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Fantasy world of Jacko's sister

Don't get me wrong, Children In Need is a most fantastic British charity, but as an evening's entertainment, it lacks a certain something. Mostly entertainment value.

"She would talk about things that really hurt her," gushed one hanger-on, "like poverty and racism." I'm sure the hurt was relieved a little when Richard Branson opened his Virgin Records chequebook and handed Janet a deal worth $80 million.

Most risible of all were the attempts to compare Jackson's slick, machine-tooled, radio-friendly R&B to the great Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking 1971 album What's Going On. The lady herself popped up here and there, looking alarmingly like her brother Michael during his Man In The Mirror phase (or was it that Michael sculpted himself to look alarmingly like Janet?), to reassure us she's enjoying her absolute freedom, which is code for "I don't have a record deal these days." Drivel.

The centrepiece of the Late Late Show was a lengthy tribute to Brendan Grace to mark his 50 years (or is it 150 years?) in the cabaret business. The likes of Dickie Rock, Red Hurley (mysteriously looking more black than red these days), Brendan Balfe, Ronan Collins and, clad in a suit of the same electric blue hue as Homer Simpson's trousers, Sil Fox, curator of the National Museum for Old Jokes, lined up to sing Grace's praises, and occasionally sing with him. Proof positive, as if any more were needed, that the Late Late is a show out of time. In every sense.


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