MEDIA: The Osbournes - An Expert's View. Ozzy is the unwitting star of the MTV documentary series The Osbournes, Gerry Moira writes

America has finally forgiven Ozzy Osbourne for pissing on the Alamo wearing a dress. More than four million US households tune in to the The Osbournes, MTV's "fly-off-the-wall documentary series of which he is the patriarch and almost unwitting star. This makes it the highest-rating cable show ever. The man who once bit the head of a live bat now has advertisers biting the arms off MTV executives for 30-second spots at $100,000 a pop.

The same man who once said "Spinal Tap isn't funny, it's just true", now stars in possibly the funniest show to come out of America since Seinfeld.

The formula isn't new, it's all about context. Take the Beast of Birmingham out of his stage persona, surround him with two foul-mouthed, brattish kids and the complexities and trivia of everyday domesticity and you've got a recipe for laughter.

The Pythons did it with the home-life of Ghengis Khan and Eddie Izzard has a very amusing ramble about Darth Vader coping with the procedural niceties of a self-service cafeteria. What makes The Osbournes special is that Ozzy is the real thing - a rock 'n' roll zombie.

For the past 35 years Ozzy has been wandering in and out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting with a fistful of coke up one nostril and a fifth of Mr Jack Daniel's finest up the other. Never mind this shuffling, trembling Antichrist struggles with the TV remote or stares with incomprehension at a cell phone. It's a bloody miracle he's alive!

Episode one has the Osbournes (Ozzy, his wife Sharon, and children Kelly and Jack) moving house. As they start to transform their new Beverley Hills Spanish colonial mansion into a gothic pile fit for a Prince of Darkness, we witness the tensions at work in any growing family. Only this one has dialogue by Bram Stoker out of Betty Ford by way of Dennis Leary with Tourettes Syndrome delivered in a thick Brummie accent.

It's funny, as are most things given a Brummie accent. But there's pathos too, in Ozzy's real love for his family and his struggle to come to terms with our century and way of life, not to mention, of course, his own demons which one imagines are very much more real than the gargoyles which decorate the walls chez Osbourne.

Apparently the cast were paid a paltry $200,000 for the whole series and MTV has reportedly recouped in excess of $10 million in ad revenue alone.

Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy's former manager and the conceptrice of the show, is demanding $20 million dollars for the next series, which is to be set in England.

"I don't get it, Ozzy has replied when asked about the success of the show. I hope he does.

Gerry Moira, the executive creative director of Publicis, is more at home as a soul vocalist than in the world of rock 'n' roll leathers and spandex

Broadcaster MTV
Frequency Sunday at 10pm
Audience 500,000
Advertisers include Nik Naks (sponsor), Nike, Nintendo, Evian, The Army