19 June 2017

Will Young, Mel Geidroyc and Deke Sharon turn Pitch Battle into battle of the bilge as new series has more rounds than Munich’s beer fest

SATURDAY night, BBC1, and some fresh menace called Deke Sharon is gushing on a winged theme.

“We had disco angels, we had doo-wop angels, we had Beyonce angels, we had Robbie Williams’ Angels . . .”

Pitch Battle lacks imagination

We had everything, in fact, bar Hell’s Angels, armed with broken pool cues, who could’ve made sure this next show lived up to its title.

It’s Pitch Battle, a singing competition which has been commissioned in the belief that enough time has now passed for us to forgive and forget Last Choir Standing, with Nick Knowles and Myleene Klass, in 2008.

I’m here to tell them it hasn’t and it should be another decade before they even think of doing something similar.

Will Young returned to the BBC after his Strictly Come Dancing debacle

Quite apart from the problems of familiarity and lack of imagination, though, Pitch Battle also presents us with some personnel and format issues that are so acute it’s hard not to take them personally.

We’ll start with the former and Deke, “the genius behind the Pitch Perfect movies”, (search me) who’s a bit “in your face” and seems to be labouring under the impression he’s the presenter as well as the Musical Director. He’s not.

That role, inevitably, because TV has a mental block with Bake Off, has gone to Mel Geidroyc, who’s unaccompanied here by Sue Perkins and therefore has no restraining order on the torrent of whimsy and irony she unleashes at the poor contestants.

She does, however, have to defer to a three-pronged judging panel which always includes singer Kelis and Gareth Malone, who is one of TV’s great communicators and, without doubt, the best thing about Pitch Battle.

If there was goodwill gained from his inclusion it was lost, however, by grovelling guest judge Will Young, who was making his first big BBC1 appearance since the Strictly Come Dancing debacle and had dressed up in a special outfit for the occasion.

The singer chose an usual outfit for Saturday’s show

Mel thought it looked “Fantastic”. I thought it looked more like Bert Kwouk had joined a Ukrainian squat dancing troupe. Still, introductions finally over, it’s on with the contest. And what an unwieldy beast it is.

Pitch Battle lasts for ever and has more rounds than the Munich ruddy beer festival. There’s a showstopper, a riff-off, battles, more battles and a hell of a lot of stamping around and mock theatrics from the choirs, who are having the time of their lives singing Hold Back The River and all sorts of other songs I never EVER want to hear again.

If you’re wondering what your role in all this is, though, then tough. You haven’t got one. There is no public vote.

Mel Geidroyc presents the show without her usual sidekick Sue

You must just sit and listen and pretend a lot of the singers aren’t really flat while Will and the gang pick every winner and make outlandish claims, like: “The mic drop, during I’m Too Sexy, was one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Well, they do say there’s always someone worse off than yourself, don’t they? And, from a critical perspective, I suppose I should also acknowledge Pitch Battle’s graphics department rather obligingly flashed up the word “SORRY” during one of the themed rounds, then followed it with the most perfectly chosen lyric of the year.

The new show doesn’t feature a public vote

“Is it too late now to say sorry?”

Way WAAAAAAY too late. But come back in 2027 and I may be in a more forgiving mood.

Pitch Battle fans compare Will Young to a Kung Fu panda as he wears tight shirt outfit

A black day for dating

CILLA BLACK was, Paul O’Grady wanted Channel 5 viewers to know, the woman who broke his nose in a jacuzzi and “gave me two heart attacks”.

With a bout of clinical depression in the post if the first episode of this revamp is anything to go by.

Channel 5

Paul O’Grady kicks off the new series of Blind Date[/caption]

For she’s bequeathed him in her will the right to host the new Blind Date, which is back after a 14-year gap – but rather spelled out its own redundancy with O’Grady’s opening admission that “a lot has changed in the dating world”.

A lot, too, in the television world, where they’re now doing this sort of thing naked on Channel 4 and having it off in the hideaway on ITV2’s Love Island.

The contestants have changed for the worse as well, ’cos there used to be a cheerful innocence about them on the original Blind Date. This lot are as over-indulged as the next snowflakers, appear deeply unimpressed by “Junkyard Golf” as a prize and so flakey they’re telling potential dates: “I’m quite worried about the zombie apocalypse. If you were to survive, how would you do that?”

