From Radio to TV

May 7, 2009

There seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment towards adapting radio success stories into TV shows, the most recent two being I’ve Never Seen Star Wars and Genius. It’s probably no surprise that during a recession TV execs are more prone to produce more reliable hits which have already proved their worth on radio and will allready have a considerable following .

Both shows are pretty good mind you, Genius in particular with Dave Gorman proving just how multi-talented he is by showing that not only is he a brilliant Stand-up and author but also a lively and entertaining presenter. It’s just that I would prefer to see more new projects being taken up rather than going with a safe choice. Why not something wildly experimental and different? Something which has never been done before?

Because its a risk and the execs might lose a lot of money. Oh. I guess I answered my own question there…

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Stand up on TV

May 7, 2009

Recently I’ve been watching Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. Stewart Lee is great at his stand-up parts as usual and there are some nice sketches which help to break it up a bit as well so I think it’s big thumbs up from me. It has however got me thinking about Stand-up on TV and how well it works. It seems to me that in the past few years there have been loads of shows commisioned that have been primarily stand-up comedy shows or that have featured it in some form.

I for one know that I don’t go to nearly as many live stand-up shows as I should (partially due to the lack of venues around where I live) and so this recent trend for stand-up shows has been something I’ve really enjoyed. A few years back the only time you could see Stand-up on TV was on Paramount comedy late at night, pefect post-pub TV but I dont think many people saw it as much more than that. Now however we’ve got Live at the Apollo, Comedy Vehicle and miriads of different shows on most night of the week on digital. You could even argue that Mock the Week includes sections which make use of the panelists stand-up skills.

So generally this is a great thing. More comedians getting more exposure, more people getting in to stand-up. Sometimes I wonder though whether stand-up is really all that well suited to TV. Stand-up works best out of spotaneity, improvisation and the unexpected and sometimes, with the rigorous rehearsal and forward planning of a TV show some of that could be lost. Still I don’t think this will slow down the rise in popularity of TV Stand-up but I look forward to more comedians finding new ways to adapt stand-up to TV as a medium because there’s a whole lot of things people could be doing with it.

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Graham Linehan is really quite funny…

May 7, 2009

The IT Crowd winning the BAFTA for best Situation Comedy seems like as good an excuse as any to draw your attention to one of my all time comedy heroes.

Graham Linehan has been writing for some of the best comedy shows on TV for years. He started out with writing sketches for Alas Smith and Jones, The Fast Show and Harry Enfield and Chums, often with his writing partner Arthur Mathews, before moving on to creating on the of the absolute classic sitcoms of the 90’s.  Father Ted cemented his reputation as one of the best comedy writers at work and was a huge success before it was cut-short by the death of its star Dermot Morgan. It also set the tone for much of what has since come from Graham Linehan, Surreal Sit-coms in the classic tradition of being filmed before a live audience, often featuring characters that are slightly detached from society. Since then his writing credits include, Big Train, Brass Eye, Black Books, Jam, and his main recent project The IT Crowd. It’s a pretty impressive list and so when I found out a couple of years ago that one guy was involved with all of them (there are a few other common threads as well though) I was pretty impressed. 

He also runs a pretty good blog over at and is a regular tweeter @Glinner

So yeah, basically, my hat off to Graham Linehan and well done for winning the BAFTA in what was a pretty tough category. ( Peep Show and The Inbetweeners were both also nominated and both also pretty awesome) Hopefully I haven’t seemed too sycophantic with this but as you could have guessed I am a fan and think that everyone needs to watch his sitcoms, because theyre hilarious.

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Ideal to return to BBC3

May 7, 2009

Johnny Vegas’s Sitcom Ideal is back for its 5th series on BBC3. Of all the sitcoms BBC3 has been churning out recently, most of which are patronisingly aimed at the young adult audience (Pulling, Clone, Grown-ups and the return of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps), Ideal is definately the funniest. It follows Moz (played by Johnny Vegas) a small time dope dealer who rarely leaves his flat. It’s well worth watching although I’m surprised that it’s been commisioned for a 5th series due to the poor viewing figures, it’s been around for ages and yet hardly anyone’s heard of it. It does have the bonus of being cheap though, as it’s all set in Moz’s flat so maybe it’s not alltogether surprising that its still being produced.
As I said, it’s probably the best Sitcom on BBC3 now and stands head and shoulders above the mediocre and unfunny spate of young adult sit-coms the channel has been producing recently.

There’s a trailer for the new series here

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John Cleese denies Fawlty Towers comeback

May 6, 2009

As part of UKTV’s (or whatever they’re calling themselves this week) push to create more original programming, they’ve begun advertising Fawlty Towers Re-Opened, which consists of interviews with the cast and crew. It might be worth a watch, mainly because it’s the first time the cast have been reunited in 30 years.

The result of this though is that there’s been a whole bunch of rumours about new episodes being produced. Rumours which now John Cleese has thankfully categorically put to rest.

I’m really glad that they won’t make any more Fawlty Towers, first of all because it would just be ridiculous, the cast are all far too old now, and secondly because it doesn’t need any more episodes, it already has 12 perfect ones. If UKTV were to make more episodes it would probably end up being just as poor as the recent Red Dwarf revival.

Also I always hoped Polly and Manuel would have left Fawlty Towers by now, and that maybe Basil might have finally found somewhere peaceful to retire to.

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