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There's a ghost in my house

By
I just keep hearing your footsteps on the stairs

Most Haunted is a silly enough concept to begin with but now these days with added Paul Ross it seems all the dafter.

Ross was called upon to use his serious face and his concerned face when events took a nasty turn as the show indulged in a few live specials to celebrate Hallowe'en, resulting in members of the crew seemingly being scratched or even slashed. If you thought host Yvette Fielding had been overly dramatic in previous shows, this had to be seen to be believed.

The tension reached such fever pitch that our intrepid team stoked up the drama by saying they’d had enough, robbing the show of its usual big fright just as they go off air.

Fair play to Paul and Yvette as they attempt to lash up the tension on what is ostensibly three hours of bumbling round in the dark trying to scare the wits out of viewers probably still grizzling because the live show has taken the place of Living TV’s normal diet of quality imported programming.

Even you believe in things that go bump in the night, surely you won’t believe that they come out and play tricks because a TV crew has turned up.

This is daft telly but completely watchable. No need for the swearing though.

When I know there's no-one there

While Yvette and her cronies were disturbing the spirits in Edinburgh, John Barrowman and his new buddies were seeing shadows of the past in Cardiff.

I gave it a bit of a kicking last week but Torchwood seems to be getting better already, thankfully. That ghost machine thingy was a nice piece of science fiction, fairly well executed while the anoraks in the audience no doubt got as excited that Gareth “Blakes’ 7” Thomas had put in an appearance as they did about the “adult” nature of the show, wisely toned down in this outing.

Captain Jack is nowhere near as much fun as he used to be though and Gwen’s still wetter than wet.

It keeps on haunting me

Jason Thingymabob and Suzi Perry had such a good time exploding laptops in The Gadget Show that you had to wonder whether they were hankering after a presenters role on Top Gear.

Now forgive me for being picky but what I want to know if I watch a consumer test on a laptop is how it actually performs and not whether you can turn it on having held on to it while being subjected to a ducking stool.

Jason and Suzi obviously seem to be having a good time making the show which has an almost Top Gear level of smugness about it. Pity we don’t have as much while watching it.

Only shadows from the past I see

Much had changed or was changing as we rejoined The Royle Family after a long gap but one thing that remained despite the advent of turkey twizzlers and laminate flooring was the show’s massive heart.

If this show, which changed the face of sitcom, is about anything at all it’s about unconditional love. Despite all the rows and the swearing and the genuine heartache, this family seem real and the love they have for each other and their closest friends shines through no matter how selfish or petty or irritating they manage to behave.

I could heap praise on everyone in the cast at this stage but at the centre of the episode and reigning supreme was the truly marvellous Liz Smith as Nana. She must have touched a nerve with many people with her wonderful portrayal of an ailing woman making most of being at the heart of her family.

Touching performances were everywhere but Jessica Stevenson’s Cheryl, looking for love through the personal column made for a great comedy subplot in a tale with more emotion and drama than we’d seen in previous outings.

If this is the last we see of the Royles it was an excellent way to say goodbye.

Really human, really touching and really funny.

I can’t seem to erase

So the Royal Mail were sworn to secrecy when counting the votes for the National Television Awards. What was the point of that when we all knew who’d won by the time of the broadcast? They really have got to get back to showing these things live.

Without an immediate broadcast, there’s no sense of danger and no edge to proceedings. Knowing the winners in advance makes watching an almost pointless exercise, especially when the acceptance speeches are as dull as they were this year.

Even the appearance of Michael Barrymore - once bound to make television executives nervous – failed to spark things into life.

For those viewers hardy enough to stay the two and a half hour course, there was reward with an inspiring montage of the work of David Attenborough, a true inspiration if ever there was one. In the days before the Discovery channel if we cared and understood anything about the natural world it was in no small measure down to Attenborough.

His enthusiasm and passion is so infectious that he has educated and informed millions of us while inspiring many to get involved.

As for Jack and Kelly Osborne’s hosting of the post show interviews, come back Durden-Smith, all is forgiven.

The vision of your smiling face

He may be nasty to the point of unbelievability but I’m beginning to think I may just miss Cheerful Charlie Stubbs when he finally departs Coronation Street.

He’s more of a hero than a villain in my eyes at the minute. Is trying to drown Demonic David in the bath a bad thing or merely a public service? As for breaking Tracy-Love’s heart, you can’t say she didn’t have it coming. Sympathy for the ever self-centred Maria? I don’t think so, the floozy.

I actually feel a bit sorry for poor Charlie; he has terrible taste in women and has to spend all his working days alongside the evolutionary challenged Jason Grimshaw. No wonder he loses the plot from time to time.

A whodunit is on the cards, which could be fun but I’ve that nasty feeling that Norris will fancy himself as Hercules Poirot and Blanche may do a turn as Miss Marple. Sounds dreadful. Mind you if Ken cracks under the strain of working with him in the Kabin, it could well be Norris that ends up lined in chalk.

Disturbingly, Audrey is getting very flirtatious with Bill Webster, having recently assisted Fred to an early grave via her womanly wiles. Watch out Bill, you could be a guest at Archie’s parlour sooner than you think.

It keeps on haunting me

You’ve got to worry about just how worked up Adam is managing to get in Spooks. It can’t be a good idea to have a funny turn just as an Israeli hit squad turns up with the intent of taking you out.

Meanwhile Ros remains so icy cool in the face of extreme provocation that you have to wonder whether she keeps her knickers in the fridge.

The ghost of the love you took from me

Things got off to an explosive start in The State Within as Jason Isaac’s smoothy US Ambassador discovered a plane had exploded by the method of having the wreckage almost land on him.

Heady stuff and the shocks don’t stop as the finger points at a British Muslim being responsible, cranking up tensions in British/US relations. You think that would be enough plot for an opening episode – some shows could make a whole series out of it – but before long we were also faced with a death row plot.

Then we’ve got all the romance stuff going and a dodgy diplomat to worry about.

All this gives Isaac, Sharon Gless and Neil Pearson plenty of scope to run around looking concerned but the fun of this will be seeing how the intricate plot lines drawn in a complicated but entertaining opener manage to pull together. It’s certainly well made stuff but as with Spooks there must be a concern that genuine world tensions are again being used as a cipher for entertainment.

It’s hardly escapism and it’s all the more chilling for that.

To the memories of those happy times

If variety is truly dead then its ghost is has been very entertaining over the last few weeks on The Best of the Royal Variety. I suppose it’s a reflection of TV execs' take on the genre that this delightful retrospective has been tucked away on ITV3.

Some of the best TV moments ever happen on the Royal Variety, even now when it gets a fraction of its former audience.

My only problem with the show is that it sometimes dwells too much on the reminiscences of the participants, only providing glimpses of some of the marvellous performances that are discussed.

Great stuff all the same.

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