List Mania 13: Tom’s TV Brainwaves

It’s a well known fact that the single-most important invention in the entire history of mankind is the television. Where would we be without the telly? Well apart from being £175 per year better off, we’d be in the swamp, that’s where. Pond scum, idly bobbing and flopping around with the flotsam and jetsam, not knowing how to fill the hours between 7.30pm and bedtime.

And yet, it is also true that the schedules of the gogglebox are completely full of crap; inane “reality” television programmes sandwiched in between Doctor Who repeats and episodes of Game of Thrones. There is some respite to be found on the Yesterday channel – if like me, you enjoy seeing footage of Hitler – or from idly flicking between channels 4 and 5 late at night in the hopes of seeing some tits (again, like me); but this is simply not enough.

With this in mind, I set about conceptualising some quality entertainment to fill the airwaves and enrich our lives. Please note – as this is a fantasy list, some of the people featured are actually dead, so some ideas are likely never to even get a pilot slot.

Grave Robbing with Tony Robinson and Monty Don
TV gardener, Monty Don, is no stranger to digging holes and partnered with with Baldric off Time Team, the pair set about excavating dead bodies throughout the UK.

Psychic Poker
A table of TV psychics such as Mystic Meg, Uri Geller and Russell Grant, play each other at poker. In theory there should be no losers as everyone will know what cards everyone else is holding.

Through the K-hole
A panel-based quiz show in which two teams of celebrities try to guess the identity of another famous star – from looking at the state of their house following a night spent taking ketamine.

Dennis Plays Tennis
Star of Minder and New Tricks, Dennis Waterman, learns to play tennis whilst sharing anecdotes from the good old days on The Sweeney. He would obviously sing the theme tune too.

Dogging with Bill Oddie
TV nature expert and enthusiastic birdwatcher, Bill Oddie, explores the goings on in Hampstead Heath late at night with his binoculars.

Protect our Bees with John Cleese
British funnyman and Python member, John Cleese, goes on a quest to protect the ever-dwindling population of British bees. The bees will no doubt attack him, leading to scenes of abject fury, reminiscent of classic episodes of Fawlty Towers.

Cheese at Midnight
A short 5-minute horror story that would air nightly at 11.55pm. The programme would end with the presenter (maybe Nicolas Parsons?) grinning creepily at the camera while eating cheese on a cocktail stick and telling the viewer “not to have nightmares“. This one needs fleshing out, but you get the gist.

Look at Those Loonies
A fly-on-the-wall series filmed inside mental hospitals with a sardonic voiceover provided by Graham Norton.

Billy Murray Cooks Curry
Former Krays associate turned actor, Billy Murray, cooks curry whilst sharing tales of portraying gangsters and bent coppers on the small screen.

Going Bald Gracefully with Max Miller
A simple guide to coping with hair loss, presented shiny-headed comedian, Max Miller.

Backstreet Fights with Jimmy White
Brixton-born snooker player, Jimmy White, presents this Fight Club-style programme, focussing on the scraps between East End bare knuckle brawlers and gypsy boxers.

Les Be Friends
An LGBT-friendly series in which Les Dennis would meet lesbians and learn about brogues, dungarees and crewcut hairdos.

Presented by Alan Titchmarsh, this show would see our host bird-watching in a small shed with walls adorned with topless Page 3 girls cut out from The Sun newspaper. Alan would declare “I like tits!” at the start and end of every episode. Could potentially be called Titchmarsh Twitches instead.

Don’t Drop the Baby
Reminiscent of Gladiators or Total Wipeout, this contest would show parents completing tricky and dangerous assault courses whilst carry a baby – in the hopes of winning prizes. The show would be presented by Bruce Forsyth (were he still alive), who would encourage the crowd to chant “DON’T DROP THE BABY!” at the tops of their voices.

Out on the Peesh with Kenny Dalglish
Former star of Scottish football, Kenny Dalglish, would take us on a tour of Glasgow’s nightlife, exploring the pubs and clubs of the city; the punch-ups, the swearing and the deep-fried Mars bars.

Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen Explores Ouija Boards
Louche interior designer, Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen, would experiment with the dark art of talking to ghosts using a ouija board. To be filmed in the Fjords, with a smorgasbord on hand.

Donald Pleasance Christmas Presents
Star of Halloween and other prominent horror films, Donald Pleasance (RIP), would present this short anthology of horror stories whilst dressed as Father Christmas in his grotto. Each story would feature a different child in the grotto with Pleasance, who would then present them with a gift which would turn out to be a severed head in a box – or something like that.

Holding Spiders with Shaun Ryder
Happy Mondays frontman, Shaun Ryder, is well accustomed to creepy crawlies having appeared on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! where he got bitten by a snake. Here he would hold some of the world’s most deadly spiders whilst saying “Mad for it” and suchlike.

Chas ‘n’ Dave’s Midnight Raves
Chas Hodges sadly passed away a couple of years ago, but what better duo to present a show dedicated to the illegal rave scene of the late 80s and early 90s?

Where’s the Battery? with Tony Slattery
Tony Slattery was once ubiquitous on the telly, appearing frequently in Whose Line Is It Anyway? and many other comedy ventures, but sadly not today. This programme would be the perfect vehicle to bring Tony back to our screens, as we get to see Tony learn traditional methods of making plates, baking bread and whittling sticks.


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