THERE are many good reasons why ITV’s Good Morning Britain is the most written about and imitated show on television.
Central to most of them is the fascinating relationship between presenter Piers Morgan, who’s having the time of his life hammering on about his great mate Donald Trump, and co-host Susanna Reid, who’s clearly uncomfortable with the fact he fancies her but, for the sake of a very successful format, will probably now stick with the great bison-headed oaf until death.
It’s a funny, complex and incredibly entertaining coupling, fraught with political tension and personal compromise, that seems beyond the reach of parody or satire, as you may have noticed if you were watching BBC1 have a crack at it last night.
This was the eagerly awaited but mainly disappointing return of Steve Coogan’s master-creation Alan Partridge, who’s “back in the big time” on prime-time BBC.
A setting which may well have been the new show’s first big strategic mistake.
Failure suits Alan Partridge so much better. It leads to frustrated ambitions, boredom and Alan dismantling his Corby trouser press at the Linton Travel Tavern, in the era-defining 1997 series I’m Alan Partridge, a show that would be on many people’s “top ten greatest sitcoms ever” list.
Rex Features Piers and Susanna on Good Morning Britain are unsurpassed, in delivering daytime TV giggles
Here, on This Time, written by Neil and Rob Gibbons with Coogan, he’s suddenly been lumbered with a high-profile live format, heavily based on The One Show, which allows no breathing space for anything.
There’s just a pile-up of jokes that generally aren’t worth the effort of a second viewing. One relied on Alan merging a leopard seal with the singer Seal.
Another featured a graphic of a woman’s brain that looked suspiciously like an old Harry Enfield sketch (“Women, know your limits”).
And a third involved an interview, about hand washing, with a Professor Jean Chaudhary, which would’ve been lucky to make the cut on Amanda Holden’s Big Top.
Coogan and Felicity Montagu were simply brilliant in the heyday of Alan Partridge
TV chat show king has dry mouth as he prepares for his new show This Time With Alan Partridge
“Hygiene.” “Hi . . .” “Hi, Jean.”
The other thing I’m Alan Partridge had, of course, was a proper cast: Receptionist Sophie, constantly trying to suppress laughter on the front desk, Michael the Geordie, rival Radio Norwich DJ Dave Clifton and Alan’s assistant Lynn Bellfield, brilliantly played by Felicity Montagu, whose cameo in This Time is probably the best thing about the show.
Other people do appear on This Time, including Emily Maitlis in a BBC lift. Everything rests, though, on Alan’s relationship with co-host Jennie Gresham, played by talented Susannah Fielding, who’s absolutely nailed Susanna Reid’s steeliness (she pinches Alan’s gags) and her wardrobe, but can’t get close to demonstrating the inner turmoil or genuine anger that goes hand-in-hand with being “Piers Morgan’s screen wife”.
That’s partly because, for all it’s obvious failings, the one thing This Time With Alan Partridge is really missing is Armando Iannucci, the original writer, who clearly understood the character better than Steve Coogan.
Getty – Pool You can’t beat a bit of Piers Morgan in the morning, hammering on about his great mate, Donald
He also acted as a brake on Coogan’s ego and surely wouldn’t have let him get away with the applause-chasing piece of exhibitionism, in last night’s episode, when Alan acted out how to go to the toilet without touching anything with your hands.
As skilled as he is, however, it’s doubtful even Iannucci could’ve rescued This Time.
Some TV shows already satirise themselves too well.
And once you’ve seen Piers Morgan playfully accuse Susanna Reid of having a “cocaine habit”, at 6:10 in the morning, or giving her the once-over and turning to camera with a sly “I would, you know”, two lame copies just squabbling over each other’s lines isn’t any sort of substitute.
Piers Morgan slams Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s Oscars 2019 performance claiming it ‘crosses a few lines’
Long may Good Morning Britain remain beyond parody.Great TV lies and delusions of the week
The Greatest Dancer, Alesha Dixon: “Well, hasn’t it been a brilliant series?”
Good Morning Britain, Ross King to Richard E Grant: “You have absolutely captured America, and I’m not just saying that.”
Cheryl and Alesha Dixon star in The Greatest Dancer as they strike a pose for new BBC show
And This Morning, Lizzie Cundy: “I’ve been doing the red carpet for ten years and it was hard work.”
(Unlikely unless she got the Shake n’ Vac gig a decade ago).
Meanwhile, over on The Greatest Dancer final. Alesha Dixon on Ellie and Oti’s dance: “It was so beautiful. Cheryl, what did you think?”“It was so beautiful. Using that connection.”“Matthew?”“Just seeing that connection you have, it’s so beautiful.”“Oti?”“It’s . . .” Don’t bother. We get the point.
A right sitting duck…
Channel 4 and its reporter Alice Levine were shooting fish in a barrel on their Sleeping With The Far Right documentary.
The fish in question being a too-extreme-for-the-BNP character called Jack Sen (real name Dilip Sengupta), who takes out all of his self-loathing on the rest of the planet from his mum’s bungalow in Southport.
(Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) Channel 4 Picture Public C4’s Alice Levine attempts to keep a straight face, on the sofa with former BNP member Jack Sen
Rather surprisingly, Jack’s also got a Ukrainian wife, who thought he “looked like Keanu Reeves”, although Vic Reeves might have been nearer the mark, with a side-helping of Wolfie Smith’s character and Tony Hancock’s Radio Ham: “I’ve got friends all over the world . . . none in this country, but friends all over the world.”
