Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #55

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week Ian Wolf watches sadomasochists outside MI6, people faking disabilities, and a Viking. Yeah.

The Revolution Will Be Televised

The Revolution Will Be Televised is quite possibly the most intellectual show BBC Three has ever broadcast, which is odd seeing as this is a hidden camera show, a genre not know for its challenging material.

Created by Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein, the series revolves around various satirical pranks and stunts. In this first episode the duo attempted to clamp ambassadors’ cars for not paying the congestion charge (they try to claim they don’t have to because of diplomatic immunity); try to enter the London 2012 Olympic stadium wearing shirts with protest slogans on them; and pretend to be sadomasochists asking MI6 to send someone somewhere for some “fun”.

BBC Three has had much success with satire in the past. After all, arguably its most successful comedy is Russell Howard’s Good News. However, these two shows are the different ends of two funny extremes. Good News mocks all the weird and odd stories that somehow filter into our papers and news channels. It’s admittedly not that satirical, but it is fun. TRWBT however is much more vicious and subversive. It tells you things you need to know. It has a huge nerve to go and do the things it does. And I’m surprised that Prowse and Rubinstein haven’t been arrested yet.

I’m Spazticus

Arguably the most controversially titled comedy made, I’m Spazticus (the title comes from Ian Dury’s song “Spasticus Autisticus”) was originally a Comedy Lab pilot made way back in 2005. Seven years later, Channel 4 has made a four-part series, show over the course of its Funny Fortnight.

A couple of questions. Firstly, why commission this series seven years after the pilot? Second, is this show offensive? Third, was it a good move to broadcast this show just before Channel 4 televises the Paralympics? For me the answers are “No”, “Yes”, and “No”.

I’m Spazticus takes five different disabled groups – namely dwarves, the blind, amputees, the wheelchair bound and cerebral palsy – and creates situations designed to put the public around them in uncomfortable, often offensive situations. These included getting a member of the public to decide which of the disabilities they would least like to have while standing in front of them, and getting a non-disabled person to join an all-disabled police line-up, so the victim had to pretend he has the disability everyone else has.

These sequences just made me wince in disgust. There was nothing here that I found funny. I can understand what the cast were trying to do, but it does not appear to come across on camera. Also there is the problem of the limited number of disabilities they covered. It may be named after the song “Spasticus Autisticus”, but there was no-one on the autistic spectrum as far as I can tell. For that matter there were no deaf people either. You should try to cover as many disabilities as possible or just one or two. This show does neither and fails. Lazy.

Vic and Bob’s Lucky Sexy Winners

Another show in Channel 4’s Funny Fortnight, Lucky Sexy Winners appears to be an attempt by both the channel and surreal double-act Reeves and Mortimer to replicate the success of Shooting Stars.

In this show the contestants, stand-up Eddie Izzard, This is England actor Thomas Turgoose and Waterloo Road actress Chelsee Healey, have to answer a series of “questions” based on a series of Vic’s bizarre drawings. There is no “Dove from Above Round”, or indeed rounds at all. It is just answering questions before the time runs out. The time and “The Kingdom of Prize” are guarded by the scorer, another character created by Dan Renton Skinner, who came to fame as Angelos Epithemiou. This time he’s John Meringue, a proud yet somewhat mundane Viking warrior.

There were several moments of mirth, such as one of prizes being Katie Price’s memory foam mattress and the duo performing martial arts on a kid. However, when I watched the show all I could think of is, “I’ve seen it all before.” The panel show mocking has become stale now. There were also moments that I recognise from earlier Vic and Bob vehicles. At one point Bob falls over pathetically, which goes way all the way back to Big Night Out.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment. It’s probably time for Vic and Bob to try something new.