An Evening With Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse. Image shows from L to R: Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse. Copyright: Balloon Pictures.

An Evening With Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse

BBC Two sketch show. 1 episode in 2015. Stars Rosie Cavaliero, David Cummings, Catherine Shepherd, Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse and Kathy Burke.

Press Clippings

Funnier than Baker, funnier than Henry, have always been Enfield and Whitehouse, who had an hour to look back on themselves with the savage glee of hindsight in An Evening With Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. They didn't have much to bemoan. The posho stuff (lovely skit about upmarket novelties) balanced all, I think, the prole-scum stuff. They even took the rip, and even a bit nastily at that, out of a couple of our saints, Lenny Henry and Stephen Hawking. Lenny was played as blacked-up, possessed of an impenetrable Dudley accent and stuck in a Travelodge bed. Ouch. Stevey-boy lolled with lipstick on, and swore energetically. Satire, despite the sainted Tom Lehrer's pronouncement, is not dead. It is, as long as Enfield and Whitehouse (and Punt, Dennis, Iannucci, Jupp) survive, not even smelling that bad.

Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 6th September 2015

I found An Evening with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse by far the best of this week's trips into the past. This was a celebration of 25 years on the BBC for Enfield and Whitehouse, the sort of programme - filled with an audience of backslapping fellow celebs all praying that their "An Evening with" will come around soon - that would usually have me reaching for the sick bucket.

Enfield and Whitehouse, however, chose to celebrate their own splendiferousness by turning on themselves - the gurning celebs in the stalls were all played by Enfield and Whitehouse, and rather than asking "real" Harry and Paul the usual questions about how on earth did they ever get to be so funny or what's their favourite yoghurt they asked questions like, "Who do you vote for?", "Have you ever taken drugs?" and "Are you scared of making jokes about Islam?"

In other words this was Enfield and Whitehouse using one of TV's cosiest rituals to cause a bit of trouble. Yet at the same time it was interspersed with a greatest hits collection of their old sketches that made you wonder how sketch comedy ever died a death. The upshot of it all was that what could have been a wistful, pipe-and-slippers recollection ended up making Enfield and Whitehouse look current and fearless. In a week when everyone else was dawdling down memory lane, credit to them for trying to blow it up.

Benji Wilson, The Telegraph, 4th September 2015

While BBC1 aired Lenny Henry's Danny And The Human Zoo, it can only be coincidence that simultaneously on BBC2 Harry Enfield was himself blacking up as a black-and-white minstrel and reaching for his best Brummie accent briefly to play Henry himself in An Evening with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.

This was a long-overdue satire on the celebrity audience, planted-question-filled "Evening With" format, even if it was also a vehicle for a 25-year retrospective, hosted by the men themselves.

Dressing up as Melvyn Bragg in order to offer intellectual justification for some of your more questionable comedic decisions, not least blacking up to play Nelson Mandela, doesn't actually make them any more intellectually justified, especially when, on the other channel, Lenny Henry's childhood is being dramatised as an exercise in positive discrimination. But the impressions were, of course, hilarious. Ian Hislop, if he saw it, might never have the courage to sneer again.

Tom Peck, The Independent, 1st September 2015

An Evening with Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse review

Now this was an odd programme. There's having your cake and eating it and then there is this. A tribute hosted by the tributees that put the boot into the tributees at the same time, while finally concluding that they are almost godlike.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 1st September 2015

In An Evening with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse (BBC Two), the two comedians had been celebrating 25 years of working together with a clip show of their funniest moments in front of an audience of celebrity admirers, all superbly performed by the two impersonators. It was all going very well until they asked for a question from Lenny Henry. In the audience was Enfield's impersonation of Henry. He awoke in pyjamas under purple bedclothes like the ones from that hotel chain he endorses in the TV ad. Only one problem: Enfield was impersonating Henry in blackface.

"All roight Harry and Paul," said Enfield's Henry in car-crash approximation of a Dudley accent. "Would yow ever consider blacking up?" "That's something we draw the line at," replied Whitehouse with the misdirection that was the show's hallmark, "but we have supported a number of black causes down the years with our biting satirical skits."

They then cut to a sketch in which Enfield and Whitehouse appeared in thick blackface as two putatively Caribbean contestants on Dragons' Den seeking funding for their Me Kyan Believe It Nat Custard. Just possibly, Levi Roots, who got £50,000 from the dragons in 2007 for his Reggae Reggae sauce business (now worth £30m) was in the satirical crosshairs. But the main target was white political correctness - the dragons only invested in the custard so as not to appear racist. Given the history of blacking up and the pain it caused black Britons, dramatised so clearly in Danny and the Human Zoo, that satirical target was attacked with bumbaclot witlessness. White satirists in blackface draw attention overwhelmingly to their insensitivity rather than whatever they were hoping to satirise.

Still, at least the show ended with Enfield and Whitehouse getting pelted with fruit for being racists, homophobes and misogynists.

Again, there was a twist. The people pelting Enfield and Whitehouse were the two men dressed up as their celebrity peers - a fine piece of metacritical self-loathing. As cod-self-flagellatory schtick, it was welcome antidote to this format's usual ceremony of self-luvviedom.

And Lenny Henry? Was he in the angry mob, pelting these two disgusting racists? I didn't see him. He had probably dozed off again. Those hotel beds he gets paid to endorse look really comfortable.

Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, 1st September 2015

Why can't the BBC do good comedy anymore? Recently we've had truly awful things such as Citizen Khan, Mrs Brown's Boys and, currently showing, the embarrassing Mountain Goats. The last time the BBC managed to provoke a laugh from me was with Murder In Successville on BBC3, a channel soon to be shoved online only.

And there were laughs in the one-off special of Burnistoun, but this was shown in Scotland only. When it comes to the BBC's mainstream, UK-wide comedy, where oh where is the good stuff?

Maybe they feel this terrible dearth of excellent comedy, as they're giving us a reunion show with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse looking back - yes, looking back - to the good old days.

The programme puts Enfield and Whitehouse on stage together in front of an admiring crowd and parodies the An Audience With... shows, but the nice twist is that when we flash to shots of the audience we see Enfield and Whitehouse in the crowd, dressed up as various famous people, and asking cheeky questions. Jimmy Carr, Harry Hill, Ricky Gervais and Prince Charles are all gloriously ridiculed and in between we have great clips of the comedy pair's old shows.

Julie McDowall, The National, 31st August 2015

Review: An Evening with Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse

After last year's brilliant Story Of The Twos to mark BBC Two's 50th birthday, Harry and Paul return to the channel to honour another great institution: themselves.

Steve Bennett, Chortle, 31st August 2015

An Evening with Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse, review

What started out as embarrassing and puzzling show turned into a highly amusing special, says Christopher Howse.

Christopher Howse, The Telegraph, 31st August 2015

To celebrate 25 years of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse as a telly double act, they assemble a mock "audience with" show, featuring the pair impersonating celebrities from Ricky Gervais and a foul-mouthed Stephen Hawking to, for reasons unknown, Bill Gates. Questions from the "celebs" are then used to introduce clips of their work together. They may not want to be remembered by the number of gags that fall painfully flat over what is, at best, a very mixed hour.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 31st August 2015

Harry & Paul: a double act that gets better with age

After more than a quarter century of comedy collaboration, the BBC celebrates the duo's impressive run with live show-cum-retrospective An Evening with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse - evidence of the pair's enduring talent.

Stuart Heritage, The Guardian, 31st August 2015