The Armstrong & Miller Show - In The Press
Mostly Armstrong and Miller specialise in likeable character comedy, but tonight there are a couple of topical/observational sketches that sharpen their edge a bit. There's a great scene of life at a junk email company as it welcomes a new employee, and another imagining a government campaign to stop people saying "Whatever happened to global warming, eh?" every time it rains. The old favourites are on good form, too. The vampires struggle with a nightclub bouncer, while the RAF pilots are in trouble over their attempt to crack the Enigma code. They worked it out, they assure their superior officer, "using all like, maths and long division and times-ing..." Meanwhile, Ben Miller's most tragic character is back, too: the one who acts out nightmares from his family life as he tries things out. Last week it was a kids' party venue; this week it's worse - he's in a camping shop.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 11th December 2010
It's nice that one of Alexander Armstrong's minor characters, waffling royal correspondent Terry Devlin, has come into his own. Prince William's engagement has resulted in plenty of "royal watchers" filling airtime by blethering away while imparting zero information. None is as hopeless as Devlin, but it's a close thing. And this week, wouldn't you know, he has an actual wedding to cover. Elsewhere there are more hits than misses: the vampires visit a clothes shop to update their wardrobe; there's another one-take wonder from Dennis Lincoln-Park; and stay to the end for a nice flight of fancy imagining the creative process behind a classic piece of wartime propaganda.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 4th December 2010
Not many comedians could get away with spinning a sketch out of the differences between English and French sentence construction, but thankfully Armstrong and Miller aren't afraid to go somewhere a bit wordy and esoteric with their comedy. Awkward collisions between high and low culture, or the old world and the new, are their speciality: this week, their haughty 18th-century Viennese vampires fail to get into a West End club and are forced to go and skulk in Subway, while the slang-spouting Second World War officers attempt to skive off cracking the Enigma code.
Good news: tonight sees another outing for the great Dennis Lincoln-Park, beloved art-historian and TV presenter. The joke with Lincoln-Park (apart from the reference in his name) is simple: his hushed pieces to camera about priceless artefacts always end with him trashing them by mistake. Not complex, multilevel comedy, then, but enjoyably daft slapstick. Ben Miller builds the atmosphere beautifully each time, all the more impressive given that the sketches are filmed in one long take - and always end in carnage. This week he introduces us to the first printing press... He's not the only old favourite who's in tonight's show, either. The teenage RAF pilots are back. Somehow they've fetched up in Burma, buried up to their necks in sand ('That Japanese guy was well vexed up with us when we said we wouldn't build his bridge or whatever it is...') Flanders and Swann spoof musical duo Brabbins and Fyffe return, too - the latter with a thriving sideline in selling legal highs to clubbers. And as ever, a lot of people have forgotten to put their bins out...
David Butcher, Radio Times, 27th November 2010
'I have a horrible capacity to be unctuous with people I want to impress'
Written by Rosanna Greenstreet. The Guardian, 27th November 2010
The trouble with sketch shows is that, as they average perhaps 30 gags per episode, they need an almost impossibly large supply of comic energy to keep them from slipping into the doldrums. Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong are talented, and they do just about keep this show afloat - look out in tonight's episode for a wonderfully handled running joke about a retired pirate now living in suburbia - but it's a long way from the consistent brilliance of Monty Python's Flying Circus or the early days of The Fast Show.
Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller tell BBC Breakfast where they get the inspiration from for their comedy characters and justify a sketch on their show that makes fun of Breakfast TV.
BBC Breakfast, 24th November 2010
There's one really good, really funny joke here that's not so much a sight gag, more a sound gag. It comes almost at the end and is worth hanging around for. You'll have to sit through some pretty ordinary sketches first, though, including a long-winded sequence involving two boorish, shouty businessmen that owes far too much to Fry and Laurie's Uttoxeter-based executives John and Peter. (And fans of F and L will rejoice in the fact that they are reunited at 9pm this Wednesday on Gold.) The text-a-vicar sketch is fun, though - a cute send up of those soggy text-dating TV adverts. But, alack, tonight there are no Second World War pilots. Shame. Isn't it?
Alison Graham, Radio Times, 20th November 2010
The Second World War pilots with their 21st-century-teen sense of entitlement go shopping for a picnic, though they don't have enough food coupons, and they aren't best pleased with the shopkeeper: "Not giving us what we want is actually against our rights... it might make us experience issues." The pilots are still far and away Armstrong and Miller's most endearing characters, though the suave, elderly vampires are very winning. Tonight they arrange to meet a couple of virgins they ran into at Thorpe Park. Unfortunately, though the rendezvous is awash with celibate young ladies, the lads make a crucial miscalculation. By the way, if you have ever thought it was time that someone took the mickey out of tiresomely enthusiastic al fresco Geordie cooks the Hairy Bikers, meet Flint and Rory, two tiresomely enthusiastic al fresco Geordie cooks.
Alison Graham, Radio Times, 6th November 2010
Only some dodgy CGI in the Dennis Lincoln-Park item blemishes 30 minutes of otherwise dependably excellent sketch show fare. The quest of their 19th-century vampires for 21st-century virgin blood takes them to an Alpha Course, there's a running joke involving an over-intrusive HAL-style computer on a moonbase, the RAF boys have a tough time grasping the principle of rationing ("Yeah, but - we want it") but laugh of the week goes to the mounting exasperation of an English geezer trying to explain the meaning of crazy paving to a foreign couple.
