Grace Dent on TV: Celebrity Masterchef has been as unappetising as England in the World Cup

 

Avid TV watchers might have found themselves at rather a loss this week. The schedule has offered slim pickings. We should, it seems, all be lost in a powerful World Cup fug by now, drinking in Gary Lineker’s and Adrian Chiles’s pieces to camera like Moses relaying the Ten Commandments, all of us far too distracted to want quality TV.

“Chuck the non-footie whingers another series of Celebrity Masterchef”, someone seems to have said at the BBC. Surely these spoilsports must be appeased by Russell Brand making brandy snaps? Or Alison from Big Brother. Yes, the woman who broke the garden table 12 years ago. Yes, her. And Amanda Burton, who at one point was one of BBC1’s most respected actresses but is now, mystifyingly, wrapping cod in pancetta under the pedantic gaze of John Torode, a man who wears cowboy boots and pronounces “pasta” as “pusta”.

Sadly, I was too weak with jubilation after A Question of Sport: Super Saturday with guest star Louis Spence, series 13 of Mock the Week and Coast: Australia to fully commit to Celebrity Masterchef, but I do know that this week’s schedule has been as unappetising as the endless lukewarm gloop that is spooned into Greg Wallace’s inexplicably filmed gob. EastEnders – my safe space in times of woe – filled almost an entire week with a meandering hospital plot about Sharon Rickman’s spleen. Hipsters have reached E20 and are demanding cocktails in jamjars, cronuts and the right to Instagram Ian Beale’s chips. Sharon, ever the entrepreneur, has opened a hipster bar – The Albert – to cater for this skinny-jean-clad influx, but a fight with yobs left her hospitalised with a poorly stomach. I wish they would scan her head and work out which part of the brain told her that satin pyjamas were flattering for large breasts on wide-screen HDTV. Possibly it’s the same cells that are controlling her sexual infatuation with Phil Mitchell. In a further exciting plot-point, Danny Dyer’s character Mick is harbouring a dark secret – he cannot swim. Cue a visit to the local baths to “face his fear” and some quivering by the vending machine in his trunks. Seriously, it’s been all go.

After it became apparent that England would not be emerging as a plucky, underestimated victory squad who would unite the country in bonhomie, I buggered off to 4OD and watched Nashville series one. It’s essentially Game of Thrones in Stetsons. Who knew penning a few songs about your dead dog and how much you love “playin’ gee-tar all night long” could provoke such skulduggery? I also downloaded from Sky the first seven episodes of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, which is a rather unappreciated HBO gem currently simmering away on Sky Atlantic. Yes, a formulaic The Daily Show with Jon Stewart copy, but Oliver’s British eye for detail and fearsome comedy approach to the blackest or dryest current affairs stories make it a joy. Like the most perfect clever comedy – and I say this in the manner of a cool, down-with-the-kids geography teacher – if you’re not laughing, you’re learning. I’ve learned more here about Fifa, the General Motors recall and the name change of “The Washington Redskins” than anywhere else.

One place that no-one is learning anything presently is inside the Big Brother: Power Trip compound on Channel 5 where, for the past 25 days, the fresh intake have been fighting, forming poisonous alliances, then weeping alone in bathrooms. The goings-on of Toya, Christopher, Ash and the gang are arduous to watch. For years I’ve claimed that one of Big Brother’s problems was the incessant casting of non-intellectual and wilfully daft people who only wanted to fight. I was wrong. This summer’s cast features a real mix of erudite souls – specifically Matthew, Pauline, Chris and Kimberly – but the ambience by day is part Sao Paulo prison riot, part Lord of the Flies. Brains and Big Brother are a more volatile combination than ever.

Circus-master of the majority of woe is Helen Wood, a terrifying, beautiful, brassy, divide-and-conquer schoolyard bruiser who was, rather wickedly, handed a free pass straight to the final in the first few shows. Thus, one of the most antagonistic people in the house can never be removed and is fully aware of the fact. Helen was selected for Big Brother thanks to her tabloid tales of bedding Wayne Rooney. She is both ashamed of these and strangely willing to share them. She is the perfect housemate. We root for Helen’s success in leaving a stupid past mistake behind, knowing that some of her awful behaviour is a defence mechanism against the sniggers and whispers which follow her pretty face wherever it goes. Yet here she is decreeing house fatwas on the more rotund, non-pretty housemates, darkly influencing house dynamics, and putting herself at the mercy of TV bosses who, as I write, are plotting to put her former friend Jenny Thompson into the show to ignite ratings. Helen and Jenny were both – according to reports – “friends” of Wayne Rooney. Sensibly, Rooney’s entire family have left the country to support him in Brazil. If they have any sense, they won’t have left their Sky+ box recording Big Brother.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there