TV review: Giles & Sue Live the Good Life | Edwardian Farm | Celebrity Coach Trip

Giles & Sue Live the Good LifeMonday, BBC2, 11:20pmEdwardian FarmWednesday, BBC2, 8pmCelebrity Coach TripMonday, Channel 4, 5:30pm

The possibilities are endless: Giles Coren and Sue Perkins have to run a small hotel together - with hilarious consequences! And then they have to enlist in the Home Guard! And share a prison cell! Yes, surely Giles & Sue Live The Good Life is only the first in a long stream of future series in which they recreate the premises of classic 1970s sitcoms, allowing them to dress up in naff outfits and engage in mildly flirtatious banter - with hilarious consequences!

But first they're pretending to wonder whether the self-sufficient lifestyle of the fictional characters played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall in The Good Life can really be replicated today. In other words, having smugged their way through food of times past in The Supersizers, someone has decided that the sparkling chemistry of Coren and Perkins is just too good to be restrained to scenes of them pulling faces as they eat weird food. Now they can pull faces while they grow it, as well.

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There's an awful lot of tedious innuendo about vegetables with funny names - is it The Good Life they're doing or That's Life? They are supposed to be useless at everything, so there is also a lot of them laughing about being unable to do stuff, like build a wooden chicken coop or milk a goat.

Most peculiarly, there are repeated scenes of Giles and Sue pretending to snog each other, Tom and Barbara style. But Giles & Sue are not actually together, "so we won't actually be living the life round the clock," she explains. Oh. So - what's the point then? While they're off doing other things, presumably some production company runners are popping in to milk the goat and tend the chickens, so it's not exactly a proper experiment.

Of course, this isn't meant to be an actual practical guide, it's meant to be funny. And perhaps it's just not to my taste, but while the original The Good Life was funny, as the little clips used illustrate, this is tiresomely arch and ironic.

Towards the end, Giles rhapsodises about their wonderful (pretend) lifestyle, saying "There are people for whom not being able to watch some dreadful talent show on TV would be a loss but for me the uninvention of the television here has been the best thing. I would genuinely rather sit and watch a pea grow." There are two more episodes to come: you know what, Giles, so would I.

Or, indeed, watch a woman scrub a stone floor with a cloth, something that takes place in Edwardian Farm; she later sews a bunch of old rags into a rug and both scenes are more fun than Giles & Sue. In this sequel to Victorian Farm - logically enough - two archaeologists called Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and a domestic historian called Ruth Goodman recreate the daily life of a farm at the start of the 20th century. And they actually do it for real, having spent a whole year living there together. Now that's commitment.

They spend ages chipping away at granite and making quicklime in a pit, which involves tending a fire for days and dressing up like the Ku Klux Klan for protection. It's impressively hard work, but everything is managed very competently. And Ruth cooks a recipe which begins, "After preparing the head of the sheep in the usual way …" while wearing a red felt hat. It looks awful (and so does the boiled sheep's head dish, ho ho).

It's all very gentle and so restful after Giles & Sue's relentless mugging. The three presenters clearly get on but don't labour it, they are - gasp - normal people who haven't amped their personalities up by a factor of ten just because they're on telly. I'm not sure how much I took in about farming in them there olden days, but it was a very soothing experience all the same.

Unlike, say, travelling around the Czech Republic on a bus. When I heard they were doing a celebrity version of Coach Trip, I thought: Oh no, they've only gone and ruined it! For surely the whole point of this amiable afternoon show is the ordinariness of its participants, who become deadly serious about getting to stay on board even though it involves neither a luxury holiday nor a chance to become tabloid fodder. So putting in people who are famous would only spoil the fun.

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But Channel 4 have got round this in Celebrity Coach Trip by filling the seats with a deliberately Tesco Value range of "talent". The pairs are a bloke off The Apprentice and a bloke off Big Brother; two models; Chris Tarrant's ex-wife and her actress friend ("very nice ladies, but I don't know who they are from Adam," says tour guide Brendan, speaking for us all); two former EastEnders actors; but, magnificently top of the bill, the showbiz legends that are the Chuckle Brothers.

They don't do anything particularly great in the first episode, which features a ballet lesson in tutus and driving old Soviet tanks. But it's genius casting, a sly parody of the entire "celebrity" concept that gives me hope that the real agenda is to slowly drive its desperate participants mad as Brendan launches yet another game of Motorway Number Plate Spotting while they circle an industrial estate somewhere on the outskirts of Brno. To me, to you, to hell and back.

• This article was first published in The Scotsman on November 6, 2010