British Comedy Guide

Watson & Oliver. Image shows from L to R: Ingrid Oliver, Lorna Watson. Copyright: BBC / Popper Pictures.

Watson & Oliver

BBC Two sketch show. 12 episodes (2 series), 2012 - 2013. Stars Lorna Watson, Ingrid Oliver, Adrian Scarborough, Hugo Speer, Peter Serafinowicz, Lu Corfield, Rhona Croker and others.

Press Clippings

Opinion: If I ruled... Watson & Oliver

Three episodes into its second series, Watson & Oliver is actually not bad and is often quite clever and subversive for a mainstream comedy, but it could definitely be improved.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond the Joke, 17th May 2013

Does mainstream necessarily have to mean poor? As something like Miranda has shown us, absolutely not. However, Watson & Oliver, the sketch show from Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, is the counter-argument. There are some original and amusing ideas here - the carnival dancer condemned to perform mundane non-carnival tasks, such as crossing the road or visiting the cashpoint, while imprisoned in her sequins and headdress - but it's hard to see how some of these skits (a spoof of The Killing? Really?) ever made it off the hard drive.

John Robinson, The Guardian, 2nd May 2013

This week saw the return of the BBC sketch show starring (and primarily written by) Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver. Mostly filmed in front of a live audience, Watson & Oliver take on everyday life and familiar characters.

I enjoyed the series premiere, but felt a little like the show fell into the sketch trap of letting a scene go on too long after the strongest punch line. I can't help but think that if the editing was more brutal it would have tightened the whole thing up.

Watson & Oliver are obviously very talented comedy performers and writers, having three sell-out Edinburgh shows under their belts, and the supporting cast, though fairly sparse, also offer strong performances. It's not going to break any boundaries or change the way you think, but if you are looking for an entertaining and varied half hour then do give it a go.

Shaun Spencer, Giggle Beats, 29th April 2013

Comedy duo Watson & Oliver are back with a second series of sketches, despite the somewhat lacklustre reception their first outing received. So all credit to BBC Comedy for keeping faith with the duo, rather than dumping them unceremoniously at the first whiff of underachievement.

I'm not sure what the problem with Watson & Oliver is, unless it's the inability of the great British public to come to terms with a female comedy double act that isn't French & Saunders. They are funny, versatile and eminently likeable performers, working with some very strong and occasionally inspired material.

Some of the sketches don't work at all - the flustered shopkeeper serving foreign students being a case in point - but otherwise the hit rate is very high.

If I have a quibble it is that their sketches sometimes overstay their welcome. Not by very much, but enough to irritate. Watson and Oliver are at their best when they are short, sharp and sometimes shocking.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 26th April 2013

Watson & Oliver interview

Best friends and comedy partners Ingrid Oliver and Lorna Watson are back with a second series of their sketch show Watson & Oliver. "We're really thrilled to be back, because you get to put in all the things you've learned."

Daily Post, 26th April 2013

Watson & Oliver, Series 2, BBC Two

Second time round for sketch show which carries on lampooning female quirks.

Jasper Rees, The Arts Desk, 26th April 2013

Just what do Watson & Oliver (BBC2) have on the powers that be at the BBC? While great comedies such as Grandma's House and Cowards have been allowed to wither and die, this uninspired duo somehow bag a second series of second-rate comedy club sketches, a follow-down to the total flop that was their first. Go figure, because it hasn't improved.

This pair have also had primetime appearances on Comic Relief's Let's Dance and the celeb version of Great British Bake Off, the kind of exposure comedians on the circuit would kill for.

At least they had the gumption to do a mickey-take of Call The Midwife - if ever a programme needed it, it's that one - and it had the one decent punchline in the whole show ('it's a Cockney!'). But boy, was it a long time coming.

Keith Watson, Metro, 26th April 2013

Is TV sketch comedy eating itself?

What lets the programme down, though, is the over-reliance on sketches that ape other television programmes.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond the Joke, 25th April 2013

It was a surprise when, after a first series of declining ratings, Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver's sketch show got a second run. But whatever re-evaluations may have taken place behind the scenes, this is still daftness of a pretty conservative bent: Franglais; the perils of personalised ringtones; a Call the Midwife pisstake.

When a skit does brush the boundaries of good taste, it creates a genuine frisson of risk and invention missing from much of the rest of the show: a rough sleeper inviting a potential beau home, for example. And a stricter editor would have made for a pacier show, as potentially snappy ideas ('realistic cooking') are dulled by overlength. Accomplished performances once more, but the material lets them down.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 25th April 2013

Their first series didn't exactly go down a storm with only 500,000 viewers staying to the bitter end. However, since then Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver have raised their comic profiles with appearances on Comic Relief's versions of Let's Dance and The Great British Bake Off and now they've been given a second series. Admittedly it's still patchy and it would be improved if they knew when to end a sketch - the Midwife spoof, for example. However, there are several moments that may make you chortle.

Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 25th April 2013

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