It's a shame this has ended but what a series it was. This is how we want reality TV to be, inclusive, engaging, exciting, unpredictable and a little bit scary. 30 novices were put through their paces to see which had the physical and mental attributes to join the ranks of the elite special forces of the SAS.
Former members Foxy, Colin, Ollie and Ant oversaw the induction and training of the petrified newbies, meticulously planning the training until they were whittled down to the final two. Last weeks final, like the whole series before it, was brutal but irresistible viewing. It felt like a form of military voyeurism, peeping around the curtain of a unit that would normally be cloaked in complete secrecy.
At times it was hard to watch as the trainees were subjected to unexpected explosions, interrogations and physical and mental endurance tests that pushed the recruits to breaking point and way beyond. Foxy said of the methods employed,
"It strips these candidates bare so you can see what’s at the very core."Some went quicker than others, some decided to continue but were resigned to failure and a number crumbled or collapsed. But there were a few made of much stronger stuff, blessed with the ability to visit a deeper well and dip into seemingly endless reserves.
Ryan was certainly one of those, and one I noticed early on in the series. Ant said he was looking for "Mr Grey", that one person that doesn't stand out in a crowd and has the ability to blend in. Someone who can assess perilous situations and can deal with intense levels of pressure. Ryan was cut from that mold, at times you could see him processing, trying to weigh up the options and select the right solutions.
The worst part of the process was when the final four were hooded, bound and forcibly led around a room.
They were suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation and continuous interrogation, and to top it all had to listen to periods of loud techno music. I suspect that would have pushed me over the edge quite quickly, but if they had wanted rid of me sooner, anything by 5 Seconds of Summer would have done the trick.
In the end it came down to Freddie and Ryan. Thankfully both came through but they were unstably emotional. I take my hat off to both of them but reserve higher admiration for Ant, Foxy, Colin and Ollie who have done it for real against opposing forces in hostile territories, and managed to survive whilst remaining sane.
From wannabe SAS recruits to a former SAS reservist. Yes, it's Bear Grylls again on Born Survivor. This time the intrepid, ferret faced nutter found himself on an island. Ever happy to entertain, Bear, whose real name is actually Edward, decided to hop across to another island close by. One little problem awaits - shark infested waters!
Bear and the crew head off with luke warm trepidation, and by virtue of some slick editing they managed to avoid the predators. Once on solid ground Bear observed the obvious,
"Well that was harder work than I thought but at least we didn't get eaten by sharks ... which is good news."Perhaps the shark knew the types of things Bear likes to eat and made a wise decision.
TOP GEAR and GEAR KNOBS
So we await the new version of Top Gear fronted by ginger whirlwind Chris Evans, and also Clarkson, Hammond and May's 'Son of Top Gear', which currently has the working title of Gear Knobs (appropriately).
No Stig, no reasonable priced car, no brilliant theme tune and no established audience. The trio could, in fact, end up with a programme that doesn't pull in the viewers and which could see them doing an Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley. Remember them? Once the darlings of early evening telly on The One Show, the pair jumped ship to head up the insomniacs favourite ITV breakfast offering, Daybreak. It wasn't long before they were "let go", and Chiles was last seen working at Burger King.
Will everyone's second favourite fast food establishment have an opening for Clarkson and Co soon? That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Clarkson can't resist having a cheeky pop at the BBC. If you haven't already watched his commercial for Amazon Prime then you're in for a treat, it's the best advert for ages.
Clarkson may yet end up chewing on the gristle instead of the juicy steak he craved, the one which resulted in Jezza lumping a producer in that well documented fracas, but if Gear Knobs doesn't get the engines revving then there's always Dave and their endless re-runs of classic Top Gear.
Amongst the best is the American Special (episode three of season nine). The boys receive a challenge to drive through Alabama, renowned Bible Belt Country, with slogans on their cars that would offend ... well, pretty much everyone living there.
Watching them scamper into their cars in fear for their lives is probably the best legacy they gave us
MEANWHILE, DOWN UNDER
I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here started out so well. And then the titles finished, and it was business as usual. Jeorgie and Lady C sat down to dine in the Bush Tucker Trial known as Disaster Chef. The feast included cockroaches, crickets and worms. Jeorgie went for a slimy, stringy worm and chomped away declaring
"You can feel the legs"It didn't stop! More dishes, this time Spaghetti Bollocknaise (or turkey testicles to you and I) which led the haughty Lady called Colin to inquire
"What is a bollock?"
