CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: A gameshow so awful I’d rather sit and watch my own slippers

Unbreakable

Rating: * 

Jon Richardson: Take My Mother-In-Law 

Rating: ** 

Blame the pandemic, blame the moral degeneration of the Western world, but some truly awful telly has been dumped on our screens this year.

In a schedule notable for low points, tractor racing on BBC3 in The Fast And The Farmer-ish was especially bad. At the other end of the budget, Amazon spent nearly a billion ruining Lord Of The Rings.

I thought no celebrity gameshow could possibly be worse than Freeze The Fear, where Holly Willoughby and Lee Mack stood watching TV personalities of microscopic fame take cold showers or jump into ice-cold lakes.

Serves me right for being complacent. Unbreakable (BBC1) is even more boring, meaningless, ill-conceived and excruciating — and has even less well-known ‘celebs’.

Just in case it wasn’t all terrible enough, host Rob Beckett is howling with fake laughter all the way through. The games are a cut-price It’s A Knockout tribute act. Rob’s young so he might not realise, but this isn’t high praise. The world has wiped its memory of that show for many good reasons

How could anyone imagine we want to see retired plumber Charlie Mullins, 69, and his girlfriend of eight months, 31-year-old Rara, recite the lyrics of a romantic ballad before bungee jumping off a crane?

Why has even the smallest fraction of the licence fee been wasted on making Denise Welch from Loose Women and her husband shuffle on their backsides along a floating pontoon?

Do you have a clue who Stephen Bailey is, or Shanaze Reade? One’s a stand-up comedian and the other (I’m not making this up) finished sixth in the BMX cycle event at the 2012 London Olympics. Stephen and Shanaze are both in same-sex relationships. Does that make you feel more interested in them, or do you not give the tiniest hoot?

This gameshow is so slow, it took 40 minutes for the couples to complete the pontoon challenge and move on to the bungee jumps. By the end of the hour, only two couples had taken the leap. We’ve got to wait till next week for the others. Oh the anticipation.

How could anyone imagine we want to see retired plumber Charlie Mullins, 69, and his girlfriend of eight months, 31-year-old Rara, recite the lyrics of a romantic ballad before bungee jumping off a crane?

Just in case it wasn’t all terrible enough, host Rob Beckett is howling with fake laughter all the way through. The games are a cut-price It’s A Knockout tribute act.

Rob’s young so he might not realise, but this isn’t high praise. The world has wiped its memory of that show for many good reasons.

Unbreakable barely earns one star, and that’s only because, in a month when electricity prices are going up again, it encourages us to switch off and save money by staring at our own slippers for entertainment.

Seen in contrast, comedian Jon Richardson’s jaunt to Spain, Take My Mother-In-Law (C4), seemed almost BAFTA-worthy. On any other night, though, it would be a derivative and laboured effort.

This is a well-worn genre, where a comedian goes travelling with a parent. Jack Whitehall and his dad Michael have done it to exhaustion. The slight twist here is that Gill Adams is the mother of Jon’s wife, Lucy.

On the pretext that his mother-in-law was threatening to move in with them if he didn’t set her up in a Spanish villa, Jon took her house-hunting on the Costas.

Of course, they didn’t buy a property and, of course, Gill didn’t carry out her threat. But as long as they kept up the pretence, we could enjoy their bickering. ‘I’m multicoloured and Jon is beige,’ she declared. ‘I want sex, rock’n’roll and running naked into the sea.’

A slightly uneasy undercurrent of flirtation stirs the relationship. Divorcee Gill evidently approves of her daughter’s choice, and Jon enjoys the innuendos and attention more than he would admit.

Among the potential homes they inspected were a caravan shanty town in Benidorm and a hillside marijuana farm. You won’t see places like that on A Place In The Sun.

Hand signal of the night: Visiting the Royal Marine Reserves HQ in Bristol with chum Kate Garraway on DNA Journey (ITV), Alison Hammond did a U.S.-style army salute. ‘Did I do that right?’ she gasped. At ease soldier, you’ve seen too many Hollywood movies. 

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