The Channel 4 series has won over the nation with cute and cuddly creatures
Funny, female and beautiful, with a gob on her like Gordon Ramsay, shouting “Hello a***hole” whenever someone new enters a room. She comes with a hell of back story as well. African originally, she speaks with a pronounced Cockney accent but had been living rough in Newcastle until earlier this year.
Sausage the parrot
So I suppose I should break the illusion, at this point, and also tell you she’s a parrot called Sausage.
Don’t let that diminish her television potential, though, Sausage has a vocabulary twice as large as the average Love Island contestant and was the breakout star of last week’s heartstrings puller from Channel 4.
It’s Animal Rescue Live, which is a dangerous word to add to anything other than news and sport. But, by the end of this very slick, five-day cutefest, I have to admit to being about 50 per cent won over by everything, including the main presenters.
One of these was Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick, a sincere, passionate, knowledgeable, slightly scary but brilliant television communicator who’s the closest thing British television has to Doctor Doolittle.
Sausage was the star of Animal Rescue Live
And the other was Steve Jones, who isn’t.
Given the show’s format was all about providing (ghastly word alert) “forever homes” for animal waifs and strays, we should, though, be sympathetic to Steve’s own plight. For back in 2012 he too was abandoned by his heartless owner Simon Cowell, out in Los Angeles, and has been looking to be adopted by British television ever since.
Without humping his leg too much, Steve should now cling on to Noel Fitzpatrick and Channel 4 for all he’s worth, because not even my cold, old heart could resist some of the creatures on Animal Rescue Live. In fact, I very nearly phoned in for one of the rabbits but decided in the end to have lamb stew instead.
Sausage can’t be shown on live TV before the watershed
No one should be surprised by the general reaction, of course. We Brits have always been suckers for anything cute and furry, with goofy teeth (look at Cilla). The response to everything that came Animal Rescue Live’s way, though, seemed genuinely overwhelming.
They found owners for, among others: Sacha the three-legged dog, Clover the ferret, Riley the lop-eared rabbit, Cedric the pig and had in excess of 400 offers for Sausage the Parrot, one of which, I’d like to think, was from Newsnight offering her Evan Davis’s job.
If you sense a “but” coming, though, you’re not mistaken. It arrived, episode two, when Steve Jones announced: “We can’t legally have Sausage the Parrot on live TV at five past eight in the evening.”
Banned! Before her career’s even started. A crime against comedy, frankly, ’cos if you have a parrot saying “hello a***hole” to Steve Jones, then you have television’s highlight of the year.
Quite apart from robbing us of this potential joy, it’s the inconsistency of TV’s moral standards that get me here — 48 hours earlier, in the exact same time slot, Channel 4 screened footage of Princess Diana discussing her sex life with the heir to the throne. Yet a swearing parrot is considered too much for their right-on sensibilities?
It’s a weird contradiction and marred the rest of Animal Rescue Live, which slowly began to overwhelm me with all the gooey language and over-evangelising about ferrets and then parted company, for good on Friday, when Channel 4 began using it to plug its next show, The Last Leg.
“G’day, I’m Adam Hills . . .”
Oh. Hello a***hole.
Sausage the parrot finds a forever home on Animal Rescue Live
TWO very different versions of Celebrity Big Brother appeared to have been going on all last week.
Derek Acorah tried to prove his supernatural powers were real
There was the contestants’ version, where they all seemed to view former Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding as a needy, self-absorbed, showboating pain in the butt. And the viewers’ version, where it looked horribly like she was being victimised by the toxic Jemma Lucy, Paul Danan and other housemates.
The possibility exists, of course, both were true.
Neither of them, though, was edifying or entertaining to watch. The only light relief, in fact, came when Derek Acorah attempted to prove that his supernatural powers amount to something more than an oily old fraud telling gullible fools exactly what they want to hear. As always with these psychic charades, the lights were turned off and, in no time at all, Jemma Lucy’s granny Margaret appeared with hot news from the dead zone.
Celebrity Big Brother's Derek Acorah speaks to Jemma Lucy's grandma in spooky task
Jemma Lucy has been accused of bullying Sarah Harding by viewers
“Watch out for the two contracts,” Derek barked at her.
“She’s getting all excited about the two contracts that are going to be in front of you very soon.”
So that’s Jemma’s Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go and broadband sorted. Now all she needs is a job. Exciting times.
NEXT up is a Noel Edmonds-fronted game show, on Channel 4, that’s so skull-crushingly simple it could be played by Diane Abbott.
