A BAD start to the comedy week, which began with BBC2 reminding viewers that Frankie Boyle’s about to return with his Jerry Sadowitz tribute act, on New World Order.
It was followed by a Mock The Week repeat featuring three names, each one smugger than the last, Ed Gamble, James Acaster, Nish Kumar, who had me scrawling the words: “BBC comedy will never make me laugh again.”
Harry Hill’s World Of TV made me laugh at a BBC comedy again[/caption]
Then, on Sunday night, the weirdest thing happened.
It did. Several times, thanks to Harry Hill’s World Of TV, a title and format that probably had everyone screaming: “TV Burp.”
Fair enough, really. It is, after all, Harry Hill making fun of telly clips, without the manic energy, audience and topicality of the old ITV show or the life-wrecking workload that went with creating that series.
So, just like Alien Fun Capsule, unfavourable comparisons are guaranteed.
A better and more honest title for the new project, however, would be TV Burp: The Prequel.
Because there are five further episodes that will deal with police shows, historical documentaries, cookery, DIY and medical dramas.
It kicked off this week, though, with soap operas, taking us from the earliest innocent days of something called The Grove Family (it really existed), to the present-day dominance of EastEnders, Corrie and Emmerdale, via the deadening 1970s dialogue of Crossroads: “David, there’s moisture seeping through the bathroom walls.”
The social history element and nostalgia is charming enough but never comes at the expense of the comedy.
The new show is mostly pure TV Burp and a lot of the material is as funny as you’d expect, given the series is co-written by old collaborators Dan Maier and Paul Hawksbee, whose comic genius will be familiar to talkSPORT listeners.
The clips that initially got me laughing involved the Crossroads character whose “sole function is to walk in on two people talking”.
But I also liked Ken Barlow falling in love with a wig and was firmly in its grasp by the time the 36th EastEnders character had ordered “two teas” in the cafe.
Harry Hill knows how to make people laugh [/caption]
I’m pleased to say there are no puppets, so far, but it does employ the old Burp technique of Harry receiving distressed phone calls from the Albion Market cast.
The sequence I enjoyed most on World Of TV, though, was the sarcastic and unexpected demolition of the S4C soap opera Pobol Y Cwm.
“One of the best aspects of Pobol Y Cwm,” started Harry, “Is the chance to familiarise myself with the Welsh language. I’ve learned the Welsh for all sorts of things.”
There followed a list of words that are exactly the same in Welsh — “Supervisor,” “Bedford van,” “Postmaster General,” and of course, “Mint sauce”.
A decade ago, no one would’ve blinked at such gentle mockery, but Harry felt the need, in this era of fake outrage, to add a sarcastic disclaimer: “That’s enough cheap jokes about the Welsh language.
“It’s a good job they’ve got a sense of humour about themselves. . . .”
I sincerely hope, by now, some Plaid Cymru nut has taken a complaint to the BBC and they’ve been told to shove it, by the Beeb, because the vast majority of television’s audience is longing for a show to push back against the tide of political correctness that’s all but killed British comedy.
Makes people laugh
To that end, the next thing the BBC should do is axe New World Order, The Mash Report, Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and all those other political propaganda shows, masquerading as comedy, which are just an extension of the left-wing Twitter echo chamber that caused the great British sense of humour failure of 2012-2020 in the first place.
This idiocy isn’t restricted to the Beeb, obviously.
Having recommissioned the brutally un-PC Spitting Image for its Britbox, almost the first thing ITV boss Kevin Lygo did was give its production team a lecture about race and: “What’s OK, what’s not OK.”
As Harry Hill has demonstrated, both on ITV and BBC2, what’s OK is the stuff that makes people laugh.
What’s not OK is a television executive, without one hit comedy to his channel’s name, interfering in the process.
It’s that simple.
Who said the following last week?
“I’m going to put some anaesthetic directly into Tommy’s testicles, which is something I wouldn’t normally do but I’m doing a belt and braces job here.”
A) Peter Wright, The Yorkshire Vet.
B) Bobby Ball, the comedian.
No to C4 prawn stars
THERE are not enough detergents in Procter & Gamble’s world to scrub clean the memory of last night’s Channel 4 show Swingers.
A one-off documentary about the Liberty Elite private members club. A vast, sprawling ranch of a place, “just off the A5 near Rugby,” which really missed a trick by not calling itself Southpork.
Here, seven nights a week, the waifs and strays of the sexual world come to rutt and make some of the most awkward small-talk ever heard on British television.
The good news was, Channel 4 only subjected us to one night of frantic activity in the club and it wasn’t “Mature Mischief, on a Wednesday.”
