Everyone get back to work…or Rolling In It gets a second series

DOWN to her last three chins and totally devoid of inspiration, Gemma Collins tried answering this Stephen Mulhern question, on Saturday night.

“In which sport will you hear the terms ‘googly’ and ‘full toss’?”

A short silence followed as Gemma quickly dismissed the cricket option and then responded: “I’m going shot put.”

A brilliant career switch, I thought, for Gemma who could launch that thing through the ozone layer.

But it didn’t really help the celeb/civilian dynamic one little bit on ITV’s Rolling In It.

A stiff of a game show dreamt up by Simon Cowell’s Over The Top Productions company and hosted by Stephen Mulhern, who charged on to the set, Saturday night, shouting: “Oh yes, I hope you’re ready. This is going to be good.”

It wasn’t, obviously. It was going to be anything but good.

Rolling In It is a show where every single thing is working against it being good, in fact, from the fixtures and fittings to the ropey old format where they’ve attempted to fuse the random “thrill” of Tipping Point with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, minus the decent cash prize.

VISIBLY RELUCTANT ITV CELEBS

The technology here isn’t exactly state of the art either. It’s an old arcade game.

So, before answering 15 lobotomised questions (see above), the contestants must roll a gigantic coin down a chute which can end up in a cash prize basket, but more often than not ends up bankrupting them.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, as you’ve probably noticed, is currently playing exactly the same game with the British economy and probably thinks Rolling In It is a fantastic idea for a game show.

ITV in its heart of hearts, though, clearly does not. How can you tell?

Because they’ve had to ditch the normal, run-of-the-mill contestants and partner-up some visibly reluctant ITV celebs with X Factor-style “characters” who are meant to divert your attention from the game.

Saturday night, we had a live wire called Jana, who announced her arrival by telling Mulhern he’d “lost weight”. “What?”

The week before there was another handful by the name of Lesley, who brought proceedings to a temporary halt, at the introductions’ stage, with this announcement. “I arrange funerals.”

I’d stick around then, Lesley. I’ve checked this show’s vital signs and I think we’re talking weeks rather than months.

I worry, too, about the long-term prospects of ITV in the current climate.

The share price is down, advertising’s hit an all-time low, Ant & Dec are wintering in Rhyl and the new home for I’m A Celeb is literally a folly.

The very remote possibility exists, I will admit, that Rolling In It is part of a deep-state plan to frighten everyone back to work — “Return to the office NOW, or you’re getting a second series of this rubbish.”

But I don’t think we really need to look beyond the obvious lockdown explanation here.

The cupboard is bare.

ITV has simply run out of anything else worth showing, we’re now on to the stuff that was never meant to see the light of day, and as good as it’s ever going to get for Rolling In It is Gemma Collins revealing that: “My intuition is telling me shot put.”

Then please go with your intuition, Gemma. Team GB demands it.

TV Gold

  • BBC1’s Line of Duty repeats.
  • Rob Beckett’s Celebs Go Virtual Dating commentary, on E4.
  • The darkly funny moment Chernobyl’s dog-shooting squad chance upon the Soviet propaganda slogan: “Our goal is the happiness of all mankind.” (Yeah! How’s that going?).
  • ITV’s Life And Times Of Captain Sir Tom.
  • The BBC’s VJ Day tributes.
  • And Professor David Spiegelhalter OBE, who can normally be found talking very earnestly, on Newsnight, about the coronavirus pandemic, but, Saturday morning, could be seen getting absolutely flattened by Granny’s House on a Winter Wipeout repeat. Please watch this version of a sublime game show (Challenge TV, 7am, Saturday) rather than the travesty of BBC1’s Freddie And Paddy Takeover.

Great Sporting Insights

Compiled by Graham Wray

Nasser Hussein: “The three non-negotiable players were Atherton, Stewart, Thorpe and Gough.”

Paul Merson: “Every City signing is just another cog in the jigsaw.”

Steven Gerrard: “The quality on the bench is the quality that’s not even on the bench.”

Sad to see end of line

BBC1’S re-run of the original and arguably best Line Of Duty series concluded, last night, with the Organised Crime Gang still on the loose and DCI Tony Gates putting his tortured Irish wolfhound out of its misery before killing himself.

The character I always feel sorry for, watching this 2012 version of the show, though, is Jackie Laverty, Gates’ miserable girlfriend, who had her throat slit in the second episode.

She was then stashed in Terry’s freezer, just behind the crispy pancakes and Cornettos, until her corpse was dramatically rediscovered in the fourth episode of the fifth series, in April 2019, looking almost as gormless as DI Buckells.

