COUCH POTATO: Is Embarrassing Bodies doing its bit for the NHS?

Embarrassing Bodies
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Down at “Britain’s only out-of-hours TV surgery”, Kevin, from Grimsby, appears on the giant Skype screen, clears his throat and issues a cry for medical help.

“I’ve been coughing up hard yellow lumps of phlegm, sometimes blood, for eight months. I’m worried it’s something really bad.”

An urgent case for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies: Live From The Clinic team.

So Dr Christian Jessen adopts his most reassuring voice and says: “Eight months sounds too long Kevin.

“We’ll be right back after this break to help you sort that out.”

That’s right, Kev. Eight months sounds too long. But not quite long enough.

You’ll have to wait.

Nivea, Mars bars and Angry Birds are ahead of you in the queue to be seen.

And Nicole Scherzinger is, as we speak, laid out on a sofa, poised to get all sultry over a tub of yoghurt.

It’s par for the course on this show, ever since the time they kept a poor bloke with chronic diarrhoea hanging on for dear life, and a diagnosis, during the adverts.

And it’s one of the reasons I can’t stay away from the peculiarly enjoyable non-prescription drug that is Embarrassing Bodies (the live version, anyway).

As is timing how quickly Jessen and Dawn Harper palm a patient off on someone else.

This week had 56-year-old Loretta telling the pair: “I’ve got three very red swollen fingers.”

Dr Harper: “Speak to our GPs, they can give you a list of creams you can run through with your GP.”

Next? Richard, 44: “I spend half the day wiping my backside.” (Well, we all need a hobby.)

Dr Jessen: “I think your GP needs to examine you.”

Even 46-year-old Kevin, from Grimsby, when they eventually got round to him, was told: “Let’s put you through to the GPs now.”

It’s a valuable service they provide, taking quite the strain off the NHS, eh?

Of course not. It’s a television show that, for all Channel 4’s public service obligations, exists to entertain.

But that’s fine when a programme’s made with such love and care for the craft.

The lengths to which the production team researched, located and persuaded Nurse Joy Tickle to be its resident specialist wound dabber/packer are beyond admirable.

They’ve also unearthed a TV star-in-the-making with support act Mr Paul Anderson, “one of Britain’s leading penis doctors”, who arrived on Tuesday with this announcement during reconstructive surgery: “Before I began he was peeing like an old man. Now he’ll be peeing like a racehorse.”

Pure Alan Partridge.

The rest of it is mere padding – the follow-up treatment, Dr Pixie McKenna out and about squeezing somebody’s cyst, and a female kickboxing club having plaster casts made of their genitalia to play a game of spot your own nethers.

Bodily excretion of the week, for there is one every time, was earwax, with Dr Jessen advising: “If you’re having problems with wax then go and see your pharmacist or GP,” proving the hosts don’t confine their palming off only to individual patients. It’s the entire audience too.

So when Dr Harper closed the surgery with: “Remember there really is no excuse not to see a doctor,” it was clear what she was actually saying.

Nowhere is there a better place not to see a doctor.

8pm, Tuesday nights, Channel 4.

You’ve no excuse.

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This week’s Christianity Expert of the Week award goes to...

The One Show’s Matt Baker: “Your dad was a bishop.”

Hugh Dennis: “Yes. He was.”

Baker: “So you had a religious upbringing then?”

Yes. He did.

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That Bafta for Best Continuing Drama inexplicably won by EastEnders a fortnight back must seem a lifetime ago for the Walford mob now.

Because TV’s worst show, freefalling in the ratings, had a catastrophic evening at The British Soap Awards, picking up only Adam Woodyatt’s Lifetime Achievement token gong.

But I’m a compassionate man so I’ll simply say this, with a nod to a Norwegian football commentator.

Final score. Corrie 8, Eastenders 1.

Phil Mitchell, Max Branning, Dot Cotton, Bianca Jackson, Fatboy, Bafta... Bafta, can you hear me?

Your boys took one helluva beating.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

BBC2’s The Fall.

The hilarious ventriloquism skit on ITV4’s Tim Vine: Punslinger.

Lorraine Kelly’s inability to contain the giggles when Daybreak’s Richard Arnold revealed newlywed Mel Sykes is now Mrs Cockings.

The name of C4 diet show Fat Family Tree’s production coordinator, Floury Crum. (Hmm, deep-fried floury crumb.)

The 16.7 seconds it took All Star Mr & Mrs dimwit Joey Essex to raise his blue paddle after Schofe asked him and Towie fiancée Sam Faiers: “Who would take the longest to hold up a paddle?...”

And Christopher Dean announcing on Daybreak: “Next year’s Dancing On Ice will be our last. This final series needs to be a celebration.”

Oh, let me tell you, Chris. I’ll be throwing one heck of a party.

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Billy Bragg, on the last place you’d expect to see him, ITV’s Loose Women: “There are things that define me as a man – having a beard, collecting coins, standing up to have a wee...”

Andrea McLean: “To be honest, the beard and the coins are things we can’t do.”

Only the beard and the coins?

Do say hello, Andrea, if we’re ever at the same urinals.

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Ooh-ahh! Plenty of organic vegetables on display at Lord Sugar’s theatre of dreams this week.

And they were tasked with running a farm shop, as week four of The Apprentice delivered glorious manure-encrusted stupidity.

Leah asked: “How many potatoes are in a kilo?”

Kurt put all his eggs in one milkshake. Which is probably why it didn’t sell.

And Alex clutched a bunch of carrots and actually said: “What are these?”

They’re 24-carrot TV gold, Alex.

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This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

Sharon Osbourne’s impending return to The X Factor (like that’ll solve all its problems).

The Voice lasting an eternal 130 minutes.

ITV2’s British Soap Awards: The Party hosts Joe Swash and Zoe Hardman interviewing the cast of Doctors about ongoing storylines as if they, or indeed anybody, watches the thing.

And Jacqui Oatley trying to convince us on new BBC2 minority sport series The Women’s Football Show that this weekend’s big match is Arsenal Ladies versus Bristol Academy, at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.

’Cos I could’ve sworn Wembley hosted the Uefa Champions League final last night.

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Dr Alice Roberts, on BBC2 natural history show Ice Age Giants, near the Hollywood sign: “This is Los Angeles. Where else would you go for an encounter with the ultimate Ice Age celebrity?

“This is the territory of one of the most iconic and terrifying animals of the Ice Age.”

Oh I don’t know, Alice.

Sid the Sloth and Scrat aren’t THAT terrifying.

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If you believe C4, Fat Family Tree was: “A television first, using cutting-edge genetic analysis to help an overweight family.”

And not just another slimming show which provided these scientific bombshells...

Walking burns off fat. Fresh fruit, wholemeal bread and beans are good for you.

So excuse me if I don’t jump up and down that the obese McConnon family changed their bad habits and lost weight, with mum Tina proclaiming: “I think we have broken the cycle.”

Gonna need a new exercise bike.