This article was originally published in The Dundee Courier on 23rd January 2016.
The Getaway Car: Saturday, BBC One
Phone Shop Idol: Tuesday, BBC Two
Is Dermot O'Leary being punished for crimes he committed in a former life? How else to explain the fate of this affable TV presenter, whose unassuming talents were wasted for years on The X Factor, and who now finds himself shackled to the knackered chassis of The Getaway Car? That's not a career, it's sustained abuse.
Dermot can't be blamed for this fatally ill-conceived game show. Like the loyal footsoldier he is, he's just following orders. Instead, blame the genius who thought that people driving slowly around a Mousetrap-style obstacle course was a recipe for riveting Saturday night viewing.
It's become a cliché to liken bad TV shows to something Alan Partridge might come up with, but this unhappy marriage of Top Gear and Total Wipeout really does feel like one of his pitches come to life. It even climaxes, if that's not too explosive a word, with contestants racing against The Stig, who these days resembles a tragic straggler at a long-defunct costume party.
For obvious reasons, the BBC aren't going to risk putting members of the public through a death-defying driving test, hence why The Getaway Car unfolds at such a laughably sluggish pace. The obstacle course is situated in sunny South Africa, presumably because basing it in drizzly Britain would add even more pathos to an already pathetic spectacle of non-entertainment.
The idea of people driving into a massive photograph of Roger Moore to win £10,000 might sound amusing on paper, but in practice it's ridiculous (and not in a good way). I'd rather watch an hour of Dermot hoovering his car seats.
As if to compound this patience-testing ordeal, most of the contestants in episode one were deeply annoying. There was no one to root for, unless you count our hapless host. His weak witticisms make Dave Lamb from Come Dine With Me sound like imperial Groucho Marx.
Clearly, some of those half-hearted, fate-tempting quips – “This is car crash telly!” - were desperate cries for help. At one point he claimed “We're laughing here” with all the natural exuberance of a condemned prisoner. Someone, please, rescue him.
I encourage anyone who derives masochistic pleasure from watching bad television to experience at least ten minutes of this abject failure. A total waste of time, but at least you'll be able to state with solemn authority that, much like Don't Scare the Hare, it actually happened. We must keep these memories alive as a warning for future generations.
The annual Phone Idol competition, which aims to find Britain's best mobile phone salesperson, is apparently the industry equivalent of the Oscar, Pulitzer and Booker combined. Its rewards are potentially life-changing.
In Phone Shop Idol we met a former winner who was head-hunted by Sony. He now drives a company car filled with complimentary gadgets. He's living the dream.
Treating the ability to sell phones as if it's a rarefied craft may sound silly, but it's a respectable gig like any other. With its chummy narration and chortling Apprentice-style score, this thin series doesn't take the competition particularly seriously, but nor does it belittle the sincerity of the contestants. It's a modest celebration of nice, everyday folk taking pride in their work and doing it well.
It isn't of the slightest bit of interest to anyone – there are few things in life more tedious than the discussion of phone tariffs - but at least it doesn't sneer.