A watershed moment for television as we know it, last Sunday evening, as ITV’s continuity woman piped up: “Time now to find the celebs’ tipping point.”
So where was it exactly?
At the other end of a phone call from their agent, it transpired, informing them that the best gig they can land, in these difficult showbiz times, is a contestant’s slot on a pitiful game show based on the amusement arcade 2p sliding-shelves coin-pusher machine. Game. Thing.
In other words, monkey tennis brought to life, although its official title is Tipping Point: Lucky Stars.
And so it came to pass, on primetime telly, that Nick Hewer’s go-to Countdown numbers girl, the Ladbrokes adverts’ naked shower bloke and Chris Moyles’ sidekick from Sky Living dating show The Love Machine were dropping plastic discs into a mechanical contraption described by host Ben Shephard as a “temperamental diva”.
He can dress it up all he likes.
But he can’t mask the fact this is a new low for TV.
If you’re unfamiliar with the programme (and why the hell wouldn’t you be) Tipping Point has been trundling along quietly in its rightful place on daytime since last July, bookended by Dickinson’s Real Deal/The Alan Titchmarsh Show and The Chase, with no reason to announce itself to the world.
It is now every broadcaster’s requirement, however, that any game show must, by royal charter, have a celebrity version or dispense with civilians altogether, like All Star Mr & Mrs and All Star Family Fortunes.
Yet even ITV wasn’t brazen enough, with a line-up of Rachel Riley, Chris Kamara and Stacey Solomon, to name it All Star Tipping Point (Kammy aside, obviously).
From the off, the contest looked like a mismatch of epic proportions, and so it proved.
Riley and Kammy didn’t stand a chance.
You see, not an ounce of skill, talent or knowledge is required to play this game, something you’d think ITV would avoid like an autumn schedule clash with Strictly Come Dancing, after handing out £1 million to a convicted thug on the similar pure-chance format of Red or Black.
So Stacey Solomon, who didn’t know the meaning of the phrase “film title character” and answered Shephard’s question: “In 1999, which Dutch footballer was voted European Player of the Century?” with: “Of the century? So was he around from 1901-99? Who plays football for a century?” walked her way to the £20,000 jackpot.
Great for her chosen cause, Alzheimer’s Research UK, of course.
But please don’t tell me this diabolical excuse for a show is befitting of a primetime audience just because it’s for charity.
That’s a defence ITV has hidden behind before to disguise just how dreadful its output can be. (See also, Keith Lemon’s Sing If You Can).
It opens the floodgates for the likes of All Star Bagatelle and Shove Ha’penny Lucky Stars.
Don’t put it past them either. They’ve had the short-sighted idiocy to record 12 episodes of Tipping Point: Lucky Stars.
And you can bet Ben Shephard, who is no Stephen Mulhern, will be overegging the pudding each time.
“What an extraordinary game,” he told Stacey Solomon as she stumbled into a correct answer. “We’ve had a good run of it so far.”
Say that again, with a straight face, in three months’ time, Ben.
In fact, say that tonight.
It’ll tip me over the edge.
TOP DRAWER TELLY
C4’s captivating Dates, which came with the surprise that Will Mellor can act.
Operation Snow Tiger’s rescued cubs, almost as cute as Liz Bonnin in that furry hat.
Michaela Strachan surrendering in the war against Springwatch’s midges by donning a full head-covering hairnet, making her just one orange boiler-suit away from the regulation Guantanamo detainee uniform.
The Apprentice’s Dracula lookalike Alex revealing he sells tombstones.
And Sex Toy Stories, notably 69-year-old vibrator tester Margaret announcing: “I’m just rediscovering sex, proof I suppose that you can teach grandmothers to suck eggs,” so to speak.
And the name of the production manager, Melanie Bones.
Yes, I’ll bet she does.
SCRAPING THE BARREL
The dead-horse flogging return of Big Brother.
EastEnder Peter Beale undergoing another head, body and personality transplant.
Daybreak’s Richard Arnold, on Wednesday morning, ruining the surprise of The Apprentice double firing.
Self-proclaimed “role model” Richard Blackman following Paul Ross’s lead, and his own Channel 5 coffee enema in 2003, by undergoing a live rectal examination on This Morning.
Chris Packham not even bothering to cloak The Clash tracks he’s been annoyingly inserting into his Springwatch script: “Rock the Casbah used to be my favourite Clash song but now it’s White Man in the Hammersmith Palais.”
And Loose Woman Andrea McLean announcing: “A survey has revealed what we women have known for a long time. Men are immature.”
No, YOU’RE immature.
Embarrassing Bodies patient Tia, 23: “I’ve had bunions on my feet since I was 13. It’s been getting worse and I find it really painful.”
Dr Christian Jessen: “Do they run in your family, Tia?”
No, they’ve all got bunions.
A confused Holly Willoughby discussing the BGT egg-thrower, on This Morning’s newspaper review: “It appears she auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent and all four coaches turned around but she didn’t make it through to the live shows.”
That’s Holly Willoughby. The only woman in Britain talking about The Voice.
You can imagine the feedback from the eight women handpicked by Ann Summers to design and road-test new vibrators, on C4’s Sex Toy Stories.
“Hmm, we’re not sure. Give us another few months with them and we’ll come back to you.”
And yet, after a whole year’s intensive research by the ladies, and several mini-earthquakes later, the narrator announced one was too noisy: “The Girth Vibe is one of the stars of the range. It can’t hit the shelves until it’s silenced.”
Well then the solution’s obvious.
It needs a muffler.
In keeping with this year’s Big Brother theme Secrets and Lies, I wish to share a secret.
I love Big Brother and I’ll be glued to it every night.
And here’s another one.
That’s a lie.
(Half past) 10 O’Clock Live’s David Mitchell: “Should a joke, however un-amusing, ever be a crime?”
Yes. Taxi to Channel 4, please.
I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest.
Or four, actually.
Christian Jessen on Embarrassing Bodies: “Tonight we wanted to know would you go to the doctor if you thought you were suffering from OCD.”
Dawn Harper: “34 per cent of you said you would, 66 per cent...”
Turned the cold tap on and off seven times while crossing your fingers, standing on one leg and muttering Humpty Dumpty backwards.
You know. Just in case.
Rafa Nadal’s pidgin English reaction on winning his record-breaking eighth French Open: “I never realise that something I did will be able to make happen but here I am.”
Back in ITV’s studio, John Inverdale: “Serena Williams needs another nine grand slams to be the winning-most grand slammer of all time.”
I’d get some English lessons, John. From Rafa.
Embarrassing Bodies’ Dr Dawn Harper: “Adele is waiting to see us now. Adele, what can we do for you?”
Some weight-loss advice?
In Corrie’s props store, Goodbye Granadaland host Peter Kay unearthed the coffin of Shobna Gulati’s character Sunita.
Not to be confused with her real-life showbiz coffin. Loose Women.
This week’s Meat Scandal of the Week award goes to...
The kebab shop owner on Food Unwrapped who, asked by Jimmy Doherty what was in a doner kebab, replied: “Human meat. All the people who die in the world, they’re made into doner kebabs.”
Thank heavens for that.
I was worried it was horse.