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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape