Sometimes we need reminders of the loss and pain there is in the world just to make us aware of how lucky we are. UTVs Madeline, One Year On: Campaign For Change was one such programme. Over its two hours it had lots of hope, despair and sadness. The piles of mail in boxes marked: Well Wishers, Ideas, Psychics, Nutty and Nasty. Gerry McCann read out some of the nasty ones and it would curdle your happiness. The counting off of the days was hard to cope with, the grasping at any straw of hope in the wind. The American Head of National Center For Missing And Exploited Children saying: There are a host of scenarios under which your child could be alive.

So to ease the strain and in part salve their own doubts, they campaign for Amber Alert Systems. But the overall sad impression was of two parents lost in a life horribly suspended between – if only – and – maybe – What might have been and what could happen next.

Carly Gone

Irish interest in American Idol, Carly Smithson, has gone out of the competition just after Simon Cowell lavished praise on her. Such is the fickle nature of the public vote who seem not to agree with the know-it-all panel. Idol goes from strength to strength and has managed to get top composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to appear on the show to accompany singers of his lyrics and music. Whether Cowell will offer Smithson a new record deal is a moot point as her last album deal went all sky-west-and-crooked.

Heads Off

UTV must be having a set of bad Sundays since the Ice Skaters slipped off into ratings heaven. We got two episodes of Foyle’s War and now we have the return of Midsomer Murders. This time it was an off-their-heads drama as a movie about the Scarlett Pimpernel was being filmed in Midsomer Magna. Lots of half-known faces and not a lot of red pilchards, crimson carp or scarlet sharks to disturb the peace and cloudy plodding and it was so sleepy that half-way into a two-hour show, it was obvious who had done the deed, but why? By then, who cared? And Headcases that followed doesn’t have any wicked or satirical flair except for Russel Brand as a bog Brush.

How Blue

BBC1 gave a lot of hype to their specially commissioned Aussie soap replacement for Neighbours. It goes out at about two n the afternoon, but the cast of good-looking guys and gals look a lot older, more OC or early Friends. It even has a kooky blonde girl who writes and tries to sing songs on a small blue guitar. But it had an opening female voice-over like Desperate Housewives and a teaser that one of the group will be dead in less than 24 hours and then we get a car-crash, several fights and then, the dan ta ta dan moment – maybe even one of us may be the killer. Neighbours it ain’t.

Our Food

Last week with little ballyhoo except on the Eco-green websites, More 4 showed a two-hour film about agricultural methods and systems. There was no commentary, just some machinery sounds as we got an insight into giant European food factories. We saw thousands of apples trundling along conveyor belts and giant combined harvester spray entire fields on giant arms. Then it got horrible – mass production of food as flapping chickens were hovered up in a processing machine. Pigs were drawn into metal frames and a minute later were carcases. Why we saw bulls being milked of their semen was a distasteful puzzle. The programme was called True Stories: Our Daily Bread. Oh, forgive us our hunger and our trespasses.

Back Bytes

LILY ALLEN: may have to apologise to that girl as the BBC3 have ordered a second series of Lily Allen And Friends. Now here’s a laff luv – A spokesperson said she had developed astoundingly well as a TV host in just a few weeks.
Astoundingly indeed.

LALOLA: is expected to be the next telenovellas like Ugly Betty to make it big in the US. Made originally in Argentina, it is a series about a womaniser who is changed into a woman.

SATISFACTION: is the title of the aptly named Lonehand Productions show from Australia, set in and around an upmarket brothel, as steamy scenes depict high-class escorts as they juggle their private and professional parts – no I mean lives. Ah go on mate.

IAN WRIGHT has quit the BBC as a sports pundit, saying viewers don’t want the same old jacket and tie personalities. He said he felt like a jester between Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer.

BEN HUR: it looks like the BBC is going to share a remake of the sandals and chariots epic with a US channel in 2009.