THE COUCH POTATO: Live-‘action’ project is just one long yawn
THE trailer was enough to hook me in, with this promise from Jake Humphrey: “We’re going live into the nation’s homes to see what you lot get up to at bedtime.”
Ooh. Close the curtains and dim the lights. This should be spicy.
Imagine my disappointment, then, that instead of under-the-duvet cavorting between consenting adults, Channel 4 was attempting to put the nation to sleep.
Only, unlike so many previous efforts, this time it was deliberate, not inadvertent.
We’re on the naughty step of Bedtime Live, a “bold experiment in how to get the kids to sleep”.
And the adults too, if episode one is anything to go by.
Never before has a TV show failed so spectacularly to reach its target audience – parents struggling to get their youngsters to the land of nod.
They’re currently struggling to get their youngsters to the land of nod, as it happens, from 8pm to 9pm on a school night, and missed the whole hour. Thereby leaving a potential audience of childless viewers with no reason to tune in and mums and dads of hassle-free children with no desire to watch screaming brats.
It’s hosted by child psychologist Tanya Byron, who vowed in 2007 never to make another “car-crash telly” parenting show, and expectant dad Jake Humphrey, a man with zero experience of nippers’ nighttime routines but who, in fairness to the lad, used to host CBBC game show Bamzooki.
So don’t accuse him of not being suitably qualified.
What you can accuse Humphrey of is fibbing through his teeth: “Welcome to a show like you have never seen before.”
You reckon, do you, Jake?
Because let me tell you, I’ve seen The House of Tiny Tearaways, with Tanya Byron, Little Angels, with Tanya Byron, Supernanny, Supernanny USA, Nanny 911, Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guide, Daddy Daycare and Bringing Up Baby.
None of Bedtime Live is new, least of all the three headset-wearing “sleep experts” – the name of one, Emma Janes, the producers managed to misspell – who are in the studio giving instructions to the desperate parents via an earpiece.
It’s Humphrey, though, who’s hopelessly out of place, suggesting rewarding kids with chocolate, to the obvious horror of Professor Byron, and feeling the need to point out the tots were unaware of the hidden cameras in their bedrooms, as if they’d have understood what they were for.
He turned into Dermot O’Leary every so often, announcing: “This is it, people. The battle of Britain’s bedtime begins right now!” and even lobbed a “Mumhas been on an incredible journey” for good measure.
A journey all the way from the bedroom to the bedroom door.
Most baffling of all, both hosts were at pains to stress, as if preempting complaints to Ofcom, that the families had been screened psychologically beforehand and an army of specialists was monitoring the children’s welfare at all times, with Byron insisting: “There will be no long-term harm to them.”
It’s putting a kid to bed, not making them walk on red-hot coals 50ft above a vat of sulphuric acid.
There’s five weeks of this and we’ve seen enough already.
But if you’re still having trouble getting your little one off to sleep, the solution is obvious.
Make them watch Bedtime Live.
They’ll be out like a light.
● The best episode yet of ITV’s Broadchurch.
● BBC3 zombie drama In The Flesh.
● France picking up the Six Nations wooden spoon. And okay, Wales winning, too.
● Corrie showing EastEnders a clean pair of heels in the ratings, along with a lesson in how to pull off a pub-inferno episode with wit and humour as well as drama.
● Daybreak going highbrow with its choice of studio expert to discuss the Cypriot banking crisis...
the dad from (Britain’s Got Talent double act) Stavros Flatley.
● BBC2’s It’s Kevin (Eldon’s) parody of Benedict Cumberbatch rattling off deductions as Sherlock Holmes, with the on-screen words: “Piffle... Twaddle... Drivel...Bilge...”
● And BBC3’s Lee Nelson being charged with a criminal offence after posing as a Manchester City player and sneaking onto Everton’s Goodison Park pitch before their Premier League match. First time I’ve ever laughed at Lee Nelson.
● C4 announcing the return of 10 O’Clock Live.
● Voice of the common man David Cameron using the word “chillaxing” on ITV’s fawning Our Queen documentary.
● Daybreak’s Leveson debate on Monday comprising anti-free-press campaigner Jacqui Hames and, in the interests of balance and fairness, anti-free-press campaigner Abi Titmuss.
● Simon Cowell’s Food Glorious Food labouring under the sorely mistaken belief that the one thing Great British Bake Off needed was useless, bitter contestants.
● The host of Paul Hollywood’s Bread opening with: “I want to show you that making bread is simple, really,” before proceeding to demonstrate how absolutely complicated it is, really.
● And This Morning’s Wednesday instalment including a discussion on Anthea Turner blaming herself for her husband’s alleged affair, two days after Loose Women did the same thing.
You can’t beat variety, ITV.