JOHN BISHOP’S BRITAIN: Saturday 30th July, BBC1, 9.10pm
Saturday night television is traditionally milder (and usually wetter..) than your average British summer, so we weren’t expecting comedy bombs of Tramadol Nights proportion from John Bishop in the return of his catch-all stand-up sketch vox-pop offering. However by sliding this little number in just after the watershed, the Beeb have allowed the likable host to aim a few shots below the waistline. Let’s make no mistake, this is still about as far away from the ‘edge’ as you can get without approaching the other ‘edge’, but a Daily Mail reader somewhere will probably be indignant after hearing the word ‘bollocks’ in the introduction.
The subjects of music and fashion are on Bishop’s agenda this evening and it’s a good job that his well-observed raunch-lite is on show because the subject matter is bursting with stand-up clichés. Skits about middle-aged men’s bad dance moves and the glory of vinyl LPs are older than comedy itself, but the Liverpudlian just about manages to get away with these ancient chestnuts. Lampooning Bono is only slightly less-trodden material, but the comic does an excellent job on the shade-wearing tax-dodging Irishman, with the help of a cast of extras who help play out a scene from a U2 gig he attended once. The same formula also works very well as Bishop explains the various pitfalls of on-screen kissing alá his recent turn in Skins.
Mixed in with all this are the sliced and diced opinions of various ‘slebs and norms from across the country, although quite what they add to proceedings aside from a light change of pace is a bit of a mystery. They were all nice enough, but I have to admit groaning slightly when they started to ramble on about youths wearing low-slung jeans. Really? That little foible has been ‘observed’ more often than the Beeb’s clip of Basil Fawlty’s goose-step.