Couch Potato: Live From Space... Dermot O’Leary, we have a problem

Dermot O'Leary, host of Channel 4's Live From Space
Dermot O'Leary, host of Channel 4's Live From Space

In space, no one can hear you scream.

As Channel 4 proved last Sunday, however, they can hear the host of The X Factor asking what the view is like from the International Space Station.

Every other minute.

For two-and-a-half hours.

Yes, when John F Kennedy famously committed America in 1961 to “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth” by the end of the decade, he probably hadn’t bargained on the logical pinnacle of mankind’s exploration to the final frontier 53 years later...

Dermot O’Leary hosting a live TV link-up with astronauts on the ISS, Live From Space: Lap of the Planet.

Commander Koichi Wakata and his crew may have been flying at 17,500mph 250 miles above the Earth, but not even a voyage through a wormhole at warp factor nine could have outrun O’Leary’s questions, which he fired on a loop from Mission Control in Houston.

“Koichi, do you have any favourite sights?”

“Rick, what’s your all-time favourite view?”

“Koichi, do you have a favourite view?”

(Yes, Dermot. The same as last time you asked.)

“Koichi, what can you see right now for us?”

“Rick, what can you see for us right now?”

“Koichi, what can you see?”

“Rick, what can you see?”

(“Yes, Dermot,” Rick Mastracchio replied, “you caught me in the loo right now.”)

And: “The views must be astounding up there. How do you get any work done?”

Well, Dermot, usually they’re not interrupted for an entire orbit and can crack on with vital zero-G scientific experiments that could save the human race from deadly, drug-resistant superbugs.

But don’t you worry about that. Not when there are more pressing matters on your mind, like: “I read that you had mouse sperm up there. Is that right?”

“The big question we obviously need answering is how do you recycle your own urine?”

“I’ve seen a lot of footage of you guys eating tortillas. It’s like currency up there. What have you had for dinner tonight?” (Lasagne, if you’re interested.)

Where’s Dara O’Briain when you really need him?

Yet never did this verge on becoming the grand TV cock-up it seemed destined to be.

Because while I counted 10 counts of O’Leary describing the view as “beautiful”, six “stunning” and seven “wow” (technically 10 wows, but there was one: “Wow. Wow. Wow!”), he was in the safe hands of brilliant studio expert and veteran astronaut Mike Massimino, who “knows his onions from his asteroids”.

A man I’d love to see more of on television.

Likewise, the ISS crew were warm, engaging, accommodating, always cheerful and, at heart, just big kids who, like the host and many of us watching at home, remain awestruck by space and will never tire of the beautiful, stunning views of the planet.

So not once did they tell him: “Dermot, for crying out loud, we’re trying to get some work done up here.”

In fact all it needed at the end of 155 minutes was for O’Leary not to sign off with some lame pun...

“Thank you for joining us tonight. It’s been out of this world.”

Dermot, we have a problem.


No dispute as to Sport Relief’s finest moment out of all of Friday night’s marathon.

It was Thursday night’s Davina Beyond Breaking Point, topped with that agonising 1.5-mile swim across Lake Windermere and brush with hypothermia.

The most tortuous viewing involving McCall since she entered Channel 4’s final Celebrity Big Brother house clucking around in a chicken costume in 2010.

Fair play to her, though. I could have done without descriptions of her “poor nunu” in the saddle and her claim that: “From small acorns, really enormous change can happen,” when I assumed it was oak trees.

But her final leg on the bicycle when she asked her guest rider alongside: “Tell me if you’re alright with the speed. I might pick up because it’s quite flat,” who happened to be Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, showed how far she’d come from the battering in atrocious conditions on day one.

As she’d pedalled seemingly without progress towards the Lake District from the start in Edinburgh, she said: “The one thing I hadn’t mentally prepared for is wind.”

You know what they say.

Flatulence will get you nowhere.


Actress Sarah Parish reckons viewers could mistake BBC2 spoof W1A for a documentary.

Well, there’s no danger they’ll mistake it for a comedy.


Deep in the African jungle, a primitive race came face to face... with Uganda’s Bakiga tribe, on ITV2’s Educating Joey Essex.

The goof learned lions with “a big bush around its head” are male, “Africa is a consonant” and, as he failed to pronounce “Soweto” to his exasperated guide – “So-wetro?” (“Soweto.”) “So-waitrose?” (“Soweto.”) “Oh-weto?” – here’s an imaginary challenge from me: “Sod off.”

“Stu daff?” Sod off. “Sill laugh?” Sod off. “Sad uff?”

Close enough.


Mary Beard opening her “how women have been silenced throughout the history of western culture” lecture on BBC4’s Oh Do Shut Up Dear!

“I want to start very near the beginning of the whole tradition of western literature and with its first recorded example of a man telling a woman to shut up, that her voice is not to be heard in public...”



This week’s Maths Brains award goes to...

The Michael McIntyre Chat Show guest Abbey Clancy recalling her intensive dance practice during Strictly: “I was doing seven hours a day. 10am til 6pm.”


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

Line of Duty’s exquisitely judged, suitably murky climax.

EastEnders’ Stacey Slater, hiding her head under a white woolly hood, turning into Pootle at a reunion of The Flumps.

Sky News’s Kay Burley coming a cropper running the wrong way up a Malaysian escalator.

Fresh-faced, gum-chewing Peter Capaldi’s dyed Flock of Seagulls hairdo on Crown Court, courtesy of You Saw Them Here First.

And Jeremy Paxman asking would-be BBC owner/saviour Noel Edmonds if his consortium of “like-minded people” were, “with the greatest respect, lots of blokes with beards who present afternoon television programmes?”


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

BBC1 bothering with The Voice’s aimless live shows.

Daybreak sending weathergirl Laura Tobin to Rhossili Bay in South Wales after TripAdviser named it Britain’s best beach – at high tide so you couldn’t see the pigging thing.

Eddie Izzard telling Sky Arts 1’s (Michael) Parkinson Masterclass: “I want to push myself dramatically. Determination is the key thing. As Malcolm Gladwell, the writer and psychologist, said...” when he should just do jokes about thimbles and jam.

And The Michael McIntyre Chat Show host announcing: “Please welcome the beautiful, wonderful, fabulous, wondrous, glamorous Abbey Clancy!” So at least he’s toned down his introductions.


Victoria Coren Mitchell introducing Only Connect Sport Relief Special’s guests: “Charlie Brooker. Is there anything this man can’t do? Yes.”

Turn Lauren Laverne into a decent TV host?


Wednesday, 9pm, an hour of merciless Mark Wright ribbing in the Aussie outback on ITV2’s Party Wright Around The World bordering on public service telly.

The locals named his racing cockroach P***y Pants.

Cattle ranch boss Glenn told him a huge turtle skull was a snake’s “just to put the willies up him” ahead of a night’s camping, which had him yelping: “Oh, there’s a snake in there!”

“No, it’s a telephone.”

An Aussie rules coach said he had a future: “In the changing room doing the rubdown.”

And the Essex plank’s host family dad had the perfect ending as he drove off in a tearful farewell: “Thank God that’s over.”

Fair dinkum.