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BBC 1…Room 101 Who says Germans aren’t funny…

1 Feb

Is Henning Wehn the funniest German you have ever seen?

Who says Germans can’t be funny, and by funny I mean funny haha, rather than funny peculiar.  If you have bought into the stereotypes of our German cousins being incredibly efficient but extremely dour then you have probably never met Henning Wehn. Who, you might ask?

Henning Wehn is not just a very funny comedian who happens to be German he is, to give him his full self-appointed title, The German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain and I don’t think there is a better man for the job. You may know him from such shows as 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to you.

No content with spreading Teutonic mirth to these shows, today he graced the panel of Room 101 with Frank Skinner. He was delightful, his items to dispose of were Charity, The Royal Family and Birthdays in Restaurants.  His comedic rant about charities was particular funny, and he his quips on the Royal Family were funny but close to bone (no OBE for you Mr Ambassador).

If you are still in denial about the existence of German humour you can check it out for yourself on BBC iPlayer.

BBC2..House Of Fools. Is it a Comedy?

28 Jan

House of Fools. When is a comedy not a comedy?  Easy. When it is not funny!

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were big in the 1990′s, scratch that, they were huge stars.

Their shows like Shooting Stars were massive and did wonders not only for the careers of Vic and Bob but also their star-dust brightened the careers of  many others like Ulrika “Ulrika-ka-ka-ka” Jonsson, Johnny Vegas, Mark Lamarr and Matt Lucas aka George Dawes.

Not content with being major TV celebrities, Vic Reeves also found time to release a number one single  a cover of the 1969 Tommy Roe hit “Dizzy“.



That though was the 90′s. Back to the present Vic and Bob are reunited for the BBC2 comedy House of Fools.

I think Comedy years are like dog years and it is clear that the many, many years have gone by since Vic and Bob were really funny and it shows, the show is dire.

Vic and Bob were always renown for being unconventional and their humour always had a Marmite quality to it,  you loved it or loathed it. This is more like Semolina, tasteless, flavourless and clearly only used a filling because BBC 2 has nothing better to show. It was not good.



Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack “Trigger” Dies.

16 Jan

Roger Lloyd-Pack, Trigger from Only Fools and Horses passes away aged 69.

It was announced today the actor Roger Lloyd Pack has passed away today. He was most famous for his role as Trigger in the hit comedy series Only Fools and Horses.

Tribute have poured acorss from the entertainment industry  and beyond it.


Roger Lloyd Pack, who has died aged 69, was best known as the gormless Trigger in the BBC One comedy Only Fools and Horses.

Possessed of a rubbery face, which he used to great effect, he was sometimes difficult to cast but never became typecast.

But it was his depth as an actor that enabled him to make much of the minor roles in which he often found himself.

David Jason (Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses)

“I was very saddened to hear of Roger’s passing. He was a very quiet, kind and unassuming actor who was a pleasure to work with, although he played the simple soul of Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, he was a very intelligent man and a very fine actor capable of many roles. I shall remember him with fondness and for all the good times we had together.”

Nicholas Lyndhurst (Rodney  “Dave” in Only Fools and Horses)

“I’m so saddened to hear about Roger. He was the most accomplished actor and loved by millions, I will miss him greatly.”

As a celebration of this greater actor here are some of his most famous from Only Fools and Horses

On Ghandi


Why do they cool him Trigger?


Staying Cool with Del Boy in a Wine Bar.

Mrs Brown’s Boys is TV Christmas No 1.

26 Dec

To me Mrs Brown’s Boys is not a programme I have really got.  It comes across to me a mix of 1970′s northern variety act and a Carry On film, however the rest of the great British nation clearly disagree. Mrs Brown’s Boys was the most watched programme on Christmas Day beating all comers including perennial chart toppers like EastEnders and Dr Who.

