Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #65

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week Ian Wolf watches a geriatric car chase and an odd way to use the loo.

Last Tango in Halifax

It’s not often that a TV comedy comes along that’s geared towards older viewers, but Last Tango in Halifax’s such a show – and it’s surprisingly good.

Set in Yorkshire, the story follows two OAPs, Celia and Alan (Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi) who used to be close school-friends, but drifted apart after school, got married to different people and ended up widowed. The two then rediscovered each other on Facebook and arrange to meet up for the first time in 60 years.

Last Tango in Halifax‘s a comedy drama so don’t expect it to be laugh a minute, because it isn’t. However, what it lacks for in jokes it makes up for in surprise. The first episode, for example, sees (amongst other things) a boy getting seriously injured after falling off his motorbike and a mother accused of killing her husband.

The main plus point for Last Tango in Halifax, though, is that while you think that it’s going to be very predictable, it turns out be more complicated than you think. For example, I knew that one of the characters in the show was bisexual. In the first scene one of Celia’s grandsons is reading Anthony and Cleopatra and I thought, “Oh, don’t tell me they made the intellectual bookworm the bisexual one, with some gushing coming out scene to his headmistress mother.” But no, it turns out that the bisexual one is in fact the said headmistress mother Caroline (Sarah Lancashire), so I was certainly taken aback by that.

The other falsely-predictable moment occurs when Alan parks his car up in a car park before meeting Celia. He doesn’t buy a ticket to use the car park and just walks away, leading me to think, “Oh, don’t tell me that he and Celia are going to go back to the car, only to find being in the middle of being towed away or clamped.” Again, I was wrong. Instead he goes back to buy the ticket, and finds some smashed up glass where his car was, as it’s stolen. This in turn leads to the funniest sequence in the opening episode, where in Celia’s car they discover Alan’s stolen car being driven and the two go in hot pursuit of it across Skipton.

While I wasn’t expecting much, it turns out that this has been a rather charming, warm, surprising programme. Certainly worth watching, considering the plot developments that occur at the end of the first episode.

Dr. Brown

Dr. Brown is the professionally trained silent clown persona of the American comic Phil Burgers, and the winner of this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award. This week he was the first star of Channel 4’s replacement to the “Comedy Showcase” – the “4Funnies”. However, it doesn’t seem that the talents that won him that most sort-after of stand-up prizes have made it onto the screen.

Dr. Brown featured various sketch ideas and characters, many of which repeated throughout the show. For me, it’s always a problem for any sketch show, because if you don’t like the sketch the first time then the chances are you won’t like it on repeat viewing.

And sadly, that was the case here too. The only recurring sketch that did make me laugh eventually was that of a jogger going seemingly mad, pouring tonnes of protein and energy powders into his mouth. The funniest sketch was a simple one off, where a character puts sheets of toilet paper on a loo set before using it, before eventually decide to lift up said use it and sit in just the bowl.

I think the problem here is that Dr. Brown is a silent act. These sorts of sketches aren’t exactly what I was expecting from him, and I thought the humour would be more visual that it actually was. It may be the case that sketch comedy isn’t the right format for this performer and a stand-up TV show would be a better outlet…