TELEVISION gave up on its viewers, and the creative process, this week.
You possibly sensed it coming after Apocalypse Wow, The Void and over 50 unforgiving episodes of Love Island. But, when the moment arrived, it was as brutal and specific as a Channel 4 continuity announcer suddenly telling us: “Changing Rooms is back.”
It is as well, landing with a thud, in Swansea, on Wednesday night, after a 17- year hiatus.
Why it’s returned, I cannot tell you right now. Nor, I suspect, can anyone at Channel 4, without showing their age or using the dreaded word: “Iconic.”
Eight years the original ran, on BBC1, and in all that time only two noteworthy things ever happened on Changing Rooms: Someone was unhappy with their makeover and someone else had their teapots smashed. An incident that was endlessly referenced in the new version, where all the changes were suitably cosmetic, including the arrival of new sponsors Dulux, who made it feel more like a paint-drying exercise than ever.
Personnel-wise, Handy Andy, Carol Smillie and Linda Barker have all been vanished and in their place we’ve got head of carpentry Tibby Singh and a pair of designers called Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe, who make Alan Carr look like Conor McGregor and turned up to the first episode wearing pyjamas.
There’s also a new host, Anna Richardson, who’s already worked with a load of tools at Naked Attraction, so she didn’t have too many mental somersaults to perform when she asked questions like: “Who knew hairy ginger cushions were a thing?”
There are a few muttering DIY extras as well, of course, like Steph, the gay decorator, and Mike, the Rastafarian painter, who was either deeply uncomfortable with the idea of being given a drag name by Anna, “Yolanda Hobster”, or was just holding out for “Highly So Lassie”.
The one Changing Rooms constant, however, is alleged “titan of interiors”, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. A joke I’ve never quite got, frankly. I do understand, though, that Laurence’s greatest career triumph is selling himself to the nation as a style guru while dressing like a man who got lost on his way to a spaghetti western.
Nothing here has changed, obviously, and there are those who’d suggest Laurence knows less about interior design than the dumb punters whose houses he’s transforming.
But I disagree. The Mask Of Zorro clobber is definitely a diversionary tactic but it’s done because LLB’s the only person who understands there is a gaping void at the heart of Changing Rooms that might as well be filled with his flights of fancy and ego.
Be grateful for this small mercy. Without LLB’s “Juan Sheet” routine, Changing Rooms could be done and dusted in a minute, with 30 seconds for the credits and an advert break.
Well, on Wednesday night we got a bog-standard episode of the show. He turned Claire’s lounge into Danny La Rue’s kill room, while Russell and Jordan created “death camp chic”, with a rack of human hair, in Lisa’s bedroom.
Both seemed weirdly thrilled with the results. Viewers, though, were probably wondering why C4 had gone to the bother of bringing it back, especially when there’s not exactly a shortage of DIY shows and Changing Rooms’ terrible legacy of faux drama, OTT show-offs and big reveals is still very much with us.
Sometimes, however, the answer is just as simple and damning as a network running out of ideas.
Until further notice, then, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will be telling us: “The scheme is all about peacock at one end, flamingo at the other. And do you know why I’ve got a pink end?”
I’ve got a fair idea, yes.
It's not to Brie, Priya
IF a week’s a long time in politics it’s an ice age on Love Island where, as recently as last Thursday, Priya was exclaiming: “If I was locked in a room with Brett the conversation would never run dry.”
By Sunday night’s episode, however?
It had run so dry they were lucky their awkward silences didn’t set off forest fires all over Majorca. The passion- killer here being Brett’s overwhelming dullness and, believe it or not, his favourite cheese.
“’Cos, I’m pretty sure he said something, like, brie,” explained an exasperated Priya. “But I want to be, like, you know, I’ll try all different kinds of cheeses, the smellier the better.” Although she’d probably turn her nose up at a Stinking Bishop.
The glorious incompatibility of their relationship, however, definitely helped take the edge off the ongoing row surrounding teeny-tiny Jake, who’s been accused of faking his love for Liberty in order to win more screen time.
As did a three-course dinner the boys cooked for the girls, on Sunday evening, which kicked off with Millie asking: “Is that an aphrodisiac?”
“No,” replied an entirely serious Liam, “it’s asparagus.” No sooner had viewers digested one idiocy then an already nervous and confused Jake had to untangle another from Liberty, as she tried to get her tongue round the hors d’oeuvre.
“I do like at-dwarves, eight dwerfs.”
“What’s that then?”
It’s the Snow White sequel. And you’ve got “Dopey” written all over you.
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
TIPPING POINT, Ben Shephard: “Former US President John F Kennedy was often referred to by what three-letter abbreviation?”
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Which German Royal House took over the British throne in 1714?”
Bradley Walsh: “What day of the week rhymes exactly with Monday?”
Feeling proud of yourself?
NO word on how proud Harry Judd was to win ITV’s Cooking With The Stars, but fellow finalist AJ Odudu was “so proud of myself” and the other runner-up Denise van Outen said she was “very proud of myself”. Host Emma Willis was also “proud of Denise,” who said “I’m proud of my scallops”, but what she really wanted to do was “make Francesco proud”.
“And how proud are you?” asked co-presenter Tom Allen. “I’m very proud,” replied Denise’s mentor.
So how exactly do you think I felt, after watching everyone burst with pride for an hour?
Correct. Ashamed of myself.
TELEVISION became significantly less funny, on Wednesday, when we learned of the death of 8 Out Of 10 Cats comedian Sean Lock, at the horrifically early age of 58.
Blessed with natural talent, timing and a strong work ethic, Sean was one of those increasingly rare stand-ups who didn’t look like an imposter on stage or panel shows.
The self-deprecation also hid a razor-sharp brain that meant his material was never strait-jacketed by his personal politics and you could rarely, if ever, second guess where the punchlines were coming from.
Viewers will miss Sean Lock’s brilliant, biting, dead-pan wit horribly. Television will miss it more than it probably knows.
THIS Morning, steak sandwich item, Ruth Langsford: “Wagu beef? Is that the one where a cow gets massaged?”
No, you’re thinking of Olivia Meets Her Match, on ITV2.
Great sporting insights
Paul Di Resta: “One thing’s for sure, I’m still not sure about that move.”
Paul Merson: “It was an eye-of-the-ball needle through pass.”
Michael Dawson: “I think the top four will be the top four.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
Great TV lies and delusions of the week.
Celebrity MasterChef, Gregg Wallace: “Duncan (James), you’re a man of many talents.”
Live At The Apollo, Ellie Taylor: “You’re going to absolutely love this guy. It’s the sensational Tez Ilyas.”
This Morning, Ruth Langsford: “Are you having a hungry day today?”
Eamonn: “No.” Nurse. Take his pulse.
SOLID entertainment was offered by BBC1’s Ghosts, C4’s Secret Life Of The Zoo, Celebrity MasterChef’s Bez and Clarkson on Millionaire.
But nothing came close to the drama, sexual tension and excitement offered by Mark Allen versus his ex Reanne Evans, snooker’s answer to the Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway chess scene from The Thomas Crown Affair.
An ITV4 battle to the death that our incredibly woke TV industry was surely going to turn into a one-off 120-minute drama, right up until he won.
Lookalike of the week
THIS week’s winner is roly-poly Simon Le Bon and Jo Brand. Sent in by Paul Burkett, Millwall.
Picture research: AMY READING
INCIDENTALLY, can anyone explain why the Apocalypse Wow extras were chanting “Who are ya? Who are ya?” before the latest celebrity contestant Kemah Bob took off her hood?
But not after?
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