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TV review: No relief in this tedious celebrity caper

Celebrities are maddeningly ubiquitous.

Andy Murray appeared in Mock the Week Sport Relief special
Andy Murray appeared in Mock the Week Sport Relief special

They are on TV and in the paper and on the radio. They appear on billboards and perfume bottles and bus shelters. They can even be seen opening shopping centres in our pleasant towns - that is, if you can call Peter Andre a celebrity, and call East Kilbride pleasant.

This is the price we pay for living in relatively easy times; we needn't flee war or famine or plague so let's flop down on the sofa and dwindle our minds away on Kim Kardashian and her trashy ilk.

I'm content to let celebrities do their glossy flashbulb thing. They're just part of our cultural landscape now but what I can never accept is when we see them crouch next to a baby stricken with malaria, or wring their manicured hands as a child pokes through a steamy rubbish dump for things to sell.

I want to snap and growl when the blow-dried celebrity observes these horrors then swivels expertly to the camera, clasps their hands together in a subtle pleading gesture, and asks us to donate money.

Their mock sincerity is appalling, particularly when we know the cash which went to the Botox in their foreheads would vaccinate and educate the third-world urchin for whom they're currently working up tears. Their fame has literally gone to their heads and so they ask us to fork out instead.

I cannot bear this celebrity reaction to poverty. It's rehearsed and faked and distasteful and not one word from their glossed lips is genuinely felt.

Sport Relief showed this celebrity insincerity at its worst. Gary Lineker and David Walliams clowned and simpered onstage like a monstrous and aged Ant and Dec. They had the awkward task of introducing the various acts, and trying to make it seem tasteful and natural to follow a report on diseased babies with some slinky ballroom dancing. For those who were already grimacing, the uncomfortable pair kept reminding us that David Beckham would soon be appearing in a special version of Only Fools and Horses.

It was all flashy, tasteless and tiresome, with the audience forever howling 'woooo' just like X Factor.

In fact, the only refreshing aspect of the whole display was that the cumbersome Miranda did a skit involving some maracas and, amazingly, didn't do that thing where she falls over.

Sport Relief was three hours of tedious celebrity showing-off but I genuinely believe it is all necessary tedium. Charities need to reach us somehow and, apart from TV and social media, the best way they can do this is by hurling one of their 'chuggers' at us in the street.

We do everything we can to dodge chuggers, those overly-bright, eager students with their clipboards and bobble hats. Ipods are adjusted, mobiles are checked, expressions are set to crazed-grumpy mode. No-one wants to be halted with a 'hey guys, you got a minute?' so we zigzag away and look at the sky and bolt through the crowd only to see another bobble hat standing in our path, arms outstretched. Hey there, got a minute?

This is Britain. No-one wants that.

So these celebrity TV extravaganzas are the most effective way for charities to reach us: we can to donate without having to make small talk with a student outside Primark. Yes, they are tedious but, until we drop our chugger-aversion and our hectic lifestyles, they are necessary.

I just wish, with the wonders of digital TV, they could invent a feature which lets me press the red button to skip Miranda, go straight to Only Fools and Horses, then take a reasonable donation from my bank account. I can then switch over to something good.

But until they invent that brilliant feature I'd rather hail a chugger in the street.

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