Rachel Riley spells out the word 'slutz' on Countdown - is this the work of mischievous producers?

If letters are selected at random, what are the chances of them spelling out something inappropriate for the afternoon slot? Quite high, if Countdown’s past form is anything to go by...

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The Independent Culture

It’s happened again. On Monday’s episode of Countdown, Rachel Riley was placing consonants and vowels on the board, when she inadvertently spelled out the word ‘slutz’.If letters are selected at random, what are the chances of them spelling out something inappropriate for the afternoon slot? Quite high, if Countdown’s past form is anything to go by. Other words which have appeared on the letters board over the years include ‘itchy semi’, ‘arse’ and ‘erection’, and when in 2001, ‘fart’ turned up, a clearly pleased Richard Whiteley said “We've waited 19 years for this one.”

Sometimes it’s the contestants who put point-scoring before politeness and offer words such as “w**kers” up to Dictionary Corner (that one was cut before broadcast), but often good manners win out. It’s hard to believe the obvious six-pointer in the letter chain U, D, F, C, K and E, could be missed by both contestants, but it was in one coy episode.

Is this all the work of mischievous producers? Perhaps, but you don’t need to be a Countdown conspiracist to admit that the omnipresent risk of a rude adds something to our enjoyment of pre-watershed television. How else to explain This Morning’s recent segment on S&M and the ever-more explicit innuendos on The Great British Bake Off?

Do we need Dad-o-vision?

This week the international youth brand VICE launched Broadly, a new, internet-based channel “celebrating the diverse range of topics and issues that matter most to women today”. It joins several, more traditional female-skewed channels, including ITVBe, TLC, and Sky Living, services which now notably outnumber the services specifically targeted at men.

Television didn’t used to be this way. But then Men & Motors ceased broadcasting in 2010; Dave, which was originally launched as the televisual equivallent of a Yorkie bar, become instead a platform for comedy and even Spike, which proudly skews male in the US, is more gender neutral in its recently launched UK incarnation.

Some might argue that since most television is made for and by men, there’s no need for a dedicated dad-o-vision, yet there are still plenty of programmes which specifically target this viewer niche, so why not bring them together in one place?

Surely no stereotypical dad-man could resist the allure of More 4’s new series Salvage SOS, for instance, in which two men in trucker caps and comfortable jeans rescue vintage wood from buildings due for demolition. On Dad TV, such a show would claim a primetime spot, sandwiched between Men Behaving Badly re-runs and Amazing Spaces: Shed of the Year. It’s a brave new world of gender equality and men, too, deserve the opportunity to be patronised by marketing demographics.


DJs get in the mix

As TV’s Mr Nasty, Simon Cowell doesn’t usually emerge on the right side of an argument, but we can’t help taking his side in his latest row.

Cowell plans an X Factor-style reality show called Ultimate DJ, in which amateur record spinners will compete for a headline spot at a major electronic music festival and a record contract with Sony Music, but several big name DJs have voiced their disapproval. Sigma described the show as a ”terrible idea“ that ”should be scrapped”, while Fatboy Slim has boasted about giving Cowell short shrift: “He kind of started approaching us, and we were like, 'F**k off. No - that's a terrible idea!'“

They’re right, of course. Ultimate DJ will undoubtedly misunderstand clubbing culture, insult a beloved musical genre and make some people who take themselves very seriously look very silly — but what of it? What makes DJs think their profession is too noble for the reality TV treatment, when doctors, police officers and teachers have all had to undergo the same?


Casanova/Sneaky Pete, Amazon Instant Video

For those who enjoy playing ‘ruthless TV exec’ make-believe, there’s fun to be had on Amazon Instant Video, where Prime customers can rate two pilots awaiting a full series commissions. There’s the Bryan Cranston co-created crime drama Sneaky Pete about a con artist played by Giovanni Ribisi and Casanova, a period piece starring Diego Luna as the 18th century playboy.


Great British Bake Off, BBC iPlayer

How did we ever get through the bleak British summer without Bake Off to look forward to? Now on its sixth series, the cooking competition is firmly established as a telly institution. This years batch of contestants includes a a prison governor from Wales, a 19-year-old with an Aga and a trainee anaesthetist who injects his cakes with syrup to keep them moist.


A Very British Brothel, All4

With decriminalisation back on the agenda, this documentary about a mother-daughter run Sheffield brother is particularly timely. At City Sauna in Sheffield, neither the punters nor the prostitutes see anything to be ashamed of, which is not to say it isn’t sometimes a mucky business. Especially when a food fetishist is let loose in the jacuzzi with a tub of coleslaw.


Broadly, broadly.vice.com

Global youth media brand VICE have just launched a new feminist internet TV channel, headed up by former Jezebel staffer Tracie Egan Morrissey. An interview with Rose McGowan on sexism in Hollywood and a documentary on the abortion pill are already up and accessible, but for an overview of what the feminist future holds, check out the six-minute introduction video.