WE ALL have our secret guilty televisual pleasures.
Mine is Dallas. I have been recording the new series on our Sky box and watching it when no-one is around. It’s entirely possible, I find, to watch two or even three episodes (quickly winding through the adverts) while doing the ironing.
I tried to get The Girl interested before she went back to uni, but she is of the generation that doesn’t remember the original.
It was, I have told her, a programme that divided the nation. There were those who were unashamedly and openly devoted to it and others who pretended it was just too ridiculous for words and said they didn’t watch it at all. Note the word ‘said’.
I remember visiting an old school friend, who had recently qualified as a GP, and asking if I could watch Dallas at her house. She was, it turns out, relieved I’d asked because she wanted to watch it too but had been afraid to admit it. “It’s good to meet another intelligent person who watches Dallas,” she said.
But JR’s devious shenanigans hold no thrills for my daughter. To Secondborn, Larry Hagman is simply an old man with unfeasibly bushy eyebrows; while one-time heartthrob Bobby is just another wrinkly.
I have attempted to explain the addictive charms of the first Dallas; the cliffhangers and Cliff-hangers, but she remains unmoved.
Her secret guilty pleasure is the Comedy Channel with its wall-to-wall episodes of The Big Bang Theory, Friends and that surprisingly funny series with the dreadful Charlie Sheen.
For The Man-in-Charge, however, there are few guiltier pleasures than watching I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. It’s an annual feast of ridicule and celebrity torture. And it’s finally here once again.
I have often pondered why he enjoys this nightly offering of jungle goings-on and came to the conclusion that it offers light-hearted stress relief at the end of a busy working day.
But watching the opening episode of this year’s series on Monday I had a revelatory moment.
We were enjoying the sight of Helen Flanagan (Rosie Webster in Corrie) having a panic attack while crossing a ravine. The previous scene had covered an up-river rowing marathon and subsequent ducking by MP Nadine Dorries and her team.
Somehow it all seemed familiar.
And then it came to me.
“It’s just like our holidays,” I said, as the lovely Helen struggled with a swinging platform, wailing that she was afraid of heights.
Ah, it all came back to me - the time I had a near-death experience while abseiling down a waterfall canyon in the French Alps (I still have a scar on my thumb from the rope burn); the time I got the screaming hab-dabs while being forced to climb the Via Ferrata in Andorra; the many times I have navigated, with sweating palms, the forest canopy at Go Ape in Sherwood Forest; and then there’s the white water rafting in Spain (actually, I managed to wriggle out of that one, but it was a close thing).
Admittedly we didn’t have to feast on kangaroo’s testicles or mealy bugs and usually had a comfortable hotel to go back to in the evenings, but there were times when I thought to myself ‘what the heck am I doing. I’m a middle-aged woman, get me out of here.’
With a different family I strongly suspect I would never have challenged myself - and succeeded in overcoming a fear of heights, being plunged into icy cold water, or wearing a wet suit (few people over the age of 25 look good in one).
But after many years of holiday adventures of the dangerous kind I feel to be in a position to judge the contestants of I’m a Celebrity. And so far, the women are definitely letting the side down.
The Corrie star is an unbelievable wimp. And I expected better of Nadine, who couldn’t manage 10 minutes in a dark, bug-filled box (and I’m not talking about the House of Commons). Has the woman no backbone? No-one has yet died on the series from contact with a cockroach, or from anything else come to that. (As I understand it, cockroaches have no great love of human beings either and are seen to wash themselves thoroughly after being touched!)
There was probably a lot of washing going on in the box after she’d been released.
Of course Helen and Nadine have already sealed their fate and will, no doubt, be called upon to squeal and weep their way out of many future challenges. We can only hope.
Certainly, the Man-in-Charge has his fingers crossed.