Dumb Watch: Toilet talk from Jerry Springer

ITV HAS made no secret of its ambition to establish Jerry Springer at the heart of British television schedules. It is running a British version of his trademark confessional talk shows, albeit with more verbal and fewer physical brawls than the US original.

The network is also helping Springer to realise his ambition of becoming a "more serious" broadcasting figure, by giving him his own brand of Michael Parkinson chat show. Last Sunday it ran a trial programme.

"It's great to be back in London," Springer began, explaining that he was born in the UK but "left when I found out that I couldn't be king ... I wonder what Prince Charles is going to do when he finds out." Next came a drum sound, only slightly less intrusive than Basil Brush's "boom boom".

"I read that a 12-year-old girl had a baby," he said. "And her mother is only 26. In the UK you call it a scandal. Back in the States we call it The Jerry Springer Show." Boom boom, accompanied by various yahoos and whistles from the audience.

He also interviewed the former EastEnders star and pop singer Martine McCutcheon, asking questions such as: "Name the teacher you fancied most"; "What football team do you support?"; "If you were in the toilet and there was no paper would you use socks or pants?"; and "Who would you rather snog: Geri Halliwell or Jerry Springer?"

After interviewing "Britain's number one male-chauvinist pig", Springer turned his attentions to Glenda Jackson MP, who was persuaded to sing a version of God Save the Queen with him, to a visual accompaniment of pearly kings and queens, soldiers in bearskins, and cheerleaders with pom-poms. "We are having a great time," said Springer.

And here's what two of our readers think:

Richard Herriott of Coventry is irritated by the "ghastly" links between items on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Sue McGregor is the queen of these: `Well, we'll have to see how it turns out', or `No doubt we will soon find out'. Brilliant, McGregor, just brilliant."

"How many times can you answer `Yes' to the following questions?" asks Ian Stuart of York. "Is the presenter female and Scottish, with a prim mouth and tortured vowels? Does she use any of these phrases: `up for it', `next up', `cool', `wow'? Do hairdressers and cuddly animals appear in the same programme? Does the camera-work make you feel seasick as you zoom up someone's nostrils? Is Johnny Vaughan involved in any way? Are you watching Channel 5? Is the programme structured round `10 questions that test your knowledge ... ?"

The more "yes" answers, warns Mr Stuart, the dumber the programme.

Write to: Dumb Watch, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL

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