Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #22

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week Ian Wolf goes on a manhunt and sees a man in a wheelchair.

The Comic Strip Presents… The Hunt for Tony Blair

For the first time in six years, The Comic Strip, the comedy which was broadcast on Channel 4’s opening night, returns with a film noir spoof on former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Stephen Mangan played the PM, who finds himself on the run from Inspector Hutton (Robbie Coltrane), who arrests him for a murder Blair claims he didn’t commit. During his attempt to escape the law he pushes an Old Labour tramp off a train (Ross Noble), kills a spookily accurate predictor of the future (Rik Mayall) and ends up in bed with Baroness Thatcher (Jennifer Saunders).

This episode features some great performances, from Mangan as Blair, Saunders as Thatcher, Harry Enfield as an “f-word” fuelled Alistair Campbell (still think Malcolm Tucker is the better, ruder and funnier spin doctor), and Nigel Planer’s spooky reincarnation of Peter Mandelson. There were plenty of laughs to be had, especially if you’re a film noir fan; for example, Rik Mayall’s Professor Predictor is a clear parody of Mr. Memory from Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.

There were also actual moments of tension. My favourite bit in the episode featured Blair in Thatcher’s mansion, preparing to change for dinner and being told by the butler Tebbit (John Sessions) not to look in a cupboard. Blair obviously does and out of it pops the rotting skeleton body of Dennis Thatcher.

If I were to have any complaints about this programme, it would be that Tony Blair doesn’t seem to be that much of a current satirical subject to mock. Not only is Blair no longer Prime Minister, he wasn’t even our last Prime Minister. We’ve had two different people in the position since he’s left. If this was made while Blair was still in power it would have had a much bigger impact.

Have I Got News for You

It seems unlikely that the ultimate question to the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is: “How many series of Have I Got News for You have there been?” But this week saw the start of the 42nd series.

Jo Brand hosted the first episode back, with Victoria Coren alongside Ian Hislop and Graham Linehan with Paul Merton. When I learnt about the line-up my immediate reaction was, “Thank God!” It’s something of a rarity for HIGNFY to have a line-up consisting of people who are all essentially humorists. No politicians, no journalists, just people who are paid to be funny for a living. That is who we want. It’s generally one of the advantages that Mock the Week has over HIGNFY, in that all the people on MTW are nearly always comics.

Everyone on this week’s show had their moments, whether it’s Coren on her hatred of cat lovers, Linehan’s in-depth knowledge of Twitter, or Merton suggesting confusion between Michael Winner smoking a cigar and a picture of a seagull doing a poo. What a wonderfully awful image.

However, the best bit was that this episode was the first in a while which didn’t make any lazy jokes about Eric Pickles being fat. It won’t last…