I made the horrible mistake of watching a full episode of Al Murray’s sketch show tonight. Since I already consider Murray to be the epitome of dumbed-down-Brit syndrome, this was not a good idea.
ITV’s ideas of sketch comedy differ widely from mine – I enjoy sharp writing, clever contemporary commentary and the complete avoidance of cliches. ITV delivered exactly the opposite: a pointless half-hour of lowest common denominator crap. The sketches are stretched too thin, like the West Country porn stall or the “Only Gay in the Third Reich” schtick which shamelessly and unimaginatively rips off Little Britain.
I can think of very few funny moments. Murray’s firebrand vicar shouting at a couple to give their child a sensible name might have been funny if they’d drafted in Chris Martin and Gwynneth Paltrow lookalikes, or at least Bob Geldof. Duncan Bannatyne sending himself up in a Dragon’s Den sketch looked like he’d lost the will to live – I know I had by that point.
But in the tradition of Katy Brand and Kieth Lemon, once you’ve got your foot in the door at ITV, they’ll let you produce any old shit, and that’s what this was. A half hour of garbage by a man whose unfunny pub landlord routine should have been a red flag not to let him produce any more than this. It’s indulgent beyond belief – clearly a lot of self-congratulation and not enough exposing this to test audiences to see what they thought of it.
I will say one positive thing about it: I was surprised that Murray could do a decent range of different voices. Unfortunately, he’s hampered by having only one facial expression, which makes the sketches even harder to get into.The quality control on this show is virtually – and sadly – non existant. If this channel is going to keep insisting on trying to do comedy, they need to pull something fresh out of the bag, not these cliche-ridden and tired shows featuring their ‘personality du jour’.
Verdict: Yawnnn, not worth 30 minutes of your precious time. Even a vintage Hale & Pace would be better than this.