Watson & Oliver - In The Press

Main News Stories About 'Watson & Oliver':

Three episodes into its second series, Watson & Oliver is actually not bad and is often quite clever and subversive for a mainstream comedy, but it could definitely be improved.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 17th May 2013

Does mainstream necessarily have to mean poor? As something like Miranda has shown us, absolutely not. However, Watson & Oliver, the sketch show from Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, is the counter-argument. There are some original and amusing ideas here - the carnival dancer condemned to perform mundane non-carnival tasks, such as crossing the road or visiting the cashpoint, while imprisoned in her sequins and headdress - but it's hard to see how some of these skits (a spoof of The Killing? Really?) ever made it off the hard drive.

John Robinson, The Guardian, 2nd May 2013

This week saw the return of the BBC sketch show starring (and primarily written by) Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver. Mostly filmed in front of a live audience, Watson & Oliver take on everyday life and familiar characters.

I enjoyed the series premiere, but felt a little like the show fell into the sketch trap of letting a scene go on too long after the strongest punch line. I can't help but think that if the editing was more brutal it would have tightened the whole thing up.

Watson & Oliver are obviously very talented comedy performers and writers, having three sell-out Edinburgh shows under their belts, and the supporting cast, though fairly sparse, also offer strong performances. It's not going to break any boundaries or change the way you think, but if you are looking for an entertaining and varied half hour then do give it a go.

Shaun Spencer, Giggle Beats, 29th April 2013

Comedy duo Watson & Oliver are back with a second series of sketches, despite the somewhat lacklustre reception their first outing received. So all credit to BBC Comedy for keeping faith with the duo, rather than dumping them unceremoniously at the first whiff of underachievement.

I'm not sure what the problem with Watson & Oliver is, unless it's the inability of the great British public to come to terms with a female comedy double act that isn't French & Saunders. They are funny, versatile and eminently likeable performers, working with some very strong and occasionally inspired material.

Some of the sketches don't work at all - the flustered shopkeeper serving foreign students being a case in point - but otherwise the hit rate is very high.

If I have a quibble it is that their sketches sometimes overstay their welcome. Not by very much, but enough to irritate. Watson and Oliver are at their best when they are short, sharp and sometimes shocking.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 26th April 2013

Best friends and comedy partners Ingrid Oliver and Lorna Watson are back with a second series of their sketch show Watson & Oliver. "We're really thrilled to be back, because you get to put in all the things you've learned."

Daily Post, 26th April 2013

Second time round for sketch show which carries on lampooning female quirks.

Written by Jasper Rees. The Arts Desk, 26th April 2013

Just what do Watson & Oliver (BBC2) have on the powers that be at the BBC? While great comedies such as Grandma's House and Cowards have been allowed to wither and die, this uninspired duo somehow bag a second series of second-rate comedy club sketches, a follow-down to the total flop that was their first. Go figure, because it hasn't improved.

This pair have also had primetime appearances on Comic Relief's Let's Dance and the celeb version of Great British Bake Off, the kind of exposure comedians on the circuit would kill for.

At least they had the gumption to do a mickey-take of Call The Midwife - if ever a programme needed it, it's that one - and it had the one decent punchline in the whole show ('it's a Cockney!'). But boy, was it a long time coming.

Keith Watson, Metro, 26th April 2013

What lets the programme down, though, is the over-reliance on sketches that ape other television programmes.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 25th April 2013

It was a surprise when, after a first series of declining ratings, Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver's sketch show got a second run. But whatever re-evaluations may have taken place behind the scenes, this is still daftness of a pretty conservative bent: Franglais; the perils of personalised ringtones; a Call the Midwife pisstake.

When a skit does brush the boundaries of good taste, it creates a genuine frisson of risk and invention missing from much of the rest of the show: a rough sleeper inviting a potential beau home, for example. And a stricter editor would have made for a pacier show, as potentially snappy ideas ('realistic cooking') are dulled by overlength. Accomplished performances once more, but the material lets them down.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 25th April 2013

Their first series didn't exactly go down a storm with only 500,000 viewers staying to the bitter end. However, since then Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver have raised their comic profiles with appearances on Comic Relief's versions of Let's Dance and The Great British Bake Off and now they've been given a second series. Admittedly it's still patchy and it would be improved if they knew when to end a sketch - the Midwife spoof, for example. However, there are several moments that may make you chortle.

Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 25th April 2013

Chances of a return series seemed slim after last year's underwhelming debut comedy sketch caper from Ingrid Oliver and Lorna Watson. But the BBC has faith and the pair are back with a fresh six-part offering. While sometimes the stereotypes they take a pop at simply reinforce cliché, there's a glimmer of a laugh when British PM (Oliver) gets an unexpected visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Watson), for a spot of domestic subterfuge.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 25th April 2013

Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver return with a new series, and on the evidence of this episode, it's more of the same gentle comedy that characterised their first outing last year. Mrs Busy Lady ("What are you doing, Susan?") returns, as well as new characters including makeup counter girls Emma and Nadia. The duo make full use of the Beeb's wig closet (Watson's turn as Angela Merkel is particularly convincing) as well as its programmes, which results in a well-observed play on the benevolent condescension of Call The Midwife.

Bim Adewunmi, The Guardian, 25th April 2013

Oh double acts and their conversational helices! Sentences beginning in one mouth finish in another, or return to their starting place for a final flourish. It's even worse when they speak at the same time. Thus it's a bemusing task, recreating the substance of a chat with Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver - aka Watson & Oliver.

Written by Lee Randall. The Scotsman, 23rd April 2013

The sketch show comedians on their televisual habits, from Modern Family to Button Moon.

Written by Gwilym Mumford. The Guardian, 28th January 2013

Some of the sketches may go on a bit too long, but their mix of slapstick silliness and biting comic observation have made Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver a very welcome addition to the TV comedy roster. Tonight's delights include Playboy Mansion glamour girls April and Candy attempting to avoid the attentions of Hugh Hefner on the golf course, and a timely spoof of The Apprentice.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 16th March 2012

Watching Watson & Oliver, I just find myself thinking how old-fashioned the format is. The awkward-intro routine was getting a bit old when Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith did it back in the late Eighties and the comic dynamic seems too obviously indebted to French and Saunders. They are both talented, though - comic actresses as well as comedians. A more up-to-date vehicle would help.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 6th March 2012

Forget My Family and Two Pints of Lager, I think I've found the nadir of British comedy in BBC2's new double act - Watson & Oliver. I'd rather sit through a 48 hour Cannon & Ball marathon than endure a third episode of what has to be the most woefully unfunny sketch show I've ever seen.

Written by Colin Polonowski. The Digital Fix, 29th February 2012

Comedy is thriving on the live circuit, but making fans fall about in the flesh is no guarantee of television success.

Written by Bruce Dessau. The Guardian, 29th February 2012

The first episode of Watson & Oliver was, on the whole, pretty poor. It began well - I was especially fond of the opening sketch in which Lorna Watson draws eyebrows on her face in response to Ingrid Oliver's feelings, which became more and more ridiculous as the conversation went on. The duo are good physical performers.

However, I didn't enjoy the second half of the episode nearly as much.

The problem seems to be the writing. Some of the sketches seemed lack any purpose, like the friendly conversation between a prisoner and a warden. It totally stumped me, and I think judging by the audience reaction the studio didn't realise understand it either (mostly light tittering and nothing more).

Concerning the writing, I think that the most interesting aspect of Watson & Oliver is that while Watson and Oliver are the main writers, there is a larger bunch of writers providing "additional material". In the opening episode, for example, Kevin Cecil, Ali Crockatt, David Scott, Alex Lowe and Robert Mills all contributed. In other words, apart from the two stars, all the writers are men writing for female roles. Perhaps if Watson and Oliver wrote all their material there'd be a fluidity to the show and it might, well, be a bit better.

Still, it's probably best to see what comes up in future episodes...

