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Scheduling a switch-off for summer

THERE are several clear indicators of summer, which I have now ticked off, even this early in June.

I have seen the first naked beer belly at the bus stop (at 8.10 am, mark you); there are queues in the evenings outside the local ice-cream shop (entailing, in a sad commentary on modern Britain, lots of double-parked cars); the postman is wearing shorts; and the TV schedulers aren't throwing away any good stuff on a populace, who, by their reckoning, are in the pub if they're not in the garden.

Television executives seem to follow the oyster rule (don't have one in a month that doesn't have an "R" in it) when it comes to planning their line-ups; you'll never get a Broad­church or a Line of Duty launching in May, June, July or August.

What we'll get instead is one of the curses of the 21st century, the celebrity-based reality show. Ten years ago, the BBC repackaged an old favourite, Come Dancing, by inserting a babble of bubbleheads, and the result, Strictly Come _Dancing, was a ratings sensation. Since then, everyone, it seems, has tried to follow suit.

Tonight is a case in point: just 25 days after Masterchef ended, BBC One begins six weeks of Celebrity Masterchef, with Jodie Kidd, Sophie Thomson, Todd Carty, Susannah Constantine and Russell Grant first up. And tomorrow, STV launches eight weeks of All-Star Mr & Mrs with David Hasselhoff, Amanda Lamb and Brian McFadden.

Meanwhile, the aptly-named Pointless Celebrities is already in full swing, and digital viewers have been Keeping Up With The Kardashians so long they'll be overtaking them any day now. What, I wonder, will be coming next? We've had celebrity cooking - will we get celebrity gardening or celebrity DIY?

A TV executive, who shall remain nameless (since his colleagues are faceless) suggests:

l I'm A Celebrity, Get Me In There: a look at how the jungle line-ups are chosen each year, with episodes featuring the selection of the token Bikini Shower Girl, the token Fading American Celebrity, the token Oldie and the token Pain In the Neck.

l Vacation, Vacation, Vacation: a look at the busy lives of our MPs.

l Celebrity Big Brother's Bit On The Side: Starring Ryan Giggs.

l Celebrity Call My Bluff: At long last, a televised encounter between David Cameron and Alex Salmond.

Incidentally, Celebrity Law & Order has had to be cancelled. Falkirk MP Eric Joyce turned them down in favour of Celebrity Boxing.

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