Britain’s Number One Soap Fan/Now That’s What I Call Television/Keith Barry – The Escape Live, ITV1

by | Dec 29, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like this light entertainment triple whammie?

We knew we’d hate the cheapness, the naffness, the pathetic glitziness and the reliance on talent-lacking losers (ie “celebs”). Yet we hoped there would be some redeeming features – a bit of wit, a smidgeon of clever production, a worthy contributor accidentally turning up. We hoped in a bottomless pit of vain. Not a shred of merit appeared in any of the programmes.

What was good about the three-hour marathon?

• Are you taking the mickey? Even Five at its lowest ebb produces light entertainment better than this.

What was bad about it?

• Britain’s Number One Soap Fan would have been ill-advised even in daytime. Bradley Walsh, looking like he’d slept in his car, is nowhere near good enough to present in primetime. Competing for a coveted trip to the Corrie and Emmerdale sets (where actual actors stand around saying words), the weird, unfortunate contestants were corralled through a series of boring games. And the “star guests” amounted to Sid Owen, that awful Fizz from Corrie and long-forgotten Malandra Burrows who, serving them so right, were forced into uncomfortable encounters with their adoring fans.

• Now That’s What I Call Television with autocue-addict Des Lynam and Fern Bitton twittering away in between old TV clips, sucking up to the exhumed cast of Howards’ Way, plus Linda Gray and Nigel Havers, cracking cringeworthy jokes and generally turning memory lane into a place best to be avoided even if your SatNav keeps insisting you turn into it.

• Keith Barry – The Escape Live starred an Irish magician, styled on Rhydian, who can’t even conjure up a shred of charisma. Most of the show was occupied by mindless mindgames played on the lowest of the low (eg dim Dean Gaffney, desperate Denise Van Outen, brainless Brian Dowling, elephantine Eammon Holmes, a squealing Emmerdale trollop) before the hyped-up live conclusion when Keith was “tied up” in a rope and vowed he’d escape from a shed before it was blown to smithereens. Mark Durden-Smith got another undeserved cheque, appinted to crank up the tension (there was none) with some abysmal acting when the shed blew up before Barry emerged (Don’t worry, he was alright. Actually, do worry, he might end up with another show in ITV’s barren future).

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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