Category Archives: GOLD

‘You, Me and Them’ (Gold) Review

After six years, UKTV have finally invested money into an original sitcom for its flagship comedy channel, Gold. And, after a (somewhat disastrous) revival of Yes, Prime Minister and a couple of tribute shows, the first home-grown sitcom to come to Gold is this: You, Me and Them, which centres around Ed (Anthony Head) and Lauren (Eve Myles), a couple who are very much in love, despite their twenty year age gap and the disapproval it attracts from their friends and family.

When UKTV’s multi-million pound comedy investment was announced, the network’s executive,  Jane Rogers, told Broadcast magazine that new shows would have to be of a high quality and able to ‘sit confidently alongside classics such as Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley.’ This way of thinking had clearly long gone out of the windowJeff Rawle and Susie Blake as Lauren's disapproving parents, Clive and Emma by the time You, Me and Them was commissioned, however, as I’m struggling to say anything about it. Anything at all: good or bad, really. It was simply incredibly unimpressive, as if the writer, Steve Turner, set out to create the new Gavin & Stacey but left out the charm, wit and entertaining characters and plots.

It hasn’t been a terribly good year for Steve Turner: his comedy-drama Great Night Out arrived on primetime ITV in early January, and after many, many trailers – which admittedly looked very good – it was generally met with indifference, before being swiftly axed after just one series. There was nothing to deeply dislike about Great Night Out, it was just…well a bit dull – and that’s exactly how I would describe Turner’s latest effort. It felt a bit lazy, almost as if he was relying on the central age gap plot to carry the show. I can quite safely say that it doesn’t, and if it wasn’t for the characters continually harping on about it, I doubt I would even have remembered it, seeing as Anthony Head, despite being twenty four years older than her, doesn’t look all that much different in age to Eve Myles. Oh, and of course by that I mean that Anthony looks particularly young, not Eve looks particularly old.

Phew!

Being a sitcom about a relationship which raises eyebrows, You, Me and Them is inevitably going to be compared to Gavin & Stacey, but what Ruth Jones and James Corden did that Steve Turner  doesn’t is write strong, loveable and engaging characters. With the possible exception of Ed’s ex-wife-turned-next-door-neighbour, Lydia (Lindsay Duncan, pictured), none of the characters make any impact. They just fade into the background with no one to stand-out in the foreground. Granted, the performances are good (but then why wouldn’t they be with a raft of comedy talent like Susie Blake, Jeff Rawle and Daisy Beaumont starring) but the characters themselves are instantly forgettable, as are the plots unfortunately.

We will have to wait and see how people react to You, Me and Them – many may find something funny and engaging in it which simply eluded me. All I saw when I watched it was some great actors working with a below-average script, and portraying the biggest of all sitcom clichés: the dysfunctional family.

You, Me and Them begins at 9:00pm on Wednesday 23rd October on Gold

Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Gold, ©Des Willie 

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‘Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy’ (GOLD) Review

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’!

GREAT ANECDOTES’

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.

Father Teddy

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.

Early Whores

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.

TV Highlights (15th – 21st June)

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with ITV waving goodbye to Granada and Channel 4 saying hello to new couples with their Mating Season.

Saturday 15th June

Goodbye Granadaland

ITV, 8:30pm

At first glance, it may appear this this programme is called Goodbye Granddad, and ITV are paying tribute to the late Clive Dunn. However, it is of course Goodbye Granadaland, in which Manchester comic Peter Kay (pictured, right) takes viewers on a journey through the life of the city’s famous Granada Studios, which he compares to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and which, after over half a century, will soon follow in the footsteps of Television Centre and close its doors for the final time.

Over the years, Granada has been the home of many iconic TV shows, from dramas such as Prime  Suspect, Cracker and, of course, Coronation Street to comedy like Red Dwarf and the ground-breaking Royle Family and also game shows – University Challenge and Countdown, to name just two.

Granada has also been at the forefront of landmark television: the Beatles made their television  debut there in 1962; Woody Allen arrived at the studios three years later to make his only-ever UK TV appearance; and in 2010, the first-ever televised political debate between Brown, Cameron and Clegg was produced there.

With the help of interviews and archive footage, it is the stories behind these productions and many more which Peter will tell over this ninety-minute, one-off show and celebrate the importance and legacy of yet another British television institution which has sadly been lost to Salford’s apparently far more preferable Media City.

