Press Clippings

Here is a collection of the latest previews, reviews and articles related to British comedy which have been published by newspapers and blogs from around the world. Don't forget to look at our news section for the significant stories - these won't be repeated here.

This is mainly related to TV and radio. For stand-up etc see our live press page and Edinburgh Fringe press page.

Detectorists

Mackenzie Crook, best known as a star of The Office and the Pirates of the Caribbean films toking home the comedy writing award for BBC Four's Detectorists - about a pair of metal detector enthusiasts - in which he also starred.

Written by Paul Jones. The Radio Times, 27th April 2015

Peter Kay's Car Share

The perfect vehicle for Kay's comic talents.

Written by Ellen E. Jones. The Independent, 26th April 2015

W1A

While not as laugh-a-minute as the first series of W1A, the new offering again crackled with good lines, from the pen (and now direction) of John Morton, who also tackled the monster that was the London Olympics in 2012, in a comedy of the same name. He likes a challenge.

Has he thought about the EU, and Brussels? That may be a farce too far. According to Morton's script his royal highness "needs a three-day lockdown on his loo".

As one person said in the meeting, "that's a little too much information".

The strength of this series is to mix what we assume happens within the BBC, with what actually does go on in the daft world of TV. "The Frankie Howerd room"? In the end, we don't have a clue as to where the truth lies.

If a quarter of what happens within those meetings is close to reality, it explains what we sometimes see on the screen.

It's good comedy, yes, but it does make you wonder, which we hope is the whole idea. Or is it simply a weekly video for BBC staffers to watch and reflect upon? For example, there was talk in the show of a new role as "Director of Better".

We laugh, but it might not be too far from reality either. What it does show is an organisation easily parodied for being obsessed with image. The BBC is not alone in that, but we do hope that coming up with decent programme ideas then making them is the real focus.

There was a funny storyline about Jeremy Clarkson. His surname was bleeped out, as someone was "tasked" with counting up the number of times he had said the word "tosser" in the past four years on Top Gear. Alas, the hapless "oh, cool, yeah" intern Will was given the job. If only he'd been given the task of sorting out the real-life Clarkson case.

The hour-long format did the show no favours. For example, there was a little too much from Perfect Curve, who are now genuinely the "world's most annoying PR agency". That aside, solid performances from the likes of Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes have ironically made this one of the best comedy series on the BBC in recent years. One thing is sure, though, viewers will quietly desert the show before John Morton runs out of material.

David Stephenson, The Sunday Express, 26th April 2015

Ballot Monkeys

Ballot Monkeys was sharp, as would befit a writing credit for Andy Hamilton, and thus trumped and trumps ITV's Newzoids so far. Again served by a great ensemble, it was hampered only by being so close not only to topicality but to truth. Stronger, Fairer, Nicer is the slogan on the Lib-Dem battle bus and a blistering Ben Miller couldn't better negate any of those adjectives. The Tory bus has Hugh Dennis as the head of something involving "delivery", although you were invited to set your watches back to 1954 as a bereft "women's spokesman" had to crane her neck against the bus-rack just to be heard past his dullard alpha shoulders. Labour? Just constantly worried about the reaction on the doorstep to happy warrior Miliband. Andy Nyman's Ukip press officer is not so much fighting Twitter storms - most of them engendered by the bus's other occupants - as engaged in a Sisyphean bout of Whack-a-Mole. If only politics could be this much fun. If only Labour hadn't sold everyone down the river. Adapted to the paradigm contiguities of a modern vibrant age. Sold everyone down the river.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 26th April 2015

W1A

There exists a comedians' in-joke, only very slightly up its own jacksie, in which one asks: "What's the secret of good com..." only to have the second interrupt with the shout: "Timing!" But that is, indeed, the very singular secret of comedy, timing, and W1A, in its second outing, gets it just-so, in the same way that there is only one just-so way in which to shoot cuffs, tap dance slowly, play Chopin or excise a pineocytoma.

Writer and director John Morton has, admittedly, the best of sublime comedy talent to work with. Hugh Bonneville, Nina Sosanya, Jessica Hynes, Jason Watkins. But he has, in this crammed hour, not only to re-thumbnail the personalities with a wizard's thumb but get the timing beyond reproach. To this end, the entire cast are apparently "invited" to spend up to seven hours rehearsing 10 seconds of rapid-fire dialogue. I'm sure the above four could improvise delightfully - been lucky enough to meet two of them, one over drinks after a funeral, another over an extremely fun lunch, and what different people they are, thus what fine actors - but the Morton gene calls for just-so, and the BBC, bravely risking much to rip the ferret out of itself in this wince-out-loud comedy, acceded, in what may well become its finest confection since Fawlty Towers.

