TONY ON TV: TV Awards’ marathon failed to serve up a treat

The Restaurant Man. Photo:Fiona Hanson
The Restaurant Man. Photo:Fiona Hanson

The First World War lasted four years, which is also the time span for the BBC’s timely tribute totalling 2,500 hours of programming, starting off this week, to the carnage which cost millions of lives and changed the course of history.

I had similar feelings of battle fatigue after watching last week’s British National Television Awards, a two-and-a-half hour marathon hosted by a gibbering Dermot O’Leary (even subtitles didn’t help), which only added to the agony of this back-slapping evening where there were a few deserved winners, a couple of lucky survivors and a number of casualties.

The winners included a decided double for ‘Coronation Street’ trouncing the usual ‘EastEnders,’ with ‘Street’ stalwart Julie Hesmondhalgh scooping the Serial Drama Performance award for her role in the much lauded cancer and suicide storyline.

Losers included Keith Lemon and Alan Carr having to watch Ant & Dec take the Entertainment Presenter prize while viewers warmed to ITV’s ‘This Morning’ for the Daytime gong rather than the family fall outs so common on ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show.’

I’m not sure which current programmes will feature in next year’s line-up, but I hope they include the swashbuckler that makes history fun in ‘The Musketeers’, Kris Marshall taking over from Ben Miller and cracking crime in the Caribbean in the third series of ‘Death in Paradise’ and wartime code breakers using their skills in peacetime in ‘The Bletchley Circle.’

Another likely contender for the judges next year is likely to be Channel 4’s controversial ‘Benefits Street,’ focusing on the lives of a mixed bunch of residents on a street in the Birmingham suburb of Winson Green, which ends its five-week run with a studio discussion to be hosted by Mansfield’s own Richard Bacon.

Before then there’s a mix of old favourites back for another run -- as is the case with ‘Coach Trip’ (Channel 4) with tour guide Brendan Sheerin standing at the front again in this the ninth series as the charabanc heads across Belgium and France -- and a new take on the food factor in ‘The Restaurant Man’ (BBC2, Wednesday).

The title refers to Russell Norman, who has opened some of London’s hippest eateries, as he passes on helpful hints to would-be restaurateurs, whether there’s too much or not enough on the plate, the location of the premises and the all-important getting your costings right as Mr Norman points out that a quarter of all new restaurants in the UK fail in the first year.