In general, I loathe reality TV and avoid it like corked wine, but Comic Relief Does The Apprentice, Part I, was a vintage treat, the sommelier’s pick. It can’t really get much better, so I knocked it back in one heady, happy gulp.
Early on, I nearly had to call for an ambulance, such was the force of my laughter convulsion when I saw the owl-eyed horror in Rupert Everett’s face as he suddenly appreciated the reality of being in a room with Piers Morgan and Alastair Campbell. It was like the world’s fluffiest, most mollycoddled poodle falling from a great height, shaking itself off only to find it had landed in a sealed pen with two ravenous pit bulls salivating upon its arrival.
Rupert complained of lacking dialogue without a screenwriter’s folios, but, really, the sheer, unintentional brilliance of the comedic lines he delivered in those early exchanges beat anything he has ever brought to us on the screen. It was only later, when my wanton cruelty was highlighted by someone less infected with media cynicism, that I had a touch of sympathy for him, the poor, vulnerable, messed up, ex-heroin whacking, tranny-shagging, thesp.
It all got quite embarrassing for most of the cast and looked like being a telly car crash. Our well-meaning celebrities had clearly not considered just how revealing it might be. Almost naturally, they all started behaving like a set of spoilt luvvies, as far removed emotionally from Africa as their Mayfair Hotel penthouse suites were geographically.
The fight-scene was cringe-worthy, but came with a priceless denouement: “Undignified” Trinny’s weepy melt-down. Medication, please. Extra dose. Trinny is clearly a fully paid up member of the Fucked Up Club and as finely balanced as a door with its hinges attached only by the last thread of one screw. Sobbing over being called undignified? Do a day in a newsroom, luv, and you’ll take that as high praise. And then there was Cheryl Tweedy-Cole, who doesn’t eat fish “anyways”, but has a brain like one.
The undoubted star of the show had to be Morgan, the “Human Dick On Legs” (Copyright: Maureen Lipman). As a (say it quietly) long-time friend of the celebrated chronicler of badly recalled memories, I am use to dispatching lacklustre reviews to him for his television appearances. But this was probably Morgan’s finest TV hour. (Well, obviously, there are degrees of “fine”, as we will soon discover with “Britain’s Got Talent”.)
Always unsparingly competitive and enthusiastic, Morgan was up for the task from the off. He got stuck in, grafted and made the boys tick. Although that didn’t it add up to much, cash-wise. He doesn’t give a stuff about the egos of his fellow stars and gladly baits them. Fair play to him for all of that. Best of all, he got stuck into Campbell, a haunted stress ball who was trying so hard to appear contained and in control that he looked close to self-combustion. Apparently, their face-to-face combat hits ferocious levels tonight.
Well, it took a problem as big as Africa to give Morgan’s television career some warmth and humour. I only hope he made a sizeable contribution to Comic Relief. As for Rupert Everett – the Hollywood star who hates cameras and doesn’t know anyone – I’m not sure his career, lofty coolness, or A-list standing will ever be quite the same. Poor dear.