TV preview: Michael McIntyre's Big Show (BBC1, Saturday 8pm)

Plus: What Britain Earns with Mary Portas (Channel 4, Tuesday 9pm)

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The Independent Online

Atavism is not a word to be used lightly, if at all, being a bit of heavy word to describe a heavy sort of thing. It is, though, entirely unavoidable in the context of the new series of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, which embarks upon a six-week run this evening.

I say “new”, but it stretches six decades deep into the past for its inspirations. If you really want to escape the dreadful reality of a post-Brexit, post-Corbyn, post-Trump world, then, aside from those now-illegal legal highs, Michael McIntyre’s Big Show is certainly the best way to blot out all the unpleasantness of 2016. Noel Edmonds. Esther Rantzen. Cilla Black. Bruce Forsyth. These are the ghosts of Old England’s telly dreamings that McIntyre summons up to energise his pranks and antics. For McIntyre’s show is a Frankenstein’s monster comprised of moribund bits of That’s Life, Cilla’s Surprise  Surprise!, Noel’s House Party, Bruce Forsyth's Big Night, Jeremy Beadle, The Generation Game and Sunday Night at the London Palladium. God help us.

As I say, it’s all great if you like your light entertainment dated and unoriginal, but truly gruesome if you don’t really want to watch members of the public being mercilessly patronised for the billionth time or desperate celebs looking for a bit of career-boosting publicity by being “good sports” in some contrived stunt, also for the bilionth time. It is at moments such as this that some of us actually yearn for the social media revolution to smash the compacent assumptions of the BBC. Elie Goulding, School of Rock and Olly Murs, plus the public, are there to add/relieve the McIntyre misery.   

Mary Portas lifts the lid on the nation’s salaries (Channel 4)

As retail consultant Mary Portas notes in her Tuesday night incursion into economics, What Britain Earns with Mary Portas, British people are seven times more likely to tell someone they are having an affair than reveal what they earn. I always took this to be a sensible policy (the reticence about my wages, I mean) and one I have always followed punctilliously. If you happen to tell someone who earns less than you what you’re on, you risk provoking feelings of anger and resentment towards you. They may be understanable, or not, but that is what is very likely to happen. It benefits no one.

On the other hand, if you happen to be earning less than your inquirer, then they are liable to look down their nose at you, mixing pity and contempt as they commiserate with you on your miserable salary and enquire how on earth you can make ends meet, and if you get your clothes at Age UK (I do, as it happens). In fact, it doesn’t really matter what the work colleague next to you is earning, as the chances are it will be much closer to your wages than the frankly unreal sums “earned” by footballers, top businesspeople (usually, it must be said, blokes) and, nowadays, vloggers.

The show is a little light on analysis for my tastes, mixes wealth and income too freely and leaves the gender pay gap swinging grumpily in the statistical air, but it’s a lively watch even so. See if it makes you feel envy or pity towards Wayne Rooney, Sir Martin Sorrell and Audrey the CofE Vicar.