Put a stop to these lily-livered TV confessionals

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The Independent Online
BETWEEN ourselves I have never cared a great deal for Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk. The surname alone induces suspicion. If I were to re-title myself Wallace Arnold-Silk, would my views be received with the seriousness they are now? I think not. And what if Lord Rees-Mogg were to issue a proclamation demanding to be known in future as Lord Rees-Mogg-Silk? I doubt a single one of us would wish to devote our attention to his views on the world economy. Lady Antonia Fraser-Silk? Sir Peregrine Worsthorne- Silk? No: this whole silk business has quite simply gone too far.

I mention this slippery individual because I am set to become his most deadly rival. Following the success of Kilroy and the even greater success of Vanessa, I have been persuaded by Channel 5 to venture into the same market myself. Arnold! and its companion consumer programme, Arnold Watchdog, begin their first series on the dread gogglebox tomorrow.

Or course, I don't expect the average reader of this column to have the foggiest idea of what on earth I am on about. Suffice it to say that both Kilroy-Silk and Miss (Msss!) Vanessa Feltz are forced to spend anything up to an hour a day listening to "ordinary members of the public" (dread species!) as they whine, moan, gossip and gripe. What a gruesome way to spend one's morning, I hear you say! But there you would be wrong, for I hear that both Silk and Feltz earn several million pounds a minute for bending their ears to listen to this awful shower.

My own mid-morning programmes will be very different kettles of fish. On my new consumer show, Arnold Watchdog, I will be rooting out ordinary members of the public who have written in with complaints about door-to- door salesmen, travel operators and second-hand car dealers. I feature one such ordinary lady on our first show, a Mrs Dawdrey from Saffron Walden in Essex.

"Mrs Dawdrey," I begin, "you wrote to us complaining that your new double- glazing costs more than you expected and it lets in the draughts."

"That's right, Wallace."

"Mr Arnold to you," I reply, "and now you have the nerve to come in here to grumble in public about a poor, hard-working double-glazing salesman just because he proved more than a match for the likes of you! Be off with you, woman!"

As the dread Dawdrey slopes off, I ask our "Salesman of the Week" to step forward, a Mr Pendlebury from The Kettle Warehouse in Andover. He tells the audience how in one week, simply through an imaginative amalgam of fibs, lies, and half-truths, he has achieved over 12 sales of faulty household appliances, including a poorly-wired toaster and a vacuum cleaner with no suction whatever. I congratulate him on this initiative and award him our special "Salesman of the Week" gold chain - plus a holiday for two on the island of Majorca!

And so to my other new family favourite, Arnold!. In this show I wander through a hand-picked studio audience, in much the same manner as Silk and Feltz, but with one vital difference - I have no time for the moaning ninnies! While Silk introduces programmes such as "He'll Leave Me if I Don't Lose Weight", and Feltz introduces programmes along the lines of "I Fell in Love with a Shop Dummy," and "I Murdered my Daughter's Hamster", my own subjects take a very different tone.

Early topics scheduled for Arnold! include "I Can't Stop Droning On", and "I've Got Nothing Better to Do with my Life than to Apply for Free Tickets to this Programme". I need hardly add that, as I lean towards them with my microphone, these ordinary members of the public are guaranteed a wholly unsympathetic ear. "Get on with it!" "That's enough from you, matey!" and "How much more of this can one stand?" are becoming my most popular catchphrases.

So Silky, look to your laurels! I have no doubt that the discerning viewer will welcome my more robust approach. And Channel 5 promises me that if these two series prove a success, I can launch a brand new show to rival the Richard and Judy team. Wallace and Sir Roy, featuring myself and the ever-youthful Sir Roy Strong should be on your sets early in the New Year. Premiere item? A robust phone-in on the early works of Anthony Powell! Marvellous!