Nom Nom Nom
"Al dente"You don't often associate that word with this particular programme. Had Lady C been on the task with Kieran Dyer he may have assumed it was the name of the Chef.
The pig and fish eyes were dispatched without trouble or complaint, although I had to mute the telly when the chewing noises began. Then with 8 stars in the bag, and with a full house in sight, the last dishes arrived. The covers came off to reveal...crocodile penis and anus!
Jorgie tucked in and seemed to enjoy it slightly too much, declaring,
"I'm a big fan of the penis"Lady C couldn't disguise her envy, "Lucky Girl!". She was then prompted towards her own dish as Ant uttered the immortal words,
"Lady C, it's the anus for you"A quote only bettered later in the week by the other half of the Geordie duo when during the trial involving Steroid Spencer, Fern and Vicky having various creatures placed into their plastic confines, Dec declared
"Vicky , you've got crabs!"Oops!
JEFF LYNNE'S ELO IN CONCERT
I guess Jeff added his name as a prefix to reassure fans that he was still alive.
Lynne ambled on stage, seemingly not a day older. Still sporting the long curly hair, dark glasses and fashion from the mid 70's. He had probably been treated with a few top coats of formaldehyde and a touch of Just For Men beforehand, but it has to be said - ELO still sound good.
However, they had to work at it having got off to a shaky start with the opening number, Turn To Stone. Jeff seemed to have forgotten that he actually had to sing in a long stick with a lump on the end called a microphone. Removing the shades may have helped, but what do I know?
If you are looking for spectacle, wit and energy, then you are out of luck. But if you want some old pro's that are able to recreate their recordings faithfully, then look no further than ELO. It may have been an exercise to promote their first album in 15 years (which is pretty amazing by the way), and it's unlikely they'll ever recapture their former glories, but this was a great concert and worth visiting the iPlayer for.
TOMMY'S FIX IT YOURSELF
There aren't enough DIY shows on telly, says he with a massive slice of sarcasm. But if that's your sort of thing then... well... pretty much every channel devotes at least 10% of their output to it.
Quest being no exception. In the never ending re-runs of Tommy's Fix It Yourself, Tommy Walsh, the bouncy bellied builder, was invited to assist Sharon Duck and her enthusiastic, well meaning hubby Peter, in constructing an extension on the side of their house to turn it into a family pub. So an essential addition then!
In this series Tommy (who you likely remember starring alongside Yorkshire garden bore Alan Titchmarsh and bra-less allotment totty Charlie Dimmock on BBC's Ground Force) assumes the role of jolly observer, occasional adviser and foreman. A sort of building commandant in bad shorts and jazzy braces, offering pearls of wisdom along the way such as...
"Measure twice and cut once."Sharon was looking forward to the job's completion and announced...
"When it's finished we can sit down and have a cup of tea."I thought it was a pub they were building? The couple could've saved a fortune by having a summer house erected and simply put the kettle on.
Winter came sharply and Tommy (is that a suitable name for a grown man?) had to put his legs away, leaving Sharon to reveal further classic clangers...
"I've got a lot of time for Peter."Er, I should hope so love, you married him!
Tommy's Fix it Yourself is a sort of DIY SOS without the budget or labour force. More importantly for Quest, someone else pays for all the work done. It's certainly not essential viewing but you have to admire the way Tommy clears off, returns after the the works completed to take all the credit, then sits smugly drinking a free beer. It should be titled Tommy's I'll See You When It's Finished.
DROSS ON THE BOX
If Tommy's Getting Paid For Nothing wasn't exciting enough, Quest also gives us Shedheads where pals Chris and Ricky assemble .... a shed.
This is what multi-channel television has led us to. Perhaps in the future we will be 'entertained' by watching someone ironing a stubborn bed sheet or going to the shop for a tin of economy garden peas.
Personally, I'm holding out for the Shedheads spin-off series, Extreme Creosoting!
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter