Channel 4 has always been pretty hip and happening as far as TV in the UK goes. It's introduced me to life-changing cultural phenomena such as Late Night Hollyoaks, June Sarpong's gummy smile and deathly cackle, Dawson's Creek, Zig and Zag, a boy who gave birth to his twin on Bodyshock, Eurotrash, the quite sweet little one from The Girlie Show who sometimes reads out numbered balls on The National Lottery, and Brookside. Many a Sunday morning of my youth was spent gazing at the never-ending cranium of Dawson wondering how he managed to part his curtains so perfectly. I can still remember those Friday nights I spent alone in my bedroom with a triple pack of Ribena imagining my head sandwiched between Lolo Ferrari's oiled, gleaming atomic warheads, gasping for air. Carrying on in this rich tradition of cutting-edge TV, here are some programmes Channel 4 has recently given the world.
No one I've mentioned this to so far has known what this is until I've said: "You know, that new, really painfully unfunny news round-up show on Channel 4 with the fat guy who looks like he has been abducted from his local Wetherspoon." To which they've replied something like: "Oh God, yeah, who is that man? I've seen bits of it. Is it a comedy show?"
That fat guy is Jason Manford, who is basically a less charismatic Chris Moyles with smaller man boobs and worse jokes. The thing is, I honestly really want his jokes to be funny. I find myself sympathetically fake-laughing along like a granny watching her grandson fart the tune of the national anthem. But his form of humour is so obvious he makes Al Murray, the "Pub Landlord" guy, look like Stephen Fry. This in itself wouldn't be awful but for the fact he seems to run out of jokes before the show has even begun. It's like watching someone do 35 minutes of stand-up with only 35 seconds of material. It's the most awkward thing on TV since Christine Hamilton tried to seduce Louis Theroux.
His sidekick, Andi Osho – Kris Akabusi having a fight with Germaine Greer inside a troll – is somehow worse. She has a constant forced smile throughout the programme. There isn't a second on air when she doesn't have every single one of her teeth on display. It's as if the sadistic killer from Saw has grabbed hold of her before the start of the show and stuffed a grenade in each of her cheeks and told her if she stops grinning the pins will be pulled out and her face will explode. What does she actually do? It seems she serves no other purpose than keeping Jason Manford-Moyles-Murray company and allowing Channel 4 to cut to a close up of her quivering mouth every time he tells a joke.
If that wasn't brutal enough, there are also a couple of over-the-top presenters they picked up at a student union who've been tacked on to the show in the faint hope of improving things. The most irritating is Ollie Roberts, a less attractive ginger Perez Hilton who has totally convinced himself he is Lee Evans. He conducts painful spoof interviews with celebs and spends the entire time acting as if he is performing at a terminally ill six-year-old's birthday party.
I've watched every episode so far.
THE WORLD'S... AND ME
This is a series in which Mark Dolan – a sprightly 70-year-old trapped in the body of a pre-pubescent 14-year-old – travels around the world hunting down freaks which he then irritated until both they and the viewer wanted to kill him.
He's met the world's hairiest man, the world's smallest man, and the world's most boring, babbling, timid, slightly effeminate Alan Carr lookalike – the latter every time he looks in the mirror.
My main problem with this programme is that he doesn't get anything out of his subjects. He mainly just gawps at them while a voiceover explains how weird they look. It's about as interesting as watching a cat hide a fresh lump of shit in its litter tray in super-slow motion for an hour.
In one episode he travelled to a tiny village in China to track down the world's tallest woman, who was so ill she couldn't leave her bed, and then spent the entire time sat at her bedside agitating her as she groaned like Sloth from the Goonies. At points it looked like she was ready to get up and throw him across the room like a Rottweiler attacking a toddler. Which would have made for very good viewing, actually. I bet if Channel 4 had sent Alan Carr he'd have made sure of some comedy capers. He would have smashed through her bedroom window on a rope dangling from a helicopter and jumped on the bed and dry-humped her while pretending to give a blowjob to a stuffed monkey and doing a Barbara Windsor impression to the camera.
That's who Channel 4 should've got to present this, not a little worm who looks like he's dressed by his mum.
THE KEVIN BISHOP SHOW
This is a comedy show fronted by the guy who plays the sensible, concerned bank employee in those annoying NatWest ads. Yes, that's right, Channel 4 has given someone from a bank advert his own comedy show. It's the equivalent of Andrew Lloyd Webber getting Howard Brown, the podgy bespectacled man from those really annoying songs on the Halifax ads, to play the phantom guy in Phantom of the Opera.
Anyway, each week Bishop does lots of bafflingly bad and unoriginal sketches – like an impression of Nigella Lawson seductively baking a pie, or a piss-take of Pimp My Ride in which Stephen Hawking's wheelchair gets souped-up with alloy rims and a ghetto blaster. The sketches reek of desperation to be as un-PC as possible. I imagine him sitting at home on a Friday night with his gran, telling her he's going to hide the custard creams unless she writes a letter of complaint to Ofcom telling them how offended she is.
It's not all terrible, though. Occasionally there are some quite amusing parodies of "smooth" R&B songs. My favourite is an impression of an Usher video in which Bishop passionately and earnestly croons: "Girl, what I'm trying to say is I miss you / The way you make the blood run to my penile tissue /Gonna make you come back and learn /Gonna open up your cervix and deposit my sperm."
But then he'll go and ruin it all by doing something like a scene where Jesus slips on a banana skin while a passerby laughs at him and points out that God isn't so omnipotent after all.
What next for Channel 4? How about a show in which Dawson from Dawson's Creek travels the world in search of other people with massive foreheads and then gets Andi Osho to point and laugh at them for half-an hour? That would be pretty entertaining.