Also today: Clare Balding and Huw Edwards present Trooping of the Colour: The Queen’s Birthday Parade (BBC1, 10:30am), highlights of which are on BBC2 at 6:30pm; animated favourites Happy Feet and Despicable Me (ITV, 4:05pm and 6:40pm, respectively); Micro Monsters with David Attenborough begins on Sky1 and Sky 3D at 8:00pm; and AJ Odudu presents Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych, in which psychologists analyse the housemates (Channel 5, 10:10pm) – they’re going to have their work cut out with Sallie and Wolfie, aren’t they..?

Sunday 16th June

Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy

Gold, 7:30pm

I’m obsessed with comedy. If I’m watching a sitcom, panel show or stand-up performance with someone, I usually bore them with some sort of trivia regarding the performer, writer, producer, etc.

Therefore, Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy is ideal for me! Digital channel Gold has developed this panel show, hosted by the award-winning comedienne, in which stars of some of our best-loved comedies will answer questions on the stories behind the laughs and get a chance to showcase their knowledge of all things funny.

The team captains are brilliant, too. Firstly there’s veteran comedy writer Barry Cryer, who penned material for legends such as Frankie Howerd, Tommy Cooper, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise – and that’s just a few of them! Of course, Cryer is also the man behind Kenny Everett’s infamous Cupid Stunt (whose spoonerism name I very nearly typed incorrectly there). Then there’s Rebecca Front, whom a sitcom is seldom without nowadays. Star of The Thick of It, Grandma’s House, Nighty Night and more recently Psychobitches and Jessica Hynes’s (recently recommissioned) Up the Women, Rebecca is one of our most successful comedy actresses. So I think they both have ample experience to bring to a show like this!

In this first episode, the beans are spilled about sitcoms such as the parodies that were ‘Allo ‘Allo and Ab Fab (the movie of which we’re still waiting for, Jennifer!) and loved-up shows like Gavin & Stacey and John Sullivan’s Just Good Friends.

Also today: Somewhat disappointing sequel St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold (Channel 4, 6:00pm); Kym Lomas, Dennis Taylor and Rav Wilding are on Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Julia McKenzie is back in Marple (ITV, 8:00pm); fifteenth century-set drama The White Queen begins (BBC1, 9:00pm); and Ray Winstone stars alongside Tamzin Outwaite, John Simm and Charles Dance in Father’s Day (ITV4, 11:15pm), a one-off short drama in aid of ITV’s prostate cancer awareness campaign, Stand By Your Man.

Monday 17th June

The Greatest Shows on Earth

Channel 4, 10:00pm

In this documentary series, actress and writer Daisy Donovan will be travelling the globe and visiting various countries to watch their respective TV hits – no matter how shocking or controversial – to'The Greatest Shows on Earth' - Channel 4, 10:00pm gain an insight into what makes that nation tick.

The first country that Daisy visits is Brazil, where she goes behind the scenes of many shows which objectify women in a way which we may find disgusting but the Brazilians consider to be harmless. For example, she investigates Miss Bum Bum, a talent show which (as you may have guessed)  judges young women purely on their backsides. So, while we enjoy people making arses of themselves on our talent shows, BGT and X Factor, people in Brazil are enjoying actual arses in their own contests.

There’s also Na Mira, which could be best described as a version of Crimewatch – but much, much gorier. In Na Mira, dead bodies are shown on the streets and corpses are pulled up from the ground. Imagine the letters to Points of View if that was broadcast in the UK!

But then imagine the letters in Jeremy Vine’s postbag being doubled – as Na Mira is shown in Brazil at lunchtimes, after kids’ shows.

Also today: A trio of presenters go behind the scenes at Heathrow in Airport Live (BBC2, 8:00pm); Rick Stein’s India (BBC2, 9:00pm); Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall are back to reunite more relatives in Long Lost Family (ITV, 9:00pm); one-off documentary Scientologists at War (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and the tragic story of Tare, who had a life-threatening facial tumour, in Extraordinary People (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Tuesday 18th June

How to Find Love Online

Channel 4, 10:35pm

Over the course of two episodes, journalist Dawn O’Porter investigates online dating as part of Channel 4’s Mating Season, which explores modern dating in the 21st century.'How to Find Love Online' - Channel 4, 10:35pm

How to Find Love Online follows 25 singletons as they experiment with the relatively fledgling form of internet dating. The series will show the ups and downs on their individual quests for love as well as celebrating the pros to dating websites, while also warning viewers of the perils, too.

Experts and previous online daters will also be available to share their wealth of knowledge.

Also today: Steve Leonard fronts Nature’s Newborns (ITV, 7:30pm); Harry Wallop tells viewers how they can live for free in Something for Nothing (Channel 4, 8:00pm); drama series Frankie draws to a close (BBC1, 9:00pm); documentary series The Route Masters: Running London’s Roads begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); Royal Windsor’s Big Week goes behind the scenes of the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show (ITV, 9:00pm); and Una Healy and Rick Edwards join the fun for the last in the series of Sweat the Small Stuff on BBC3 at 10:00pm – but fans need not worry as a second series has already been commissioned.

