Avatar Great British programme pitches

Years ago, someone had a brilliant idea. They’d get a big tent from somewhere, fill it with ovens and home cooks, and then run a low-stakes baking competition where people put in a lot of wholesome effort to see if they could make the nicest cake. Some family-friendly presenters would make gentle innuendo and hug contestants who dropped things on the floor. It’s still on TV and it’s still doing well.

What TV executives really like is more of the same. If you find a thing that works, and pulls in an audience, they want to produce more TV exactly like that. So after the Great British Bake Off, you got the Great British Sewing Bee (pitch: like the Bake Off, but people are sewing things), the Great British Pottery Throwdown (pitch: like the Bake Off, but people are making pottery), the Great British Menu (pitch: like the Bake Off, but for main courses), Interior Design Masters (pitch: like the Bake Off, but for making rooms look tasteless), and now Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (pitch: like the Bake Off, but with Christmas decorations).

I reckon I could have a go at this crap as well. First thing tomorrow I’m marching into Channel 4’s headquarters, demanding a meeting with the boss and giving him my snappy pitches for these shows, now in development:

The Great British Veg Patch

Like the Bake Off, but for growing vegetables. A really slow, relaxing watch, since a single challenge takes the contestants all year. Most of their time is spent sitting in their potting sheds waiting for the rain to ease off. In the showstopper challenge they have to present their most humorously-shaped root vegetable. Hosted by Scott Mills.

The Great British Drag Race

Like the Bake Off, but for racing noisy muscle cars over very short distances. Has nothing to do with drag queens. The grotty, macho world of drag racing will be made softer, cuddlier and more family friendly by having the drag races happen inside a big tent on a giant gingham tablecloth. Hosted by Matt Hancock.

The Great British Steel Works

Like the Bake Off, but for producing industrial grade steel from iron ore. Contestants race to turn out neatly shaped ingots of pure steel at white hot temperatures while trying not to set the tent alight. Before each challenge, lovingly-drawn colour sketches of the precise cubes of steel each contestant plans to make will be shown on screen. Hosted by Lorraine Kelly.

I’m pretty sure this is my path to fame and fortune. If you want in on it, pitch me your Great British rip off ideas in the comments and I’ll see if I want you in on the meeting.

Avatar Christmas Beans

It’s that time of year again, again? Of course it is. What you want is festive and huggable and bright and THRUST right into your face. Christmas is an epidemic but it’s the loveliest epidemic you’ll ever meet.

Times are hard though. If you thought 2020 was bad then meet the end of 2022, a harbinger of doom and fifth horseman of the apocalypse, handing out lessons by the fistful. Now, more than ever™, you need a helping hand to get through this marathon of monetary madness. Luckily we have our relative financial expert, Bartin Bewis, on hand to offer his guidance, support and “award-winning” money-saving tips to ease yourself out of December, through January and into the warm embrace of February.

Decorations

In order to reach its full potential, you need to decorate your house in everything that has the smallest bit of sparkle. If you run out of tinsel and glitter, get the spare bits of cutlery out and shine a torch on them from your window. Save money on tree decorations by getting the kids to make them out of whatever you can find in the recycling bin. If it looks like a donkey shat it out, merely tell your friends and loved ones that it means more than little Timmy and Julie made them rather than some corporate whore machine, spitting out baubles made of baby’s tears.

Food

What you want is a non-traditional Christmas dinner; leave the turkeys and the hams in the supermarket for the chumps, what you want is a rabbit stew. If you have wild rabbits living nearby to your house, set traps up in strategic places and you don’t even need to pay for the main ingredient. Some terminal wanker living on your street will have ‘foraging’ as one of their hobbies so beat some herbs out of them to avoid a trip to Asda and a few hours stuck in a bush trying to work out the one stalk or leaf that won’t give everyone diarrhoea. If you’re living in a less rural area, well, that neighbour’s cat keeps pooping in your garden so perhaps it’s time to even the score? Once you garnish it up and add a bunch of spices, nobody will be able to tell the difference anyway. Really struggling? Use your own pets and replace them in the new year. It will give the kids an understanding about death that their school could only hope of teaching them.

Presents

If you’ve been observant over the year, pick out the five toys, things, items of clothing or whatever else you have noticed that hasn’t been used too much. When the mark, sorry, loved one is out of the house, go and put it somewhere they’ll never find it. Wrap it up and present them with it on Christmas Day. Hopefully they’ll have forgotten they already own it. If they call your bluff, make a point of telling them that you spent good money on that train / aftershave / skirt the first time around and to have to bear witness to it being neglected over and over was too much to bear, so this lesson of being thankful for what you’ve already got IS the present this year. If it’s still not working, throw a bowl of nuts on the floor and spend the evening crying in your bedroom with the door locked. Make sure to secret a six pack of beer and some sandwiches in the wardrobe so you have something to do in-between sobs.

A lifetime’s worth of tips there, ladies and gentlemen. Be sure to use them wisely.

Avatar Orange / Lemon

Here’s a little story that will lift your spirits in these dark times.

At work I’ve been snacking on fruit to try and be healthier. Yes, I want nothing more than to tear into a bag of M & Ms every day, but we all know that that is wrong and is the start of the slippery slope to fat bastardom, something I am keen to avoid at all costs. The human body and its relationship with metabolism, which has been well documented, starts to get worse the older you get. Whereas previously I could eat somewhere close to a pound of mince in one sitting and be perfectly fine, if I tried that now I would spend the rest of the week locked in a toilet.

I bought a pack of oranges for the vitamin C. They’re always described as easy peelers but they’re a shit and a half to get into. Unless the definition of easy peelers is, “something that requires a sharp knife to get into” then you’re not getting into one without, well, a sharp knife that is unless you want your hands covered in juice and pith. The last one in the pack was weird looking, it was paler than the others and kind of resembled a lemon in a certain light. It also had strange green spots that looked like mould, but they were there when I first bought them.

The more I looked at the orange the less I wanted to eat it. I started asking people at work of they wanted it to which I was greeted with a resounding “no!” for some reason. A few days went by and still there was no desire to eat it. You know me, I’d eat a sewer grate if it was coated in jam. Was it the fact that it took several minutes to get into it that was putting me off? That oranges are a pretty weak fruit overall? Who knows but whatever it was it permeated in my mind and caused a few more days to slip past.

Eventually I stopped being silly and I ate it. By now people were sick of me asking if I wanted to have the orange. I left it on my boss’ desk when she was in a meeting and, when she returned, responded with, “WHAT’S THAT DOING THERE? I don’t want your bloody orange, Ian!” I, in turn, thought this was hilarious (#fittingin). On a quiet day when nobody was looking, I stripped it of its skin and chomped it in three bites. The unusual green spots weren’t mould, so I presume they were some sort of birthmark.

A joke is only worth doing if you’re willing to run it right into the ground. I took a photo before I ate the orange so I could eventually send this to everyone in my team.

They are gonna love me so god damn much.

Avatar The Pernickety Dickhead turns a new leaf

Past Chris was demonstrably a nightmare: see his previous exploits, part 1 and part 2. But he wasn’t all bad. By 2007, there were emerging signs that he might have started to mend his pernickety ways.

On 26 July that year, Past Chris was disappointed to find a foreign object in a tin of custard, but – not being particularly annoyed about it, and his mood being positively influenced by exposure to custard – wanted only to help prevent any future customer from suffering the same fate. With that in mind he wrote what amounts to a downright friendly letter to Ambrosia, manufacturers of custard.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to express my disappointment in finding something unexpected in my custard.

I was nearing the end of a can of Ambrosia custard – in fact, I should confess, I had given up trying to find something to pour it on and I was just finishing the last quarter on its own straight from the tin – when my spoon emerged with a small brown object visible as part of its cargo.

It looks to me like a flake of brown paint, though I haven’t investigated it in any great detail. I have looked at where the can was kept, before and after opening, and I can only conclude it was already in there before I opened it. In any case, I have taped it to some card and included it here so that you might be able to work out where it came from and stop something similar landing in somebody else’s dessert.

I have not included the can itself, but the date stamp on the lid reads “04/2009 18:30 7 107 D”. It is the full-fat, maximum enjoyment variety.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Marshall

For his troubles, Past Chris received a £5 voucher to spend on more custard. It pays to be nice. Past Chris was a changed man, pernickety no more.

Avatar Car sweets

I don’t know what the weather’s been like up in the frozen north lately. Maybe you’ve had a bit less snow and a few days’ break from clearing the ice off your windscreen on a morning. But down here on the tropical borders between Hampshire and France, we’ve been having some fairly warm days.

On Monday it reached about 32 degrees here, which is jolly warm, I can tell you. I went shopping to the big Sainsbury’s, partly to stock up but also partly to spend half an hour in the air conditioning, and while I was in there I bought myself a little treat. I like to have some sweets in the car sometimes, and I am very partial to jelly babies. I got myself a bag of Bassett’s finest, and when I got back to the car I pulled them out of the shopping bag and dropped them in the driver’s side door pocket so I could reach in for some tasty goodness while on the road.

Here are some things I didn’t think about when I got home. I didn’t think about the fact that, if you park your car in the sun, the inside temperature quickly reaches a point about 30ºC higher than outside, so by mid afternoon the inside of my car would have reached a nice cosy 62 degrees. I also didn’t think about the fact that the melting point of gelatin is below 40ºC.

Anyway, the point of this is that on Tuesday I got in my car to go somewhere, and mid-journey, reached into the door pocket to find some delicious jelly baby treats. My hand unexpectedly entered a large gooey mass of melted jelly baby remains. I then got it all over the steering wheel too.

The jelly babies are irretrievable and could not remain in the car. They are entirely unsuitable for mobile snacking. So I’ve brought them inside and used a sharp knife to carve the jelly morass into bite-size chunks, which have an appearance somewhere between colourful jewels and gross melted sludge.

The moral of the story is: in the summer, have non-melting car sweets, such as extra strong mints or digestive biscuits.

Avatar Bamse Mums

Hey kid, are you hungry? Do you need something to snack on before dinner?

What you need is a bag of Bamse Mums.

Joyful in every sense of the word

We take the finest things that sugar can produce and fashion them into someone that would make even a Smurf squint with glee.

Hidden beneath a veil of chocolate is something that up until writing this post I wasn’t quite sure what it was. It tasted like milk but it’s actually a marshmallow. Yeah, one of them covered in chocolate but also tasting a bit like a Kinder Egg. In the shape of a bear. Sort of shaped like a bear. In your mouth.

Trust me, with a packet full of these in your pocket, well, they’d melt obviously because it’s summer. They would melt into the sexiest confectionary you have ever seen or maybe not because they’re made in France but my sister sent some over from Sweden. Also nobody is impressed with melted chocolate unless they’ve got a hoover bag covered in holes for a brain.

English people probably don’t know what they are. They’re Bamse Mums.

Import some today and wonder why you bothered to do so in the first place.