Grace Dent on TV: Through the Keyhole, ITV

The perma-tanned prankster and his painfully unfunny peep show should be shown the door

There have been many perky contenders for 2013's most awful television programme. Namely, That Puppet Game Show, Mr Selfridge, the madcap-lads-on-tour wheeze of Rory McGrath and Will Mellor in Rory And Will – Champions of the World, or simply that 10-second clip during The Man with 10-Stone Testicles where our big-balled hero, Wesley, hoisted his enormous testicle sac around a cramped apartment on a stained towel. All awful. Well done, everyone.

These shows, however, seem harmlessly affable in the light of ITV's re-imagining of the classic game show Through the Keyhole, fronted by Keith Lemon, and currently being foisted upon primetime Saturday evening by TV commissioners who wanted something a bit like ITV2's Celebrity Juice for primetime. Celebrity Juice was what happened when ITV2 wanted a “broader” version of BBC2's Shooting Stars, which was a clever take on a game show, fronted by Keith Lemon, who isn't a clever take on anything.

At one point, 13 arduous years ago when Lemon first appeared, I remember there being a vague nod in the act towards Lemon being a capricious yet failing local Northern businessman (which didn't make a lot of sense either) but that heady reference has been smoothed out for ITV audiences. Now Lemon is just a bloke with a fake-tanned face who shouts about dog excrement or Holly Willoughby's knickers or knockers.

He is the sort of character Bob Mortimer might have created, slinging on a wig and ad libbing for three minutes in Bang, Bang It's Reeves and Mortimer in 1999, and then promptly forgotten about. Lemon, played by Leigh Francis, who is perfectly capable of being very, very funny, is what would have happened if Steve Coogan had played Tony Ferrino for ever, for big wodges of money, regardless of its one, solitary comedic note.

I watched last Saturday's episode of Through the Keyhole – featuring the supposed homes of Kerry Katona and Louis Walsh – with a quasi-tender admiration for the brass balls of those who propelled it on to our screens. We Shall Not Forget. Because an hour is a long time to watch Keith Lemon banter with Dave Berry about Kerry Katona's soft furnishings. Especially as she buys them from Dwell and likes those naff wooden signs that say “PEACE” or “LOVE”. But then an hour is a long time to watch Keith Lemon do anything because he is character comedy for the under-sevens (although Mr Tumble from Something Special on CBeebies has more depth) and the sort of human beings who soil themselves giggling at Warwick Davis falling out of a Range Rover.

Last Saturday's outing featured celebrity “guesser” Cilla Black (who really is better than this and needs an emergency meeting with her agent) pondering over the bare shell of a home that apparently belonged to Louis Walsh, which we knew was his because the fridge was bare aside from potatoes. He's Irish; they love potatoes.

Walsh's house – a completely different one – has been shown on ITV primetime during the X Factor's “judges' houses” round almost every year since 2004, but don't bother yourself with details, just hang back and enjoy the banter. When Walsh was revealed, Lemon leapt from his host's chair and for four long minutes pretended to audition for The X Factor by singing Jermaine Stewart's “We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off”, while Cilla, Dave and the audience laughed up spleen parts. At least with ITV's pleasingly bleak hit Take Me Out, one gets the feeling that someone sat down with its host, Paddy McGuinness, and wrote some bloody material.

Since last Saturday's show, I've been thinking about life experiences I'd rather endure again over watching another episode of Through the Keyhole. My list included: sitting on a suitcase for four hours on Christmas Eve beside an overflowing Virgin train toilet; retrieving rat entrails from behind the sofa; having a sick pet put to sleep on a wet Tuesday morning and walking home exhausted with an empty cat basket in one hand and a bottle of mini-mart merlot in the other; losing a contact lens round the back of my eyeball which I could feel scraping against my brain; scallop poisoning; the time I was head-butted by a drunk in a bar; and realising that Celebrity Big Brother was about to be won by a child from Geordie Shore famous only for urinating and defecating in her own bed while drunk.

Other things more pleasurable than Through the Keyhole: the inescapable torture of a retinal migraine; the dark annoyance of lovingly making a sandwich and realising on first bite that the bread has green mould speckles; being woken by the police at 7am and asked if you know your car has been keyed; that time I found a clump of what looked like pubic hair in a Cornish pasty.

In fact, and I say this with some amazement at this statement's largesse, I would rather agree to interact with Naomi Campbell on a daily basis for 30 days than watch one more episode. Through the Keyhole, you have broken me, not merely as a TV critic but, at some level, as a member of Planet Earth. ITV, mazel tov.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick