GRANTED, it’s not quite a JFK moment.
There are those of us, though, who will always remember exactly what we were doing when we heard Gazza had got such a throb- on hugging Margaret Thatcher he had to “sort himself out” in the Downing Street toilets.
For we were the hardy fools watching Scared Of The Dark, a Channel 4 reality show that’s part of the network’s ongoing midlife crisis season and has been fairly accurately described as “Big Brother with the lights off”, although I prefer Big Brother with cataracts.
In practical terms, this meant eight celebrities had to spend 180 hours living together in complete darkness inside a converted aircraft hangar.
“A piece of p***”, according to the show’s potty-mouthed host Danny Dyer, but then he would say that, having survived ten years in the far bleaker surroundings of Albert Square.
Deeply troubled What purpose any of this served, beyond some empty mutterings about the energy crisis and conquering our fears, was never adequately explained.
I must confess, though, I thought Scared Of The Dark got off to an absolute flyer on Sunday night, when it was revealed the celebrities included boxer Chris Eubank, who arrived wearing a fur coat and smoking a cigar, and Gazza, who looked more like Davros under the unforgiving glare of the show’s infra-red cameras.
Having had to cope with the disappointment of discovering Nicola Adams wasn’t a member of Girls Aloud, the other contestants, who included Scarlett Moffatt, Donna Preston and Love Island’s Chloe Burrows, were pretty excited as well.
As quickly as the show burst to life, however, it was crushed by the mood swings and snobbery of Chris Eubank, who’s clearly deeply troubled by his own intellectual insecurities, so ponced around the chamber misquoting TE Lawrence and telling the others off for swearing, moaning or even daring to breathe the same air as this sporting and academic colossus.
With absolutely everyone, except Chris McCausland treading on eggshells, it was already a tough watch, but then, to try to fill the void, the production team got the celebs to take on Big Brother-style challenges in the dark.
At which point, the screaming began. It never really let up either, to the point you could sum up the entire series in four yelps.
“AAAAAARGH. F***. F*** off”, seven celebrities would yell, every night, whether they were trying to identify a rabbit, firing footballs at Scarlett Moffatt’s head or just accidentally punching Gazza in the goolies.
TV is an addictively evil thing, though, so once I’d watched one episode I knew I’d sit through the lot, just to see if something deeply significant actually happened. It didn’t, obviously.
From my increasingly desperate notes, though, I can tell you: On day one, Gazza dropped his Maggie bombshell.
On day three Chris McCausland farted and day four Chloe got her hair done and said: “It’s nice to have a bit of familia . . . familiarity . . . familiar-arity . . . familiar-arity?” Routine.
At various other points, I finally remembered where I’d seen Donna Preston before (The Mistress on Apocalypse Wow), Gazza was declared the winner and Chris Eubank left the show early in a right old huff.
It was far too late to rescue SOTD by that time, though, because it had already made the short journey from a show that was so-bad-it’s-good to a show that was just so plain bad it had neither the gumption nor the honesty to admit it wasn’t the dark that was eating away at Gazza and Eubank, it was boredom and loneliness.
They weren’t the only two pining for something, of course. Viewers couldn’t help but notice Channel 4 longs to bring back the glory days of Celebrity Big Brother.
It’s stuck, however, with disappointing copies like Rise And Fall, Tempting Fortune and Scared Of The Dark which, if it had a point at all, came in the form of Chris McCausland, who, as well as being funny, smart and thoughtful, is also blind and thrived on this level playing field, admitting: “Today is the first time I’ve ever showed someone else where the toilet was. And it was f***ing Chris Eubank.”
He deserves better.
- BY the way, if Chris Eubank really is the intellectual giant he imagines himself to be, why, for the duration of his stay in the pitch black Scared Of The Dark, was he wearing glasses?
A Vigg boost for BGT
SOMETHING quite unexpected happened about three-quarters of the way through the weekend’s under- whelming Britain’s Got Talent marathon.
The four judges were presented with a Norwegian comedian called Viggo Venn, wearing a bulky jacket and hi-vis vest, who began his act by dancing and capering around the stage to a burst of One More Time by Daft Punk.
He then stopped, removed the top layer to reveal another identical jacket and hi-vis vest and started dancing again.
