BE honest with yourselves here and try to imagine you’ve been taken hostage, inside a Middle Eastern embassy, in London, by heavily armed lunatics.
Death threats are flying thick and fast, but British military intelligence manages to make contact via the following message.
“Don’t worry. We’re sending in an SAS team to help. There’s transgender Holly, a bloke with a memory like a koi carp whose nickname is “One-eyed Al, the stupid Minion”, and Ricky, who’s processing some mental health issues in a really positive and powerful way.
“They’re utterly useless in a military situation, but very inclusive. #LoveYourself #WhoSharesWins.”
Reassured? No, of course you’re not. You’re clawing at the ground, crying: “Oh God, I don’t want to die.”
As deliberately ridiculous as I’ve made it sound, though, that’s the end game we’re forced to contemplate watching the new series of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, which has undergone some significant and potentially fatal changes since the last run.
The first and most obvious is to the personnel.
Chief instructor Ant Middleton remains, for now, but as part of C4’s diversity drive the largely anonymous Ollie Ollerton and Jay Morton have been replaced by someone who is significantly more terrifying than the pair of them and also his own fantastically ill-fitting name, Melvyn.
Less apparent, yet far more important, are the subtle changes to the show’s “test like no other” introduction.
Back in series one it would always conclude with Ant asking: “Would I have this guy next to me in a war zone?”
Yet, at the start of this sixth run, we’re merely told: “They must come face to face with their true self”, whatever the hell that means.
In 2015, of course, there was also that sense that even if none of them had the slightest chance of passing real SAS selection, they were at least the best available contestants and gave the show a degree of credibility.
Now, though, it is cast along similar lines to Big Brother, so everyone must arrive fully kitted out with their own annoying character quirk or moving back story.
As well as the three I mentioned earlier, Sunday night’s episode also introduced us to: Kieran, who’s got a stutter, stripper and ex-drug addict Esther and a tattoo artist from Brighton called John, who appeared to be useless at everything, especially the coming face to face with his “true self” bit.
“I’m not sure why some people don’t like me,” he said, “I’ve always been a bit of an attention-seeker.”
So, a total mystery John’s unpopularity must remain.
The main talking point, though, was undoubtedly transgender Holly, who was only a few minutes into the opening mountain run, in Scotland’s brutal Western Isles, when she conked out and face-planted straight into the heather.
Two upright stragglers, Esther and Shireen, had already been forcibly withdrawn by that point, so you assumed that would also be the last you’d see of Holly as medics carted her back down the mountain, wearing an oxygen mask.
The show, which always assures viewers it copies real SAS selection techniques and endlessly insists “there are no second chances”, decided Holly “deserves a second chance, because people have been against her, her whole life”.
Personally, I’d have been livid if I was one of the two women forced off the course, or even Holly who, presumably, wants to be treated as an equal rather than patronised.
Everyone at Channel 4 will insist, obviously, that no allowances are made.
The audience, though, will almost certainly draw the same conclusion I did from that incident and assume no one can resist the relentless march of the woke brigade which, as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, destroys everything in its path, from the Baftas and the Oscars to Good Morning Britain and the Labour Party.
SAS: Who Dares Wins isn’t quite in the same unsalvageable state as either of those last two operations, as it’s still an entertaining and beautifully filmed show.
But it’s also doing its best to break the trust of the viewers.
And once you’ve lost that, not even the Special Forces can help you.
Who said the following? “I can’t sit in the cupboard with Fanny for the rest of my life.”
A) Linda on The Pursuit Of Love?
B) Gordon the Gopher on Phillip Schofield?
He's dead wrong for GMB
ITV can try to turn Alastair Campbell into a breakfast TV host, just as it can try to turn Gemma Collins into Champion Jockey, but something will expire in the process.
The dead horse here is Good Morning Britain, which could’ve chosen any one of a million celebs to guest host in Mental Health Awareness Week.
I’m suspicious, then, as to why they picked Labour’s ex-spin doctor, who’s so consumed with hatred for the PM he spent 20 minutes of every programme explaining why we should call him “Johnson”, not “Boris” and persisted even when an online poll discovered 60 per cent of viewers disagreed.
The cult-like bias wasn’t a surprise, obviously.