Thus, for instance, the five just-so bollards. In more minor hands, the sequence in which the black Range Rover of HRH, an (unseen) Charles, is stymied at the entrance to New Broadcasting House, inside which the welcoming committee have become hogtied by their own insane security protocols, could have been simple farce. The anti-terrorist bollards would just have jumped up and down or spiked Charlie's RR in the sump. Instead, Dave (Andrew Brooke), head of Beeb security, aided only by a ridiculous smartphone and the meaningless catchphrase "we are status-active", manages with a stoic glower to "relent" bollards 2 and 4. And then, in quiet desperation, Nos 1, 3 and 5. There is a full nine-second pause. All bollards down. Then bollard 3 reappears, like a giant erection (as if there's any other kind).

There is glorious timing here, yes, but there's also humanity. Was I alone in quietly cheering whip-smart Lucy (Sosanya) in being the first to make it to the royal meet-and-greet, having left the three witches trapped in their own personalities and also a non-revolving revolving door? Or in feeling, admittedly slightly, a twitch sorry for Will, the good-looking, charming intern with the kind of shoe-size IQ even a mother would struggle to love? If you didn't see it, I just feel for you. Do so. David Tennant's perky voiceovers, dry as sandblasted Ryvita, are worth the licence fee alone.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 26th April 2015

Monty Python And The Holy Grail

Is silliness timeless? That was the question last night following a 40th anniversary screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Written by David Morgan. CBS News, 25th April 2015

Inside No. 9

Like so many Middle England suburban comedies, it was all about the depths and heartaches lurking beneath apparently happy families, and on that score this episode really worked.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 25th April 2015

Father Ted

It's never 20 years since Father Ted first screened on Channel 4. You'd have to be Hitler or one of them mad fellas to believe that.

Written by Donald Clarke. The Irish Times, 25th April 2015

W1A

If the BBC is always in damage limitation mode then W1A is something like a controlled burn to halt a forest fire.

Written by Benji Wilson. The Daily Telegraph, 25th April 2015

The Good Life

Move over Tom Ford and David Beckham - the latest fashion icon is Jerry from The Good Life, godfather of 'athleisurewear'. Harry Wallop visited Surbiton Golf Club to try out the 'sport luxe' look.

Written by Harry Wallop. The Daily Telegraph, 25th April 2015

Peter Kay's Car Share

While the LOLs are limited, there is an affectionate, feelgood atmosphere to the show.

Written by Steve Bennett. Chortle, 24th April 2015

Scrotal Recall

Where some may see vulgarity, I saw opportunity. Curiosity won, and binge-watching began. After watching all of season one--six episodes, around 23 minutes long each, I found Scrotal Recall to be very funny.

Written by Kait CalabrĂ². Entertainment Weekly, 24th April 2015

Have I Got News For You

Stephen Mangan proves an able stand-in for the host they wouldn't mention.

Written by Isabel Mohan. The Daily Telegraph, 24th April 2015

No Offence

Shameless creator Paul Abbott's latest series is like an X-rated version of The Bill.

Written by Sarah Hughes. The Independent, 24th April 2015

Pervert Adam Barker is equal shareholder in Handles For Forks which distributes his late dad's work.

Written by Tom Bryant. The Daily Mirror, 24th April 2015

Father Ted

This week Father Ted turned 20. I know what you're thinking; bit young for a clergyman. However you look at it; 20 years is an outstanding achievement.

Written by Rob Gilroy. Giggle Beats, 24th April 2015

Only Fools And Horses

Here's a fascinating trivia nugget for you: did you know that the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses was set in Peckham? Yes, of course you did. So -- and here's the thing that's driving us beserk -- do we really need to be reminded of this every single time we read an article about Peckham? Apparently so.

Written by Will Noble. Londonist, 24th April 2015

Peter Kay's Car Share

Peter Kay's newest venture is a return to sitcom. Car Share which, for reasons I'm not entirely clear on is getting an airing on the iPlayer before starting on BBC One on Wednesday, might be my favourite new BBC comedy for a long time.

Written by Luke. The Custard TV, 24th April 2015

Inside No. 9

Last week, we spoke about Shearsmith and Pemberton's fascination with the quiet desperation of everyday banality. This episode takes that to the hilt - the hilt of a very big knife, in fact.

Written by Andrew Allen. Cult Box, 24th April 2015

W1A

Every episode, for me, is a ticker-tape parade of recognisable woes - not just from my nigh-continuous dealings with the Beeb, but with all channels.

Written by Grace Dent. The Independent, 24th April 2015

This looks like being the closest election in living memory so a few votes shifting direction could make all the difference. But either by accident or design, these programmes, however much fun they are to watch, are more about TV ratings that ballot box results. TV satire clearly doesn't change anything. If it did they would ban it.

Written by Bruce Dessau. Beyond the Joke, 24th April 2015

Reviews of sitcom W1A and the "Nana's Party" episode of Inside No. 9.

Written by Claudia Connell. The Daily Mail, 24th April 2015

Inside No. 9

With each show being a stand-alone story, Inside No. 9 has been hit and miss. Last night's, "Nana's Party", showed a family unravelling as secrets were revealed at a birthday bash for an elderly relative.