She might not win the jackpot, obviously, or even wear her name badge the right way up, but Diane could definitely point at things and shout out random numbers, as the format demands.
Noel's latest show has failed to impress
It’s called Cheap Cheap Cheap and it’s a daytime contest set in “Noel’s Store”, that involves contestants identifying the cheapest of three products, hopefully without slapping themselves about the head in excitement.
One round it was three different brands of baked beans, the next it was an animal fur-trimmer, dog poo shampoo and a urine detector, which really should’ve let out a deafening squeal at the first planning meeting.
It’s a wafer-thin concept at the best of times, so to ease the viewers’ burden they’ve added comedy characters. There’s Barry the store manager, Kelly, the sales assistant, Keith, the pain in the a*** and Marijana the over-worked “happiness guru,” all paying due deference to Sir Noel, who’s currently enjoying flirting with a very pretty contestant called Rhiannon, but wasting his undoubted talent for popular television.
Contestants are asked to identify the cheapest products in Noel's Store
At this “voices-in-his-head” stage of his life, Noel should be all over prime time and, if I had my way, the Question Time panel, not asking this sort of question.
“Would you like to know that this 25-millilitre product can remove stubborn poo and its odours?”
No, I wouldn’t. But send a crate of it to Channel 4 at the end of the series.
GREAT World Athletics Championships Insights. Steve Cram: “Forget America, they’re going to win. Don’t forget them in the sense they’re going to be great champions.”
Andrew Cotter: “Just over three laps left of the last three laps.”
Omar McLeod: “The crowd were really exuberated.”
Gabby Logan: “It became known as Super Saturday and maybe this isn’t exactly that feel, but it feels super.”
And Steve Cram: “She lost all that momentum which was only a little bit as she had nothing left.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray).
Channel 4’s hastily axed, off-grid nonsense Eden: Paradise Lost turning out to be the most darkly brilliant reality show of the year. BBC2’s gripping North Korea: A Murder In The Family. Dom Joly’s 23st micropig Wilbur, who was built like Stavros Flatley, taking a flying bite at his goolies on Animal Rescue Live.
And the World Athletics Championships being salvaged by Britain’s men’s 4×100 metres relay team, Hero the Hedgehog (a box-to-box mascot) and the endlessly patient and articulate Michael Johnson, finally snapping as Gabby Logan tried to paint him into another red, white and blue corner: “I can only give you an answer. I can’t give you a medal.” Amen.
Watch the trailer for Channel 4's Eden: Paradise Lost
QUIZ show numb nuts of the week. Cash Trapped, Bradley Walsh: “In Greek mythology Achilles was invulnerable except for what part of his body?”
Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Famous for its great red spot which planet is the largest in our solar system?”
Bradley Walsh: “An unkind phrase that describes a person’s outfit is mutton dressed as what?”
Bradley Walsh: “Which British actor and comedian wrote the Flanimals series of children’s books?”
Gemma: “Charles Dickens.”
QUIZ show interruption of the week. Tipping Point, Ben Shephard: “Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are. . . . ”
Jake: “Tyres . . . Dunlop tyres.”
“Characters from which musical? Singin’ in the Rain.”
THIS week’s £69 winner is Gareth Southgate and the goblin that works at Gringotts in Harry Potter.
Sent in by Tony Horn, Preston. Picture research Amy Reading.
The BBC’s hopelessly blinkered World Athletics Championship team over-hyping almost everything in a British vest. Channel 4’s Princess Diana’s Wicked Stepmother managing to get the date of Diana’s death wrong, by two days. Guinea pig-faced matriarch Katie Price renewing her attention-seeking vows on My Crazy Life. Good Morning Britain’s holiday cover Jeremy Kyle attempting to impersonate Piers Morgan, which was like gastric flu turning into amoebic dysentery.
And the Loose Women allowing Janet Street-Porter’s 500th episode to pass without giving her so much as a sugar lump of reward. Poor form.
GREAT TV lies and delusions of the month: Celebrity Big Brother, Marcus Bentley: “Jordan has slept with 1,500 women.” (In his adolescent dreams)
Make or Break, Nikita: “I’m a very strong, independent woman.” (Modern code for foul-mouthed harridan).
And Celebrity Big Brother, Marcus Bentley: “Trisha once ate 10,000 calories in one sitting.”
What? No starter?
Pet parrot Eva shows off her dancing skills as she grooves to the beat