I'm a great follower of reward showbiz™ (© Madame Arcati 2010) - gigs bestowed upon slebs only because they have a name. Many showbiz or media projects are dreamt up simply as an excuse to get a star to front them. Such projects have three essential characteristics: 1) a star; 2) a journey, quest or list; 3) pointlessness. Here's my latest top 10 rewardees:
1. Joanna Lumley for Joanna Lumley's Nile, a new four part series on ITV1 starting this week. No earthly reason why the Nepalese goddess should be associated with this river, but it's an opportunity to wallow in cultivated mellifluousness as she bears her polished teeth at familiar sights - such as a lookalike camel - in various gurnings of rapture. Oh look, there's a pyramid.
2. Quentin Letts for his throwaway read 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain. The Daily Mail's right-wing attack dog is a professional frother who appears to favour a return to Feudalism and the use of the rack. An utterly pointless addition to the listerature genre - he is after all part of the problem.
3. Michael Palin and his various TV/book tie-in travels, from the Sahara to his Hemingway Adventure. Nothing in Palin's career quite prepared us for the unedifying sight of a perfectly credible comic actor turning into a Phileas Fogg freebie tart. If he has shed new light on any part of the globe do let me know.
4. Andrew Marr for History of Modern Britain. Any excuse to get this gesticulating barker on the box. Rest assured, his "history" will be referenced by no serious scholar; it's just a loafer's guide to event whatnots, the sort of crap Reader's Digest might have once published for leisurely reads.
5. Jeremy Paxman for The Victorians: Britain through the Paintings of the Age (book and TV series). What does he know about art? The book was substantially written by someone else in any case. A great vanity juggernaut to keep a familar face on the screen.
6. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman for Long Way Round: TV series and book. A chance to ogle at two leather clad arses in different international locations. Shamelessly the book's publisher writes on Amazon "The fact that those men are figures with notable film connections ... may be the reason the book got written ... but so what?" How sad are the punters?
7. Richard Hammond for all his TV shows but Top Gear. TV looks for any excuse to have him either blowing up things or testing things that may blow up, all because he nearly got himself killed once. Each promise of doom leaves us cruelly tantalised.
8. Sophie Dahl for Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (book/TV show). A Nigella Lawson copycat - famous surname + food erotica. The book boasts Dahl's "Matisse-like line drawings" destined for no public exhibition. Only two years ago or so she was presented as the great white hope of literature after a spell as a waif on catwalks.
9. Peter and Dan Snow for 20th Century Battlefields (book/TV series) - lanky father and son become visibly excited in the historical presence of slaughter. Where's a swingometer when you need one?
10. JLS - for all those fucking endless music rundown shows they've been fronting since they didn't win The X Factor but went on to become the show's biggest boy band stars. Testicle hugs and downward spastic finger thrusts conduct their guides to Michael Jackson and others. The tiny one especially requires treatment.