What was good about it?
We love the pub landlord, and this was Al’s big chance to spread his wings. There’s enough here to suggest that, if refined, it could be a very funny show, but about half sketches missed the mark; and some of those that did find the target were often heavily derivative (mostly a less macabre version of The League of Gentlemen).
What was good about it?
• The barely disguised disgust of the PC PCs, in which a police force is handcuffed to ‘political correctness’*. “Come out with your hands up,” barks Murray menacingly, before meekly adding “if that’s at all possible.”
• The Ray Winstone as Ghandi was as predictable as any of the hundreds of inappropriate casting sketches we’ve seen before, but the pool-balls-in-a-sock Scum reference made us snigger.
• The funniest were the two local radio DJs whose conversation was locked into a whirlpool of asinine adverts, featuring plugs for the local pub (where Murray’s character had met a new lover), ‘loans for you’, and the hurriedly mumbled “terms and conditions apply” at the end.
• The Geordie who pretends to be gay so he can watch his female friends undress. We’ve seen this so many times before, but Murray’s charm made it amusing.
• Barrington Blowtorch, the gentleman thief. Essentially, Terry-Thomas with quite funny lines. This is one of the sketches we admired rather than laughed at, but it does have potential.
•*Sadly, Al appears to have adopted the Daily Mail’s definition of ‘political correctness’. Whereby the Mail groups acts of sheer liberalist lunacy with the genuine altruism of political correctness that seeks to rid the nation of bigotry and prejudice (which is why the Daily Mail is so vindictive in its campaign to ridicule it). The consequence is that being ‘PC’ becomes uncool, and stories warped by right-wing hacks about asylum seekers being given rooms in Buckingham Palace are slotted next to tales of religious fanatics moping because they can’t burn homosexuals at the stake any more.
What was bad about it?
• Mr Taylor the embarrassing dad, who likes to talk to his daughter about her sex life in front of her boyfriend.
• The baby in the boardroom, we couldn’t see the point.
• The father with two kids who mocked the joy of his mate, who had just become a father to only one child.
• The pilot who informs his passengers about his sex change. This reminded us of the superior League of Gentlemen character Barbara.
• The grotesquely camp Nazi officer Schull, which reminded us of Herr Lipp from League of Gentleman, and early Julian Clary, not to mention the (probably Allied propaganda) stories about how Hermann Goering of the Luftwaffe had a penchant for ladies’ clothes. But most of all it was redolent of a less subtle Lt Gruber from ’Allo ’Allo, and when something is less subtle than ’Allo ’Allo, you really have to worry.