My love affair with television is back on again

Liz Nicholls

Liz Nicholls

First published in Columns by

This summer, I kind of fell out of love with television. Yes: that joy fountain had started to dry up. Until, that is, three encounters this week, one of them involving Mr T.

Some time ago, my mind was blown by Nadia G (extreeeme!) and her Bitchin’ Kitchen on Food Network. Not since then have I felt the simple love buzz that’s now back in my life thanks to BBC Three’s World's Craziest Fools.

Presented by the still-buff Mr T (real name Mister T, yes, really: he changed it from Laurence Tureaud in 1982) and aimed at kids – and mid-30s husks like me with the attention span of a mosquito – World’s Craziest Fools is the show that keeps on giving.

Exhibit A: Clip of bloke trampolining, inevitably getting wedged in the springs (classic You’ve Been Framed stuff) before being mounted, upside down, by a passing blond labrador. This is one of many highlights under the subhead Fools Messing With Animals. Other segments include slapstick that possibly, morally ambiguously, celebrates violence. But, hey, let’s not overthink it: maybe it will inspire you to do something kind today. Mr T’s job, you see, is to reassure us after a particularly distressing montage: “Don’t worry: the skateboarder/ kid/man’s testicles were ok!”

Mr T closed this week’s show (after explaining how he’d invented skiing in the 1980s “and then disinvented it, coz I hated it”) saying: “Remember: you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. But you don’t know what you missin’ ’til it arrives! So be good to yourself. And to each other. So long, suckas.”

Number two: Human Planet. John Hurt’s epic voiceover. Swirling shots of Eastern Amazon rainforest. A community where the kids hunt and cook tarantulas for dinner (“Rosana, pass me the chilli”), the mothers breastfeed orphan monkeys and the men dice with death. Alpha male Tete is looking for honey because his wife hasn’t had any for ages “and she is mad”, he explains to his mate. The camera pans out on a treetop Tete enjoying his honey feast, keeping his wife sweet and winning the respect of his tribe. If this scene doesn’t move you, check your pulse.

Number three: Celebrity Big Brother. Many thoughts (and feelings of guilt and shame) hit you while watching CBB. The main thought is “why am I watching this when I could be doing something more productive, such as defleaing the cat”. But you might still get pulled in, bingeing and crying. Yes, the word celebrity has now been stretched beyond breaking point to the extent that two of the contestants have earned their place in the hall of fame by sitting on their bums alongside their mum and dad watching telly (George) or smoking and swearing on Benefits Street (Dee). But, hold the snobbery. This might just be a new era: a more meritocratic one? A world where White Dee can emerge as Duchess Deidre of Solihull (which she did with a typical down-to-earth swagger) and boxing promoter Frank Maloney can emerge as Kellie.

For all the cynical sniping about this stunt, that takes some nerve. As does greeting Audley Harrison’s reasonable “Do I call you Kellie?” with a straight-off-the-bat “If you wanna get paid for your next fight you do, yeah”. Hissyfits, handbags and hormones (and that’s just the boys), I have already been in tears at the ridiculous, pantomime-fairytale madness in the house and it’s only the beginning.

World’s Craziest Fools is next on BBC Three tomorrow at 8pm, and Tuesday at 7pm and 7.30pm.

Human Planet is repeated on Tuesdays at 11pm on BBCFour Celebrity Big Brother, nightly, 9pm, C5

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