Well here’s a shot from the balcony and the sharp-eyed amongst you out there will be able to observe that the leaves are turning brown and already beginning to fall from the big tree opposite. After 30° temps just last week it’s also feeling decidedly cooler. You know what that means don’t you? Yes autumn’s here but more depressingly it also means a return to the dreaded autumn tv schedules. Arghh.
That means months and months of Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. In recent years you sense that SCD has become the more popular of the two; people seemingly tiring of the desperate warbling wannabes whilst still attracted to the celebrity glamour stepping outside its comfort zone in a dance competition. I still find it incredible that the BBC cannot find anyone better than an octogenarian old hoofer to present its flagship programme but then credibility and the BBC have long since ceased to be intimate friends.
But ITV has re-thought its Saturday night scheduling in a clear attempt to re-boot the sparkle of its own programme mix and attract back the advertisers I suspect. So they’ve rather cynically slapped on an unashamed copycat celebrity dance show to capture some of SCD’s audience and keep them hooked for X Factor. Then comes ITV’s Saturday night trump card – a re-treading of the old favourite ‘Through the Keyhole’ presented by Keith Lemon. What can I say about it? When that herbert Lloyd Grossman first invited viewers to guess ‘hoy lives in a hars like thers?’ it seemed like an interesting insight into celebrity lifestyle. We saw who had great design taste to match their apparent wealth and whose homes were as tacky as anything on Coronation St. I once watched open-mouthed at the sight of the inside of Michael Fish’s house which had more crappy knick-knacks in it than a Blackpool seafront gift shop. It was joyously horrific but that was the appeal of the show.
Now with Lemon playing the dual role of the inquisitive Grossman and the studio presenter in lieu of David Frost, it’s simply become a vehicle for his, ahem, comic talents. The celebrity home owner is just there to be mocked as Lemon snoops into the murkiest of corners, shoe-horning in his obviously-scripted catchphrases ‘let’s go froot key’ole’, ‘is them cluesisies?’ and ‘stop yer messin and start yer guessin’ No-one would ever pretend the original was high-brow viewing but it was a pioneering social experiment, a predecessor to Celebrity Big Brother. Now it’s been dumbed-down about as low as it can get. At the risk of sounding like Brian Sewell is this really the best that ITV can deliver? Sigh. This is Saturday night tv for the Sherrie Hewson fan base (and it surely can’t be long before her home and knicker drawer are receiving the Lemon look-see). There’s nothing redeeming about it except that there were a few sniggers at John Prescott’s expense. But that was never very difficult to deliver was it?