Monthly Archives: March 2014

‘Only Fools and Horses’ (Sport Relief) Review

In January this year, it was announced that the nation’s favourite sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, was to return after an eleven year hiatus for Sport Relief. The show’s legion of fans were divided: some rejoiced, some despaired. I suppose I was in the latter camp; all of the Only Fools revivals (the trilogy of specials from 2001-2003, spin-off The Green Green Grass and prequel Rock &  Chips) largely failed to live up to the original series and, more importantly, writer and creator John Sullivan sadly passed away in 2011, leaving it to his two sons to write the script based on notes that their dad had left behind. Despite all of this, though, I tried to remain optimistic – and my optimism paid dividends as the sketch was a triumph!

Jim Sullivan already had form, having written seven episodes of The Green Green Grass – all of which I remember as being of the same standard as his father’s. Together with his brother Dan, and despite having refused to write a new Only Fools in the past, he penned this brand new ten minute episode, starring none other than David Beckham – who it turns out is actually a canny actor. Who knew?

Unlike Sir David Jason’s other revival, Still Open All Hours, thankfully nothing had changed in the world of the Trotters as Del was still trying to flog a batch of hooky goods with Rodney as his guinea pig and model. In this case, it was boxes of Beckham boxers – with each autographed by Golden Balls himself, a gag reminiscent of when Del tried to sell some cricket bats (‘each one personally autographed by Viv Richards’). However, this wasn’t the only reference to past gems as others came in the form of conversation between Del and Rodney in – what I assume was – Sid’s cafe, and also a fantastic pay-off at the end which for some reason I didn’t see coming but had me applauding – even if I was by myself in the sitting room.

The episode was quite a gem. Granted, it wasn’t packed with the laughs that fans of the original series will have been accustomed to but I’m sure no viewer expected that. The thing that took me most by surprise was how it altered my stance on the possibility of the show returning. I’d still be sceptical if a series was commissioned but Jim and Dan Sullivan have certainly proven their knack for crafting dialogue and situations that are on par with their dad’s, and so – and I never thought I’d say this – perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad decision on the BBC’s part to give the green light to a Christmas special? Judging by this episode, the scripts would be just as good as when John Sullivan was at the helm and David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst certainly wouldn’t have any problem slipping back into their roles as Peckham’s most notorious dodgy dealers – it was as if no time had elapsed between 2001 (when all of the ‘01-‘03 specials were filmed) and now.

Maybe the success of Still Open All Hours and Birds of a Feather, coupled with the overwhelmingly positive reaction to this episode from the Twit tersphere, will convince them and the writers to take a punt on this, the most treasured of TV sitcoms?

All images ©Comic Relief

To find out how to donate to Sport Relief and where your money goes, head over to sportrelief.com

What did you think of Only Fools and Horses? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

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This Week in TV – 15th – 21st March

Yes, I’m now trying This Week in TV on YouTube. You never, know, it might work. I’ve also posted trailers/previews for all of the programmes that I could get hold of. Enjoy!

Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway – Holly Willoughby is pranked on the set of Surprise Surprise

Harry’s South Pole Heroes – Trailer

The Widower – Trailer

W1A – Trailer

Davina: Beyond Breaking Point – This clip shows the third, and toughest, day of Davina’s challenge

Sport Relief – Take a look at the star-studded video for Little Mix’s ‘Word Up’ – this year’s official Sport Relief song

‘The Michael McIntyre Chat Show’ (BBC1) Review

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2012, Michael McIntyre claimed that he ‘didn’t want to go down the chat show route’, and yet there he was last night, proudly presenting the first episode of the imaginatively titled, The Michael McIntyre Chat Show.

Of course, there’s been a long history in this country of stand-up comedians becoming chat show kings and queens: Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Paul O’Grady, Frank Skinner and Sarah Millican to name just a few, and there was quite an expectation for Michael McIntyre – one of the UK’s most popular and biggest-selling comedians – to join that hall of fame. But has he succeeded?

The truth is, it’s too early to tell. The format of idle chats with celebrities, punctuated by banter with the audience, is quite reminiscent of The Rob Brydon Show, which, although running for three series, did go under the radar, quite unnoticed by many. I feel that The Michael McIntyre Chat Show might live a similar existence.

Throughout the first episode, which saw the host welcome Sir Terry Wogan, Lily Allen and Lord  Sugar, I just felt that the BBC were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. As I’ve said, Michael is one of the nation’s best-loved and most successful comedians – and he’s also one of mine; I saw  him during his Showtime tour in 2012 and can honestly say that there are few comedians who have made me laugh quite as hard and often as him. He’s at his best, though, when he’s messing about, exuberating his energy and making everyday, relatable observations. The opportunities for him to do this when he’s sitting behind a desk, in conversation with Lord Sugar, however, are few and far between. Hence, some moments felt quite stilted – look no further than Michael’s chat with one of Sir Tezza’s TOGs. Surely the epitome of awkwardness?

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that The Michael McIntyre Chat Show needs some work. (Actually, I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that it would have made more sense for the BBC to simply commission a third series of Comedy Roadshow.) It appears at the minute that the host is stuck between two worlds: Chat and Observation. Sadly, the two have never been combined well and, while it would be nice to see Michael be the first to achieve this feat, the chances of him doing that are quite slim. Perhaps once he gets a bit more experience with the writing and posing of questions, the show will become an altogether more enjoyable, and less hit-miss, affair. Perhaps the problem is also that Michael has Paul Tonkinson helping with the writing, despite previously saying that he ‘can’t do someone else’s jokes justice’.

Whatever the issue, I hope it’s resolved soon, as the audience expects the show to be a hit and Michael certainly deserves it.

 

The Michael McIntyre Chat Show is on Mondays at 10:35pm on BBC1

What did you think of The Michael McIntyre Chat Show? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.