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john doyle: television

It's nice-and-naughty time. Or so they say. That's peachy, but it's child's play. You know what really matters - naming those people who are deeply, abidingly irritating.

As I write this, there's a young lady on TV saying, "Blowing snow is the problem for most people." No, it isn't. The problem for most people is the passel of boneheads, nitwits, swelled-heads and self-aggrandizing dunces who teem on the TV landscape.

You and me, we know how it is. TV shows come and go. Faces change.

But year after year, television is home to irritating fools, blowhards and hypocrites. They talk, they squawk. Television attracts them, enables their egotism and provides a platform their idiocy.

I've said before and I'll say it again: If television has created a global village then it's a village with an abundance of idiots.

Yes my dears, TV is a fascinating place. The decent and the demented can appear side by side. Certainly, there are pleasant moments to remember in the year just reaching an end. Sigh if you like as you remember Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir winning a gold medal at the Olympics in Vancouver. Think of the feel-good moments if you wish. But we are duty-bound to name the nitwits and irritants. The season might make us benevolent. You might well be a charitable person. But you know you like it - herewith, the 10 most irritating people (TV-related) of 2010.

1. The Palins Are they Alaskan hillbillies or down-to-earth folks with values grounded in old-fashioned virtues and experiences? Who cares what they are. Enough already. Sarah Palin traipsed through this nightmare of a TV year, squawking about this and that, like a fame-seeking reality-TV contestant afraid of being forgotten. And then daughter Bristol on Dancing With the Stars, awkwardly hoisting herself toward the saddest sort of entertainment fame. Do you get the feeling it will all end in tears? The sooner, the better.

2. Conan O'Brien Multimillionaire talk-show host quits network job, gets a settlement, is obliged to stay quiet for a while and then gets a new, well-paid gig on cable. Well that, obviously, is the saddest story ever told. According to him anyway. His martyrdom humour became lame about five minutes after he took the money from NBC. Then he went on 60 Minutes to cry a river. After all of that, a new show but same-old, same-old. Conan O'Brien: Making Letterman seem really funny.

3. Snooki Nicole, known as "Snooki," Polizzi, along with pals JWoww, Pauly D and Sammi, do what they do on Jersey Shore - yak like morons, party, bicker and shop. Still, Snooki merited a New York Times profile, and President Barack Obama, when on The View, was asked if he was familiar with this Snooki person. He wasn't, he said. Surely he lied. The show is a fleeting cultural phenomenon but Snooki is horribly memorable. A squat Jezebel, she wanders through life in a very Bush-era bliss of ignorance and self-absorption. Knowing nothing of life except her 'hood, micro-skirts, hot tubs and hairdos, she sashays through a stunned, devotional media world as a goddess of authenticity. Snooki is suburban America.

4. Donald Trump Still with the weird hair, harrumphing pomposity and a disconcerting devotion to the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which he actually owns. And that's creepy. Trump is that really weird TV thing that will not go away. Ever. You can wipe it, kick at it, rub it off and still, it's there. Ooh. Ick.

5. Our Glorious Leader Where to start? The prorogue thing kicked off the year nicely. Then OGL went on CBC's The National and had a grand chat with Pastor Mansbridge. He smiled a lot and inappropriately. Well, he's entitled. It's a laugh, this shut-down-Parliament thing. The year ended with OGL murdering pop songs at some party. On TV. People have been smacked upside the head for less.

6. Justin Bieber If his mother would order him to get home and stay quiet in his room for a while - appropriate for his age - a grateful nation would surely applaud. "Baby-baby-baby... something... something.…" The very best of Canada, obviously.

7. CBC's At-Issue panel Polls, whither-the-Liberals, parliamentary committees. Blah-blah, yada-yada. The only compelling thing is watching the tragedy of geekiness unfold every week before your eyes. Parents of Canada, don't let your children grow up to be like this.

8. Helena Guergis Remember her? Allegations of airport tantrums. Allegations about the husband's behaviour. The phrase "hookers and drugs" used in the newspaper stories about the husband's alleged cronies. Guergis dropped from government. She went on TV, and talked in a small voice - just a nice girl, facing some bullies. Oh, please. It is a belief universally held by politicians that the public is dumb and that television can be used to con people into believing anything.

9. Betty White The elderly are cute, aren't they? Especially if they keep working into their 80s. Terminal cutism and obliging the old to work until they drop. That's the way it is, spun with a dose of the cutes, isn't it?

10. Everyone on the Grey Power commercials They got rid of Miss Road Rage only to replace her with an entire posse of deeply irritating idiots - especially the "I'm just powering up my computer now" guy. You know it is going to be a dark night of the soul when this offal comes on, again.