Recommended last week, recommended this week. It's the funniest thing on television at the moment. If you didn't laugh at the experimental doctor or fighting grandads from the first episode, you're even more callous and humourless than we thought.
The Armstrong & Miller Show gets a bit of flack for playing it safe and not being edgy but surely, in the light of seeing Armstrong shout up a bloke's arse in a bid to revive him - CPR hadn't been invented - and Miller teasing his nipples in a La-Z-Boy chair, that view is old hat. Not only that but they rhymed Farmer's Market with Morten Harket and followed it up with an appearance from the A-ha legend. That's class.
The Armstrong & Miller Show felt more consistently funny than before. Maybe their 300 writers, including Graham Linehan and The League of Gentlemen's Jeremy Dyson, are exerting more quality control this year.
Our vampires struggle to fit into a new world full of young sexy bloodsuckers, says comedy duo Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller.
Written by Paul English. The Daily Record, 30th October 2010
Television's most likeable double act return with more silly, inoffensive sketches. You don't look to these two for cutting-edge satire, or even the kind of near-the-knuckle social stereotypes peddled by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse on BBC2. A musical number mocking farmers' markets is the nearest Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller get to social satire, and great fun it is, too. They prefer the old-fashioned kind of sketch based on one comic conceit ruthlessly pursued. One of the best new arrivals is a pair of elderly vampires bemoaning what's become of the vampire world. It's a simple idea made funnier by the performances (Ben Miller's vampire accent is a joy), just as the street-talking RAF pilots play to the pair's gift for posh characters. And yes - the latter are back, and this time they've been roped into D-Day.
David Butcher, Radio Times, 30th October 2010
This exceptionally witty, sharp and endearing duo do manage to serve up something for everyone, even if the majority of their material is aimed at the comfortably off whose biggest worry in life is whether or not they've correctly separated their waste for recycling.
Written by Jamie Steiner. On The Box, 29th October 2010
Well-spoken wits Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller return for a third run of their Bafta-winning sketch show. Characters include the German in-laws, roadkill cooks and old-style vampires baffled by the new Twilight generation. Best of all, the street-talking Second World War pilots turn up in Normandy on D-Day. The nature of the beast is that the humour is hit and miss, but the duo have enough charm to get away with it.
The BAFTA-nominated middle-class sketch show returns for a third series. It's still the best in its class, which is nice - it's a decent watch. Or it's a damning indictment on the current state of British TV comedy, depending on how harsh you feel like being. We're feeling generous - it's a decent watch.
A third BBC series for the masters of sketch comedy. I saw them try out some material for this new series, and it was considerably more hit than miss.
Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller are back with a new series of their BBC1 sketch show. As well as old favourites the street-talking pilots, The Armstrong & Miller Show is packed with plenty of new characters too...
TV Choice, 26th October 2010
The Second World War pilots finally meet their match when they eye up a couple of comely lady air force personnel. "You see her, clocking my unit and all this... These girls are class though, isn't it?" But after a ham-fisted approach, the boys are in for a surprise. It's the last episode in the series, so I'll be sorry to say goodbye to the pilots and to archly filthy Brabbins and Fyffe (imagine Flanders and Swann crossed with Russell Brand) who tonight try to prove what swingers they are by singing a song about being gay. As for the new characters... well, some of them work and some of them don't. Hapless, clumsy historian Dr Dennis Lincoln-Park is a small joy, but the patronising Dr Tia is just a twerp. But the Public Information Film spoofs have been fun. Tonight's will strike a chord in anyone whose childhood was tormented by dire warnings about the dangers of abandoned fridges.
Alison Graham, Radio Times, 27th November 2009
The boys keep up the high quality level that has been typical of this series, with hapless historian Dennis Lincoln-Park becoming a firm favourite. It might be the same gag week in, week out, but that's the absolute beauty of it. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face at the end of the week.
Like musical jokes. Never, ever funny, agreed? And yet, the best sketch in The Armstrong and Miller Show (BBC1) is the one where Armstrong is tinkling away on the piano in an Edwardian drawing room. Then he suddenly and seamlessly segues from Vivaldi or whatever into Gay Bar by Electric Six. Which makes the ladies faint. Funny, eh? Comedy, it's a mystery. Or possibly just pot luck.
It's gentle, it's cosy, it's very British, and above all, it's a sketch show that's funny. Hurrah for Armstrong and Miller!
While not every sketch is a side-splitter, those that do make you laugh out loud tend to creep up behind you and catch you unawares. Take this week's "Origins". It starts slowly with a group of grunting cavemen cooking a mammoth and then suddenly spirals into some very cleverly observed silliness ridiculing dinner-party small talk. It's brilliant. The Victorian pianist sketch - in which Armstrong keeps breaking into inappropriate and raunchy pop songs that offend his genteel audience - is another sneaky one. Culture buff Dennis Lincoln-Park has another accident with an "absolutely priceless" relic. The fact that you know what's coming makes it even funnier. The Second World War pilots don't want to dig out of a PoW camp because "We can't do escaping, isn't it? Because I've got all my asthma and s*** and he's got issues round worms." And viewers called Fred or Mick might like to know that they get a special mention this week when Miller's character Tom does his stream of "variations on a name" routine.
Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 6th November 2009