Frost On Sketch Shows. Image shows from L to R: David Frost, Michael Palin. Copyright: David Paradine Productions.

Frost On Sketch Shows

BBC Four documentary. 1 episode in 2013. Features David Frost, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Michael Palin, Michael Grade, Richard Curtis, Nicholas Parsons and others.

Press Clippings

British Sketch Comedies: Short And Sweet

The following is some of what I learned about this constantly evolving form of entertainment.

Carmen Croghan, Smitten By Britain, 29th May 2013

Celebrate the best of broken British comedy with this cosy but satisfying look back. It's about bathing in the glory of classics we've all seen many times, from presenter David Frost's ground-breaking Frost Report to Little Britain - mostly they're not re-evaluated or analysed in much depth, although there's the odd tart remark. There are A-list contributors - Corbett, Palin, Fry - and an interesting assessment of why sketches aren't such a mainstream force now.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 18th May 2013

Review: Frost on Sketch Shows, BBC4

Well, what do you expect me to say about Frost on Sketch Shows. Of course it was hit and miss. This it the phrase that is trotted out whenever a sketch show is launched and never was that phrase more appropriate than when watching this gentle, occasionally insightful, frequently annoying one-hour gambol through the history of the format.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 15th May 2013

The best contacts book in entertainment gets dusted off once more as David Frost recruits Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Michael Grade et al to look at the rise - and perhaps fall - of the sketch show. The question posed at the outset - has the sketch show had its day? - is a pertinent one, although not answered in the 15-minute taster we were able to see.

Still, we can promise plenty of clips, both unfamiliar (some lovely corpsing from the early days of live variety shows) and over-familiar (Andre Preview, The Frost Report's class sketch). With any luck, a very watchable primer to a comedy format that should ideally be as easy to watch as it apparently is hard to master.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 13th May 2013

"You can get away with a low percentage of excellence and still be thought of as excellent," says Richard Curtis of the TV sketch show. As an example, he cites Not the Nine O'Clock News, a typical episode of which he remembers as being "17 dodgy minutes and maybe ten good minutes".

It's a nice shot of acid in what is otherwise a largely reverential look at the genre that takes in all the old favourites - the "class sketch" from The Frost Report, "Fork Handles" from The Two Ronnies, even Gerald the gorilla from the aforementioned NTNOCN. It's only really in the final 15 minutes that we get to explore the issue of why there's been a dearth of such comedies since the end of Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show. It seems it's all down to expense and an audience's preference for stand-up over snappy, three-minute vignettes.

David Brown, Radio Times, 13th May 2013

Taking a lead from 2010's Frost On Satire, Sir David takes a look at another endangered comedy format, the sketch show. Charting the last 50 years of wanton skittery, Frost speaks to masters of shows past such as Stephen Fry, Ronnie Corbett and Michael Palin, taking in the highs and lows of the format. No preview tapes were available, so whether we'll be treated to the notoriously barbed "Timmy Williams Coffee Time" sketch from Moty Python's Flying Circus, a barely disguised pop at imperial-phase Frost himself, we have yet to find out.

Mark Jones, The Guardian, 13th May 2013

David Frost interview

"I'm so sad," David Frost sighs, "that we couldn't include Miranda Hart, as I think she is superb, but she doesn't do sketches... I'll have to make up a programme to showcase her talents."

Cristina Odone, The Telegraph, 12th May 2013