Bellamy’s People Review: Comedy For The People

3Bellamy300BELLAMY’S PEOPLE: Thursday 21st January, BBC2, 10pm ALERT ME

I was initially quite confused by its title. What? Veteran botanist, broadcaster and Charles Darwin look-a-like David Bellamy is going to be hosting a talk show?

But no, it’s a comedy not about David Bellamy but Gary Bellamy, a blandly inept radio talk show host, convinced of his own self-importance.

He constantly refers to the fact that he’s an “award-winningâ€? DJ of an “award-winningâ€? radio show. Deciding that he needs to get back in touch with some of his regular callers, he embarks on a road trip around Britain.

On his travels he meets some real characters, including the obese Graham Downes (“When I’m on the information superhighway, I’m weightlessâ€?) and bombastic Jamaican “entrepreneur” and “Lion of Harlsdenâ€? Early D (a great turn from Felix Dexter).

Particular highlights are Lady Patience and Grace Combe, two doddering poshos who have divided their family estate into Communist and Nazi halves and who bicker in their own made up language of “languishâ€?.

Rhys Thomas is great as Bellamy (he was in Star Stories but he always springs to mind as Paul from The Fast Show Swiss Toni sketches) – he’s the perfect straight man, who in struggling with the obvious insanities of his guests makes them seem even funnier.

It’s the first time in 10 years that Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse have been on screen together (not to mention Simon “Monkfish” Day)

Whitehouse has his usual effortless flair in creating characters from homophobic sexist Martin Hole, desperately wishing it was the 70s “They wanna get back in the kitchin don’t they. You know I’m right, I know I’m right, everyone knows I’m rightâ€? to music impresario Ian Craig Oldman, “you’ll look back on this and think “what a cockâ€?â€?

It’s a gentle parody of human interest shows like Coast and Andrew Marr’s People. It uses exaggeration of its characters to generate laughs but it doesn’t have any of the bite of current affairs satires like The Day To Day or the level of offensive characterisation of Little Britain.

Few of its characters are particularly memorable and it doesn’t have the zip and zing of Whitehouse and Higson’s previous work.