Love her or hate her, all eyes on Wednesday morning turned to the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, where ITV’s Alastair Stewart was outside St Paul’s Cathedral with this live update.
“We move now to the religious part of the service with music and readings, and we’ll keep you updated on that.”
Yes, because we’ve got to hand back to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, on This Morning’s sofa, debating whether new dads should be in the delivery room, with a bloke who used to edit lads mag Loaded.
And we can’t keep Stephen Mulhern waiting in the Hub.
He’s got this urgent Facebook message from a viewer: “Michelle McLean says, ‘Loving Chris Evans on This Morning. I love TFI Friday’.”
You could watch television diligently for many years and not find a decision quite as cuckoo as ITV choosing only to dip in and out of Britain’s biggest funeral since 2002, arguably the most controversial ever, and not shelve its daytime schedule.
I was half expecting the congregation’s chorus of To Be A Pilgrim to be interrupted by Gino D’Acampo rustling up a feta and pastrami omelette.
I needn’t have, of course. Because the channel aired almost none of the service live, thereby sparing us all but a few glimpses of Holly Willoughby, wearing her “serious” face, anchoring its coverage.
That’s not to say ITV were alone in the barmy stakes. Oh no.
Faced with a huge event like this, 24-hour news channels will overdose on waffle.
The most prolific offender, as always, was Sky News events commentator Alastair Bruce, a walking thesaurus whose mantra is why use one word when 15 will do: “The nation is pulling out the very best from its pantheon of splendour.” Say what?
“The gun carriage will come to a position of stillness.” Or “stop”, as it’s sometimes known.
He explained, in no fewer than 2,000 words, the Lord Mayor of London was holding aloft the “Mourning Sword”. Not to be confused with a “morning sword”, which many men wake up with.
Then, announcing: “Margaret Thatcher was well known around the world,” he started an outbreak of stating the flamin’ obvious and I was wishing Big Ben wasn’t the only thing silenced for the occasion.
Alastair Stewart: “Mark and Carol Thatcher’s mother lies in that coffin and that matters enormously to them.”
BBC1’s David Dimbleby: “Her husband Denis was very close to her.”
Daybreak’s Sue Jameson: “The Royal Jubilee was a very much happier occasion.”
The whole shebang became a farce once Edwina Currie started doing Margaret Thatcher impressions for Lorraine Kelly, and Sky’s Colin Brazier, at Trafalgar Square, had this exclusive from musician Martyn Ware: “We’re bringing out a new Heaven 17 LP.”
So BBC1, mercifully minus Huw Edwards, was the only place to be, especially when Dimbleby remarked: “This is not a slow march, it’s marching slowly,” before asking funeral guest Terry Wogan: “Seriously, what brings you here?”
Those sticking with This Morning, though, heard Petrie Hosken say: “This is a lady being buried today with her family.”
Not sure Carol or Mark agreed to that.
And Mulhern who finally had a Thatcher-related viewer’s comment: “Clare Collinson on Facebook says, ‘What a truly amazing woman she was. She’ll be missed’.”
Nowhere could you miss her more, in fact, than on ITV.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes go to:
The midnight hour sudden-death playoff drama at The Masters.
Britain’s Got Talent leaving The Voice eating its dust in the ratings despite a sluggish start to the series.
MC Boy (this year’s Where Me Keys, Where Me Phone) rapping like Porky Pig on one of my favourite BGT auditions in years.
Jake Humphrey’s reassuring words: “That’s the end of Bedtime Live.” Promise?
Soccer Saturday legend Jeff Stelling’s football commentary: “Andy Robinson’s about to take a penalty, and... HE’S MISSED IT! IT’S SAVED! THE GOALIE’S PALMED IT AGAINST THE CROSSBAR! GOODNESS ME! WHAT A SAVE! SAVE OF THE SEASON!...
“And it remains Tranmere 0, Hartlepool 1.”
And, as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cortege left the Palace of Westminster, ITV deciding instead to show The Jeremy Kyle Show whose topic was somewhat gloriously: “How could you say you’re not our dad after our mum died?”
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates go to:
The unremitting misery that is The Village.
Off Their Rockers predictably running out of jokes after one episode.
Half the population of Broadchurch turning out to be mute duty solicitors.
The Voice bothering to show Alice Fredenham’s audition last night, when we already knew she hadn’t gone through, what with her appearing on last week’s Britain’s Got Talent.
My Big Fat Gypsy Fortune chickening out of asking a single probing question about how travellers get all their money.
Daybreak newsreader Ranvir Singh “hmmm’ing” in agreement all over the top of Matt Barbet.
And sci-fi garbage dialogue on another disappointing Doctor Who: “It’s a pocket universe. The Tardis could get in there but entropy would bleed the power sources and trap her there until the universe decays back into the quantum foam.”
I’m beginning to think they just make this stuff up.
Stirling Moss sparked outrage by saying women like Williams test driver Susie Wolff, featured on BBC2’s Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World, can’t cope with the stresses of Formula 1.
How shockingly sexist.
It’s parallel parking women can’t do.
The One Show played Michael Bublé a recorded message from Michael Parkinson, who gave the crooner his big break, followed by this exchange:
Alex Jones: “Let’s hope we have some of the effect Michael Parkinson had.”
Matt Baker: “You never know. We might be doing recorded messages for you in a few years.”
I can hear it now, Matt...
“Cashier number four, please.”
So, whodunit on Broadchurch? I’ve sussed it out from this interrogation scene.
DI Alec Hardy: “Where were you the night Danny died?”
Nigel: “I was at home with my mum. We were watching telly, a show about baking.”
Wait a mo. Danny died on a Thursday. Great British Bake Off was on Tuesdays.
He’s lying! Arrest that man!
TOWIE’s Kirk Norcross says in his autobiography (that’s a real thing that really exists, by the way) fame left him so depressed he wished he was still unknown.
You’re not alone, sunshine.
BBC2 spent an hour answering its own question: “Could We Survive A Mega Tsunami?” with the narrator concluding: “The truth is no one really knows.”
Thanks for clearing that up.
This week’s Best Admission Of Cannibalism By A Sitting Prime Minister award goes to...
David Cameron who told David Dimbleby: “A lot of foreign leaders are coming today. I had some of them for dinner last night at Downing Street.”