Top Ten programmes this Christmas (2013) (Average number of viewers [percentage of viewers])

  1.  9.30pm: Mrs Brown’s Boys – BBC One – 9.4m  [35.5%]
  2.  7.30pm: Doctor Who – BBC One – 8.3m  [30.7%]
  3.  7.30pm: Coronation Street – ITV1 – 7.9m [29.3%]
  4.  8.30pm: EastEnders – BBC One – 7.8m [29%]
  5.  5.00pm: Strictly Come Dancing – BBC One – 7.3m [35.4%]
  6.  6.15pm: Call The Midwife – BBC One – 7.1m [30.1%]
  7.  8.30 pm: Downton Abbey – ITV1 – 6.6m [25.4%]
  8.  3.20pm: Toy Story 3 – BBC One – 6.3m [38.9%]
  9.  3.00pm: The Queen’s Speech – BBC One – 5.7m [36.2%]  /  7.15pm: ITV1 News – ITV1 – 5.7m [23.5%]
  10.  3.10pm: BBC One News – BBC One – 5.6m [37.4%]







BBC2….QI XL Kit and Kaboodle

24 Nov

As we all go through life we generally collect more than we let go, relationships, assets, debts, regrets, memories, kids and also lots and lots of sometimes useful, sometimes useless facts as well as things we think are facts but actually aren’t.

The last two things we collect for almost no reason other than we can’t stop collecting them, we find interesting, and maybe even that we live in hope that we might just one day we could catch an edition of the QI and smugly say to friends or family as Stephen Fry reels out some incredibly obscure snippet of information “yes, I knew that, you guys might be surprised but I knew that all along that there are 15 Marsupials for every Australian alive.”

If you are a fan of the all things factual you would no doubt know that BBC2′s QI (Quite Interesting) is back for its eleventh series, the K Series.

I find the show, for want of a better descriptive phrase, quite interesting but only when the panel is a good mix of comedic talent and purveyors of esoteric nuggets of information. Masters of this fine balance are folks like David Mitchell, Sandi Toksvig and Bill Bailey

Sometimes like this episode there is too much “comedic” talent at the expense of amusing but informative anecdotes or contributions from the panel. The “over-comedic” panel was the Australian comic Colin Lane, Ross Noble and Noel Fielding, alongside Stephen Fry and his regular sidekick Alan Davies.

One interesting nugget at the beginning of the show was the connection between Colin Lane, Alan Davies, Stephen Fry and Noel Fielding. Colin Lane was the winner of the prestigious Perrier Comedy award at the Edinburgh festival in 1994, and who was the runner up? None other than Alan Davies. Alan Davies recounted how on a trip to Australia he stayed at Colin’s house in Melbourne and woke up one morning to find the Perrier award on his beside, a bit of one-upmanship from Colin.

To add to the panel’s award related navel grazing Stephen reminded how he had won the inaugural Perrier award, and that Noel Fielding had won the best newcomer in 1998. With the panel’s ego suitable massaged the programme proper began.

The edition was amusing in parts, but was largely dominated by Ross Noble’s scatter gun comedy, you could sense almost at times some exasperation on Stephen Fry’s part as he wanted to push on with the programme but had to wait as Ross unleashed another bout of Zany-ness. Noel Fielding was also a culprit in the zany-ness, the difference was Ross was occasionally funny, Noel just wasn’t.

Alan was Alan, happy and comfortable in his role being a counterfoil to Stephen. Colin was quite quiet and probably just overwhelmed by all the Zany-ness flying about. He did tell a good joke on how you would know you are being followed by a Gay Shark.

Some of the facts we learnt.

  • Cat litter (or kitty litter to fit in with the “K” theme) was used by American tobacco manufacturers to bulk up to cigars as it was cheap, odourless, burnt and was tax free.
  • Churchill put a needle in his cigars so the ash never fell away and created  increasingly long finger of ash at the end of the cigar often mesmerising his audience.
  • Mint cake was not, as many people would assume, the thing that made Kendal famous, rather it has had the longest running snuff manufacturing in the world starting back in in 1750
  • The 18th century courtesan Kitty Fisher was reputed to be the first celebrity in modern British history on account of her having gone “commando” in St James Park, London.
  • The follies of the British K Class submarine were discussed. A submarine which relied on a steam engine submarine and thus needed funnels, a clear disadvantage in a submarine’s design especially when diving.
  • Flat-pack furniture was invented in 1956. One of the first Ikea employees, Gillis Lundgren, came up with the idea of flat-pack furniture when he took the legs off a table to transport it in a car.
  • Although the word salary is derived from salt, Roman soldiers were never paid in salt.

