After endless trails across the UKTV network, Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy finally began on Sunday and appeared to be in a similar vain to Channel 4’s Comedy World Cup, just with fewer participants, questions and, dare I say it, laughs.
‘A FEW LAUGHS’
The panellists (who had swapped panels for sofas) did raise a few laughs but they were too sparse. I know that the team captains, Barry Cryer and Rebecca Front, are more than qualified to answer questions on comedy, which is basically what, as its title suggests, Great Wall of Comedy is all about. After all, Barry Cryer has written for a plethora of comedy legends: Frankie Howerd, Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett, Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies – the list goes on and on – while Rebecca is seldom absent from a sitcom nowadays, whether its Psychobitches, Grandma’s House, Nighty Night or, more notably, The Thick of It. What I’m saying is that both are definitely big names in British comedy. However, I’d like to have seen a more contemporary comedian accompanying them on the show. Rebecca often offered humorous witticisms but it was mainly left to the others – Hugh Dennis, (soon to be Sir) Tony Robinson, Barry and host Jo – to keep the jokes going, primarily through anecdotes from their time in sitcoms. Plus, it did make me cringe slightly when watching Tony and Barry, 66 and 78, respectively, crack jokes about popular culture and The Only Way is Essex. I’ll never get over hearing Barry Cryer utter the word’ vajazzle’!
There were some laughs to be had in the show, however, and, as I said, most of those came from the great, and hitherto unheard, anecdotes from sitcom stars such as Lesley Joseph, Andrew Sachs and Shaun ‘Barry off EastEnders’ Williamson (whose dancing with Stephen Merchant in previously unseen footage from Extras was brilliant). For comedy fans like myself (and I’m sure every other viewer of GOLD) it was great to be privy to these behind-the-scenes stories – some we’d heard, and some he hadn’t.
The questions, while kept to a minimum, tested the knowledge of not just those on the show but the viewers, too. I’m ashamed that I got a question about Fawlty Towers wrong but can take solace in the fact that neither of the teams answered it correctly, either. In fact, neither did they when asked questions about Birds of a Feather and Extras.
MIRANDA NEED NOT WORRY…
Now in one of the rounds in Great Wall of Comedy, the panellists were asked to pitch ideas for sitcoms, so I decided to join in and create five myself – and if you think these are bad, I daren’t tell you what Rebecca, Hugh, Tony and Barry offered!
All Gas and Waiters
A sitcom about someone waiting for an npower representative to arrive at their house.
A sitcom about the patriarch in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
The Nicker of Dibley
A sitcom about a thief in a fictional Oxfordshire village.
A sitcom about prostitutes with bad timekeeping skills.
The Wright Way
A sitcom that shows that Ben Elton is no longer funny.
Great Wall of Comedy seems to be at home on GOLD. It doesn’t provide the huge belly laughs to warrant it being broadcast on a terrestrial channel (but then again, neither did the latter sitcom in my list!) but is ideal for comedy fans and can be quite interesting – although I’m sure there’s already a panel show which fits that description.
Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy is on Sundays at 7:30pm on GOLD
What did you think of Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.
You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.