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Deadbeats

Every so often a television programme comes along that is so utterly wretched, so totally lacking in any redeeming features whatsoever that the only solution seems to be to stuff the neighbour’s cat through the screen. Right now, Deadline is that programme.

Every so often a television programme comes along that is so utterly wretched, so totally lacking in any redeeming features whatsoever, that the only solution seems to be to stuff the neighbour’s cat through the screen. Right now, Deadline is that programme.

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed ITV’s latest gutter offering, here’s the puff:

‘Ten celebrities face the daunting challenge of producing a weekly glossy magazine under the editorship of Fleet Street legend Janet Street Porter. The celebrities will have to impress larger than life paparazzi Darryn Lyons who will run the picture desk and showbiz writer Joe Mott who will be making sure their writing is up to scratch.’

Hopefully Joe will find time to do the same for ITV’s PR writers, for there’s definitely only one Darryn Lyons, and the singular term for celebrity documentarian is ‘paparazzo’.

Needless to say ‘celebrity’ is a rather generous description of the ten, many of whom boast the appendage ‘former’ in their CVs. There’s a former footballer; a former athlete; even a former Mrs Tarrant. The rest are a grab bag of minor soap performers, nonentity wannabes, the inevitable Abi Titmuss, and, rather mysteriously, Dom Joly.

So what we have mostly is a bunch of sub Z listers chasing their peers.

The tone of the programme is pretty much summed up by elegantly coiffured Darryn Lyons’ dressing down of Lisa L’Anson after the former Big Brother loser takes time out from an assignment to have her hair done: well, who hasn’t?

‘You make me look like a fucking prick’, seethes Mr Paparazzi, apparently distressed at the idea that he might need assistance in this department. ‘You go and get your fucking hair done and do your fucking shopping. That’s all you’re interested in: shopping and fucking hair.’

Lyon’ rant is a prelude to L’Anson being told to clear her desk by Street Porter. ‘I’m going to tell you the two reasons so you’re fucking PERFECTLY CLEAR why I want you out of here,’ screams the Fleet Street legend, looking in urgent need of a hairdressing appointment herself. But failing to produce any reasons at all, she just rambles on: ‘Lisa, cut the crap and get out of the office. It’s the second time you’ve worked for me and it’s been just as crap as the first. You are a bullshit artist, now get out of here.’

Oh well. As Dom Joly wrote recently of his pap experiences: ’You don’t meet an abundance of nice people doing this job.’

And how do the alleged celebs do when it comes to papping their peers? It’s all a bit of a disaster really: in fact it’s amazing they ever manage to produce a magazine at all.

The celebrity formerly known as Mrs Tarrant is unable to make her camera work at the crucial moment and is reduced to pleading with Peaches Geldof for a picture, only to be hosed down by the brat’s windscreen wipers. Not to be out-done, Abi is also unable to make her camera work at the crucial moment, proceeds to go arse over Titmuss, and has to be rescued from the rubbish sacks by her intended victim, the gentlemanly Noel Fielding. Series sponsors Olympus must just love this stuff.

It makes you wish the programme had been renamed Frontline, and the whole shebang shipped off to Baghdad, where each week’s loser could be beheaded instead of told to clear their desk. Then the eventual winner could get to hang Street Walker from a lamp-post after a fair trial by a jury of Iraqi journalists: the kind of people who risk their lives on a daily basis to tell real stories.

Now that’s what we would call reality TV.

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