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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: As a grown-up kid on the beach, the world’s your plastic lobster

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: As a grown-up kid on the beach, the world’s your plastic lobster

Susan Calman’s Grand Week By The Sea

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Devon And Cornwall

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One whiff of battered plaice on the seafront, or a sticky bite of candyfloss, is all it takes for most Brits to revert into over-excited children.

Other nations are so sophisticated and adult on their holidays. In the South of France, they promenade along La Croisette in Cannes, splashing out on Rolex and Bulgari. In the UK, we just strip off our stockings, cram ourselves into swimming costumes like beachballs in carrier bags, and rush into the freezing North Sea.

Comedian Susan Calman couldn’t wait to get her feet wet on the beach at Great Yarmouth, in her Grand Week By The Sea (C5). ‘Yowsers!’ she yelped. ‘That’s a refreshing little paddle.’ As she staggered from the water’s edge, she was blue from the knees down.

Susan Calman couldn't wait to get her feet wet on the beach in her Grand Week By The Sea

Susan Calman couldn’t wait to get her feet wet on the beach in her Grand Week By The Sea

Susan is an inspired choice for a tour of the country’s favourite resorts, including Blackpool, Brighton and Southend, all this week. A regular panellist on Radio 4’s News Quiz, she has made a couple of stabs at hosting gameshows, with The Boss and Armchair Detectives. But her natural enthusiasm can be overwhelming in a studio setting.

Like a nervous hostess organising party games, she talks too much. She’s far better bouncing around in the outdoors. ‘I genuinely love this,’ she kept shouting, and whether she was touring the miniature village or riding the 90-year-old wooden roller coaster, she plainly meant it.

Her ad-libs flow naturally, when she isn’t trying to follow a script. Faced with a full English at her bed-and-breakfast, she quipped: ‘I like nothing more than a plate that’s bigger than my own head.’

Then as she joined the town’s synchronised swimming display team, and the coach yelled at her to keep her ‘ankles together!’, Susan retorted: ‘As my mum always tells me.’

Her childish glee overflowed when guest Joe Pasquale challenged her to a sandcastle building competition, with an ice cream as the prize. Armed with a bucket, spade and plastic lobster with scoops for claws, she set about trying to construct something big enough to require planning permission.

Hair products of the night:

As Laura Whitmore welcomed a new cohort of airheads to Love Island (ITV2), she gave us a tour of their Majorcan villa. No books, but I counted 95 bottles of gels and shampoo in the bathroom. Beauty before brains…

Perfectionist Joe had better technique, making sure his sand was wet enough to stick together. Susan just kept shovelling, and crowned her effort with a child’s inflatable swim-toy. A passing three-year-old judged Susan’s castle the winner. Joe was outraged. ‘You’ve just got a pile of sand with a unicorn on it,’ he wailed. ‘You done no effort at all!’

It always ends in tears when the children get overtired. Send the pair of them back to the caravan for a nap.

Amateur sailors Terry and Brenda were reliving their childhood, too, racing their dinghy on the River Fowey on Devon And Cornwall (C4).

The couple were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary but, as they tacked across the harbour in a stiff breeze, they were grinning like Swallows and Amazons. This charming series has a perpetual holiday mood, because the film-makers know they don’t have to try too hard to entertain. All that’s needed are a few local characters and some panoramic views.

Wheelwright Greg Rowland took his work seriously, as he repaired an 1860s ‘bone-shaker’ bicycle that was once an exhibit at the Science Museum. But he was itching to stop acting his age, and have a go on this forerunner to the penny-farthing.

Greg got his wish and went wobbling along a path, trying not to veer onto the grass.

He’d waxed his moustache especially for the occasion. Well, there have to be some advantages to being a grown-up.

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