BBC3…The Revolution Will Be Televised

10 Nov

This is the most hilarious thing I have seen on TV in a very long time. A topical satirical sketch show in the  the best traditions of Dennis Pennis, Chris Morris’s Brass Eye or the early days of Ali G .

The audacity of the some of the sketches was incredible.

How they got away with the Network Rail sketch, where they walked into the companies headquarters and closed three doors for “engineering works”, or even the Nike Store sketch plastering slogans enjoining customers to “Work Hard, Work Hard” a play on the “Work Hard, Play Hard” slogan, but twisted to reflect the working condition of many workers in the South East Asian textile industry.

The “BBC in need” sketch was also genius.

What was particularly funny was often how in the face of what seems like an official request people will agree to even the most outlandish requests as typified by this clip from a earlier episode.



If you like your comedy topical and laced with social commentary, this BBC 3 comedy (Sunday nights at 10.25) is definitely for you.

BBC1…Should I be worried? I think I like Citizen Khan

8 Nov

When Citizen Khan first came on air I thought “Here we go another misguided attempt at multi-culturally diverse programming on BBC1″. Don’t get me wrong there have been great successes like the “The Real McCoy”, “Goodness Gracious Me” and “The Kumars At Number 42“, but there have also been abysmal flops like “The Crouches“.

Which way was Citizen Khan going to go? The first few episodes were not encouraging. With its heavy reliance on stereotypes the programme plunged depths that would have embarrassed even the late Bernard Manning. It was like someone had unearthed a scripts from “Till Death Do Us Part” swapped Alf Garnett and his family with a Pakistani family and voila! we got citizen Khan.

Despite my reservations I think the programme has improved, largely because it has moved away from relying too heavily on stereotypes and racially-tinged jokes (largely with Indians as the butt of the jokes). The humour has become broadly based, drawing on experiences that even if you are not of Pakistani origin you could still find amusing.

Is it great comedy? No I would not say so, but it does still raises the odd chuckle as I watch it. It is also a brave attempt to portray Muslims and Islamic life in a way I can’t recall being done on British TV before.

BBC1. Bluestone 42. A hidden comedy gem in the late night schedules

26 Oct

If you were to take a large dollop of the 70′s hit series M*A*S*H, mix in a couple of teaspoons of Channel 4′s comedy ‘Green Wing‘, add just a soupçon of the ‘Carry On’ films, flavour with an essence of the Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker while not forgetting to sieve out any thought-provoking darkness or depth, the end result? Bluestone 42.

Bluestone 42 is a light-hearted take on what is potentially a controversial subject. The Comedy drama follows the day to day goings on in the lives of a bomb disposal detachment serving in Afghanistan. With Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) accounting for over fifty percent of British casualties in the ongoing Afghanistan war it was always going to be a tricky topic to base a comedy on. The writers, by concentrating on the often mundane downtime in the camp that the troops experience between patrols and being called into action, manage to avoid any really tricky issues.

What you get is a very funny comedy with a focus of banter between troops who find themselves with a lot of time on their hands, and a very unlikely wartime romantic “would they, wont they” arc between an officer and the camp chaplain.

Following in the steps of ‘Gavin and Stacey‘, ‘Torchwood‘ and ‘Little Britain‘. Bluestone 43 has made the leap from the youth programming laboratory that is BBC 3 to the mass market, big audiences and promise of multiple series offered by BBC1.

For fans of Borgen, the Danish political thriller that was a big hit for BBC4, yesterday’s episode of Bluestone had a bit of a crossover with Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Katrine Fonsmark in Borgen) making a guest appearance as a Danish Journalist. Preview is below.


