SINCE it aired, on Monday night, I’ve seen many a TV pundit utter the words: “Worst television show ever made.”
It’s an over-used and often flippant phrase whose effect, like antibiotics, weakens the more times it’s bandied about.
And for my money, it is only valid if the commentator proclaiming it has watched the current incumbent for that title – which isn’t, as has been suggested, Keith Chegwin’s Naked Jungle or the mad ravings that was Noel’s HQ, on Sky1, although these are podium contenders.
No, the worst television show ever made, up to November 2012, was ITV1’s All-Star Impressions Show, beamed into the nation’s living rooms through a haze of nearempty Courvoisier bottles, on Boxing Day, three years ago.
So let me assure you that, taking this nadir into consideration, together with the memory of Stephen Mulhern on a seesaw with Paul Daniels which to this day goes unexplained, the first and most certainly last live episode of The Only Way Is Essex on ITV2 has now assumed that mantle.
It’s the TV programme that, by comparison, makes chemical weapons seem a good idea and was, we were told, all in aid of Breast Cancer Care, thereby making history as the first televised charity fundraiser to provide viewers with no means whatsoever of donating money.
Up until 10pm on December 3, TOWIE was an inoffensive, neatly edited structured-reality show, the small-screen equivalent of a glossy gossip magazine that you could pick up with ease and put down even more easily.
With the format replicated by so many others, it had become almost a lampoon.
And the one thing you cannot do with a lampoon is lampoon it, which is what the oh-so-clever producers attempted here.
To say it was a shambolic, complete mess would do a disservice to shambolic, complete messes.
It is truly hard to know where to begin, but I can safely say that the opening scene, backstage at a charity cabaret show, where James ‘Arg’ Argent was running around in his underpants looking for his trousers, was the cultural high point of the night.
The on-stage acts included Kirk Norcross, the man who finished ninth in Celebrity Big Brother IX, howling Dean Martin’s Ain’t That A Kick In The Head (yes, it really is, Kirk, and a knee in the groin, if I’m honest) like a cow at the slaughterhouse, five twerps bouncing around with their backs to the audience to a One Direction song, and Arg’s tribute to Singin’ in the Rain which washed away the memories of Gene Kelly and Morecambe and Wise.
And those were the best bits. In between were set-up conversations behind the scenes which were cut short mid-sentence’ the statuesque characters looking off-camera for their cues, like the last scene of a Naked Gun episode’ floor managers audibly telling them what to talk about; Joey Essex nonsensically jabbering on for an excruciating five minutes at the end, where he was supposed to either propose to or ditch his girlfriend and forgot to do either, and; shots of Pat Sharp in the audience, along with a Colin Farrell lookalike, but nobody knew why.
If Victoria Wood had made an Acorn Antiques sketch like TOWIE Live, viewers wouldn’t have believed it bore any resemblance to the real world.
There is, though, one happy camper as a result. Scott Maslen is no longer “the one who fluffed his lines” on EastEnders’ live episode.
Everyone involved fluffed this one.
As TomPearce said just before his One Direction dance number: “This is a nightmare. This was a terrible idea.”
Too late, I’m afraid, Tom. Way too late.
● Peter Mullan’s convincing gangland- boss-with-dementia in C4’s otherwise disappointing The Fear.
● The classic Celebrity Juice with Ant and Dec repeat on an otherwise forgettable Keith Lemon Night on ITV2.
● Louis Walsh turning up at The X Factor rehearsals in a onesie to become “the fifth member of boyband Union J”, when in truth he looked more like the fifth member of the Teletubbies.
● The leg-crossing moment on Channel 4’s The Real Man’s Road Trip: Sean (Lock) and Jon (Richardson) Go West where a Louisiana rancher castrated a bull, being followed by Marks and Spencer’s advert for “crispy crouton- covered king prawn balls”
(these aren’t just any castrated bulls, these are M&S castrated bulls).
● China’s Three Tenors, at the Royal Variety Performance, chirruping their way through an Oriental folk song with the translated words on screen: “I cannot marry a good wife in my lifetime. Other wives are good at embroidering. But my wife has a pair of big feet. More than 33cm. Yi Ya Ya Hu Hey...” All together now...
● Every news programme wheeling out anyone who’s ever suffered from morning sickness for the Kate Middleton pregnancy story.
● Everyone, from Rod Stewart to Michael Buble to Katherine Jenkins, wishing us merry Christmas and happy new year, more than three pigging weeks before December 25.
● Loose Woman Carol Vorderman lying: “We’re all looking forward to The X Factor final.”
● E4 bothering to air the soulless, already-axed Inbetweeners USA.
● C4’s The Fear going down the EastEnders route as the end credits rolled with the continuity man announcing: “If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this programme...”
... then you probably can’t distinguish fact from fiction?
● ITV2’s Lemon La Vida Loca: Merry Keithmas. Oh grow up.