Viggo kept repeating the trick as well. Dance, stop, strip, hi-vis vest, dance again.
On and on it went until everyone in the auditorium was either up and jiving along with him or rolling around on the floor laughing, except Simon Cowell, who wore a look of baffled astonishment throughout.
Finally, when the crowd could take no more, Viggo stopped, Alesha Dixon asked why he hadn’t told any jokes and in perfect English he explained it was down to the language barrier.
At which point, even Cowell cracked and was forced to put him through.
There’s no guarantee, of course, Viggo has a second act and he could die a horrible death at the live shows.
But just for three minutes, amid all the stunts and sob stories, Britain’s Got Talent was spontaneous, funny and glorious again.
NOTE: The column is taking a one-week break but will be back in plenty of time for the finale of BBC1’s brilliant drama series Blue Lights which, I’m very happy to report, is scheduled to go back into production in the autumn, with a second series due next year.
A VISION of hell was described on Celebrity Mastermind when Clive Myrie said to Kitty Scott-Claus: “Imagine me in high heels, nails painted, red bustier, hair up to the roof, ring on every finger. I’ve got sass. What’s my drag name?”
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
CELEBRITY Mastermind, Clive Myrie: “Which Conservative Prime Minister was granted the title Earl of Beaconsfield by Queen Victoria?”
Danni Menzies: “Tony Blair.”
Clive Myrie: “What’s the English name of the European capital city after which the dish wiener schnitzel is named?”
Danni Menzies: “Venus.”
Clive Myrie: “What word meaning rapid or prompt is also the name of a bird that closely resembles a swallow?”
Danni Menzies: “Crow.”
The Weakest Link, Romesh Ranganathan: “What word is both an organ of the body attached to the large intestine and a section of additional information at the end of a book?”
Stephen Bailey: “Liver.”
Random TV irritations
JUST Stop Oil’s latest toddler tantrum at the snooker, putting back the cause of environmentalism by another ten years.
Britain’s Got Talent losing its mind with the Rubik’s Cube fireball act. Bruno Tonioli proving every bit as annoying as he was on Strictly. And the ever-expanding ego and stomach of Nish Kumar, who’s now almost twice as unfunny as he used to be.
Great sporting insights
IAN WRIGHT: “Whether I believe it or not, the fact is I believe we can do it.”
Paul Merson: “We had the know-how but didn’t know how to make the difference.”
Alan McInally: “Burnley is a good feel story.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
INCIDENTALLY, Filth Corner was retired for ever on Tuesday, following Gregg Wallace’s update that “my batter is piped from the fermentation tanks to the crumpet plant”, on BBC2’s Inside The Factory.
THE return of Lee Mack on ITV’s The 1% Club, arguably telly’s best quiz show.
Australia’s gloriously un-PC Colin From Accounts putting our domestic sitcoms to shame, on BBC2.
Netflix masterpiece Beef.
And a Family Fortunes contestant called Joel providing the perfect answer to Gino D’Acampo’s challenge: “Name a British pop group with both male and female members.”
“The Spice Girls.”
PHYSICAL and legal threats from the dressing up box community are a fairly routine part of this job.
New territory was breached this week, though, when I received a legal ultimatum via ITV from The Hunt For Raoul Moat’s writer Kevin Sampson, threatening action if I so much as quoted him in any review.
Welcome or not, it demonstrates a mind-blowing level of self-importance given the writer’s off-screen words have no place in a review and the drama was hardly the biggest new show of the week.
For what it’s worth, though, I thought The Hunt For Raoul Moat was quite good, but failed to give real character and life to the victims and their families, who’d asked ITV not to make this series, at least in part because Kevin Sampson was too distracted and ultimately consumed by his self-defeating hatred of the press.
QUIZ show answer of the week, The Weakest Link, Romesh Ranganathan: “In exploration, in 1961 the first human to travel into space was Yuri who?”
Stephen Bailey: “Geller.”
AND on Tuesday, just to indulge one attention-seeker, Channel 4’s ludicrously woke Naked Attraction actually described women as “boob owners”, thereby demeaning not just half the planet, but also Colin Montgomerie as well.
Lookalike of the week
THIS week’s winner is Lee Mack, from the brilliant 1% Club, and Ford Pines from Gravity Falls.
Sent in by Fab Flo.