Category Archives: ‘Channel 4’s Comedy Gala’

‘Channel 4’s Comedy Gala’ Review

On 18th May this year, the cream of the comedy crop – and Rich Hall – gathered at London’s O2 Arena to perform to an 11,000-strong crowd (only 25% of which wanted to be there, according to Jack Dee) in aid of their careers. Sorry! I of course mean in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The fourth annual Comedy Gala brought a mixture of good and bad sets from what appeared to be the biggest names on Off the Kerb’s client list.

A RANT

Now I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy Comedy Gala – contrary to the tone of my introduction, I did find plenty to be entertained by. However, as with any stand-up showcase, there were some weak sets, and it is my review of those which I’d like to get out of the way now.

Firstly, the show itself was a bit of a drag. A two hour-long broadcast would have been ample, and fewer ad breaks would have been greatly appreciated. I mean let’s face it: Channel 4 only injected so many commercials into the show because they knew that most of the people who would usually switch over to see what’s happening on Graham Norton’s sofa would probably not have touched the remote tonight, for fear of missing Alan Carr pairing up with the Go Compare man!

It wasn’t just the abundance of adverts which slightly spoiled my enjoyment of the Comedy Gala, however. Some acts just weren’t up to much tonight. Prior to watching the show, I had only everAdam Hills - A funnier Tom Stade heard Tom Stade’s name – I’d never seen him before (it turns out he looks a lot like Adam Hills) and  had never watched a set from him (it turns out he can only dream of being as funny as Adam Hills). Someone whose work I am accustomed with is Paul Chowdhry and, while not his biggest fan, I did think that even he would have been wise enough to avoid churning out the tired old Embarrassing Bodies gag. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: ‘Well if they’re so embarrassed, why do they go on TV?’. And you chuckle – the first time. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I see ‘Brenda from Surrey’ expose her droopy, itchy breasts to a concerned-looking Doctor Christian over Skype on primetime Channel 4, I always think, ‘Just go and see a doctor, love – no one will ever know.’ But if I was a comedian, regardless of how many times I think this, I would have the sense not to share my thoughts with an audience because I know that if they’ve ever watched a stand-up comic before, they will more than likely have heard it! Paul Chowdhry, unfortunately, did not consider this.

SOME PRAISE

Thankfully there were some great surprises on the night. Nina Conti’s act usually works best in a theatre, where she can get someone out of the audience, attach a mask to their face and use her brilliant ventriloquism to make them say awkward things. However, she proved tonight that she can Warwick Davis getting big laughsbe just as funny in a huge arena with Monk, her depressed monkey puppet (apologies if I’ve shattered the illusion).

I was also surprised that Seann Walsh and Warwick Davis  both delivered very entertaining and funny sets, while the pre-recorded videos from stars who ‘sadly couldn’t be with us tonight’ weren’t as awkward and embarrassing    as usual. Although it surely can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that most of those people had been guests on the most recent series of Chatty Man.

AND SOME MORE PRAISE

There were also big names who promised big things and went on to deliver exactly that. I became a fan of Lee Evans after I watched his set on Comedy Gala in 2011 and, while it was mainly material which I’ve heard before, his performance on tonight’s show was as brilliant as ever – he really stoodLee Evans - 'Dodge the Dong' out from the other performers.

The same can be said for Michael McIntyre and Alan Carr. Alan’s performance with Diversity, which opened the show, was excellent, and so was his obligatory invasion of the ads (even if I objected to the frequency of them).

 

I know that I began this review by slating the Comedy Gala but I honestly did enjoy most of it and, now that Have I Got News For You and Not Going Out have made way The Voice UK on BBC1, it gave a lot of comedy fans something to watch on Friday night. That’s not to mention the thousands of pounds it no doubt raised for Great Ormond Street, which I hope was the reason for most of the comics taking part. I hope.

What did you think of this year’s Comedy Gala? 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 a rundown of the best of the coming week’s TV on this blog, published on this blog every Saturday at midnight.

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TV Highlights (1st – 7th June)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV.

Saturday 1st June

Les Dawson: An Audience With That Never Was

ITV, 8:30pm

This one-off special (which is surprisingly only an hour long) marks the twentieth anniversary of the much-loved comedian’s untimely death.

Les Dawson died in June 1993, a mere fortnight before he was due to record his first An Audience With… programme. However, filmed in front of an array of showbiz legends and his family, the Sez Les star will finally present the show that never was with the help of a 3D hologram of himself. The stunningly realistic image will allow us to hear some of the material that he would have performed that night.

The show also features interviews with stars such as Sir Bruce Forsyth and Cilla Black, who share their own memories of the comedy legend, who got his break at the age of 36 on Opportunity Knocks. The makers of the programme have also been granted exclusive access to some of Les’s home videos, featuring himself and his young daughter Charlotte, who was just eight months old when her father died. This footage has never been seen before on television.

