6 items from 2016
Its edgy back-and-forth once dominated our screens, but now the format is suffering a severe ratings dip. Why has this comedy staple lost its lustre?
Related: Do the Right Thing: an antidote to man-heavy ‘I’m funnier than you’ panel shows
The panel show’s death knell may well have been sounded by Harry Enfield. A man with an unwavering knack for zeroing in on the zeitgeist, in his and Paul Whitehouse’s 2014 tribute to BBC2, the Story Of The Twos, the pair mashed up every hackneyed panel show ingredient – from a gurning, pen-tapping Ian Hislop to the Buzzcocks item where abuse is hurled at a lineup of extras – into a Frankenstein’s monster of a programme that oscillated between soullessly automated performance and crowd-pleasing inanity. The echoing refrain was Paul Merton’s smug non sequitur of a punchline. “Is it a dolphin in a bathtub?” he mooted repeatedly, »
- Rachel Aroesti
How well do you know your Fleabags, Sons of a Bitch and Crazy Ex-Girlfriends? Find out with our goggle-eyed multiple-choice quiz
Film quiz | Politics quiz | Sports quiz | News quiz | Music quiz
Which culturally redundant celebrity was removed from the Celebrity Big Brother house this year?
What is Channel 4’s new nude dating show called?
Randy and Raw
What killed everyone in King’s Landing on Game of Thrones?
Which bafflingly complicated daytime gameshow is about to come to an end?
Where is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend set?
West Covina, California
Cape Coral, Florida
Clemson, South Carolina
HBO’s The Night Of is based on which BBC show?
The Line of Duty
Mrs Brown’s »
- Stuart Heritage
Lots of celebs have criticised the BBC white paper, but when Craig Revel Horwood starts having a go it’s a sign that it’s an ideological push too far
If John Whittingdale has been trying to work out exactly how worried to be about the public response to his imminent BBC white paper, he might have started by following the broadening appeal of last night’s critics at the Baftas. Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky’s outrage electrified the room, and his speech was visceral and heartfelt. But no one’s ever heard of Peter Kosminsky, and he was wearing quite a weird jacket, so it probably didn’t set alarm bells ringing. Mark Rylance? Recognisable, yes, a household name in some households, but still a bit of a luvvie.
- Archie Bland
Sophie Okonedo shines in a drama about a lawyer with a police spy in her bed, but Marcella and Vinyl should be nicked for crimes against originality
Undercover (BBC1) | iPlayer
Marcella (ITV) | ITV Hub
Workers or Shirkers? Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits (BBC2) | iPlayer
The first episode of Undercover, scripted by Peter Moffat, was determined to be harrowing. Sophie Okonedo, as lawyer Maya, sped down a Louisiana highway in a bid to halt the execution of a condemned man (Dennis Haysbert) she had been fighting to save. The execution is horrifically botched, leaving the prisoner in a vegetative state that could only be described as the Us penal system meets Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Okonedo and Lester are superb at conveying their separate hells of vocational conflict and festering lies
I wonder if any character in Vinyl can snort coke without reacting as if they've been shot up the nose with a crossbow? »
- Barbara Ellen
Ian Hislop’s potted history of state welfare; and try the ‘sit and rise’ test to keep that youthful glow. Plus: GI Janes take training and Evel Knievel’s transformation from scoundrel to petrol-powered Elvis
As Hislop’s potted history of state benefits demonstrates, not only are the arguments about welfare as old as welfare itself, but the terms of the dispute have barely altered – socially responsible hand up or counterproductive handout? Hislop considers the legacies of Victorian social reformers such as Edwin Chadwick and brings the discussion into the here and now with Deirdre Kelly of Benefits Street, Tristram Hunt and a pre-resignation Iain Duncan Smith. Andrew Mueller
Continue reading »
- Andrew Mueller, John Robinson, Ali Catterall, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Ben Arnold, David Stubbs and Hannah J Davies
Ian Hislop says former work and pensions secretary broke down during filming of new Workers or Shirkers documentary
Iain Duncan Smith broke down and wept about the plight of a single mother during a television interview months before he quit as work and pensions minister.
The Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said Duncan Smith started to cry during an interview last December for a documentary on Victorian attitudes to poverty. “It was a curious thing,” he told the Radio Times. “Ids actually broke down. He wept in front of me. It was a very extraordinary moment.”
Related: Can the new work and pensions secretary win back trust on welfare? | Patrick Butler
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- Jane Martinson
6 items from 2016
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