Daily Express

A taste of the real India

- Mike Ward

IT’S only week two at THE REAL MARIGOLD HOTEL (BBC1, 9pm) – the place in Puducherry where eight seasoned celebritie­s are trying on India for size, retirement-wise – and Chuckle Brother Paul is already contemplat­ing murder.

Specifical­ly, he’s saying he could murder a steak and kidney pie.

Yes, adjusting to these new surroundin­gs isn’t coming easily to the 72-year-old entertaine­r, who’s also struggling with the discovery that India is “hot and sticky”.

There’s that, plus getting used to the local cuisine. Or, rather, not.

Paul comes down to breakfast, greets his companions, then delivers the breaking news that he’s been “sitting on the proverbial throne for about 10 minutes again this morning”.

Still, maybe a spot of yoga will cheer him up. A nearby hospital is offering yoga therapy alongside convention­al western medicine and so Paul decides to pay a visit. Accompanyi­ng him is veteran cricket commentato­r Henry Blofeld who’s hoping yoga can help him with an old injury.

“Old injury” makes it sound as though he’s got a bit of an iffy back, say, or a knee that’s rather more clicky than he’d wish, but it turns out it’s the legacy of something a little more extreme, as he reveals to the woman running the session.

“When I was 17, I bicycled into a bus,” he informs her, “and spent 28 days unconsciou­s. I had 17 brain operations, getting bone splinters out of my head.”

Meanwhile, actress Britt Ekland and entreprene­ur Duncan Bannatyne are off to get their fortunes told.

Britt hopes to be told she’ll carry on acting for as long as possible (retirement is “a dirty word” in her profession, she insists) while the youthful looking Duncan is aiming for at least another couple of decades on this earth.

As we’ve already observed, Duncan’s attitude is one of “never say die”, unless of course you spell it with a Y.

Meanwhile, at the rival establishm­ent FIRST DATES HOTEL – a rival in that time slot, I mean (Channel 4, 9pm) – it looks as though host Fred Sirieix has an admirer. “Are you single?” asks an eager young blonde beside the pool.

Fred has to break the news to her that he’s not.

“Oh, that’s a shame,” she sighs. “I was going to introduce you to my mum.”

Finally, CHARLIE BROOKER’S ANTIVIRAL WIPE (9pm) finds the writer and humorist making a fleeting return to BBC2, where he’s promising us his personal take on life under lockdown.

I have to say the title alone, being a play on the name of his old show Screenwipe but also very topically apt, is encouragin­gly ingenious.

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