Sue's not heading for laughs
Heading out (bbc1) operation transformation (rte1) The sound and the fury: A century of music (bbc4)
SUE Perkins is a peculiar phenomenon: a comedienne who's achieved an extraordinary level of television fame and ubiquity without actually doing anything remotely comedic.
Perky Perkins is everywhere since winning BBC2's celebrity classical music reality show Maestro a couple of years back. She's presented innumerable foodie programmes with the preening Giles Coren. She's the co-host of the inexplicably popular The Great British Bake Off (watch out, an Irish version is in the mixing bowl as we speak). She's apparently appeared on every BBC comedy panel game ever made and is the go-to girl when a spare seat on a chat show sofa needs warming.
But have you ever heard anyone say: "You know, I find that Sue Perkins really funny. I wish she'd make a sitcom"?
Well she has now. It's called Heading Out and, in the manner of every modern comedy except Mrs You-Know-Who's-You-Know-What's , it's shot on film, or at least a digital approximation of it, without the aid of a live studio audience.
This is probably just as well since there's precious little here to make any audience laugh. Perkins plays Sara, a veterinarian who's about to turn 40 yet still hasn't told her parents (a wasted Jeff Rawle and Harriet Walter) that she's gay.
That might have been a credible peg on which to hang a sitcom 20 years ago, but it's barely plausible in 2013.
Then again, plausibility pretty much goes out the window in the first scene anyway when Sara is faced with a client who refuses to accept that her comatose cat, which has been hit by a car, is now basically roadkill.
"Not a lot of quality of life, is there?" she ventures, lethal injection in hand, before losing patience and blurting: "Look, your cat is essentially a windsock!"
You can't really imagine any vet, even a sitcom one, saying something like that. Nor can you imagine them carrying the dead cat home in their bag and idly leaving it on the floor so their pet dog can run away with the corpse between its jaws.
In an over-familiar sitcom trope, Sara has a coterie of loyal, quirky friends, led by a camp bloke who's not actually gay, who club together for her birthday and hire a wacky life coach to guide her out of the closet.
A brief appearance by the brilliant Mark Heap as the sour-faced boss of a pet crematorium aside, Heading Out is doggedly – even cattedly – unfunny.
Given the girth of its contestants, the last thing Operation Transformation needs is padding, but that's all its penultimate episode was. In an unnecessary bit of RTE cross-fertilisation (as if the series doesn't have enough already), Brendan Courtney from Off the Rails was wheeled out to dress the five leaders for tonight's catwalk finale, and then everyone repaired to Kathryn Thomas's house for dinner.
I'm not sure which aspect of this season's OT has annoyed me more: Thomas's overblown narration, which is sugary enough to rot every tooth in your head or the programme's inexorable slide into the reality-show swamp of mawkish emotional manipulation. Bloated doesn't begin to describe the half of it.
The Sound and the Fury: A Century of Music won't send me running to the shops to buy the music of minimalist composers like Philip Glass, John Taverner (the first non-pop/rock artist to the be signed by The Beatles' Apple label) or John Cage, whose most infamous "composition" features four-and-a-half minutes of total silence, yet that doesn't mean this superbly-produced three-part series wasn't thoroughly engrossing stuff.
The BBC used to be the home of arts programmes that were both intelligent and accessible to a broad audience, which makes the savage cuts to BBC4's budget all the more lamentable.
Heading Out HIIII
Operation Transformation HIIII
The Sound and the Fury: A Century of Music HHHHI