Wednesday 19th June

Dates

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Anyone who has read my reviews of Dates (which a lot have, so thank you!) will know that I am mad about this series. I analyse the plots and characters probably far more than is necessary and I always have strong feelings about the characters – whether that’s love or hate.

One of the characters who I loved is back tonight as Will Mellor reprises his role as David (last seen'Dates' - Channel 4, 10:00pm in episode one). This time, however, he has ditched that bitch Mia (see, I told you I feel strongly about it) and is now on a date with Ellie, played by Montana Thompson – who was that bitch Justine in The Story of Tracy Beaker. Why does David always choose the wrong ‘uns?

All of the people who we have met in this series has had some sort of secret hidden away – whether it’s Jenny’s theft, Nick’s homosexuality or Mia’s job as an escort. Ellie is no different as she appears to have lied about her age in order to get on a date with David (it’s Will Mellor: wouldn’t you?) and is more open and honest than he would like her to be.

Also today: Rhys Jones takes action against wildlife crime in Wildlife Patrol (BBC1, 7:30pm); it’s the last in the series of Watchdog on BBC1 at 8:00pm (so it’s the last chance to see Matt Allwright risk getting beaten up by some dodgy builder); Martyn Lawrence Bullard packs members of the public off to Los Angeles for a makeover in Hollywood Me (Channel 4, 8:00pm); perfectly timed to coincide with Channel 4’s Mating Season, the candidates must set up a dating website in The Apprentice (BBC1, 9:00pm); and semi-improvised sitcom Quick Cuts, set in a hair salon, begins on BBC4 at 10:00pm.

Thursday 20th June

First Dates

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Once again, another programme from Channel 4’s Mating Season strand.

First Dates is certainly a unique show. Every week, we will be watching couples going on a blind date to a re'First Dates' - Channel 4, 9:00pmstaurant which has been set-up with discreet cameras in. Every second of the date will be captured on film and some of it will be shown in the programme – whether it goes well or not so well.

However, there’s more. YOU could be dating one of the people you see on screen and may be on the show one week. To have a look at the available mix of singletons and see if anyone stands out, just go to the First Dates website and even you don’t see anyone for you, you can still apply to be on the show and take part in a blind date.

Also today: Cowboy Traders returns to Channel 5 (8:00pm); Dannii Minogue joins the search for Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model (Sky Living, 8:00pm); Flights and Fights: Inside the Low Cost Airlines goes behind the scenes of Ryanair and easyJet (BBC2, 9:00pm); The Girl With 7 Mums tells the story of ten-year-old Ellie Sharp (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and three women confront their sexuality in Bi-Curious Me (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Friday 21st June

Trojan Donkey

Channel 4, 11:05pm

Apparently, Trojan Donkey ‘takes all that’s good in ‘old style’ covert filming to show how funny life'Torjan Donkey' - Channel 4, 11:05pm can be when people think no one is watching’. Isn’t that just a convoluted way of saying that this is a hidden camera show?

After all, that’s all that this show really appears to be: a hidden camera vehicle. BBC3’s Impractical Jokers had a group of mates daring each other, Off Their Rockers used the more mature performer to play pranks and That Hidden Camera Family on Sky1, while having gone relatively unnoticed, did at least have the niche of a family to do all of its jokes on the public. Trojan Donkey just has three performers pranking people. So despite Channel 4’s somewhat lengthy description, it just looks like a run-of-the-mill hidden camera show.

Tonight, a plumber is called to identify a noise in a toilet and one of the actors goes to a tattoo shop in the hope of getting the whole of the Bible inked onto his body.

Also today: Olympian Greg Rutherford, Crimewatch presenter Kirsty Young and comedy performers Jo Scanlan and Henning Wehn are on Would I Lie To You? (BBC1, 8:30pm); Wild Shepherdess With Kate Humble (BBC2, 9:00pm) sees the Springwatch host help shepherds who work in harsh conditions; we find out who will be the first housemate to leave Britain’s most famous bungalow (apart from Dick & Dom’s, naturally) in Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); classic film Ghost (More4, 9:00pm); new documentary series Forensic Firsts (Yesterday, 9:00pm) traces the origins of six key forensic investigative techniques; and Steve Carrell, Chris O’Dowd (husband of How to Find Love Online’s Dawn O’Porter) and Josh Groban are on The Graham Norton Show (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.