The Grumpy Guide To.... Ronni Ancona. Copyright: Liberty Bell.

The Grumpy Guide To...

BBC Two comedy. 16 episodes (2 series), 2007 - 2011. Stars Jenny Eclair, Kathryn Flett, Justin Moorhouse, Germaine Greer, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Lynn Barber, Nigel Havers and others.

Press Clippings

Bananas and crackers feature strongly here, along with nuts and fruitcake, but that's mostly the contributors and their state of mind. Just kidding. The usual suspects line up to have a good old moan about dinner parties and diets, fashion foods and farm shops... you name it, they have a bad word to say about it. Fortunately there's some lovely archive, classic sitcom clips and an enjoyable Geoffrey Palmer narration to punctuate their outpourings. If you ask me, these actors, comedians and media-types are a little too keen to show they're people like us. They love kebabs and prawn cocktail; they don't like polenta or sushi. In fact, not one of them has a pretentious bone in their body. And if their outpourings sound like comedy routines that failed quality control, most of us will agree with their targets. You will undoubtedly smile with recognition at some of this and have a good laugh at clips of Jilly Goolden.

Geoff Ellis, Radio Times, 31st July 2011

The BBC's successful Grumpy Old franchise - in which various aged or ageing TV pundits are encouraged to grouse on about a given topic - rolls on with this new programme focusing on the supposedly cheerful experience of mandatory education. Expect wry classroom anecdotage from the likes of Al Murray, Shappi Khorsandi, Ronni Ancona and Mark Radcliffe.

Pete Naughton, The Telegraph, 5th September 2010

As comedians riff on the horrors of their school years, the archive clips are, as usual, rivetingly strange. There's one extract we see from a 1950s or 60s film showing a ferocious-looking teacher leering at his pupils as they lay about one another, half naked, in a "free movement" class. Clearly, he didn't just do this sort of thing on the quiet, he did it proudly, for the benefit of a visiting film crew. Weird. But then, as the comics recall, so much about education is - or used to be - weird. It's not always hilarious, but it is richly, nostalgically enjoyable.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 5th September 2010

The Grumpy Guide To Schooldays review

After an hour of this lazily considered, hastily assembled and infuriatingly banal insights you may well wish you were transported back in time to a Victorian boarding school which partakes in ritual beatings and serves maggot infested food - it'll be better than this monstrosity.

Jamie Steiner, On The Box, 3rd September 2010

I can understand the appeal of shows such as Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women because the sight of elderly curmudgeons railing against a world they no longer understand is innately amusing. But what is the point of The Grumpy Guide to the Eighties? The eighties have gone, never to trouble anyone again. It's like complaining about the Jurassic era.

The reason, of course is that programmes like this are cheap to make and can be cobbled together with the minimum of fuss, particularly if you are lazy and go after easy targets - mullet hairstyles? Check. Rubik's Cubes? Check. Bucks Fizz? Check.

Quite apart from the inherent idiocy of mocking past fashions - as I remember, we couldn't get out of the seventies quick enough - or lambasting pop music for being shallow, the contributors to this Grumpy Guide struck me as particularly obnoxious.

While Fiona Allen waxed lyrical from her kitchen, a hideous study in Dayglo spew leered over her shoulder from the wall behind, automatically disqualifying her as an arbiter of taste in any decade. Sadly, I can't identify the charmless American oaf with a goatee beard who shared reminiscences upon mugging local yuppies, otherwise you would know to avoid him. And as for Terry Christian slagging off the eighties, isn't that like Hitler denouncing the Third Reich.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 17th May 2010

The 1980s, according to the blurb for this, was a decade "defined by vacuity". You could say the same about branded "list" shows and talking-heads compilations, but the Grumpy series has often shown itself to be the best of a bad bunch and this programme includes contributions from Ronni Ancona, Fiona Allen and Alistair McGowan, who delivers bang-on impressions of pop singing styles of the era. Spandau Ballet, Roland Rat, Cabbage Patch Dolls, shoulder pads, big hair - easy targets one and all.

Aidan Smith, The Scotsman, 11th May 2010

Grumpy Guide To The Eighties Review

There's no depth to the analysis - just a lot of "slebs" sitting around and bitching about the 80s; it's as superficial as the decade it's trying to disparage. But it's good Monday night viewing if you're feeling particularly grumpy about having to go to work in the morning - a kind of cynical nostalgia trip and a good distraction from all that hard mullet growing you've got planned.

Jez Sands, On The Box, 10th May 2010

Hey guys! Remember the 80s? They were wicked, right? When we all wore frizzy hair, red braces, ra-ra skirts and everyone had a Sinclair C5? Finger-on-the-pulse BBC2 has bought into the 80s nostalgia boom of, um, the late 1990s and has asked some people to take time off from the after-dinner speaking circuit to declaim about them, while Geoffrey Palmer pretends he cares. We feel obliged to warn you that Shappi Khorsandi is all over this.

TV Bite, 10th May 2010

Come on now, it wasn't that bad. To listen to the churls assembled here, you'd think the 80s were a uniquely evil time. You'd think Filofaxes, Roland Rat and nouvelle cuisine made our lives a vale of tears. But the more the talking heads rage about how hateful it all was, the more you wish they'd pipe down and let us enjoy the clips. One glimpse of a ludicrous Spandau Ballet video or a shot of Chris Waddle's mullet is worth any number of "I hated Orville" quotes. But there are real laughs here: Alistair McGowan's impression of the distinctive 80s pop vocal is bang on.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 10th May 2010

What everyone forgets about Christmas is that it's a gigantic, weird nightmare: the nation syncs up to exchange disappointing gifts and gnaw stuffing that tastes like twice-cooked cardboard. So thank Santa for these curmudgeons - and it's now a mixed-gender complaints fest - who snarl in the face of festive bounty, traditions and gift-giving.

If, like them, you're a proud Grinch, then you'll lap up their guide to all things that people of an older persuasion like to moan about at Christmas.

Sir Cliff's Mistletoe and Wine gets a toasting, as does the implausibly popular culinary combination of turkey with cranberry sauce ("basically, chicken with jam", says Ronni Ancona).

Al Murray writes off "the joys of giving", while Ozzy Osbourne says he was grateful for that near-fatal quad bike accident, because it mean that year he missed Christmas altogether: "It's not good will to all men. It's just b******s." Glad to see his injury didn't dent his legendary articulacy.

Ruth Margolis, Radio Times, 23rd December 2009