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 27th February 2012

The newest thing in comedy sketch shows - and doesn't that very phrase feel antediluvian? - is Watson & Oliver, well known to Edinburgh Fringe audiences. They're an appealing duo. Ingrid Oliver has a thrillingly low voice - Fiona Bruce meets Victoria Coren - she's a dead ringer for Myleene Klass (who is duly ridiculed), and she can really act. Lorna Watson is blond, brittle and has to work harder for laughs. Their opening gambit was a direly old-fashioned bit of sub-Morecambe & Wise before-the-show backchat, but, once they settled down, their sketches were inventive and unusual. In a spoof of a TV Jane Austen serial, the mob-capped duo tittered like six-year-olds about pin cushions to a pair of bored Mr Darcys, then switched abruptly to double entendre. ("Our dance cards - we eagerly await the filling of our slots by two special gentlemen.") A Victoria Wood-style pastiche of 1950s ladies' kitchen conversation - all pinnies and hair-rollers - was surreally punctuated by Watson's response-appropriate eyebrows. A greasy-spoon café became a symphony of shouts and orders in which everyone called everyone else "darling" - "Cup o'tea, darlin'?" "Keep the change, my darlin'" - until someone silenced the room by saying "Love". In what is clearly meant to be the show's signature sketch, the girls do their impression of Prince William and Kate tucked up in bed, unable to find anything to talk about except their wedding day. But couldn't they have found a better punchline subject than Pippa Middleton's over-prodded rump?

The best sketch imagined two Playboy bunnies squeaking competitively about how pink their living quarters were, how appealing their fake boobs, how delightful their lives, until they were summoned to cuddle up to the saurian Hefner. Between retchings, they competed as to which had a better excuse not to fulfil this noisome duty. It was a gift of a subject to these two funny, appealing women, and they seized it with unladylike glee. I look forward to seeing a lot more of them.

John Walsh, Independent On Sunday, 26th February 2012

Having hoovered up several comedy awards with their stage act, Watson & Oliver have been entrusted with their own BBC2 sketch show and the initial results are encouraging.

Do not expect any comedy revolution as their approach is remorselessly mainstream, inevitably inviting comparison with French And Saunders - did I mention that Watson and Oliver are women? However, the material is genuinely funny and the performances winning. Allowing for the fact all sketch shows are inherently inconsistent I'd say their first episode registered around a 75% success rate, which is good.

They also deserve credit for a particularly high-risk finale, which saw the pair fight for the right to share a show-stopping duet with guest star John Barrowman. All teeth, jazz hands and unconfined ego, Barrowman sent himself up with an enthusiasm that threatened to overwhelm his hosts, but they weathered the storm of upstaging intact.

It only remains to be seen if Watson & Oliver will fall prey to the dominant trend among sketch shows of lazily recycling the same gags and characters, albeit with minor modifications, throughout the remainder of the series.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 22nd February 2012

New sketch comedies have been so mediocre recently that the format itself has sometimes looked on its last legs. However, portents for this new show are good. For a start, Robert Popper is producing. Also, it's been dropped straight into the BBC2 schedules without the customary trial period on BBC3/4, which indicates a certain assurance. Sadly, this confidence seems misplaced. Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver have good chemistry, but the scripts and ideas remain resolutely earthbound. There's a sketch lampooning mannered costume dramas. An extended, tedious musical turn from John Barrowman. A sketch about the enduring hilarity of working-class people's vocabulary and speech patterns. But nothing to suggest that Watson and Oliver might buck the trend.

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 22nd February 2012

Sketch comedy by its very nature is hit and miss, and in this opener Watson & Oliver had only one dud (the point of the Barrowman gag, where they vied for his attentions, was a little too predictable) but the quality of the other sketches more than made up for that. A hit, a palpable hit.

Written by Veronica Lee. The Arts Desk, 21st February 2012

Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver's new comedy sketch show is a peculiarly old-fashioned thing.

Written by Liam Tucker. TV Pixie, 21st February 2012

The BBC evidently have faith in Lorna and Ingrid, they've already been awarded them a six-part series in a shiny prime spot on BBC Two and a whole host of celebrity guests, but it all feels vastly premature.

Written by Sarah Cox. On the Box, 21st February 2012

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