Not how Jack sees it, obviously. In his own head he’s a political visionary and intellectual colossus, even if he was too thick or vain to work out that Channel 4 owned the camera and all they had to do to win this encounter was wait for him to blow his fuse.
The explosion duly arrived, during a web-chat with Nick Griffin, after Levine had spent a cautious week gently prodding and talking down to him.
And it was everything Channel 4 ever wanted from the encounter.
BBC presenter Alice Levine makes a love potion with witch Harmony Nice
(Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way) Channel 4 Picture Public Jack and Alice chew the far-right fat over a nice cup of tea
I hope no sense of purpose or triumph should be attached to the documentary, however, until it’s done exactly the same thing to one of the spittle-flecked, anti-Semitic crazies who now infest the Labour Party.
Anyone from the leader down will fit the bill nicely.
British nationalist Jack Sen who was suspended by BNP and UKIP and former UKIP parliamentary candidate, Joe Chiffers, strive to ‘reclaim Britain from it’s oppressors’
So many gardens, no party
The barmiest middle-class women in the country gave their all to a Channel 4 documentary called 100 Vaginas, last week, which was Laura Dodsworth’s “thought-provoking” sequel to 100 Penises.
And, of course, the rather disappointing prequel to 101 Dalmatians.
Channel 4 Laura Dodsworth pays more than lip service to the important topic of lady parts
A prime-time hour of women displaying themselves both individually and collectively on an image that you’d almost swear was the wallpaper option on a Bill Oddie fan site.
They talked about them as well, endlessly and pretentiously.
One admitted: “My favourite place to masturbate is in the woods.” Another said she wanted “a Brexit for vaginas”. (You leave Boris out of this).
While a third medical miracle even claimed: “My vagina takes up a lot of head space.” (You really want to get that seen to, luv).
PA:Press Association Not sure what Mary Berry would think of the cupcakes on 100 Vaginas
100 Vaginas woman shares horrific story of her genital mutilation
The straw that broke that camel’s toe, as always, though, was the dramatic contrast provided by the ad breaks.
One minute some crazy lady was explaining: “My vulva reminds me of a pink cupcake, with a little mole to the left of my labia that looks like a chocolate chip.”
The next we were being told: “It smells good, it looks good – it’s The Great Celebrity Bake Off.”
Don’t even think about it, Mary.
RANDOM TV IRRITATIONSDancing On Ice never getting shorter.
BBC1’s News At Six leading on the defection of three Tories but not seven Labour MPs.
Julia Bradbury going all shouty crackers on The One Show.
Every major bellend in the country suddenly dressing like one of the Peaky Blinders.
And This Morning following up Doctor Chris Steele’s groundbreaking bottom wiping master-class with, I kid you not, breathing lessons.
And if you need help with that, probably best off not bothering at all.
Best quiz show answer of the week
The Chase, Bradley: “The Smithsonian museum collection contains a family bucket from what restaurant?”
Rob: “Gordon Ramsay.”
QUIZ SHOW DOUGH-BALLS OF THE WEEKThe Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Douglas Dunn’s book The Bagpipe People was chiefly set in what country?”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Eindhoven and Utrecht are cities in which European country?”
Ben Shephard: “A native Parisian is born in which country?”
And Ben Shephard: “Motherwell is a football club located in which country of the UK?”
Oh, Pauline. Does the name Willie Pettigrew really mean nothing to you?
Piers has a novel way of looking at life, and could probably pass for the novelist Annesley Kenealy
THIS week’s winner is Piers Morgan and Miss Annesley Kenealy, from a 1910 edition of Sketch magazine.
Sent in by Steve Mitchell. Picture research: Amy Reading.TV gold
The unlikely but memorable drowning scene on BBC1’s Baptiste, which starts to make a lot more sense next episode.
The Sunderland ’Til I Die episode (five), on Netflix, where they even manage to lose a snowball fight to their youth team.
PA:Press Association Hard-working comedian Jack Whitehall does his best to salvage the deadly Brits
Goggleboxer Jenny on a news item about space debris: “Is somebody else’s planet fly-tipping?”
And the only salvageable elements from a desperately dull Brits: Small doses of Jack Whitehall, the Calvin Harris segment and Nile Rodgers announcing the “Bread female winner”.
Mother’s Pride was robbed.
GREAT SPORTING INSIGHTSLeon Osman: “Players benefit from working with top players week in, day out.”
Jamie Carragher: “The one person United are missing is Lingard and Martial.”
Paul Ince: “I’m not going to single players out, but Doherty was outstanding.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
ExclusiveLIKE IT OR LUMP IT Gemma Collins dumps Arg after he called her a ‘fat horrible lump’ HE’S BACK Coronation Street’s Ali Neeson returns to cobbles next week after absence AH HA! Alan Partridge leaves viewers ‘cringing in the best way’ as he returns to the BBC ExclusiveLIV-IN IT UP Olivia Colman celebrates Oscars victory with all-night bender in party bus SHE’S BACK! Maureen Lipman returns to Corrie and shoots scenes with Alan Halsall HOT ARRIVALS Jesy Nelson and Chris Hughes kiss in the airport after romantic break
EastEnders mysteries of the month
Why has Louise forgotten she was blackmailing Sharon over her fling with Keanu?
What deep-space vortex has swallowed up The Albert pub?
When will Max and Rainie notice a junkie robbed all their money?
And why the hell didn’t Sharon, after his 30-year absence, tell Lofty: “Kathy and my dad have both risen from the dead, Michelle’s had a head transplant.
Oh, and by the bloody way, I finished fourth in the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing”?
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Alesha Dixon wows in a red tuxedo mini dress on The Greatest Dancer final