In which there is something good on the telly.


Right, so autumn is here, the nights are drawing in, and once again it’s time to abandon our more productive summer pastimes, the visiting of places and the seeing of people and the general doing of things, for that other life, the one we live vicariously through better looking people. We call it television.

Can you hear the call? Once again it beckons us back into its bosom, to hibernate through the cold winter months and forget we ever had a social life. Sure, we once had a friend called Dave. But that Dave never broadcast round-the-clock repeats of last year’s Mock the Week, did he? He just borrowed money for Ginster’s pasties and never paid it back.

Yes, after a frankly lacklustre summer, telly is back on form. There’s the obvious return of Strictly and X-factor to celebrate – not immediately, of course, as first we’ll spend two weeks scoffing over the ageism/sexism/tasteism rampantly displayed in both, while secretly gorging on iPlayer in the dead of night with the sound down. But then we’ll give into the sequins, and it’s all ok because ‘guilty pleasure’ has an even higher place than normal on the fashion barometer this season*.

Aside from the Saturday night tat, though, there are some proper gems in the schedule. Peep Show is back! Of course you know that, you still have the bunting up and you’re drinking out of the commemorative mug. This is excellent news for three reasons - firstly, because after a couple of years spent ferociously becoming the new doyenne of the satirical panel show, I was worried David Mitchell was already about to be fossilised for the national treasures cabinet at the British Museum; secondly, because I reckon Robert Webb deserves a break from being ‘the other one’; and third, because they’re like, still totally zeitgeist. No comedy characters say ‘recession, political apathy and flu’ better than Mark and Jez.

The one notable downside is that the show’s trademark internal monologue is probably going to come back again, just when I’d got rid of it (ok, traded it for the voiceover from Gossip Girl). But if silently asking myself ‘Am I having fun? Is this fun? Am I actually having a good time? Or would I rather go home, eat crumpets and play solitaire?’ at every social engagement is the price I have to pay for Peep Show’s return to my life, then pay it I shall.

Another scheduling treat is Shooting Stars, back on our screens after seven years. The delightful thing about the Vic and Bob revival is that far from being zeitgeist, moving with the times, reinventing the comedy for a new generation of viewers or any of that bilge, they’ve just stayed exactly the same. Even to the extent that Matt Lucas is back as the be-babygro-ed Georgie Dawes, allowing the whole nation to pretend Little Britian never happened. What better gift is there than that?

*I’ve made that up. But maybe it’ll catch on, then I can listen to Showaddywaddy again in peace.

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A sad thing happened last weekend. I lost one of my all-time heroes. Dame Judi Dench’s interview in the Guardian Weekend magazine looked so promising, with her photoshoot all bleached blonde hair and Debbie Harry styling. “Don’t call me a national treasure”, said the headline. Woop, yeah, go Dame J! Look at you, you cuddly anarchist! But then, a few paragraphs in, it all went wrong when she declared she wasn’t a feminist.

NOT a feminist? That statement riles me up enough when it comes from an ignorant tweenie, but out of the mouth of someone with as much supposed grace and experience as Dench, it’s just plain astonishing. “I do believe in women having a say…”, she added. Not when they’re going to say things like that, Judi.

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On a happier note, my friend Jo is officially back in the country. For those of you who don’t remember, I wrote a while back about her year abroad in Paris being the real cause of all Britain’s recent troubles. Now she’s home, and while she pines for croissants and accordion players, we can all feel safe in the knowledge that pretty soon, we’ll all get our money back, the Tories won’t get in, and Terry Wogan will take his job back on Radio 2. Ahhh.