to achieve more of an intimate party feel every series. It really is a great ‘Friday night in’ show!

Alan’s monologue at the top of the show remains a favourite with me and this week he had me howling with laughter as he announced:

“An Italian magazine have [sic] printed the pictures of Kate and Wills sunbathing over twenty six pages. If you flick through them really quickly you can see Kate getting browner…and William getting balder!”

After his routine and the low-down on the guests still to come, the comedian welcomed his first guests: the cast of Channel 4 comedy-drama Fresh Meat, including Jack Whitehall (Bad Education) and Joe Thomas (The Inbetweeners).

Seriously, can someone tell me why Joe always has a face like a slapped arse? Even when he and his fellow Inbetweeners presented an award at the BAFTAs last year, he looked so miserable!

Despite Thomas’s grumpiness, though, I did enjoy the interview – particularly a palpably tipsy Jack Whitehall – and listening to the cast share their own university experiences (as Fresh Meat is set in a university) was great. The camaraderie between all of them (well, perhaps except one…) was lovely to see, as they gently mocked each other’s anecdotes.

I also loved seeing Doctor Who star Matt Smith on the show. He’s been on the Chatty Man sofa before and made a welcome reappearance. You could tell he and Alan get on really well, especially when the host shared the “Who’s ‘Matt Smith’?!” story! Someone has uploaded it to YouTube and, although it’s terrible quality, you can see it here – about forty five seconds in.

I was in hysterics when Alan enquired as to where the BBC get the money from to fund Doctor Who. What must go through his mind either when writing questions for Matt, or as an ad-lib during recording, to prompt him to say:

“I thought they were skint! Who’s the BBC been sucking off?”

This week’s was a really enjoyable Chatty Man – as is the norm. However, the singer Example did go down in my estimations: I thought he was unnecessarily rude and bossy towards Alan! He certainly didn’t set a good Example!*

Next week’s guests are Grand Designs‘ Kevin McCloud, The Voice UK‘s Jessie J, songstress Alicia Keys and boyband One Direction! No disrespect to him, but I don’t think anyone’s going to be turning up just to see Kevin McCloud…

*Couldn’t resist

QI – Episode 10.2

Now into its ‘J’ series, the focus of this week’s QI was ‘Jam, Jelly and Juice’.

The first question asked by quizmaster Stephen was, “What begins with ‘J’ and appears to be alive?” An array of answers followed, including:

  • “Me” (Jo Brand)
  • “James Blunt” (Liza Tarbuck)
  • “Jeremy Clarkson” (Sue Perkins)
  • “Jedward” (Sue Perkins)

Both of Sue’s answers received the dreaded klaxon, flashing lights, etc. The answer was strangely jelly, because brainwaves can actually be detected from it. Now that’s more than Quite Interesting!

Speaking of Quite Interesting, we discovered something new about Stephen Fry this week, when he sat in his host’s chair and announced without a hint of irony, “I like titties.” It was most unexpected, as I’m sure you can imagine! What a way to reveal it: on the telly!

Seriously, never have I watched an episode of QI in which there has been more innuendo. ‘Jam, Jelly and Juice’ was absolutely packed with it, much to host Stephen’s apparent disapproval. He got quite stiff about it…

The show ended with – just like last week – a disappointing absence of General Ignorance: one of my highlights of previous series. I don’t know whether it’s because of running time but it was cruelly cut, and wasn’t even present in last week’s QI XL!

General Ignorance’s vanishing act wasn’t the biggest shock this week, though, as Alan Davies somehow managed to summon up a victory with an amazing +11 points! He might not be popular with Liverpool FC fans, but he is with those at QI!


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