Last Night's Telly
Did I miss something?
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year (isn't that an oxymoron?) was sponsored by Robinsons, the barley water people.
If this was so, can I please have some of my licence fee back?
They didn't actually say "sponsored". They said "supported". But Robinsons surely put some cash into it to get their name mentioned and displayed behind the presenters. If not, the BBC must be crazy.
As it happens, I have long thought we should have a lower licence fee, with the difference made up from discreet sponsorship of programmes, but not actual commercials.
ITV now do both. But it needs to be done sensitively. I have almost stopped watching The Bill since it became sponsored by Jeyes Fluid. I don't wish to stare down a lavatory bowl at every commercial break, not least because I eat late and am often having my evening meal when it's on.
The two hour Sports Personality show was a lavish production that even included the BBC Concert Orchestra. It struck me that we don't get this kind of extravaganza devoted to the arts, with the exception of the BAFTAs.
More people go to the theatre in Britain than go to football matches, yet both the Olivier Awards and the Evening Standard Drama Awards have now disappeared from television.
Meanwhile, on ITV, the Royal Variety Show came from the Liverpool Empire and the Queen was forced to slum it in the Dress Circle instead of in a Royal Box at the side. She'd have had a far better view this time but nowhere to hide the gin bottle.
I was once in a London theatre when the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were in the Dress Circle. Half the audience had to be treated for neck injuries afterwards. You don't get that problem when you can shoot sideways glances at the Royal Box to check if One Is Amused.
Jimmy Tarbuck shamelessly did gags that were already old chestnuts in the Mesolithic period and did one about David Blunkett that would have been topical several years ago.
He was followed by Joan Rivers, who hasn't written (or bought) a new gag in twenty years. She's always watchable, if only because she totters round the stage as though being operated by a very drunk puppeteer. But she seems to have built her whole career around talking about her tits dragging along the floor. I heard myself saying that famous line from the film 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday': "Oh no, here come those tired old tits again!"
To be fair, ITV did edit the show and seem to have edited the comics rather than the tedious speciality acts. We know this because the trailers showed Russell Brand talking about swans, a sequence that was absent from the broadcast programme.
But the highlight was the two second shot of Russell Brand shaking hands with the Queen. He towered over her diminutive figure as though on stilts, baring those enormous white teeth. It was like an encounter between a giraffe and a dormouse and you wondered if the wild man of comedy might eat her.