“The First Lady of Friday night” was how last night’s continuity announcer chose to introduce Charlotte Church, the Welsh diva with the voice of an angel and a mouth like a sewer. This seemed somewhat premature, given that the jury was still out and no one - not even reviewers - had seen more than a brief trailer of the debacle that was to come.
Of course, giving La Church her own television chat show was always going to be something of a risk - she is famous for being a loose cannon, after all - but giving her the 10 o’clock slot on Friday night, watched by people too sensible, too old or too knackered to go out for the evening, seemed positively foolish.
Still, for TV executives and Heat-seeking celebrity junkies, Church is a dream come true, loudly mouthing off against her fellow celebrities - one imagines Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Tweedy aren’t at the top of the guest list - and proclaiming her love of smoking and drinking. Despite the endless column inches archly contemplating her explosive temper, her bank balance, her social life, her boyfriends and her clothes size, her popularity has continued to grow, the general consensus apparently being that, despite existing in a vapid bubble of publicity, she’s probably a decent, down-to-earth girl. Hence the prime-time slot.
In the event, it’s probably safe to assume that Parky won't be losing any sleep. It’s possible that BBC commissioners might even re-think their harsh treatment of Davina McCall after her ratings-killing but generally adequate chat show. The problem was less with Church herself than the format. Coming at us like a cross between So Graham Norton, the Catherine Tate Show and Candid Camera, the show hop-scotched between sketches, film clips, sight gags, sofa chat and lame games designed to big up the Welsh and make celebrities look stupid.
Then there were the guests - Denise Van Outen, Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack and Michael McIntyre (me neither). Not exactly A-list, though that didn’t stop Church from assigning them specific duties, quite possibly because she’d lost the will to do the job herself.
While McIntyre - a comic, as it turned out - was required to leaf through paparazzi photos of David Beckham, Jack Nicholson and Gerard Depardieu with his tackle out and offer his own supposedly hilarious commentary, Denise Van Outen was asked to identify pictures of celebrities as children. “I enjoyed that”, she mumbled through a glazed smile at the end. But this was nothing next to the indignity suffered by poor Eric MacCormack, forced to star with Church in Hywl and Grwys, a painfully unfunny Welsh version of Will & Grace set in a mining village.
Elsewhere, Charlotte could be found swearing a lot, dishing the dirt on Britney Spears and sending up Heather Mills in yet another toe-curling sketch (that guest list is looking thinner by the second).
The point to all this was presumably to show what a fun, party-loving, devil-may-care lass our Charlotte is. The reality, however, was to watch a talented singer’s career being demolished in 50 short minutes. No wonder she didn’t wave us goodbye.