‘Josh’ (BBC3) Review

From one of the stars of Channel 4’s The Last Leg comes eponymous new sitcom, Josh, focusing on, alongside Josh himself, his flatmates, Owen and Kate (Beattie Edmondson), and their rather odd landlord, Geoff. A premise of three unlucky-in-love friends who often have to deal with with their interfering landlord is typical sitcom fodder, and the script transpired to be, too – leading to what I found to be a rather dire thirty minutes.

One look at the credits would have told you that this had the makings of a good sitcom; as well as Josh Widdicombe himself, the cast was also comprised of Radio 4 regular, Elis James (Owen), and the ever-reliable Jack Dee (Geoff). The series has been directed by David Schneider – whose face you’ve almost certainly seen if you’ve watched any sitcom since the 90s – and can boast that its Owen (Elis James) and Josh Widdicombe (Josh)Executive Producer is Stephen McCrum, the man who was responsible for bringing Mrs Brown’s Boys to the BBC (whether or not you think that that is something to ‘boast’ about is, of course, down to you). So, Josh has numerous established, successful comedy names working both on- and off-screen. That begs the question, therefore, why on earth did it fall so flat? The answer appears to be quite simple: the script wasn’t of the quality that it should have been. This was the implication within the twenty seconds of this episode, when a vignette clearly designed to establish Josh and Owen’s statuses as ‘unlucky with the ladies’ ended with a predictable whimper, and set the tone for the subsequent twenty eight minutes.

It wasn’t just the jokes – or apparent lack thereof – that resulted in the show failing to meet many fans’ expectations, however; I found that ‘Fictional Josh’s’ remarkable similarity to ‘Real Josh’ was an irritating distraction from the beginning. In the BBC’s press release, ‘Fictional Josh’ is described Josh Widdicombe (Josh) as a ‘baby-faced Victor Meldrew,’ which is annoying for two reasons: firstly, David Renwick’s scripts were funny; and secondly, a ‘baby-faced Victor Meldrew’ is an incredibly apt description of Josh Widdicombe himself. There seems not to have been any distinction made between the character and the comedian, which gives the episode an air of being merely a stand-up routine about chlorine allergies, the annoyances of ‘reply all’ emails and the inability to swim, brought to life. Of course, it would be ridiculous for the two Joshes to be poles apart – but they shouldn’t be carbon copies of each other like this, either. Hence, they just need to be similar – it’s what’s necessary for the sitcom to feel like a sitcom. For instance, we all know that Miranda Hart is probably capable of walking down the street without falling over or making innuendo with a complete stranger, unlike ‘Fictional Miranda’, so we can set the two versions of her apart. Likewise, all fans of Not Going Out know perfectly well that Lee Mack isn’t a feckless layabout – despite what we see of ‘Fictional Lee’. Josh Widdicombe taking his awkward, pedantic, quietly irritated stage persona and creating an awkward, pedantic, quietly irritated character called Josh, however, just didn’t seem to work.

Having not seen last year’s iPlayer short that acted as a springboard for this series, I was really looking forward to Josh, but have been left disappointed by the opening episode. Josh himself is genuinely a great comedian – as both a writer and performer – and it is likely that this reputation led to high expectations, and the show not hitting the mark. He had the potential to make the stand-up-to-sitcom transition as smoothly as Lee Mack, Nick Helm or even Josh star, Jack Dee himself – but, if we’re to judge the series based on this opening episode, it appears that he has not managed it.

  Image credit: Thanks to Des Willie, ©BBC

Josh is on Wednesdays at 10:30pm on BBC3

What did you think of Josh? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer

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7 thoughts on “‘Josh’ (BBC3) Review

  1. Bill Naylor says:

    An average comedian, but not as yet a great comedian. And therein lies the problem.

    • Dookie Cabron says:

      Well, that’s half an hour of my life I’ll never get back….bloody awful. Firstly it is just incredibly unfunny. Next…Josh has got the most annoyingly “nails down a blackboard” voice. Oh, dear God, I could go on but that means having to relive the trauma of achingly bad, squirming embarrassment at such utter crap. One thing IS for certain…..Beattie Edmonson can neither ACT or be funny so something went wrong with any comedic or talent genes that were NOT passed on from her parents. This episode, the third, was worse than the first two, which is saying something. Please pull the plug on this mess and destroy any and all copies of its existence….please !

  2. The Pedant says:

    A truly mediocre, overexposed, and only mildly likeable comedian ends up in a soulless, derivative, unfunny sitcom, where he plays a fictional loser version of himself, and nobody can really spot the difference, or cares enough to try. Few laughs were had, no recommission was forthcoming, and most thankfully forgot this thing even existed by the time the credits had stopped rolling. Meanwhile Josh Widdicombe’s irritating laugh went back to enjoying an over-paid career as perpetual guest on practically every panel show on British TV. Thus he had the last (annoying) laugh on us all. After all, who needs talent when you have ubiquity?

  3. Dookie Cabron says:

    Well, that’s half an hour of my life I’ll never get back….bloody awful. Firstly it is just incredibly unfunny. Next…Josh has got the most annoyingly “nails down a blackboard” voice. Oh, dear God, I could go on but that means having to relive the trauma of achingly bad, squirming embarrassment at such utter crap. One thing IS for certain…..Beattie Edmonson can neither ACT or be funny so something went wrong with any comedic or talent genes that were NOT passed on from her parents. This episode, the third, was worse than the first two, which is saying something. Please pull the plug on this mess and destroy any and all copies of its existence….please !

  4. Kam says:

    The writing isn’t as tight as it should be, but overall the sitcom is very watchable, because the writing is good enough, the characters are very likeable and the pace is good. The first episode was fairly average, but the subsequent episodes have got better. This deserves a second series.

  5. Rose says:

    Almost unwatchable, I sat through two and a half episodes on iPlayer before realising I hadn’t raised a smile, let alone laughed, once. Everything from Josh himself is sounds forced and is delivered in the same whiney tone, underbite out and jowls aquiver. Beattie Edmondson is the show’s only saving grace but with such an awful script she still doesn’t manage to be funny. How this got commissioned I really don’t know.

  6. Truly car crash comedy.
    I’ve just witnessed a joke about Tasmin Archer. Someone whose one and only hit was in 1992 (I had to google that). A 23 year old, four line joke, that wouldn’t have raised a smile from that old Dutch guy who can’t stop laughing. At anything.

    If I was being very kind, I could suggest that Josh Widdecombe and his writing partner are showing a level of chutzpah that would surpass two men with elephantitis of the testes. That however wouldn’t explain Josh Widdecombe’s truly awful, mouth-curled-up-at-the-edges “acting”. He makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier.

    Watching this, I was actually feeling bad for Beattie Edmondson. I don’t know which old gypsy lady she kicked in the teeth, but to be part of The Wright Way and now “Josh” shows a level of bad luck which would make me want to permanently walk around wearing a crash helmet and twelve rolls of bubble wrap.

    My only explanation for this abomination of a sitcom is someone behind the show is running the same scam as the one in The Producers. It made me want to call The Samaritans.

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