Angela and Jim were a typical middle-aged suburban couple. Angela (played by Claire Skinner -- best known as the mum in Outnumbered) kept an immaculate home and spoke with an affected posh accent. Jim spent the majority of his time locked in his shed.

Only when Angela's brassy, alcoholic sister Carol turned up with her practical joker husband Pat did the secrets start to spill.

The party turned to farce with flatulent Nana choking on ice cubes and a strippergram arriving as drunken Carol blurted out the revelation of her affair with Jim.

Anybody used to the work of the show's writers and stars, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, will know their comedy always comes with a side order of pathos and weirdness. It doesn't always work but last night it mostly did.

Claudia Connell, The Daily Mail, 24th April 2015

W1A

The BBC has a problem. It's in danger of losing the Wimbledon rights to a rival broadcaster. On top of that it's considered that the tournament is too staid, white and elitist.

Enter PR extraordinaire Siobhan Sharpe, who is tasked with the job of making Wimbledon cool and 'ethnically, not so much white'.

It was just one of the corporation's dilemmas witnessed in W1A (BBC Two), which returned for a new series with an hour-long special. It's the mock-umentary that mercilessly lampoons the Beeb in all its politically correct, management-speak glory.

Just like most of the employees Siobhan (played by the brilliant Jessica Hynes) communicates in meaningless, corporate parlance. 'Yah. Totally. Epic,' is her favourite soundbite. Her solution to the Wimbledon issue was to 'mash it up and pimp it' by calling it Win-bledon, getting people like Alan Sugar and David Attenborough to act as umpires while members of the crowd chant and wave giant foam fingers.

Meanwhile hapless Entertainment Format Executive David Wilkes is desperate to come up with a new family-viewing show following the spectacular failure of Britain's Top Village.

His suggestion is Heavy Petting, a reality show were celebrities swap pets. Alternatively there's Britain's Top Family, where a family of toffs and a family of chavs fight it out to decide who is better.

'That's what ITV is for,' snapped Anna Rampton, the steely, charmless Head of Output. She had a point. I bet I wasn't the only person imagining ITV executives watching last night, pen and paper in hand, furiously scribbling notes.

Jeremy Clarkson's endless gaffes must be manna from heaven for writer and director John Morton. Last night Head of Values Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) was investigating the number of times Clarkson (whose name was bleeped out) said the word 't*****' following viewer's complaints.

Posh, clueless intern Will had to sit through four years' worth of Top Gear counting the number of times the word was uttered -- and, naturally, he messed that up as well.

Amid all that, the BBC was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles to congratulate them on becoming the first 'zero energy broadcaster'.

The BBC's bungling Head of Security, who bragged about his 'foolproof zonal lock-down system', was as competent as Mr Bean, while producer Lucy Freeman was chosen to greet HRH for no other reason than the fact she was non-white.

Last night's opener was witty, wordy and frantic with David Tennant's voiceover hitting the mark perfectly. At times it felt like too much was being crammed in, leaving the viewer almost breathless by the end.

You have to credit the BBC for allowing its operation to be ripped apart so savagely. Everybody had a daft title, nobody knew what they were doing and all were too afraid to do their job for fear of upsetting somebody else.

If the bumbling buffoons of W1A are even halfway accurate then it's little wonder all the political parties are promising to either reduce or freeze the licence fee!

Claudia Connell, The Daily Mail, 24th April 2015

Raised By Wolves

"Right, let's do some parenting, then," maintains formidable mother-of-six Della in Caroline and Caitlin Moran's perky sitcom, based on the sisters' home-schooled childhood in Wolverhampton. The script is smart and tangy but it's the sprightly acting that makes this Channel 4 comedy zing, especially from the always excellent Rebekah Staton as the straight-talking Della (she's claims to have channelled Clint Eastwood for the role), Helen Monks as quick-witted Germaine and Alexa Davies as cerebral Aretha.

Ben Walsh, The Independent, 24th April 2015

Withnail & I

Withnail and I was regarded for many years as a cult film but stands now as one of the finest British films of the Eighties. And what's not to like about a film with the line: "Don't threaten me with a dead fish"?

Written by Martin Chilton. The Daily Telegraph, 24th April 2015

W1A

It's still sharp, but should the BBC be flagellating itself a second time?

Written by Jasper Rees. The Arts Desk, 24th April 2015

W1A

In my opinion, the mark of a good satirical comedy is how close to reality you feel that the situations are. So, when I watched the first series of W1A, I felt at some points as if I were watching a documentary...

Written by Matt D.. Unreality TV, 24th April 2015

W1A

W1A may expose the follies and bureaucracies of the BBC, but it also has real humanity and heart. Just like the BBC itself in fact.

Written by Malcolm Stewart. Cult Box, 24th April 2015

W1A

The problem with W1A is that reality is funnier than spoof - just look at Jeremy Clarkson. And the annoying language really is annoying.

Written by Sam Wollaston. The Guardian, 24th April 2015

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