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TV Dek's TV Diary

I love the sound of breaking glass

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We had the lovely sight of a bunch of thugs smashing up the Queen Vic this week. Now this isn't the first time this has happened and I'm sure it won't be the last but it was one of the nastiest, certainly for at least a decade, and wasn't what I'd consider the sort of thing that's fit for the pre-watershed audience.

Do you really want to see baseball bat-wielding maniacs terrorising your favourite soap characters while you're trying to eat your tea? I'm not sure that I do. This sort of violence on screen can be used to great dramatic effect. I expect it in Prison Break, but EastEnders? Not really.

Maybe I'd have felt slightly differently if the whole thing didn't centre on Jase. Would he get beaten up? Would he get arrested? Would he get the blame for Honey's baby? Would he get off with Dawn? I couldn't care less quite frankly.

Of far more interest is the ongoing family turmoil surrounding Steven. Mental illness is always a difficult one to tackle in what's primarily a piece of entertainment. Even if they manage to get this one right it may well throw up some episodes that are difficult to watch. It's being played remarkable well though, with Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brett showing just what they can do when given gritty material. Far better than watching them argue over who is going to man the café.

The Bear Necessities

Children in Need was the typical hotchpotch of really good bits and really bad bits. Thankfully there was a lack of mediocre so there was always a good reason to watch.

The absolute highlight was the Doctor Who special which saw the return of the celery garnished Peter Davison to the Tardis. Thanks to a typical witty script from Steven Moffat and some sparky playing from two actors who were easily having as good a time as the audience were, this was a real treat and there was enough here to suggest that if they could tempt Davison back for a complete episode, it would be a real winner.

The show had got off to a dodgy start as Lee Whatshisface off Any Dream Will Do had to cope with hordes of kiddies, failing microphones, and clod hopping production assistants. It was classic live telly. We may be wrong but we thought that at least one kiddie got trampled in the confusion, made all the funnier by the fact that this was one of those live link around the country jobs. It was all very Nationwide and far more entertaining because it all went pear-shaped.

Truly awful was the Hotel Babylon skit featuring Prunella Scales. We were promised Sybil Fawlty. Didn't get her, while it was a shame to see comedy heroes like Frank Thornton and June Whitfield getting involved in this utter drivel.

Far better though was the EastEnders Sgt. Pepper skit, which was great fun and put me in mind of those Christmas Specials they used to do when Shane Richie was in the cast. It was great fun, some of the regulars have wonderful singing voices and the only disappointment was the absence of Babs Windsor. Great stuff though.

Terry Wogan has now presented something like twenty-seven of these evenings and it may be heresy to say it but maybe it's time to put the old geezer out to pasture or at least use him a bit more sparingly. I'm not sure that he and the irritatingly enthusiastic Fearne Cotton is a presenting match made in heaven. They should make more use of Sam and Mark next year. They could be really big if given the right breaks.

There were lots of people popping up to promote their West End shows or latest singles and albums. How handy that the show takes place a month before Christmas? This meant a prime spot for Kylie to plug her latest, and I'm happy to report that the eyebrows looked far more sensible that they did in her variety special.

Kylie's eyebrows – An Apology

Last week I commented "It wasn't easily to tell who had drawn them on her, make up artist or a three-year-old with a thick wax crayon".

I sincerely apologise to all of the crayon wielding three-year-olds that took offence to that remark. I'm also indebted to the person that pointed out that on at least one of the songs it looked as though a highlighter rather than a crayon had been used. Well spotted, madam.

Stitch up

I was feeling lukewarm about this year's I'm A Celebrity until Lukewarm exactly turned up. It could well be that Biggins will prove to be the saviour of the show.

Up until his arrival, events had been severely dominated by big mouth irritant Janice Dickinson and her instant arch nemesis "PR guru" and general fruitcake Lynne Franks. The other celebs looked largely non-plussed at being marginalised by this major classic of egos but it took arrival of the wonderfully cheeky Biggins to prick their pomposity.

Both women are, we might assume, too used to getting their own way and they only appear to hear what they want to hear and so every spat appears to us voyeuristic onlookers to be completely unnecessary. Neither woman could be said to have great listening skills.

It's shame they are dominating the highlights packages because other housemates have much to offer. "J" out of 5ive had a wonderfully dry sense of humour and comes out with off the cuff comments that David Gest would have been proud of, while John Burton Race has the arrogance that you'd expect from a successful chef but couples that with a razor wit and when needed, some steely determination. I loved the bit when he asked Lynne why she was arguing with herself.

Rodney Marsh has made a second career out of being forthright and controversial but seems to be being rather measured with that side of him, clearly winding up his campmates for his own amusement. It's becoming fairly clearly that Marc Bannerman looks up to Rodders but I wonder whether the appreciation is entirely mutual.

All the headlines prior to the show seemed to focus on Gemma but I'd hardly say that she's been exceptional value so far, being about as chatty as Nell McAndrew was in series one.

As for Anna Doublebarrel-Changingrooms, she's coming across as that slight eccentric aunt that no one talks about. We haven't seen the best of her yet.

What we're probably missing is a wimpy person that we can marvel over when it comes to Bushtucker Trials. At the moment, Janice is having to face them and consistently wimping out, but doing it in such an in-your-face way that at times it seems that the looks of terror on the faces of Ant and Dec are actually genuine. It's great to see a big mouth being made to suffer, which is why it's almost worth risking an ITV1 phone-in to put Janice in the frame.

It's still Ant and Dec though that make the show worth watching. The gags may be contrived and obvious but they are still managing to get away with them.

The big surprise of the show has been Cerys. Who would have thought she'd turn out to be such a mouse? There was something very satisfying about watching Katie Hopkins being nibbled at by cockroaches. Perhaps there is such a thing as karma.

Bits 'n' Bobs

Prison Break gets better and better. Who cares that it gets more unlikely by the episode. I'm just enjoying the ride.

In contrast Journeyman has managed to become mundane already. Hope it picks up.

Learners looked promising but quickly descended from a quirky themed comedy to a boring rom-com.

Apologies to my neighbours for all the noise I was making when Israel nabbed a late winner on Saturday.

Disco didn't suit anybody in a desperate episode of The X Factor. Squidbrain's dance routines continue to hamper the inexperienced acts that seem to struggle with their vocals whenever an elaborate routine is called for. I blame this for poor Alisha's nightmare. Girls Aloud were very good though. It's a shame that this merely highlighted how bad Hope were.

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