Lanning on the Box; DAVE LANNING TELLS IT AS HE SEES IT...
CORONATION Street perked up perceptibly with the return of the Rover Alec Gilroy, always wonderfully played by the splendid Roy Barraclough, and he looks set to stay.
But just how much impact he will exert without the wicked verbal sparring with dear departed Bet in the Rovers' back parlour remains to be seen.
Corrie scriptwriters peak when their characters hunt in pairs: Vera and Jack Duckworth, Mavis and Derek Wilton, Curly Watts and Reg Holdsworth - and Bet and Alec.
So as Alec settles back where he belongs, he will certainly need a verbal sparring partner. The likeliest candidate is surely Rita Sullivan, who hasn't really had a man in her life since husband Ted Sullivan expired gracefully from a brain tumour at the bowling green in September 1992.
She'll certainly be relieved to get shot of the lecherous attention of Fred Elliott, the Butcher Baron of Black Pudding.
TANKARDS aloft for Thick Rick in EastEnders.
Although he's as attractive and intellectually stimulating as a Hackney manhole cover, he's actually one jump ahead of all the other unattached Albert Square males.
Like West Ham United, he's scoring again, admittedly only with Bucketmouth Bianca.
All the other Walford bucks - Robbie Jackson, Tony Hills, Nigel Bates, even Grant the Grunt - are as sexually active as Cliff Richard.
So how does Rick celebrate?
By asking the girl to marry him which, in true EastEnder tradition. is the sure way to reduce your sex life to zero.
WRINKLY romance in Neighbours has paired some outrageous bed- fellows. But this week the Ramsay Street plotliners must have been on the magic mushrooms.
Moonie Marlene, who had an invisible cat and disappearing garden gnomes, is being wooed by the terminally boring Colin Taylor, who always appeared in a straw boater originally; pioneered barber shop quartets, and is back from China - banging a gong and muttering in Mandarin.
You honestly wouldn't script it.
MEANWHILE, over in Summer Bay, slinky Selina of Home And Away - having suffered a dramatic miscarriage and narrowly avoided being impregnated in a cult commune - has been visited by the stork after all. She found a baby on the beach (don't they have child welfare folk Down Under?)
And on the premise that you must never miss a birth, wedding or death, watch for the upcoming expiry of the Bay's teeny-bopper favourite Shane Parrish in a couple of months' time.
It's blindingly funny.
ANOTHER old soap face back on screen this week - Sammy Rogers, sister of Kate, returns to Brookside from a busted marriage and is drinking hard. Fine brood, these Rogers girls. One sister has an eating disorder, the other won't stop boozing.
Remind you of a certain pair of royal sisters-in-law?
I say! I say!
NEW ITV pilot show Bodyguards (ITV, Wed) had real muscles.
Most explosive impact came from the appropriately-named John Shrapnel as Commander MacIntyre, just about the finest departmental chief since dear old Stratford Johns terrorised Z Cars as Inspector Barlow.
But Louise Lombard looked lovelier in the 1920s fashions of the Beeb's House Of Elliott.
ELLINGTON (ITV, Thur) was a pilot-turned-series that could catch on. Ex-Bill hunk Chris Ellison switched smoothly from cop to crafty sports promoter.
A mini-success but not, as our genuine high-profile sporting operator Eric Hall would say, a monster.
SURPRISE, surprise, The Prince of Wales Award for Innovation on Tomorrow's World (BBC1, Friday) was NOT won by the joker pioneering quick, discreet divorces.
SO All You Need Is Love (ITV, Wed) is the reason that ITV shelled out big bucks to lure winsome Anthea Turner from the National Lottery.
Word is that ITV planners are confident this will be a smash rating success in their autumn and even Christmas schedules. Maybe they should
re-title the show All You Need Is Optimism.
SSHH, don't mention it to Kelvin Mackenzie of L!VE TV, but the gloriously awful Eurotrash (C4, Fri) had an item on rabbit showjumping.
DAVID BANKS IS ON HOLIDAY
A Dingle with tingle
ABSOLUTELY no doubt why Emmerdale has rocketed up the ratings and, with 13 million viewers, is beaten only by King Corrie Street in the ITV charts.
It's down to the electric emergence of Tina Dingle, played with style and sauce by Jacqueline Pirie, surely Britain's most fanciable prime-time princess. Lucky old Frank Tate! Having taken her on as a housekeeper at Home Farm, he whipped her away on a Caribbean holiday last week, and the thought of the Dingle with tingle in a bikini will surely have the coconuts dropping from the palms in Antigua.
Alas, viewers won't see her among the sheltering palms - but stay tuned, lads. Word from farming country is that on her return Tina will be running around in a skimpy T-shirt...