I have a feeling that a lot of people my age will never have heard of Op Knocks, let alone Les Dawson, but I am familiar with his trademark deadpan delivery and rubbish (yet secretly great) piano playing, so am really looking forward to this rare treat. I hope it will show others who may not be accustomed with Les’s work how brilliant he was, and the gap which he left in British comedy when he died.

Also today: Deadly Bloopers (BBC1, 5:00pm) presents some of the funniest moments from Steve Backshall’s Deadly series; the last Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Final (ITV, 7:00pm), my review of which will be available immediately after the Results show at 9:30pm; the Knockout Rounds begin on The Voice UK (BBC1, 8:30pm); sci-fi film Transformers is on Channel 4 at 8:30pm; Jonathan Foyle examines the Tudors in Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer? (BBC2, 8:35pm); new 1980s-set drama series The Americans (ITV, 10:00pm); Beyoncé and a host of top musical talent perform in Beyoncé and Friends Live at Twickenham (BBC1, 10:50pm); and Jimmy Carr’s excellent Making People Laugh show is on Channel 4 at 11:15pm.

Sunday 2nd June

Peter Jones Meets

BBC2, 7:00pm

In this series, Dragons’ Den’s Peter Jones speaks to successful entrepreneurs and aims to find out'Peter Jones Meets' - BBC2, 7:00pm both how they became successful and whether success is inevitable for some people.

In this episode, the first of four, Peter speaks with Mo and Mark Constantine (pictured), who run the beauty store Lush and last year managed to sell a staggering £360,000,000 worth of shampoos, soaps and scents.

Also today: Coronation Year in Colour presents rare colour footage of the events prior to the Queen’s 1953 Coronation (ITV, 5:30pm); comedy film Ice Age (Channel 4, 5:50pm); Spying on Hitler’s Army: The Secret Recordings shows a dramatised version of a British intelligence operation to listen to the conversations of thousands of WW2 German prisoners of war (Channel 4, 8:00pm); the TOWIE gang return with The Only Way is Marbs (ITV2, 10:00pm); and there are highlights (although I doubt there were many to choose from) of The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, 10:25pm).

Monday 3rd June

What a Load of Buzzcocks

BBC2, 10:00pm

Over the next eight weeks, Blur bassist and cheese maker Alex James (pictured) presents classic'What a Load of Buzzcocks' - BBC2, 10:00pm clips from Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which celebrated its 250th episode last year.

Each week, Alex will focus on a specific year in the comedy music quiz’s history. This week, that year is 1996, the year that Buzzcocks began airing with its original team of host Mark Lamarr and captains Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes. It was also the year that I was born, but that’s irrelevant.

Also today: Robbed, Raided, Reunited returns – now there’s alliteration! (BBC1, 11:00am); The Gadget Show is back (Channel 5, 7:00pm); Matt Allwright presents a special episode of Fake Britain (BBC1, 7:30pm); Food Unwrapped returns to Channel 4 (8:30pm); The People’s Coronation with David Dimbleby marks the events, sixty years on, through the memories of those involved (BBC1, 9:00pm); Channel 5 devote a night to the trial of Oscar Pistorious with Why Did Oscar Pistorious Kill Our Daughter? (9:00pm) and Pistorious Trial: The Key Questions (10:00pm); David Hasselhoff explores cinematic genres in The Hoff’s Best Action Film Ever! (BBC3, 10:00pm); and sci-fi film Alien vs Predator is on Channel 5 at 11:00pm.

Tuesday 4th June

Animal Heroes

ITV, 8:00pm

In this three-part documentary, we meet the animals who accompany our service men and women across the globe.

With access to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Animal Heroes details the pets’ journeys from being trained here in the UK to loyally sticking with their loving owners on the frontline of Afghanistan. We will also see interviews with the service men and women who keep the animals, discussing their love for their four-legged friends, as well as the difficulties that the animals face in such hostile conditions.

Also today: Dirty Britain returns to ITV at 9:00pm; new fly-on-the-wall documentary The Call Centre (BBC3, 9:00pm) features a boss who has the potential to become the next David Brent; I lost interest at the beginning of the second series but the third run of Mad Dogs, after premiering on Sky’s On Demand service last week, begins on Sky1 (9:00pm); The Making of 24 Hours in A&E is on Channel 4; and The Unspeakable Crime: Rape is on BBC1 at 10:35pm.

Wednesday 5th June

Love and Marriage

ITV, 9:00pm

This had better be bloody good after all of the trailers we’ve had to endure. I don’t even feel like I need to give a synopsis – any viewer of ITV probably already knows the plot better than the writers do!

