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Monday, June 28, 2004

The thing about Brighton beach at nine in the morning is that it's teeming with celebrities. Well ok, not teeming. It's actually quite deserted. Which made it all the more surprising to look up from my position by Brighton pier (or what's left of it) this morning and see the lone figure of Mike Read (superstar DJ and Cliff Richard tribute act) wandering across the beach towards me chatting away on a mobile phone.

I caught his eye, smiled in an "aren't you that bloke off the telly" kind of a way, only for him to respond with a quizzical "stalker & slasher alert" expression, decide I looked a little too much like Kathy Bates for his liking, and turn his back on me. Whereupon he revealed himself to be wearing his 'vote Mike' shirt from the last series of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here". Probably the very words he was speaking into the phone at the time.

I looked on nonchalantly, wondering whether to mention the fact that I used to own a copy of 'Mike Read's Pop Quiz', when the sound of trudging footsteps was heard, and lo and behold, Lord Brockett (top showbiz criminal and all round toff) hoved into view over yonder pebble bank. Suddenly realising I was outnumbered two to one by B-list celebrities, and fearing that Peter Andre could be just around the next corner, my natural instinct was to run, but I held my ground and was duly rewarded with the arrival of a small film crew. Mike led them to the Lord, and together they retreated further down the beach, possibly to get away from the dodgy bloke with the laptop.

Naturally I followed. Not that I'm a stalker or anything. Having taken up a comfortable new position on somebody's groyne (I'm not sure whose. Possibly the council's), I watched as a bevy of beauties (that's a technical term) consisting of three bikini-clad girls, made their way out of the cafe on the seafront and down the beach towards the celebs. And me. The luscious lovelies (another technical term, go with me on this) were to play a pivotal role in the ensuing drama.

As far as I could make out, the plot of this TV extravaganza, which will no doubt form the central plank of ITV's autumn schedule, appeared to involve Lord Brockett sitting at a table reading a newspaper, whereupon the page 3 stunnas (trust me, I know what I'm talking about) would walk past, catch Brockett's eye, and cause him to leap into action by chasing them down the beach.

So it's good to see Lord Brockett hasn't been typecast as a result of his "I'm a Celebrity" experience. It was like Benny Hill without the production values.

This apparently simple task required a good eight or nine takes, after each of which the director would thank the Lord for his efforts, before telling him how rubbish he was and insisting he do it again. Having finally pulled off this feat of dramatic acting, we all praised the Lord, and the girls put their tops back on. Which was a relief for us all.

At this point a fat bloke in a loud shirt turned up, and much to my horror I realised it was Razor Ruddock (former football hardman, current football lardman). I'm not one to criticise, but the guy has really let himself go. He looked like Danny DeVito on stilts.

There were hugs all round (which was actually quite touching), then Razor and Brockett made their way back to the cafe as the producer arrived with - brace yourself - Mike Read's guitar. I cursed my luck in leaving my ear plugs back at Lisa's flat, and watched in some discomfort as Mike sat down with guitar across knee and began singing for the camera. I presume it was the acoustic mix of 'Insania', but I didn't hang around to find out, preferring instead to loiter about the deserted cafe and eavesdrop on the celebrity chit-chat. I couldn't possibly reveal what they said here though. Not that's it's private, it's just incredibly dull. I can confirm however that Lord Brockett sounds just as irritating in real life as he does on the telly, so that's reassuring.

A cup of tea later and the director had finally persuaded Mike Read to stop singing, meaning it was the turn of Razor, who by now had changed into his matching jungle gear, to get in front of the camera with a football. He attempted a bit of keepy-uppy, proved that all the old magic was still there by losing the ball every three seconds, then tried to get the blondes to take off their tops again.

I retreated to the pier to watch proceedings from a distance, before realising that this was possibly the most vacuous TV programme ever made, and that my time would be better spent going to McDonalds for a milkshake.

But obviously I'm looking forward to seeing the finished show on TV. They can work wonders with editing these days. It'll probably win a BAFTA.