I HAVE been asked to give a talk on the 'golden years of UK television.' 

That's a tall order - I can't recall any.

One thing is certain, it's not now.

These are the 'scraping the bottom-of-the-barrel' desperate decades and I can say that with conviction, having written about the small screen on and off for 30 years.

You can now plan the year ahead by a dire diet of light entertainment drivel.

When one X Factor ends a Britain's Got Talent is waiting in the wings.

Then there's Celebrity Big Brother and the ludicrous Celebrity Driving School.

I no longer watch anything pre-fixed with the word 'celebrity'.

But it's the ordinary people who want instant fixes of fame that bother me.

It's time we had a channel dedicated to the deluded called Ridicule TV.

The programme researchers who filter through hopeless contestants deserve part of the blame.

Many go on Dragon's Den totally unprepared. 

They simply haven't done their homework and are grilled into televised humiliation by ruthless judges.

Starting tonight, series 13 of The Apprentice sees 18 smart-suited, power-dressed irritants telling us why they will become the next Lord Sugar.

It is cringe-inducing watching them.

Yet ratings show the viewers love to see such people de-dignified.

The telly 'think tanks' (now there's a contradiction) try to squeeze every possible reality television show into the schedules.

But I feel Channel 5 have pushed the limits with their forthcoming offering where feisty females enter a convent to see how they cope with Holy Orders instead of last orders.

It's called Bad habits and I am having nun of it.

I am drafting my proposal for a series called Village Idiot of the Year.

I can see it now the judges pausing while music builds up and they decide which smock-wearing, cider-drinker they will send back to the barn.

"Sorry, Cedric from Lower-IQ-In the-Marshes, but it's back to the pig- feeding for you."


THERE's nothing worse than stodgy Porridge but it seems BBC One is happy to serve a new version of the classic sit-com starting on Friday.

I endured the touring stage version of the show which was uninspiring, starring Barry from EastEnders as Fletch made famous by Ronnie Barker.

I was kind – I simply didn't review it.

Now writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have re-heated the concept 40 years on following a one-off updated revival last year.

It's now about the incarcerated quick-witted grandson of Fletch.

Why don't they leave well alone?

The writers should have listened to the theme song of their sublime creation The Likely Lads with the prophetic words: "Is the only thing to look forward to the past?"


OH, what a circus ...

Liverpool Central currently reminds me of Piccadilly Circus.

I feel I am in a reality show – I'm a Commuter, Get Me Out of Here.

The on-going strikes regarding the guard-less trains continue.

I will put up with the disputes because, personally, I would feel safer knowing there were guards on board.

I would not be alone in missing staff like cheery John on the New Brighton line, who is a travelling stand-up comedian with his banter – a hit with adults and children alike.

With Lime Street closed for modernisation, Liverpool Central has become a sea of yellow-jacketed officers.

It is a ready-made I Spy game for kiddies.

Spot how many rail support staff are on the platforms and you can earn bonus points for counting every disgruntled case-on-wheels traveller en-route to South Parkway.

I have learned to cope with engineering works on Sundays despite causing delays to my attendance at numerous weekend festivals.

When I ring the customer services hot-line I heed the 'be respectful' automated voice request.

I just want to see light at the end of the tunnels. I wonder what bus replacement services will be like when HS2 arrives.


SPOTTED in Wirral, Pete Wylie - he of The Mighty Wah!

That exclamation mark is important to the songwriter who unveiled the plaque to Eric's club in Liverpool’s iconic Mathew Street.

Pete tells me he might go back with a bottle of Tippex to add the exclamation mark they have left off the tribute sign.

The good news is that he has completed his new album with the clever title Pete Sounds.

Mr Wylie, who has a daughter called Mersey, is a master of word play.

His Elvis–influenced house is called Dis-Graceland.

There's no need for an '!'.


CHEERS and goodbye to the Penny Farthing pub.

It has now become the Courtyard Bar and Kitchen, offering Royal Court Theatre-goers a place to dine before a show.

I would often pass by the old pub trying to avoid whatever shift the respective drunks were on.

I recall one day being asked to "put 'em up" for a fight.

After I made my excuses and left he proceeded to punch himself.

I am now writing a musical play, The Old Wrecks of Roe Street.


And finally ... 

Quote of the week for the gathered Tories in Manchester.

"Five years is the longest one can be sane in that role." 

That was William Hague talking to a glossy magazine about the job of foreign secretary.

Boris has a head start.

Peter Grant