Take, for instance, the latest edition of Friday Night's All Wright (ITV). There was some banter and a song from Sheryl Crow, an appearance by Eileen Drewery - and then, without any warning, an actress from The Bill doing a spot of flamenco dancing. This must have been a little disturbing for all those who had rushed home from the pub to catch the show. It was probably only afterwards that the awful truth dawned. They were still sober. It was the programme that was plastered.
Even the host seemed a little bemused by the sudden Spanish interlude. "Yo, that was different," he said, with the air of someone who was wondering if he had walked into the wrong studio. Or perhaps he was still trying to come to terms with the final 60 seconds of Drewery's appearance.
To begin with, at least, she had seemed misunderstood, an ordinary, fairly rational woman with a deeply held belief in her ability to heal. Until she got on to the subject of drugs. "You have an aura which protects you, and when you take drugs, the aura opens," she said. "And when you have somebody who is dead and earthbound, they're terribly miserable because they can't do anything, they're not of this dimension. So they want a vehicle, and when they see your aura open, they step in and they have got a vehicle. And when you finish the drugs, the door closes, so they're trapped, and you take on their personalities." As Alan Shearer would never put it: "Have you ever thought it might be her?"
Wright himself is something of a believer where Drewery is concerned, but even he had the good sense to bring the interview to a rapid close after that. He did, after all, need to leave enough time for the big betting event of the night - how many times would he describe Tony Bennett as "a legend" in the course of a five-minute interview? The bookies paid out on five, while the audience got down and danced. You could hardly blame them. They were about to be let out.
Few sportsmen are more ubiquitous than Wrighty just now, but Frankie Dettori is an obvious exception. Frankie, in case you didn't know, has a new video to plug, though to suggest that his appearance on This Is Your Life (BBC1) was just a half-hour advertisement which dovetailed nicely with the rest of his promotional campaign would, of course, be horribly cynical. Still, the airtime might as well have been bought and paid for, since This Is Your Life still treats its subjects with the sort of awe- struck respect which died out everywhere else about 30 years ago. All you can do is wait and hope for the inadvertent slip which might give you a glimpse of the guest as their friends and relatives see them. The problem is that there are usually several people on the walk-on list whose intimate knowledge of the subject was rather less important to the producers than their availability. Vinnie Jones, for instance, was a guest at Dettori's party despite their acquaintance apparently stretching to nothing more than a 10-minute chat on Derby day five months ago. Dettori's wife, though, did offer one insight into life with a man who counts every calorie. "When he's watching his weight he only eats once a day and with him that's the evening meal," she said. "If you ask him anything before it the answer's no, but after it he's a different person." The image of a surly and starving Dettori was an interesting variation on the ebullience which has become so familiar. Michael Aspel, needless to say, ignored it and pressed on.
There was to be no such mercy for Bernie Ecclestone later the same evening. Formula One's main man was the subject of a Panorama (BBC1) which was the televisual equivalent of breaking into a former lover's flat and leaving the phone off the hook after dialling the speaking clock in Bogota. The Panorama editor might claim that F1's decision to stomp out of Broadcasting Centre and shack up with ITV last year was entirely coincidental. But it was clear within minutes that they had nothing at all to pin on Ecclestone beyond the fact that he is ruthless, self- interested and fabulously wealthy.
An early interviewee was the deputy leader of the Belgian Green Party. It was somewhat less than jaw-dropping to hear that he didn't much care for either Ecclestone or his nasty, smelly cars. As if to reinforce the laziness of the whole exercise, whoever was asked to find background music for a shot of a car leaving the pits looked no further than the Cardigans' recent single. You know the one - na na-naaa, na na-naaaa, over and over again. Every soundtrack technician in the country should be ordered to bin their copy immediately, otherwise the Cardigans will soon be even richer than Bernie.Reuse content