In the process, she missed: The show’s big move to Belfast, in series two, the DI Denton years, with Keeley Hawes, balaclava man, Thandie Newton’s appearance, Ted Hastings’ long, dark nights of the soul at the Edge Park hotel, and DS Steve Arnott’s subtle transition from grey tank tops to lurid waistcoats, straight after he slept with DC Georgia Trotman at the beginning of the second run.

I’d imagine Jackie actress Gina McKee casts a frosty stare or two in the direction of her agent as well.

Line Of Duty may never have been so gloriously easy to understand, or free from abbreviations, as it was in series one, but while her character’s been solidifying at Terry’s gaff it has become the most consistently brilliant drama of the decade.

Sadly for her, Jackie Laverty is not actually due to defrost fully until series seven and the next run (six) is going to be the last.

No official word yet as to when that production will reach our screens but, you can guarantee already, Line Of Duty’s final episodes will be the television event of the year.

BBC2’s new sitcom Mandy?

Well I came and I watched without laughing. So I sent you away. Oh Mandy . . . 

Random TV irritations

ITV offering political poison-dripper Tom Watson the chance to reinvent himself as a reality show contestant on Rock The Boat.

BBC2 grovelling before the corpse of that murdering old monster Fidel Castro.

This Morning failing to pixelate deeply distressing images of Matthew Wright.

Sarky Sporting Nation host Jack Whitehall claiming: “Scotland’s produced some exceptional footballers, Law, Dalglish . . . Robert Snodgrass,” as if Snoddy hadn’t run the show when we pumped Malta 5-1 away, in 2016.

And the words: “You’re exclusively invited to Gemma Collins’ Love Lounge,” actually being uttered by a BBC1 continuity announcer, who can “exclusively” shove that invite up his Gunga. This is meant to be the BBC not ITV2.

Worst quiz idea of the week?

Guess the identity of Ranvir Singh’s mystery celebrity on Martin and Roman Kemp’s Sunday Best show.

“I once kissed one of the most famous sixtysomethings on the planet . . . ”

Uhuh.

“He was famous for children’s television and . . . ” CUUUUUT

Sir Tom's valued opinion

ITV’S The Life and Times of Captain Sir Tom provided a welcome break from the almost constant diet of molly-coddling and repeats we’ve come to expect in lockdown, last Wednesday.

An opinion that would, I think, be shared by the man himself who’s waited the best part of a century to tell his story and certainly isn’t wasting the opportunity now it’s come.

It’s one of the things I like about him.

Another is the heavy hint he keeps dropping that Burma wasn’t the only ‘action’ he saw in the war.

There were “weekends in Bombay,” with a woman called Sylvia, which was: “Quite a happy little thing.”

As historian Dominic Sandbrook explained, though, the reason Captain Sir Tom’s revered by the nation is not just the sense he’s the physical embodiment of loved ones we all mourn but their values as well.

Public duty, personal sacrifice and a sense of proportion that’s been completely lost by those subsequent generations whose capacity for self-pity is matched only by their ability to over-dramatise everything.

As Captain Sir Tom demonstrated so perfectly when he dedicated just three words to the years he spent being shot at by the Japanese in the jungles of the far east during World War Two.

“It was unpleasant.”

We forget them at our peril.

INCIDENTALLY, a number of you were angry I didn’t supply the correct answer to last week’s Edna Everage Chase question: “The title of which Dane’s autobiography is usually translated as The Fairytale Of My Life.”

But it was, of course, Dane Bowers.

I think.

Unexpected morons in the bagging area

Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “In 1952 Prince Charles became the Duke of which English county?” Amanda: “Wales.”

The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “What unit of power is abbreviated to HP?” Jack: “Houses of Parliament.”

And Ben Shephard: “In the 2014 West End adaptation of Richard III, which British actor played the title role?” Stuart: “Laurence Olivier.”

(All contributions gratefully received).

Clarification

This Morning, Eamonn Holmes to chef: “Lamb is something I’m not always favourable towards.”

Hates the wool, loves the chops.

Lookalikes

Great TV lies and delusions of the month

Rolling In It, Gemma Collins: “I really hope you win. I’ll be so happy for the rest of my life.”

This Morning, Gok Wan to Rochelle Humes and Alison Hammond: “I have to say, I’m having the best time today, girls. I’m loving it.”

And Celebrity MasterChef winner Riyadh Khalaf: “I’ve literally cancelled everything else in my life. Social life, work . . . ” So, just your social life then?

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