TONY ON TV: It’s good to chat, but at a cost for viewers

LIKE it or loathe it, British TV is big at home and abroad.

We all have our favourite programmes that we can’t miss, and this seems to be case for foreign audiences when it comes to watching stuff we often take for granted, according to a Top 10 list from the Office of National Statistics.

Looking back at 2012’s sales, the ONS shows that the endearing time warp view of Yorkshire in ‘Heartbeat’ (which was axed by ITV) is big in Finland, there are plenty of Latvians waiting for their next pain and pethidine fix in ‘Call the Midwife’ while on the other side of the world Kiwi audiences are more than welcoming to the madcap antics of ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys.’

And that’s on top of such international hits as the new-style ‘Sherlock’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and the many faces of ‘Dr Who’ now notching up 50 years of sci-fi success.

However, I’m not sure if some of the current fare would tempt a second viewing when it includes two ITV offerings -- the last episode of the re-heated comedy ‘Birds of a Feather (Thursday) and ‘Dancing on Ice’ going into meltdown this Sunday -- and the final serving of C4’s ‘The Taste’ (Tuesday), which I don’t think will be back for a second sitting.

That might not be the case for top-flight comedian Michael McIntyre who is exchanging pacing the stage for sitting down in his new chat show, starting on BBC1 on Monday when his guests will include the “king of chat” Terry Wogan, Lily Allen and Sir Alan Sugar.

Any new programme is to be welcomed, but I question the rumoured fee of £500,000 for six shows (£80,000 plus per appearance) for a show that will be going out after 10.30pm when most people will be heading for bed. If I wanted a late-night chat I could always phone T Mobile’s customer service for a fraction of the cost.

Cost, and making it pay, feature heavily in ‘The Hotel Inspector’ which calls in at the Paramount Hotel, Nottingham (on Mansfield Road opposite Aldi on the way in to the city centre) which has been run for the past seven years by Egyptian couple Mary and Milad during which time they have spent their life savings, remortgaged their home and borrowed from relatives.

What happens when straight-talking inspector Alex Polizzi stops off to deal with what might be her toughest challenge yet and reverse the hotel’s decline can be seen tomorrow on Channel 5 at 9pm.

And, if city breaks are not to your liking, then the wilds of the north, independence or not, should appeal as acclaimed murder-mystery series ‘Shetland’ (BBC1, Tuesday) returns for a new series of three, two-part stories.

The first of the dramas -- adapted from the book ‘Raven Black’ by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves -- sees old wounds painfully reopened as DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall) and his team look into a past crime to solve the present-day murder of a young teenage girl found on a secluded beach.