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Stars fail to shine on nostalgia trip

Last year, BBC4 showed a series in which a typical modern family spent a week pretending to live in the 70s, which meant giving up flash mod cons.

They surrendered their laptops, game consoles, mobiles, iPods, gargantuan plasma screens, plus assorted other gadgets and gizmos, and were temporarily beamed back to a world of twin-tub washing machines, 22-inch black-and-white TV sets and glacially paced Commodore computers.

Needless to say, being stuck with nothing but 70s television was part of the package. It's a clever idea, yet one that already seems redundant. Why watch a series featuring people recreating the 70s when we ourselves are already living through them all over again?

If Sunday nights at this time of year mean wall-to-wall dance shows (whether on or off ice) then Saturdays are now dominated by rehashes of creaky 70s gameshows.

Mr & Mrs and Family Fortunes were pretty dim first time around, but at least they featured ordinary people winning a few quid. With the addition of some spray-on glitter and the dubious 'All-Star' prefix, not to mention the fact that it's all in the name of charity (yawn), they're even more vapid.

Barry McGuigan and his wife Sandra were about as All-Star as it got on Mr & Mrs, while Family Fortunes saw Atomic Kitten singer Liz McLarnon and her family do battle with oily Uri Geller and his brood.

Almost identical in presentation style, both are wretched -- though at least only one of them is hosted by gormless, gurning Vernon Kay, whose fluorescent smile was dimmed recently by revelations that he's been sending dirty text messages to Page 3 blow-up doll Rhian Sugden.

"We asked: 'Why would Vernon do something so stupid when he's married to the lovely Tess Daly?'

"Our survey said: 'Because he's an overpaid, no-talent, North of England pillock who needs a reality check'."

Not for the first time I sat through the Iftas, the first of the weekend's homegrown orgies of entertainment industry backslapping (the other being the irrelevant Meteor Music Awards), grimacing at the pointlessness of the whole overblown spectacle. The reasons are too manifold to list here, so let's highlight just a few.

How about the ludicrous Five Minutes of Heaven being named Best Single Drama/Drama Serial? Or bland eye-candy Elaine Cassidy from US series Harper's Island winning Best Leading Actress ahead of Michelle Fairley, whose remarkable performance made the otherwise indifferent Best: His Mother's Son compelling viewing?

As usual, a bum-numbingly overlong red carpet parade of misplaced vanity and self-regard.

TOMORROW: Pat reviews Married Single Other (ITV) and The Stuttering School (More4)


All Star Mr & Mrs/All Star Family Fortunes *

The Irish Film & Television Awards *