An adventure on your sofa – rediscovering the ancient art of channel hopping

With the kids away on holiday, when it comes to telly-watching the world’s your oyster. Just don't inquire as to Lucy Sweet's emotional state.

As I may have mentioned before, my TV is usually hogged by my 11 year old and it’s now just become a rectangle in the corner with Fortnite on it. (By the way, if you’re a Fortnite parent, I sympathise – but just remember, like Charlie and Lola, Skylanders, Minecraft and Stampylongnose, this too shall pass).

Anyway, this week he’s away on holiday, and I have joined the ranks of people who can watch telly whenever they want. And although I have on-demand entertainment at my fingertips, I’m busy rediscovering the simple, festering joy of channel hopping on terrestrial TV.

For those too young to know, channel hopping is an ancient art, usually featured in old films to illustrate a character’s emotional disintegration, but I prefer to see it as an adventure you can go on without leaving the house, or putting on pants.

So what have I found on my travels? Well, so far my favourite belated discovery is Who’s Doing The Dishes? (ITV) which ended in 2016. Presented by ex-Westlife simpleton Brian McFadden, four members of the public went to the house of a celebrity who secretly cooked them a three-course meal and the guests had to guess their identity. As the celebs were usually about as famous as your average bus driver, it was trickier than it sounds. This Come Dine With Me/Through the Keyhole concept also weighed fairly heavily on the shoulders of the celebrity, and you hoped that the producers at least gave them money for the ingredients.

1980s Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan served ostrich paella as Brian McFadden stood around like a slowly melting chocolate teapot

This vintage episode featured 1980s Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, who served ostrich paella as Brian McFadden stood around like a slowly melting chocolate teapot. TV doesn’t get any better than that, does it? The guests were very rude about Peter’s delicious langoustine-based starter, so much so that I came to see Peter Duncan as the sole arbiter of taste in this shallow world of instant gratification. By the end of it, I decided that I was in love with Peter Duncan and wanted him to make me rhubarb crumble while I admired his vintage Welsh dressers. For me, this is the kind of excitement that can’t be matched by Emmy Award-winning drama – sorry, Netflix.

Who knows what I’m going to watch next? Could it be the Decleor summer sale on QVC? Or maybe it’ll be the 3D Decoupage Giveaway Blockbuster on the Create and Craft channel? Or repeats of Sex And The City on 4Music? Ah, the world is my oyster, and I’m happily paddling about next to the sewage outflow pipe. Still, I’ll be back in Dusty Divot watching a Fortnite character do a stupid victory dance soon enough, so I’m going to get my kicks while I can. Sunday Brunch is just about to start, featuring musical guest Rick Astley. Emotional disintegration? No idea what you’re talking about.

Image: Who’s Doing The Dishes? ITV