Channel 5

Dating has changed since the original Blind Date[/caption]

The same way he made it through the auditions, I’d imagine, luv.

If the mood was a bit dark, though, it might have owed something to the new studio.

I switched on Blind Date expecting glamour, bright lights, a hint of the exotic.

Channel 5

The new set lacked the glamour of previous series[/caption]

I got something that looked more like the Davros mausoleum and the graveyard of the Daleks.

Blind Date? Blind bloody interior designer, more like.

  • MEANWHILE, over on Big Brother, “VIP” guest Gemma Collins: “I’m the wrong side of 30 now – I’m going to be 40 soon.” And by the time this goes to print, she could even be nudging 50 stone.

TV Gold: Piers Morgan’s George at Asda shirts giving up the unequal struggle, button by button, on the horribly unmissable Good Morning Britain. Kem and Amber’s brilliant cockerel-interrupted date on the equally addictive Love Island.

The Wife Swap: Brexit Special’s news that Kat, the endlessly indignant Remainer, is “thinking of moving back to Germany”. (Wanna lift?)

And Imran attempting to gee up his pain-in-the-butt wife Sukhvinder on Big Brother’s VIP guest task: “Did Martin Luther King give up? Did Malcolm X give up? Did Nelson Mandela give up?” And did Sukhvinder Javeed give up? Yeah, she did. Walked out on Friday.

GREAT TV lies and delusions of the week. Big Brother, Kayleigh: “Obviously I’ve got a fan base already.”

Pitch Battle, Deke Sharon: “I guarantee you and everyone in here tonight is going to fall in love.”

And Love Island’s Kem on a farmyard date: “That chicken won’t let me talk.”

’Cos technically it was a cock. Two of them, in fact.

Monty is full of joy

CONFESSION time. I think The Full Monty’s a bit over-rated as a film.

There’s a couple of nice scenes but the acting and casting are all over the place and it didn’t make me laugh out loud once.


Celebs got their kit off for the charity tribute to The Full Monty[/caption]

Expectations, then, were perfectly well-managed for ITV’s charity-driven tribute The Real Full Monty even before I found out it involved Wayne Sleep, Dominic Littlewood and Elliott Wright, of Playa In Marbella fame.

But what do I know? It turned out to be a beautiful evening’s television and for that, a lot of the credit must go to choreographer Ashley Banjo, who’s one of those charming, talented, like- able, driven individuals who just brings out the best in everyone.

Mark Foster, Danny John Jules, Harry Judd, Dom Littlewood, Matt Wolfenden, Alexander Armstrong and Elliot Wright perform the Full Monty

The end result was so touching and life-affirming that I’m not even going to dwell on the list of names they left off the show – Boris Johnson, Simon Cowell, Tony Hadley, Alan Titchmarsh, except to say . . . series two.



THIS week’s £69 winner is the late, great Erin Moran, of Happy Days fame, and a young Harry Styles.

Sent in by the prolific Peter Scott, of Glasgow’s south side.

Picture research: AMY READING.

QUIZ show dough-balls of the week.
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “The woolly mammoth is commonly related to what Asian species of animal?”
Ollie: “The walrus.”

The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Tunnel 57 was an escape route that ran under what famous wall?”
Sam: “Hadrian’s Wall.”

Big Brother: “What continent is the Big Brother house on?”
Nicola McLean: “I don’t know. What’s a continent?”

And Ben Shephard again: “Someone who’s described as an Aquarian is born under which sign of the Zodiac?”
Simon: “Pass.”

QUIZ show interruption of the week. Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Which artist painted the story of Noah and the flood . . . ”
Liz: “Banksy.”
“ . . . on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Michaelangelo.”

FILTH Corner. Speaking entirely for himself, it’s Dean Saunders: “If you went to bed at night with ten Jonathan Walters, you’d be happy.”

Great sporting insights

Barrie McDermott: “That confidence will ensure they give a good fist of themselves.”
Phil Babb: “For that sort of player, there’s a new phrase in Spain, ‘Le pause’.”
Glenn Hoddle: “Harry Kane won the free cock off him.”
And the very static Joe Hart: “The goalkeeping world requires movement for any kind of movement.”
It sure does, Joe.
(Compiled by Graham Wray)

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