Sketch show 'The Lovely Boys Present: Lovely' coming to Radio 4

ExclusiveTuesday 28th May 2024, 10:35am by Jay Richardson

The Lovely Boys. Image shows left to right: Will Robbins, Ben Cohen
  • Will Robbins and Ben Cohen, aka hit TikTok sketch act The Lovely Boys, are recording their debut Radio 4 series
  • Robbins is also bringing his first solo stand-up show to the Edinburgh Fringe, With The Best Will In The World
  • Airing in August, The Lovely Boys Present: Lovely features "wholesome sketches, feelgood, with quite a bit of slapstick. We're both fans of Airplane and The Naked Gun and that's very much the vibe" says Robbins

Sketch duo The Lovely Boys have landed their debut Radio 4 series, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal.

Will Robbins and Ben Cohen, who have amassed almost 8 million likes on TikTok, with their Tight Lip Smile video viewed 5.9 million times alone, are adapting their goofy online humour for The Lovely Boys Present: Lovely, four 15-minute episodes that will begin airing on 7th August.

"We didn't think we would get [the commission]" Robbins admitted to BCG. "I was telling a friend that we'd got a Radio 4 series and they were like: 'What? All your sketches are visual, silly faces and music.'

"But we've looked through the old sketches, found anything we can adapt, done some rewriting and have a load of new ones as well. A lot of Radio 4 shows are recorded live. But we don't want to do that, we're doing it in a studio, going heavy on the sound design because it'll be more enjoyable to listen to."

Image shows left to right: Ben Cohen, Will Robbins

Robbins, who is also bringing his solo stand-up debut to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, first met Cohen on the circuit. And the pair evolved their silly, back-and-forth sketch style while living together during the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

"Everyone was doing topical sketches but I didn't want to do any of that, Ben and I aren't political" Robbins explains. "I wanted to make wholesome sketches, feelgood, with quite a bit of slapstick. We're both fans of Airplane and The Naked Gun and that's very much the vibe."

Although they won't be abandoning their TikTok following anytime soon, Robbins feels that their Radio 4 series, produced in-house at the BBC by stand-up and The Now Show and Just A Minute producer Rajiv Karia, still counts for something in the social media age.

"Yes, the money's different to say, if we do an advert on TikTok" he says. "But it has prestige, if you look at what's come through Radio 4, The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain, The League Of Gentlemen. We're putting a lot into this, going above and beyond because we want it to be the best it can be. We've slowed down our TikTok sketches to one a week to prioritise this."

The Lovely Boys performed two nights at last year's Fringe, with Robbins appearing as part of The Pleasance Comedy Reserve's ensemble bill of upcoming stand-ups. Returning to the Pleasance Courtyard with his debut hour, With The Best Will In The World, he jokes that "I'm just going to squish all my bits together and then write a heartfelt two minutes at the end of it."

Despite having lived in London for a long time, he'll be discussing his adolescence in rural Somerset, "where I definitely saw a lot more wilder stuff.

"There would be fights every weekend, it's so small and territorial, everyone wants to be the hardest man in town. But I grew up near Glastonbury and there's definitely a spiritual, hippy vibe too. My mum's very spiritual and so I talk about the characters in the town, at the festival. Lots of interesting people wandering around in capes. The crystals stuff never resonated with me, a lot of it would be paired with drug use, which is where those worlds overlap."

Will Robbins

Robbins is 4'10 with a rare form of dwarfism, which he's been accustomed to acknowledging with a couple of throwaway gags. But his director, Dec Munro, whose credits include Lara Ricote's Edinburgh Comedy Award best newcomer-winning GRL/LATNX/DEF, as well as shows by the likes of Mawaan Rizwan, Ellie Taylor, Angela Barnes and Stuart Goldsmith, has advised him to "dig into it a bit more.

"It's coming" Robbins says. "The more I do stand-up, the better equipped I feel to talk about it. My brother's six foot but we weren't raised any differently, so I've got used to not talking about it. But it's got to the point where I think, 'why am I not talking about this?'"

In his "random, varied" career he's toured the US as a driver with Ed Sheeran, a "bizarre" experience that he'll also be reflecting on in the show, and written for Would I Lie To You?, where "hearing some of the best comics like Lee Mack, David Mitchell and Rob Brydon riffing off your lies is really quite exciting".

Other television production credits include The Last Leg and Russell Howard's Good News. And he's progressed from researcher to assistant producer, most recently on Evil Genius With Russell Kane and Strictly Come Dancing, where "having a disability has definitely been an advantage in getting me in the door. Everyone has to use whatever advantage they have.

"I don't want to say it was purely a box ticking exercise though. I've earned my stripes and made countless cups of tea and coffee. It's not been given to me on a plate."

In front of the camera meanwhile, he's appeared on The Stand Up Sketch Show and Rosie Jones's Disability Comedy Extravaganza, with Jones' career path one he'd like to emulate.

"I've spoken to her about it" he recalls. "She worked as a researcher on The Last Leg and it's inspiring to see her make the jump to being the talent, she's done so well and is so funny." Shows like Disability Extravaganza "help elevate you at the start of the journey. But you've got to hope that there will be two acts with a disability on a show one day and nobody mentions it."

In Edinburgh he's hoping to secure some more television bookings and is going armed with scripts for potential sitcom pilots and short films. But he would also "like to not lose my mind", largely eschewing drinking and "going to the beach as much as I can."

Disappointingly too perhaps, The Lovely Boys of Robbins and Cohen won't be beginning any beef with the confusingly-also-named The Lovely Boys sketch duo of Joe Kent-Walters and Mikey Bligh-Smith.

"I met [BBC New Comedy Award winner Kent-Walters] at a party" Robbins recalls. "Annoyingly, he was very lovely.

"He doesn't think it's a problem. He was like, we're the northern Lovely Boys and we do mostly live, you're the southern Lovely Boys and mostly do online.

"And it hasn't bothered me so far. Though I have had someone text me to tell me they were coming to my gig when I wasn't gigging, so it might become an issue. Maybe? I don't think any of us are making enough money for it to be yet!"

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