After the Christmas binge January serves up TV junk food

Reality shows galore and unsophisticated comedies dominate the schedules in the New Year, says Mark Jefferies

Sherlock aside, a glance at the listings over the weekend suggested TV execs are taking a light-hearted approach to January.


By that I mean January seems to be the month more than any other that features countless celebrities messing about on screen fairly pointlessly for our entertainment as we slump on the sofa.

Yes, we should be over Christmas and hitting the gym, but judging from the schedules we are more likely to be laughing at the famous faces sweating it out instead.

Put another way, if TV was food, January would represent a huge helping of junk with only the occasional gourmet drama.

On Saturday, Splash! which is part diving reality show and part comedy, kicked off again on ITV with a script that seemed to have been written by a pantomime veteran.

Celebrity Big Brother is already in full swing on Channel Five where you can see things like former heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield getting a manicure from an Apprentice star or Dappy from N-Dubz handcuffed to journalist Liz Jones.

On BBC1, shows including Celebrity Mastermind and Pointless Celebrities bloated the schedules.

On Sunday, Dancing On Ice returned to ITV and in a couple of weeks The Jump will start on Channel 4, showing celebrities as varied as Sir Steven Redgrave, Sinitta and the actor that played Flash Gordon trying, hopelessly in some cases, to compete in winter sports.

It can’t be a coincidence that all these shows are scheduled for January. They are the type of viewing that requires little or no brain power and coincide with the time of year when most of us are recovering from a festive blowout. We should be at the gym ourselves, but on the nights we can’t face it, watching others do exercise will do – or at least that is what the execs think.

The other genre which has been doing well in the ratings is old-school comedy like Birds of a Feather, Benidorm and Catherine Tate’s Nan.

But even these are shows with straight-forward gags or visual jokes that do not require thought and are far from sophisticated.

I for one would like a little more challenging TV to get my teeth into. My exercise this January is going to be frantically working the remote to find alternatives to most of the mainstream channels.

Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror