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 Personalised shopping recommendation

The internet is too clever. If you go over here to a website or something, and do a bit of searching around, you’ll suddenly find that other shopping sites and social media are offering you adverts for the thing you searched for. How do they know? How are they so effectively tracking me around the place? It’s crazy.

Sometimes the suggestions that come scrolling past your face are so uncannily pinpoint accurate that it’s scary. Other times you feel like maybe the algorithm didn’t have enough to go on and it’s making a wild stab in the dark.

Recently on Instagram (follow me if you like, I never post anything) I’ve been seeing the same advert coming up again and again, posted there by some robot working for Amazon who clearly doesn’t have a very firm grasp on what I want to buy. Its headline suggestion is this all-plastic portable bath with a lid. You can apparently poke your head out to look at something on a laptop, presumably while out and about. Perhaps it’s for people who have sudden irresistible urges to take an immediate bath while, I don’t know, in the car park at Sainsbury’s or half way up a hill in the Peak District.

If you then scroll right, the rest of the suggestions are a real mixed bag. There’s a green leather Chesterfield-style chair and a frog-shaped plantpot. However, there’s also a bed covered in Lego studs that you can build Lego models on, and it even has a display area for minifigures in the headboard. Now that’s something I really do want.

Avatar More London convenience

After meeting a terrific vending machine earlier this year, I was delighted to find another incredibly convenient retail experience in London’s bustling West End.

It has everything for the world of today: a cash machine, tobacco, something to do with medicine or adding numbers together, mobile phones, vaping supplies, and Internet Explorer.

Naturally, I went straight in, withdrew some cash, and spent it on an ounce of snuff, some medicine and/or maths, having a SIM card unlocked, a pint of blueberry sherbet vape juice, and a crap browser from 20 years ago. If you need me to pick up any of that for you, just shout.

Avatar Convenience and style

This week, the trains are all having a well-earned holiday, which means that my commute has become almost impossible. I’m working nights all this week, so get around the travel problem, work have sent me on a well-earned holiday too, and have put me up in a three star hotel with approximately a billion rooms that is mostly filled with backpackers, tour parties of Americans in ill-advised shorts and enormous groups of schoolchildren.

My room is actually not too bad, but the hotel itself is intriguing for the industrial scale on which it operates and the odd things they have in reception. There’s a whole unstaffed supermarket, with fridges full of drinks and food and snacks, with self-service checkouts. There’s a whole range of middling bars and cafes. There’s an enormous soulless pub, facing on to the street outside, catering strictly to the foreign tourist market, that is literally called “London Pub”.

And just beside the lifts, there’s a vending machine for the essentials you might have forgotten when you packed your bag. Do you need to stock up on toothpaste or shampoo or painkillers or condoms or batteries or SIM cards or plug adapters or padlocks?

No? Well, perhaps what you’re missing is souvenirs to take back home, to give to your loved ones as a reminder of your wonderful time in London. Don’t worry, the amazing hotel reception vending machine has you covered there too. You can choose from a toy black London cab, a toy red London bus, a gold model of Big Ben or a gold model of Tower Bridge. Your nearest and dearest are sure to be thrilled.

I know you’re going to feel like you’re missing out, but don’t despair. I’m here until the end of the week, so if you send the money I’ll happily get vending on your behalf. Just let me know which classy souvenirs have caught your eye.

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.

Avatar Inventing the Future

I, like you, have a pair of feet (that is unless you’re Chris and you have three legs, or maybe four, I forget about that conversation in and around his shoe poem) and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do to protect my feet.

Someone invented shoes and the world rejoiced. From then there was some protection from the tiny little stones on that the ground, the acorns, possibly broken glass and even if someone has been a bit careless with their muesli. Oh, what a happy time it was.

But there was a catch. Each shoe was a one-way street; there was never a chance that the left shoe could be put on the right foot and vice versa. If you lost one of them then you had to find another that would fit. The unique shape on the foot meant that only a lefty would fit the left. People should have the freedom to wear what they wanted and that would never be the case.

Do you remember the old expression, “the shoe is on the other foot”? I see that as the future.

Imagine a shoe that could slip onto either foot. You’re no longer held captive by these prehistoric methods of yore. You’re so engrossed in that three bean salad podcast that you’re not even paying attention to what goes on where and, you know what? It doesn’t matter. My invention, the Neutral Shoe (no trademarks yet, please don’t steal my ideas), is pertinent enough to adapt to its surroundings, namely your foot. I haven’t drawn up the blueprints yet however I imagine the same sleek design from the heel to the long bit in the middle. At the end though, that’s when things get interesting.

It curves around so it’s wide enough to fit either the left or right foot. Your toes are free to wiggle about yet it’s still snug enough to not feel as though you’re walking around in a pair of flipflops (nobody wants that). The Neutral Shoe will be a thing of beauty; not necessarily solving any of life’s major problems but there to offer a helping hand (or foot) when you need it most. Putting on a pair of shoes will be different and new at the same time.

All I need is five hundred thousand pounds and I can get to work. You have my bank details, gentlemen, and I look forward to seeing you all at the champagne launch ceremony in six to nine months time.

Avatar Time to shape up or ship out

Do you have poorly-raised pork? Are you in receipt of rude chops or maladjusted mince? Are you berated by bad bacon and lazy lamb cutlets? What you need is the best in the business to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.

Manners for Meat will take your ill-educated meat products and transform them into something you can show to mother and father at the next boating ceremony.

Leave your meat with us and we will put them through an intense yet fair training regime to whip them into shape.

No more crossed words. No more mumbling under their breath. No more ill-advised comments during luncheons and dinner parties. No slouching, no passing wind, no loud burps the likes of which could shake the top of Ben Nevis and drip snow on all the surrounding villages.

Manners maketh the man but they also maketh the meat.

Give us two weeks and we will put them through their paces and leave a lasting effect that will be seen for generations to come (or until your next Sunday dinner).

Come for the manners, stay for the meat.

Avatar The history of Christmas

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s nearly Christmas. There are very few signs to warn you of its approach – it would be handy, for example, if everything you saw and heard in the media for the last two months had involved a Christmas related song, perhaps – but I have checked and it’s coming at the end of this week.

We all know what that means. There will be trees and presents and cake, and the law will turn a blind eye to breaking-and-entering offences committed by overweight bearded pensioners in unlikely red outfits. But where does Christmas come from? You don’t know, so prepare your thanks because I’m about to tell you.

Time for an unforgettable Christmas feast

Christmas is the eldest child of Father Christmas, born in December 1955 in Lapland. Father Christmas himself is, of course, the nephew of Zeus. After spending a happy childhood in the snowy reindeer-filled northern reaches of Finland, young Christmas left home and travelled to Liverpool in the hope of landing a role in Brookside.

The lack of an authentic scouse accent prevented that dream from becoming a reality, and a few years later Christmas was working in a branch of M&S where a toy sale coincided with the accidental delivery of too many frozen turkeys. The marketing opportunity was obvious. Parents were persuaded to get their kids some knock-off toys and treat themselves to a slap-up turkey lunch (pictured) by Christmas’s dad, whose booming voice and hypnotic catchphrase “ho” entranced the crowds at the Uttoxeter department store.

Today those traditions have spread far beyond Uttoxeter and the surrounding villages of Willslock, Dagdale and Spath. Now we can all enjoy the warm glow of buying some knock-off presents for each other and eating a type of meat that, at any other time of year, we’d avoid in favour of something that didn’t have the flavour and texture of teatowels. Hurrah.

In celebration of the big day, which is definitely some time this week but I’m not 100% sure when, please enjoy this Twitter thread of dreadful Christmas dinners. Thank you.