Watson and Oliver Review: Sketchy

OLIVER AND WATSON: Monday 20th February, BBC2, 10.30pm

Last night Lorna Watson made her debut TV appearance as one half of new comedy duo, Watson and Oliver, wearing a pair of pink knickers and a large grin. Her excuse? She “didn’t have time to put them on”.

It soon became apparent that this brand of daft hilarity was to be expected from a pair that the Beeb appear to be lining up to take French and Saunders’ comedy baton; a judgement that appears to have been ill-informed.

The half hour show, filmed in front of a studio audience, lurches between “liveâ€? sketches and pre-filmed set pieces featuring (amongst others) a pair of Playboy bunnies and a gushing impersonation of the presenter/model/piano player, Myleene Klass. “Comedyâ€? is expressed through an array of silly voices, daft costumes and jokes about unzipped trouser flies which is undoubtedly fabulously entertaining – for all the ten year olds in the audience.

One can’t escape the feeling that these two have recently emerged from a time capsule (secreted in a Butlin’s entertainment hall) and have missed the last thirty years of British comedy. Jokes are shallow and obvious, with a tedious reliance upon the gurning visage of Watson in almost every sketch. Audience laughter is lavished on each sketch at regular intervals, equipping viewers with necessary audio signposting to assure them that what they are watching is funny.

They claim to have been inspired by the comedy of British greats such as the Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise and it is possible to see why they believe their show is a testament to that; word play is a constant source of amusement for the pair and the grand finale featured plenty of costumed foolery and dubious singing. But that is where the comparison ends. These appear to be intelligent women – their mickey-take of Hugh Heffner’s bunny friends is laced with a deeper comment about the subjugation of the “girlsâ€? – but on the whole their intellect is barred from making an appearance.

The BBC evidently have faith in Lorna and Ingrid, they’ve already been awarded them a six-part series in a shiny prime spot on BBC Two and a whole host of celebrity guests, but it all feels vastly premature. The corporation plucked the pair from relative obscurity and already PRs are busy talking about “the next Miranda Harts” or “French and Saunders”! Joining such salubrious ranks will take a lot more hard work and, thus far, the attempted transformation into “national treasuresâ€? feels forced and unwarranted.

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