The final, dark, episode of Sherlock is the closest television has come to self-harm
It’s a “reality” series with “celebrities” and a nutritionist preaching the benefits of giving up sugar at a time of year when we all need a treat. More than enjoy it, I have put it into practice. It was a very long day.
The charm of the series was the honesty of those taking part. I even came around to Towie’s Gemma Collins whose former triumph was to desert ITV’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! because she was badly briefed that the series was two weeks in the Versace hotel eating three-course meals.
But here, at a picturesque smallholding with its own delightful trout stream, even she ’fessed up to her excesses in between attempting to consume whole a young farmer while cleaning a chicken coop with him.
Incredibly, she also claimed there was even more of her since the series started. “I’ve gained weight!” she boasted merrily. “I’ve gained muscle.” Yes, we’ve all put on a lot of “muscle” lately. Her knowledge of the lethal qualities of margarine spreads, a favourite of fellow participant Ann Widdecombe, was striking: “If a fly lands on it, it dies.”
But it was the celebrities who were falling like flies. In the first couple of days former Doctor Who Peter Davison crashed out in hospital, while a day or so later, This Morning presenter Alison Hammond toppled over in the hallway. The 2002 Big Brother housemate, whose mother is a type-2 diabetic, was attended by
a paramedic, also with notable heft. On diet and weight, he knew what he was talking about. But, as we know, the stresses on those involved in the medical profession are huge. Perhaps it’s meant to make patients feel better.
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Elsewhere lovable comedian Joe Pasquale, a former king of the jungle, was so hungry he “could eat his own arm”. Given that animal fats were mostly on the menu, go ahead, Joe. Short of that, he kissed a trout, before giving Peter Davison a peck on the cheek as he returned to the farm. These showbusiness types, eh.
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So how will they decide the winner? I suggest on the final morning a plate of Danish pastries is placed in the middle of a field, offered by that fearstruck young farmer. He fires a starting pistol and the first celebrity to reach him wins a sugar surge, enough to propel them into a moon orbit.
It will be unseemly. So well done, ITV, I’ve learnt something. It’s OK for me to eat as much meat, buffalo mozzarella and omelette as I like until I explode like Mr Creosote.
Have you recovered from Sherlock (BBC1, Sunday)? Millions haven’t. I know the episode was leaked to Moscow but we can’t even blame the Russians for tampering with the content. Does it deserve a fifth series?
Only if it returns to what it used to be. After watching the final, dark, episode – the closest television has come to self-harm – I rewatched the first two episodes of “new” Sherlock for therapy. They were funny, involving, dramatic and brilliantly performed. The only winner here is Netflix, where you can find the repeats. Enjoy.
For a full antidote, I recommend Death In Paradise (BBC1, Thursday), or “DIP”, as we call it in our house. This is the best “family” drama on television. It’s after the watershed but since the children know the victims are not actually dead we all crowd around the cathode ray tube and pick the killer.
See it as a shorter game of Cluedo, in which you’re likely to have more success. In last week’s episode we were being reunited with actors from elsewhere.
It featured Sally Bretton as DI Goodman’s girlfriend, who is also in the excellent new Not Going Out (BBC1, Friday), and Jason Hughes, who you will recall from Midsomer Murders as the last sidekick but one, and who returned to that show last week. Confused? Yes. Do we need to train more actors or are casting directors losing their imagination?
There are suddenly some good comedies on the television. Revolting (BBC2, Tuesday) is still hilarious while Not Going Out is better with its new, more comfortable, middle class-ish situation. So a new “sit”, but one thing remains: gag upon gag, as if fired from a Gatling gun. I once sat on an awards’ panel to choose a sitcom winner. One TV commissioning fool said there were “too many jokes” in Not Going Out. I wish I could report he fell face-first in the custard pie, but he might have enjoyed it too much.
My theory about jokes is that many comedy writers find them too difficult to write, so create “characters” instead. Lee Mack and his team clearly don’t find them difficult. The addition to the cast in the new series of Hugh Dennis is inspired, too. But my favourite is Lee’s father, Bobby Ball. On spotting the name tag on a waitress in the cafe, he said to her: “Barista… That’s a pretty name.”
Finally, an “interesting character” has arrived in The Halcyon (ITV, Monday). But don’t get too excited. It’s just one person, and everything else remains the same. In tomorrow’s episode, “interesting character” meets the Irish wolfhound. Calm yourself.