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Loads of manure and very little else

THE producers and presenters of Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own each encountered some rudimentary challenges with their respective projects.

Co-presenter Victoria Clarke, who set out to learn how to grow her own, had forgotten to note that it takes a good deal of time and a greater deal of elbow grease to grow vegetables.

The producers, meanwhile, forgot the principles of programme-making, such as the importance of a beginning, middle and end. Even a basic plot might have done...

Perhaps they were too busy trying to stake down supposed co-presenter, Clarke's boyfriend Shane MacGowan, whose appearance in the programme was about as beneficial as a slug in a lettuce bed.

Quite what this programme set out to achieve is anyone's guess. It was touted as a homage to The Good Life, only the pair were too busy leading their rock 'n' roll lifestyle to commit to the task. It was supposed to appeal to the novice vegetable gardener, but the only advice they offered was to ask established vegetable gardeners for guidance.

Clarke went about the task with schoolgirl insouciance -- initially endearing but eventually grating when it became clear that she made little effort to deliver on her pitch to the production company.

"Did I read the book? No. Did I buy the book? No," she trilled fecklessly. Hers was an Ab Fab approach to vegetable gardening, minus the humour [and the sidekick].

What we were left with was a disjointed and rushed production. What's worse is that they thought some celebrity name-dropping and on-the-road anecdotes would compensate. Glen Hansard's vegetable plot was frequently featured and Lily Allen's young cousins were introduced as just that.

Towards the end, Clarke attended a celebrity auction where she put a bottle of Shane's urine under the hammer. It was a fitting summation for the programme, symbolic of the misplaced belief in TV-land that a sprinkling of stardust is enough to sell us a load of manure.

Diary of a Mail Order Bride (Sky3, 9pm) was an altogether different proposition. The sobering documentary chronicled the lives of the men who look for love through online matchmaking agencies. The boorish forthrightness of its subjects and the poetic justice they were eventually served made this unwittingly hysterical documentary seem more like a Sundance-worthy mockumentary. The message: love -- like vegetables -- can't grow without the essential nutrients.

Byrne's Stars

Victoria and Shane Grow Their Own *

Diary of a Mail Order Bride *****