Nor was the hypocrisy, which meant the man who introduced Noel Gallagher to Downing Street almost as soon as Tony Blair was elected didn’t blink when he said: “We’ve got to be careful about turning politics into a celebrity game.”
What was a shock was just how useless the fidgeting old monster was on camera.
Cornered junkies on Shoplifters: At War With The Law look more relaxed and heartwarming on CCTV than Campbell did sitting next to Susanna Reid.
Nothing will still stop ITV’s biggest fools imagining he’s a permanent fit, of course.
Not even the sight of Campbell, who’s spent years lambasting Governments for their inability to put across a simple message, introducing a grieving Vinnie Jones with the immortal words: “We’ve talked a lot recently about Prince Philip after the death of The Queen.”
But, for the record, HM is alive and well and probably watching BBC Breakfast.
Unfinished sentence of the week
This Morning, Alison Hammond to a woman who has witnessed 300 state executions: “With lethal injections, do you think it’s painless when they have that? ’Cos I would’ve thought it would’ve been quite niii . . . ”
It’s absolutely lovely, Alison. Give us your arm.
BBC2’s superb three-part series Gods of Snooker offering all the best quotes of the week. (Barry Hearn: “Steve Davis never lived on the edge.”)
The endlessly inventive and clever Inside No 9, also on BBC2.
The reliably brilliant Toby Jones in BBC2’s excellent Danny Boy.
This Morning’s ground-breaking interview with the woman who claims: “I make £3,000 a week selling fart videos.”
And my two favourite Goggleboxers, Lee and Jenny, watching My Octopus Teacher: “There was that bloke in Hull who fell in love with a sheep.”
(Pause) “I don’t think he fell in love with it, he just got caught out.”
Davina gets intimate
SO there I was, quietly minding my own business, watching Davina McCall: Sex, Myths And The Menopause on Wednesday night.
Then, out of nowhere, Davina suddenly announced: “Let’s face it, none of us wants to share intimate details about our vaginas.
"But we’ve got to talk about ‘Kevin,’ or whatever yours is called.”
What exactly ARE we talking about here, Davina?
Spacey or Bacon?
ON a similar theme to Davina’s show, compare and contrast the following.
Kevin Maguire, Twitter, November 9, 2020: “Cronyvirus Tsar Kate Bingham is part of a Tory chumocracy which is not helping the fight against Covid 19.”
One world-beating rollout, led by Kate Bingham later . . . Kevin Maguire, Good Morning Britain, May 11, 2021: “The NHS vaccination programme is a huge success. Socialism in action.”
Great TV lies and delusions of the week
Good Morning Britain, Susanna Reid on Diversity’s controversial BGT routine: “Millions watched, only 25,000 complained.
"So, overall, it was massively popular.”
This Morning, Holly Willoughby: “You look very handsome, Gok.”
And Saturday Kitchen Live, Nish Kumar: “I’ve released two comedy albums.”
Or as the rest of us refer to them, albums.
Lookalike of the week
THIS week’s winner is Corey Brent from Coronation Street and Sid from Toy Story.
Emailed in by Peter Scott.
Picture research: Amy Reading
Random TV irritations
ITV hiring Alastair Campbell to destroy the last shreds of Good Morning Britain’s credibility.
BBC1 having to rely on 42-year-old Fawlty Towers repeats to provide its only belly laughs.
Episode two of the Hitler’s Secret Sex Life, on the History channel, offering viewers nothing more significant than “explosive flatulence”.
Jack Whitehall taking on the lonely task of laughing at his own Brits jokes.
And multi-millionaire Little Mix stars Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall moaning away about all the endless disadvantages life has thrown at them, while sipping Porn Star Martinis in a City of London roof terrace cocktail bar, on the BBC1’s Race, Pop & Power.
The struggle is real, girls.
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
THE Chase, Bradley Walsh: “In the church calendar what day is two days before Holy Saturday?”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “The 2020 TV documentary Flying For Britain, with David Jason, is primarily about which of the Armed Forces?”
Dan: “The Army.”
And Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Liederkranz is a pungent variety of which dairy product?”
BEST QUIZ SHOW ANSWER OF THE WEEK:
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to eat a meal where?”
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