Last Night's TV: These patriot games are beyond a joke

Spooks, BBC1; Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work, BBC1; Sex in the Noughties: Dear Deidre, Channel 4

"The director-general has agreed to the transmission... apparently keen to sex-up a tired format." No, not Monarchy: the Royal Family at Work, cunningly re-edited to show Her Majesty performing tae kwon do on Annie Leibowitz, but a special edition of Ask the Question, obligingly laid on so that the tireless agents of MI5 can (ho-hum, here we go again) save the world. Fresh from smuggling nuclear triggers into Tehran, the Iranian consul, who was having a very busy week, was to go on a live discussion programme with the British Foreign Secretary and some American bloke and announce a peace deal. The director-general got more than he bargained for in regard to sexing-up, though, because three armed Islamaphobes inveigled themselves into the audience and threatened to shoot hostages unless their awkward questions were answered on live television. Well, one knows how they feel. Faced with the practised evasions of the average Question Time panel, we've all fantasised about the use of force, though it doesn't work in this case, since Ros and Adam were on hand to thwart and forestall the nefarious.

I have to confess that my surveillance has not been all it should be just recently, but when did Spooks get so preposterous? I don't mean good-preposterous either, that we-know-that-you-know-we-know deal that several popular programmes strike with their audience. I mean insulting-preposterous, such an offhand lash-up of improbability and nonsense that you feel humiliated to watch it. When the team needed to fool a terrorist into thinking that the television programme was still being broadcast live, it took them about three minutes to set up a direct satellite feed into the house he'd scuttled off to. Either they really thought you wouldn't notice the absurdity, or they just don't care, neither of which are good for the amour-propre.

They're such rubbish spies as well, prone to the kind of probationer's mistakes that you learn to avoid just by reading Robert Ludlum novels. Ros let someone slip a bug into her handbag despite the fact that the two women were alone in a wind-swept plaza (what kind of weird body-space invasion did that involve?) and Adam placidly assumed that the bad guy had been incapacitated by a single shot, rather than taking out the standard double-tap insurance policy of an extra bullet to the head. Frankly, you wouldn't trust them to supervise inter-office mailing, let alone the serious cutting-edge stuff.

As for Monday's Monarchy: the Royal Family at Work, that came across as seriously sexed-down - proof of how the presence of Her Majesty can reduce the brains of even quite intelligent people to Windsor soup - but still an anticlimactic sequel to the hysterical melodrama that preceded it. They got the photo-shoot out of the way first of all, revealing, for anybody who was still anxious about the matter, that whichever way you run the footage, there's no question that the Queen was feeling a little brusque that day, a fact that rather got lost in all the wild accusations about "fakery". But what followed couldn't justify the length the BBC had given it. It was mildly diverting to watch President Bush wittering idiotically about Barney the White House dog, but rather too much of a good thing to then have a minor White House functionary expatiate about what fun it is to play golf with Barney. And the state visits were no more fun to watch than they must be to experience. I abdicated half-way through, and felt a grudging respect for the fact that the Queen didn't do the same 40 years ago.

Sex in the Noughties: Dear Deidre introduced us to the work of The Sun's agony aunt, a woman who has been giving sex advice to the paper's readers for more than 27 years. For which read "giving a bit of lunchtime titillation to truck drivers in the guise of relationship guidance". Deidre had notionally identified seven "shocking" new trends in sexual behaviour in the new century, each of which supplied the excuse for mildly lubricious confessions, including that of Angelica, who has casual sex with strangers, though it doesn't sound nearly casual enough to me. "I have a seven-minute rule," she explained. "Basically, if you can't make me come in seven minutes, then you're horrible."

Deidre blamed the internet and changed attitudes to female sexuality for a new, coarsely physical approach to sexual pleasure. It doesn't seem to have crossed her mind that she might be part of the problem. At one point, the image cut to a woman directing a photo-shoot. "Right, let's have a lesbian romp, in a position we haven't had before," she said. You assumed she was involved in home-made porn, but it turned out she was photographing Deidre's Casebook, the glamour- model photo-strip that fleshes out the column for Deidre's slower readers. No wonder there's been a boom in three-in-a-bed sex, dogging and swinging. People are reading Deidre and thinking "everybody else seems to be at it... perhaps we should have a dabble too".

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

Arts and Entertainment

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?