CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: GBBO’s Matt Lucas is Mr Unstoppable 


The Great British Bake Off  

Rating:

Surgeons At The Edge Of Life

Rating:

Lying awake in the small hours of the night, Noel Fielding must be wondering why he recommended Little Britain star Matt Lucas to replace Sandi Toksvig for their double act on The Great British Bake Off (C4).

No one in the history of entertainment has made life more difficult for himself since a cocky Christian in the Colosseum shouted: ‘Oi, Caesar! If you want fun, why don’t you send in a really hungry lion?’

Mr Lucas has been hungering after a telly job this juicy for years. 

Can you blame him? He’s had to watch while his ex-screen partner David Walliams flounced and bounced his way to superstardom as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and became a bestselling children’s author.

Lying awake in the small hours of the night, Noel Fielding must be wondering why he recommended Little Britain star Matt Lucas to replace Sandi Toksvig for their double act on The Great British Bake Off (C4)

Lying awake in the small hours of the night, Noel Fielding must be wondering why he recommended Little Britain star Matt Lucas to replace Sandi Toksvig for their double act on The Great British Bake Off (C4)

The best Matt could manage was to be a companion to Peter Capaldi (in the worst incarnation of Doctor Who) and to star in a silent sitcom called Pompidou. 

Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten both roles — practically everyone has.

He must have felt he was just as funny and talented as his former co-star. 

But he definitely wasn’t having as much luck — perhaps in part because of problems in his personal life, including the suicide of his ex-husband Kevin McGee in 2009. 

‘I think of him 100 times a day,’ Matt admitted last year.

Now he’s got everything to prove, and there’s no holding him back. 

From the moment he arrived, doing that splendid impersonation of Boris, he’s been pinging about the Bake Off tent like a pinball.

‘I might get a solar panel on my head, just to give myself more energy,’ he giggled. ‘Over the long run, it’ll be cheaper than coffee.’

Noel, who seemed such an unlikely recruit back in 2017 when the show switched to Channel 4, has coasted through the last couple of series. 

Sandi was so sensible, so mumsy, that anything he said or did ended up looking eccentric and edgy.

He can’t coast now. Hyperactive Matt is upstaging him at every turn. 

Noel is in danger of becoming the straight man, his job little more than to set up the next manic Lucas eruption of silly voices.

In a show that has always enjoyed a cheeky innuendo, Matt excels at the single entendre. His shocked ‘Ooh matron!’ face belongs in a Carry On movie.

At the start of the technical round, he burst into an acapella version of I Will Survive. 

Then he rounded on macho Paul Hollywood for boasting that he’d never seen a West End musical. ‘Call yourself a gay man?’ he scolded. 

The judge was too dumbfounded to reply.

It was one heck of a performance, but the prize for the night’s true showstopper has to go to Dr David Jenkins at Royal Papworth hospital in Cambridge.

In the medical documentary Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life (BBC2) he halted a patient’s heart and drained all the blood from her body, not once but twice, as he cleaned clots from her arteries. 

It was one heck of a performance, but the prize for the night's true showstopper has to go to Dr David Jenkins at Royal Papworth hospital in Cambridge. In the medical documentary Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life (BBC2) he halted a patient's heart and drained all the blood from her body, not once but twice, as he cleaned clots from her arteries

It was one heck of a performance, but the prize for the night’s true showstopper has to go to Dr David Jenkins at Royal Papworth hospital in Cambridge. In the medical documentary Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life (BBC2) he halted a patient’s heart and drained all the blood from her body, not once but twice, as he cleaned clots from her arteries

To prevent brain damage, he kept her on ice.

Cold, bloodless and without a pulse for 20 minutes at a time, she was effectively stone dead — yet the following morning she was eating her breakfast. 

‘It fills me with wonder when I think what we’ve done to her,’ the doctor said candidly.

This show, which almost wholly comprised footage from operations, surely left viewers feeling the same way.

At nearby Addenbrooke’s, orthopaedic specialist Andrew Carrothers was wielding a screwdriver, chisel and drill as he repaired the disintegrating hip of a cancer patient. 

‘This is internal human carpentry,’ he said cheerfully.

Fixing a stainless steel plate to the man’s pelvis, he compared it to putting up a bookshelf.

That’s a comforting thought. A spirit level, a couple of rawlplugs and you’re good as new.

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