I will of course give a brief overview of the series, though. Love and Marriage features a stellar cast, reading like a Who’s Who of British acting talent. When Pauline Paradise (Alison Steadman) retires as a lollipop lady, she also decides on a new lease of life by leaving her husband, Ken (Duncan Preston). As the weeks after Pauline and Ken’s split unfold, we see the knock-on effect her decision has had on her family and how it has caused her children to have a fresh perspective on their own love lives.

Also in the cast are Preston’s dinneraldies co-star Celia Imrie and Steadman’s Gavin & Stacey mate Larry Lamb, as well as Coronation Street’s Graeme Hawley, The Spa star Niky Wardley and Extras’ Ashley Jensen, plus many more.

The plot, and many subplots, of Love and Marriage seem excellent, and I am genuinely looking forward to it. I hope it lives up to its hype and impressive cast list.

Also today: Peter Snow kicks off Channel 4’s minute-by-minute account of the Normandy landings in D-Day: As It Happens (9:00pm); and romantic comedy Pretty Woman is on BBC3 at 9:00pm.

Thursday 6th June

David Walliams: A Snapshot in Time

ITV, 9:00pm

It was on 23rd March 1983 that 11-year-old David Williams took to the stage during Reigate Grammar School’s production of All the King’s Men, received his first laugh from an audience and decided that he wanted to carry on doing the same for the rest of his life. That moment is captured in a photograph, which the actor and Britain’s Got Talent judge sets out to recreate in this one-off documentary.

During the programme, David attempts to track down the people in the photograph with him by visiting his childhood home and old school in Surrey, where he speaks to teachers and hears their stories of his time as a pupil there. Will David be able to gather everyone who was in the original picture and recreate it in the modern day?

Also today: Super Tornado tells the story of Oklahoma’s recent natural disaster (Channel 4, 8:00pm); comedy film Johnny English (ITV2, 8:15pm); Life Savers follows the work of the people at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge (BBC1, 9:00pm); Melvyn Bragg investigates 16th century theologian William Tyndale in The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England (BBC2, 9:00pm); Coma, based on Robin Cook’s novel of the same name, is on Channel 5 at 9:00pm; documentary The Alps Murders is on Channel 4 at 10:00pm; and Keith is in dire straits as the new series of Lemon La Vida Loca kicks off (ITV2, 10:00pm).

Friday 7th June

Channel 4’s Comedy Gala

Channel 4, 9:00pm

The fourth annual Comedy Gala, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, features the cream of the comedy crop – and Rich Hall.

The event, filmed last month at the O2 Arena, includes performances from:

Jack Dee

Jo Brand

Lee Evans

Kevin Bridges

Josh Widdicombe

Russell Brand

Michael McIntyre

Adam Hills

Jonathan Ross

Paddy McGuinness

Rhod Gilbert

And that’s just a selection of the performers – there are many more. 'Channel 4's Comedy Gala' - Channel 4, 9:00pmAlso, Alan Carr, Warwick Davis and Miranda Hart (pictured) all team up with Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity to deliver an unforgettable routine.

I always look forward to the Comedy Gala, but some acts are always better than others on the night. Let’s hope Jo Brand doesn’t do the same jokes which she’s done for the past few years – the ones about acronyms and smoking. They’re good the first time, Jo, but not when you’ve heard them on here…and QI…and Mock the Week…and Jo Brand’s Big Splash, and so on.

Also today: the Live Shows of The Voice UK begin (BBC1, 7:00pm); antiques series Four Rooms is back (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes present Britain’s Secret Homes (ITV, 9:00pm); and the line-up on The Graham Norton Show includes Hayden Panettiere, Downton’s Dan Stevens and comedian Micky Flanagan, who is about to begin his first arena tour, Back in the Game (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.

I just want to take this opportunity to raise awareness for Alex Neal.

Alex is seventeen-years-old and a fellow student of mine at Sunderland College. She has a very rare bone tumour, called chondrosarcoma, which is growing around her brain and has already affected her eyesight and hormone levels, meaning she will have to rely on HRT for the rest of her life.

This tumour cannot be treated in the UK. Therefore, Alex must travel to Florida to have it treated there. The NHS have agreed to fund her visit – but only with one parent accompanying her.

£5,000 is needed to send both of Alex’s parents to Florida with her for this urgent treatment. At the time of writing, an incredible £1,486 has been raised but her family need more and have been campaigning by holding ‘Action 4 Alex’ car boot sales, cake sales and selling wristbands.

Any money would be greatly appreciated by Alex’s family. Even spreading the word and encouraging others to get involved would, I’m sure, be greatly appreciated.

You can join the ‘Action 4 Alex’ campaign on Facebook or go directly to her auntie’s Go Fund Me page to donate.

Thank you.