The bad news was that it was Valentine’s Day. So there was a particularly desperate atmosphere at Liberty’s, where guests included 67-year-old Siobhan who was playing the massive naked gooseberry, in a hot tub, with much younger Martyn and a suspiciously beautiful dancer called Malika, whose relationship history was dark enough, thanks very much, without her adding the detail: “I’m from Norfolk.”
Neither the documentary nor the clientele were in any way salvageable. Liberty’s was a self-esteem-free zone.
I did think, though, Channel 4 could’ve made Swingers slightly more palatable by concentrating less on the human wreckage and more on the long-suffering staff who clean up after them and seemed a far more entertaining bunch.
I particularly liked deadpan Diane, the Mrs Overall character who does the laundry and catering and explained: “We provide a good spread and do a selection of sandwiches and a prawn ring.”
Thanks, Diane. But, suddenly, I’m not that hungry.
Great Sporting Insights
SHANE Warne: “Jos Buttler is the first name penciled in. And so is Jimmy Anderson.”
Steve McManaman: “He’s like Superman, thou shalt not pass.”
And Rob Key: “They’ve used the light meters sparingly because they haven’t used them at all.”
- Compiled by Graham Wray
Tyson’s jaws of defeat
THE Discovery Channel’s documentary Tyson Vs Jaws: The Rumble On The Reef was not as advertised, sadly.
Far from, in fact.
Mike Tyson in a chain-mail wetsuit for a Discovery Channel documentary [/caption]
His team of diving instructors gave Iron Mike a cage, a chain-mail wetsuit and a stick to prod some pretty tiny sharks away with, if they ever got too close.
They gave him marine biology lessons as well, which went in one ear and out the other until someone told Tyson: “Sharks have two penises” and almost made his head spin on its axis. It also meant they had a highly agitated madman on their hands by the time they got to the point of the exercise, which was to: “Target a large female. Get it to cooperate. And put it into the submission position by tickling its snout.” All so the others could attach a camera to its fin.
Tyson did it successfully as well and (as at time of going to print) the shark still hasn’t pressed any charges.
Progress, I suppose.
Random TV irritations
ALL the foul-mouthed humble-bragging nightmares who infest Channel 4’s Inside Missguided: Made In Manchester.
The Unbelievable Story Of Carl Beech, on BBC2, glossing over Tom Watson’s shameful role in the affair.
A third week of Celebrity MasterChef highlights. This Morning introducing us to a “moonologer” called Yasmin Boland, as if they didn’t already have enough astrological crazies on speed dial.
And BBC2’s Manctopia weeping crocodile tears for all those poor people pushed out of Salford by the recent property boom without mentioning the name of the multibillion organisation, with hundreds of overpaid executives, which did a lot of the pushing when it moved to Salford in 2012.
Clue: It wasn’t ITV or Channel 4.
ROLLING In It, Stephen Mulhern: “On the hangover section of the NHS website, what is the only thing sufferers are specifically told to avoid?” BZZZZZZZ!
Lookalikes of the week
Sent in by Daveyboy, via email.
Picture research: Amy Reading
JARED Harris delivering Valery Legasov’s truth speech to the inquiry on Chernobyl. BBC2’s tribute to (90 years old today) Sean Connery: In His Own Words.
Harry Hill’s World Of Television on Pobol Y Cwm and 36 members of the EastEnders cast ordering “two teas”.
And Channel 5 admitting there was a funny side as well as a sad one to The Teacher With Tourette’s, Natalie Davidson, who, one minute, would be running through the periodic table, the next would be shouting: “Have you met Billy Ballbag?”
Met him? I never miss an issue of Viz.
Inside Missguided: Made In Manchester
Missguided CEO, Nitin Passi: “Women doing whatever they’re doing. That’s the message of empowerment we’re trying to push. It’s OK to do whatever they want to do.”
So exactly how many “empowered” women do you think Nitin’s got in his boardroom?
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
TIPPING Point, Ben Shephard: “When doing a full press-up, the palms of which part of the body should be in contact with the floor?”
Ben Shephard: “Which mayonnaise-based dressing is thought to be named after an archipelago on the US/Canada border?”
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Which champion US tennis player was born on an American military base in Germany?”
- All contributions gratefully received
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Great TV lies and delusions of the month
Rolling In It, Gemma Collins: “You’re lucky to have Gemma Collins tonight.”
The One Show, Alex Jones: “Iain Stirling is guaranteed to make you smile.”
Swingers, owner John: “It’s exactly the same as visiting your local tennis club.”
’Cos I don’t see Caroline Wozniacki turning up at Liberty’s any time soon.
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