Celebrity Juice: Down with the Most Childish Show on Television

Wwhen life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you Keith Lemon, unfortunately you have to make do with celebrity juice† The reality series — in which comedian Leigh Francis takes on the role of his sprayed alter-ego Lemon and subjects a slew of celebrities to humiliating tasks and lewd panel discussion — has been crouching on our TV screens for 14 years. That’s 26 seasons so far. But after two more farewell specials, the end is finally in sight: celebrity juice has been squeezed.

ITV announced on Wednesday (29 June) that the series will end this year. Of course, the cancellation of a program that has been running for so long will be a big deal; celebrity juice before cheerfulnessAvatar and the Obama administration. Few, however, would describe it as “venerable”. Rather, it’s just eerily long-lived, the sort of television equivalent of UHT milk or canned spam. but while celebrity juiceThe fans can apologize for a few tears after all this time, the fact is that this is not a great loss for the medium. This is dead wood that has finally been pruned from the tree. celebrity juice was one of the most childish, meaningless shows on TV. We should say goodbye.

When it comes to comedic alter-egos, it goes without saying that Lemon is way below par as Alan Partridge’s genius. Even the listless satire of Al Murray’s Pub Landlord seems a creation of Brechtian genius compared to Leigh’s obnoxious, limp counterpart. But celebrity juice‘s problems have always been deeper than just the repulsive Lemon persona. For much of the time that celebrity juice was in the air, its humor was mainly focused on crude, grinning sex jokes. Citroen was a mouthpiece for lowest common denominator innuendo and questionably ironic sexism. In recent years, it had cleaned up its act to some degree. The laddishness has been tempered, the bawdy banter a bit modernized. It’s a good job, too – check out some of the official “best of” clip shows the series has curated for YouTube, and the overall vibe is one of seedy, 70s-esque lasciviousness. But with the series throwing its whole goal out the window, what’s left? Not so much. Even the show’s own fans have complained about its direction in later years, especially after the departures of team captains Fearne Cotton and Holly Willoughby in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

celebrity juice was born from the panel show boom in the 1990s when UK TV executives got the commissioning Mock the week knock-offs as if their lives depended on it. In their rush to get the most out of it, it seems they often forgot the need for a compelling premise. celebrity juice started life as a sort of topical news quiz, before turning into an eccentric challenge show. Why exactly? The public, it seemed, just loved seeing celebrities put down — showing they have a sense of humor about themselves, showing they can chimp it like regular people. celebrity juice is of course far from the only culprit here. It’s an appeal that several of the lower end American talk shows have really turned to – The Late Late Show with James Corden in particular — as well as countless reality shows going back decades. But celebrity juice is one of the most meaningless examples out there, one that has no impulse other than the fleeting chuckle in the schoolyard of Danny Dyer pulling out his too-large testicle to show Holly Willoughby, or Willoughby and Cotton suggesting on each end of chewing a banana (a tendency to fetishistically tease same-sex intimacy between female contestants, which is just one of the show’s depressing sexual hangups).

There is nothing inherently wrong with lowbrow humor. A good pratfall can blow an Oscar Wilde correct word out of the water. But there must still be craft behind it. To compare celebrity juice to some of the programs of the comedian Harry Hill – TV farmeror Alien Fun Capsule† These too are broad and foolish in their comedic sensibilities. But they’re also more surreal and far less prudish: lowbrow comedy done right. celebrity juice was, at the end of the day, utterly mindless and devoid of imagination in taunting his guests.

It might be unfair to pick out celebrity juice for such a lengthy conviction when so many other British TV shows are just as bad. But for 14 years it’s always been near the bottom of the pile, a disheartening reminder of how low the bar really is. The cancellation comes 13 years too late.

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