Live At The Apollo…How ethnic do you have to be to tell ethnic jokes?

3 Apr

I am a big fan of comedy shows especially live stand up and love comedy in all its guises, with the odd exception. Yesterday I caught an episode of Live at The Apollo. It was fronted by Simon Brodkin better kno’wn as Lee Nelson who gave a pretty good performance as host and link man. He is quite funny but you do wonder how many jokes you can milk out of the “chavvy lad about town” persona.

Anyway it was not Lee I wanted to talk about. It was an aspect of  Paul Chowdhry‘s performance. Now despite Paul being an incredible Doppelganger of pop rocker Prince I think it would safe to say Paul is of a heritage that has roots in the Indian sub continent. If the name was not a give away the jokes were. Last night we got a lot of Indian jokes all quite funny and entertaining.

Now having done the Indian jokes his humour sat nav moved further to the east as he regaled us with jokes about a perpetually exasperated Chinese takeaway Restuaranter - “Wha you wan? One rye’ or 2 rye’?  Make up your mine!”.

Now I have often thought there is an unspoken, but widely accepted rule  in comedy, if you are of a given ethnic origin or racial background you can do jokes about your background, but if you are not then you are threading on dangerous ground. So we have black comedians engaging us with jokes about the Black British, African or Caribbean experiences. Same with Iranian comedians with Iraninan jokes, Jewish comedians, Irish Comedians and so on.

I don’t know if this really the case or just my perception, but if it is true how wide is the “remit” of a comedian with extra-heritages as it were. Paul reached out into the Chinese community, but if he told jokes about Somalian  could that be deemed offensive?  Anglo-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili for instance does Nigerian jokes, albeit fairly poorly, and don’t recall him getting any grief for that.

Or is this rule something I have just dreamt up and comedy is really universal with no boundaries.

Celebrity Juice…Is it just Benny Hill for the Facebook generation? [ITV2]

1 Mar

Ah Celebrity Juice, Leigh Francis aka Keith Lemon at his inimitable best.

I sometimes wonder how this programme was pitched  to ITV execs? Was it pitched as a post modern humorous, but ironic take on celebrity culture and ingrained misogynistic behaviour in the entertainment industry. Or was it sold as a Quiz show with loads of banter, piss taking, celebs and loads of nicely stacked ladies for the lads.

I suspect it was sold as something close to the former but what we have got is definitely close to the latter.  Leigh Francis in his role as Keith Lemon revels in his role as probably the most politically incorrect TV celebrity since the late Benny Hill. Alongside Keith are regulars Holly Willoughby or as she is known on the show  Holly Willough-booby (no explanation needed here) and Fearne Cotton seemingly less favoured by Lemon for being less favoured in the ways that appeal to him.

Celebrity Juice has been phenomenally successful for ITV2, bringing in close to 2 million viewers per show. It has however divided wider opinion, while clearly a lot of people love its humour and banter, there are also people who worry about what they see as its over indulgence in lewd school yard humour the sort we last saw with the late Benny Hill.

If the lewd humour offends you, then last night’s episode would have left you apoplectic. Fearne Cotton is off having a baby, and drafted in as her replacement was Kelly Brook.  Now Kelly Brook is ample in a similar way to Holly Willoughby possibly even more so and the appearance of both of them on the show seemed to send Keith into an overdrive of bawdy behaviour.

Does it matter that Holly and Kelly both seemed “up for it”? Holly in particular I would assume doesn’t have to do this show. She co-hosts two of ITV’s flagship programme’s This Morning and Dancing on Ice, and even managed to get a gig on rival BBC as well as the host of The Voice.  So why you might ask does she feel  she needs to take part in a programme where she is blindfolded and a prosthetic male organ waved in her face?

She is either operating on a level of irony that we mere mortals can only aspire to  or she is pretty much ready to do anything for a laugh.

Personally I enjoy Celebrity Juice but I am not sure I should. It is like having a double cream filled chocolate doughnut from Krispy Kreme, lovely but you somehow know it is not to be encouraged.